Cultural commentator Jay Smooth to present Carleton convocation

October 9, 2018

Leading cultural commentator John Randolph, better known as Jay Smooth, will present Carleton College’s weekly convocation on Friday, October 12 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Entitled, “On Hip-Hop, Race, and Politics: The Way We Talk About Things,” Smooth’s address will focus on how we as a nation talk about race and politics.

Best known for his sociocultural analysis, Smooth is an influential writer, DJ, radio personality, and blogger. He gained national attention with his video, “How To Tell People They Sound Racist,” in which he humorously yet thoughtfully describes how to have the awkward “that-sounded-racist” conversation. This video has become part of the curriculum in many schools and universities.

Smooth is also the founder and former host of New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show, The Underground Railroad, airing on the city’s progressive non-commercial station WBAI since 1991. On the show, Smooth helped break artists including the Wu Tang Clan, Naughty by Nature, Jean Grae and Natural Elements. Iconic rapper Chuck D called The Underground Railroad “home of the best hip-hop conversations.”

Smooth now focuses on his Ill Doctrine web video series (, where he digs into music and larger cultural issues from a perspective of social justice advocacy. Smooth also founded and blogs on the website,, one of the world’s first hip-hop websites.

Smooth’s signature blend of humor and incisive analysis has garnered millions of views on his web video series. In addition to his video blogs, Smooth has been featured on NPR, CNN and MSNBC, where host Rachel Maddow hailed him as a “genius.” He has also delivered talks on race and culture at TEDx and hosted a lecture series on media literacy on the YouTube Crash Course channel.

The son of a white mother and a black father, Smooth grew up in New York City. He chose the pseudonym “Jay Smooth” as a teenager when he started his radio program. He credits his mixed race heritage for his "unique position to travel between different worlds” and to help facilitate healthy discussions about race and racism.

This event is sponsored by Carleton College Convocations. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located at First and College Streets in Northfield.