These podcasts helped get us through some of 2020's most difficult conversations

(CNN)Getting through 2020 was no small feat -- and among the hardest valleys to navigate were the conversations about race. It's never easy to talk or listen to debates about it, but we were forced to be honest about where we stood and where we wanted to go.

Who knew that a year that started out with the shocking death of Kobe Bryant and the growing threat of Covid-19 would get partially upended by the killings of Black and brown people -- and the multiracial protests that followed. It was a watershed year when it came to talking about racism. The increased threat of white supremacist groups reminded us that it remains a pervasive part of American life.
But there were moments where there seemed to be turning points, where it felt like people were really listening to the concerns of Black, Latino, Asian and Native Americans. The rise of podcasts addressing race proved there's an appetite for difficult but necessary dialogue -- and there's no one way to talk about race. It's OK to laugh and cry or be critical and compassionate.
Here are just some of the most powerful podcast episodes (there were just so many to choose from). The conversations not only got at the heart of what was on peoples' minds but provided guidance on how to talk about the problems, solutions and shenanigans that impacted so many people this year:

1. Resistance (Gimlet) 'Lesser Known Creeps'

Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. hosts this anecdotal podcast about the fresh ways activists in the movement for Black Lives are fighting racism. Each episode tells a different story. "Lesser Known Creeps" stands out because it advances the confederate monument conversation. Over the past few months, we've heard a lot about the generals, presidents and slavers we no longer wish to honor in 2020. This episode adds a few more names to that list, and then proposes individuals we might recognize instead.

2. Code Switch (NPR) 'Claim Us If You're Famous'

In this weekly podcast, hosts Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji discuss the ways race touches pop culture, politics and history. The show launched in 2013 and has since set a high bar for journalists covering the complexities and nuances of race and culture. If you are new to the podcast or haven't listened in awhile, the episode, "Claim Us If You're Famous," is a great place to start. The focus is VP elect, Kamala Harris' Black and South Asian roots -- and how her roots impacted her campaign and the way we talk about people who identify as multiracial in America.

3. Decoder Ring (Slate) 'The Karen'

Host Willa Paskin examines cultural questions. The show doesn't focus on racial issues, but it's thoughtful and thorough approach to "The Karen" episode was on point. The term, which is critical and sometimes misogynist, has come to describe white women in 2020 who weaponize their Whiteness against people of color, for no other ostensible reason than racism. Willa dives deep into how Karens came to be and how the term has impacted the way Americans judge White women today.

4. Latino USA (Futuro Media) 'The Myth of the Latino Vote'

We are still unpacking all the lessons learned from the 2020 presidential election. Among them: how to court Latino/Chicano/Hispanic/Latinx/Nuyorican/Cuban/Dominican/Puerto Rican/Tejano/etc. voters around the country. Hosted by Maria Hinojosa, Latino USA has been covering these communities for nearly 30 years. It's the longest running Latino-focused show on US public media. Though there is still some debate over whether Latino is designated as a race or an ethnicity, the episode, "The Myth of the Latino Vote," is helpful. It breaks down the different histories and policy interests of various Latino communities.

5. Come Through with Rebecca Carroll (WNYC) 'Julián Castro's Common Census'

In this 15 episode series, host Rebecca Carroll discusses the way race impacts the issues that mattered to American voters this election season. Carroll's conversation with former presidential candidate, Julián Castro, focuses on the census and why he encouraged everyone to fill it out, even undocumented residents and others who are concerned that the government will use the data against them.

6. Self Evident: Asian American Stories (Studiotobe) 'Hate Goes Viral'

Hosted by Cathy Erway, this podcast explores stories from the Asian diaspora in America. The 2020 season focused on anti-Asian racism in the US, as well as how Asian Americans respond to racism against others. "Hate Goes Viral," is one of three anecdotal episodes examining how different Asian American communities responded to pandemic-induced hate and harassment. This episode tells the stories of the assault of an elderly man in San Francisco and a thoughtful response to an anti-Asian tirade in New York.

7. Silence is Not an Option (CNN) 'Reimagining the Police'

Every week, host Don Lemon speaks with academics, activists and authors about how and why racism shows up in schools, elections, and other American institutions. Each episode also outlines the steps listeners can take to be anti-racist. The episode