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Justice In America Season 3: Darnell L. Moore

Darnell L. Moore joins Josie Duffy Rice as a guest cohost for season 3 of the podcast, starting Feb. 26.

The third season of Justice in America launches February 26. You can find it on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, SoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Hosted by Josie Duffy Rice, president of The Appeal, each episode of Justice in America focuses on a different topic in the criminal justice system. Through conversation, storytelling, media, and interviews, the show sheds light on how our system functions, and the ways in which it disproportionately harms poor people and people of color.

This season, the show features four guest co-hosts. Let’s meet one of the hosts, Darnell Moore.


Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry.


Darnell L. Moore is a media maker, educator, writer and thought leader whose work on marginal identity, equity and social justice has enabled him to be in community with those creating impact in the U.S. and abroad over the past two decades.

He is currently Director of Inclusion for Content and Marketing at Netflix and was the former Head of Strategy and Programs at Breakthrough US, a global socially innovative creative hub that uses media, art and tech to shift gender norms. In his recent past, he served as Editor-at-Large at CASSIUS and a former Senior Editor and Correspondent at Mic. In both roles, his editorial content, both video and textual, centered on issues of diverse identities, equity, and social transformation. He directed and hosted CASSIUS’s content on manhood/masculinity as well as its 4-part mini doc series exploring Black LGBTQIA+ life in Atlanta. He also was the host of Mic’s digital series, The Movement, through which he covered the people working to address social justice issues across the country. The series was subsequently nominated for a Breakthrough Series: Short Form Award at the 2016 IFP Gotham Awards. 

He has served as the co-managing editor at The Feminist Wire since 2010 and an editor of The Feminist Wire Books (a series of University of Arizona Press). He is also a writer-in-residence at the Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice at Columbia University and was a 2019 Founding Fellow at the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California where his focus has been on the intersections of race, gender, and LGBTQIA+ identities. 

Darnell has been published in various media outlets including the New York Times Book, MSNBC, The Guardian, Quartz, Playboy, Huffington Post, EBONY, The Root, The Advocate, OUT Magazine, Gawker, VICE, Guernica, Mondoweiss, Thought Catalog, Good Men Project and others. 

Darnell is the author of the 2019 Lambda Literary Award nominated memoir, No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America, which was listed as a 2018 NYT Notable Book and a 2018 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. He was listed as a one of Planned Parenthood’s Top 99 Dream Keepers in 2015, was featured in USA Today’s #InTheirOwnWords multimedia feature on contemporary civil rights activists, was named among EBONY Magazines’s 2015 Power 100, Time Out New York’s Eight LGBT Influencers, Be Modern Man 100, The Root 100 in 2016 and 2018, and the 2019 Queerty Pride 50. 

He assisted in organizing the Black Lives Matters Ride to Ferguson and, along with Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi (#BlackLivesMatter Co-Founders), developed the infrastructure for the BLM Network.



Josie Duffy Rice: Hey everyone. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. Season three of Justice in America is just around the corner. We’re doing things a little different this time around. Clint Smith won’t be joining us for this season. We’re really gonna miss him, but I called on some truly awesome folks to join me as co-hosts for season three and I invited each of my new co-hosts to hang out a little and talk about who they are in our ten questions bonus. So let’s start with Darnell Moore. Darnell is an author of No Ashes in the Fire a critically acclaimed memoir of growing up black and queer in New Jersey. He’s currently working on the followup to that memoir. He also works at Netflix. He’s a man of all trades and I’m so excited to have him join us as one of the co-hosts this season and have him answer our ten questions. So let’s talk to Darnell. 

I’m here with Darnell Moore, one of our esteemed guest hosts this season. He’s just been doing so much incredible work in the space of racial justice and criminal justice for so long and I’m so, so, so excited he’s joined us. 

Darnell Moore: So happy to be here. 

Josie: Yay. Okay, so let’s get to our bonus ten questions that we ask all our guests hosts. So the first is where do you live and where are you from? 

Darnell: I have been living in New York for the past decade and now am based in LA, but I’m from Camden, New Jersey. I need to sort of represent my city. 

Josie: Yes, you’re from Camden. 

Darnell: Yes. 

Josie: Great. Talk about what you do and what your work is. What are you working on these days? 

Darnell: Okay. I often like to say what is it that I love, right? So like everything that I do, I do towards the end of ensuring that our people, by people I mean marginalized, vulnerable folk, can be free, can have transformative lives and transformative justice. I’m a writer, I’m a media maker, content creator, I’m an author. 

Josie: Tell us about your book. 

Darnell: Yup. No Ashes in a Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America and working on a second book now and also have started a new job at Netflix as Director of Inclusion Strategy for Content and Marketing. 

Josie: A lot of your work has been based on criminal justice reform in the criminal justice system and really acknowledging the impact that the criminal justice system has had on marginalized communities, but also on your own community. Can you talk about what got you interested in the criminal justice system? 

Darnell: One of the first memories I have of having to enter into prison was visiting my father when I was very young and we would take school buses from the municipal sort of court and the city hall. They would bus families in to see family members who were incarcerated. So from a very early age, it was clear to me that many of the people in my family, particularly the black men, had been incarcerated for a variety of different reasons. And it was very clear to me without having sort of access to the language that something wasn’t working, if it were the case that they were going back over and over and over again without having changed lives. So I have always been really thoughtful about the failures and limitations of the criminal justice system, particularly in a way that it impacted my people. 

Josie: That memory, the thought of just being on a bus and visiting your dad is so powerful. Do you have other memories or moments that stick out to you when you think about this work? 

Darnell: For sure. I felt like those visits were like a pedagogy. They were teaching me something, right? So like when we had to take the goods that we would bring to the visits, you know, they had to be in sort of like very translucent bags and they were patting us down. There was a way that I was learning very early on without it being sort of said to me about the way that sort of racialization worked and the policing of my body. It was almost as if that moment always sticks out to me as a young child and my sisters, they’re patting us down, they’re checking us. We’re like being surveilled. It was a pedagogical moment. It was teaching me something about what it means to be like growing up in a space like Camden, New Jersey, always under the surveillance of a police and a criminal justice system that was wreaking havoc in our communities. 

Josie: Absolutely. In terms of people, books, articles, the entire kind of cultural moment around criminal justice reform, who or what has had the most influence on your view and maybe given you the language you are talking about? 

Darnell: Oh my gosh. Yeah, Ruthie Wilson Gilmore from CUNY whose work on abolitionism has really been sort of the ground of my own political vision. So Ruthie Wilson Gilmore, everybody needs to know her.

Josie: Right.

Darnell: Talks about abolition, not only as the work of removing the systems of things, the structures and institutions that do us harm and don’t work for us, but abolitionism she says it’s about imagining what needs to go in the place of the things that don’t work for us. And it’s such a sort of vast vision, what Robin Kelly calls like a freedom dream for how we not only think transformative justice, but how we do it and her work has been so influential to me. 

Josie: Perfect answer. Of all the sort of issues of criminal justice reform or the criminal legal system, is there sort of one topic in this system that is particularly important to you or that you think about a lot? 

Darnell: I do. I’m often thinking about what, you know, we use the term reform a lot and particularly reformed policing. Particularly in sort of like working poor communities of color. So I’m really, really thoughtful and think a lot about policing reform. I’ve had my own sort of like battles with police bodies within particular municipalities like Newark and Essex County and have seen some changes in those places. But because in a very everyday mundane way, like these are the people that are interacting with folk all the time. 

Josie: Right. 

Darnell: And this is sort of the face of what one might call like a criminal justice system that everyday people are having to encounter in very common ways. Some, I’m really thoughtful about policing within communities of color. 

Josie: Perfect. So where do you go to get your news? I go to a lot of places, but particularly like hello, I go to The Appeal. 

Josie: I love it.

Darnell: Love, love, love The Appeal. The New York Times, I’m reading I love Washington Post, despite their pay wall. The New Yorker. But I also look at other places too, right? Like the Black Youth Project. I’m a follower of folk on Twitter who use sort of Twitter as a democratizing space to create news from folks on stand point. 

Josie: Right. 

Darnell: But those are some of the places I go to. 

Josie: Are you reading anything now that you love? It could be criminal justice related.

Darnell: Oh my god, yes. Right now I’m reading Imani Perry’s Breathe. I believe the subtitle might be A Letter to My Sons and it is the most stunning, stunning vision of like parental slash motherhood story like that I’ve ever read. It’s beautiful. 

Josie: I’m glad that you’re giving me more recommendations cause I am actually reading a book that you recommended to me Looking for Lorraine, which is just beautiful. Another just amazing work. Okay. So imagine that you had free time.  You know, we want to know what you do for fun, what you do when you’re not working, your guilty pleasures. Yeah. 

Darnell: So I’m presently sitting here with a big pot almost of tea because clearly I was indulging in one of my guilty pleasures last night that was enjoying the company of really good friends over a lot of drinks and good food. So I love eating out. My partner and I, we eat like, we don’t cook. It’s a bad thing but like it means that we are eating out a lot. So I’m like, I’m traveling to all the restaurants, I love to travel and I’ve really, really just like am so basic and love spending time with the people that I love. Like as long as they’re in the room, wherever we are at it just what it makes me feel good. 

Josie: That’s a great answer. My answer is always like bad TV so your answer is much more-

Darnell: I do watch Netflix. I mean not just because I work there.

Josie: No it’s pretty great. And the last question is tell us your favorite criminal justice movie. 

Darnell: Okay, so like that is so hard. I hadn’t even thought about it, but like I would say Training Day is probably one of my favorite criminal injustice movies. (Laughs)

Josie: (Laughs) Perfect. 

Darnell: People like go in on Training Day and they go off on Denzel. So let me just give my rationale. 

Josie: Okay, I’m ready to hear it. I’m here for it. 

Darnell: There is a way that what this movie portrays is like the very mundane practice of corruption that we don’t imagine to be true. So like I grew up like we knew the bad cops like in my hood, you know what I mean? And like we knew them by name, we knew their works and we knew they’re sort of involvement, right? I hated Denzel in that movie. I hated him, right? Like he was acting so damn good. But part of why I hated him is because he portrayed at skill, the very mundane ways that so many folk who sort of put themselves behind a badge are complicit in criminal acts.

Josie: Darnell, we’re so glad to have you on this season. Thanks for joining us and thanks for answering our ten questions. 

Darnell: Of course. So happy to be here. 

Josie: Please make sure to also check out our ten questions bonus for Donovan X. Ramsey, me, Josie Duffy Rice, Derecka Purnell and Zak Cheney Rice. Our new season starts on February 26th so subscribe on Apple Podcast, on Stitcher, on Google Play or wherever you listen to podcasts and find us on Facebook at Justice in America or on Twitter @Justice_Podcast. We’re looking forward to talking to you on February 26th.