Black Activist Becomes Own Media
Vanaski, Nafari, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
For most of the day on Tuesday, news executives from Pittsburgh and beyond sat in a room and banged their collective heads against the wall trying to figure out how to diversify their coverage of black men. The summit, "Evolving the Image of the African-American Male in American Media," turned up many concerns, but little in the way of answers.
The biggest problem: A report from the Heinz Endowments showed a dearth of coverage of black men among the city's mainstream media. When black men did make it on the front page of a newspaper, the study found, the stories were about crime 36 percent of the time.
It's a trend Pittsburgh activist Jasiri X has noticed. He was among the speakers at the Tuesday summit aimed at reshaping the coverage of black men in media. His approach to the problem? Start your own news program.
Jasiri started his career as a hip-hop artist and then began writing and performing "conscience rap" with his partner, Paradise Gray. His various protest songs brought him national fame.
In 2007, he started his news program, "This Week with Jasiri X," an Internet TV series in which he, as he puts it, raps the news of the day in four- or five-minute segments. His YouTube channel site so far has had more than 1 million hits. He still writes and performs separate songs, such as "I Am Troy Davis," about the recently executed Texas convicted murderer; "What if the Tea Party Were Black?" and "Republican Woman (Stay Away From Me)." The video for the last song boasts a gun-toting Sarah Palin lookalike. Which, you'd have to concede, you won't find in the mainstream media. …