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jimi izrael
Appreciative Reflection Culture Critic and Journalist
With his long dreads, muscled body and infectious laugh there’s no way jimi izrael could
go “incognegro” -- a term he used recently when apologizing for not promptly returning my
phone call. “Incognegro,” defined in the online socially constructed Urban Dictionary as “a
black person trying to maintain a low profile”
(http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=incognegro).
Conversational Catalyst
We met in the early 2000s when I taught a screenwriting at Cleveland State University and
have remained supportive friends. jimi was already an accomplished journalist and cultural
critic. What makes jimi successful as a writer and a nationally recognized commentator is
that he’s wickedly funny and culturally savvy. In my class, I occasionally reminded him that
he needed his own show. There is no doubt that the classroom experience often has
elements of improvisational comedy including the occasional hecklers. jimi would make
provocative statements, sit back and watch the classroom erupt. For example, he told one
of the African American students that his screenplay character wasn’t black enough. His
remark was the opening salvo for a lively group discussion on class differences and why
black isn’t always about sounding “ghetto.” jimi brings an interesting slant to most issues
and it is never a group-think opinion. He’s fearless about speaking “his” truth and our
classroom provided the forum for many free-spirited exchanges that are still remembered
favorably by former students. Now jimi is paid for his insightful, and often controversial
commentary.
Cultural Provocateur
jimi izrael is currently a weekly panelist on the NPR (National Public Radio) series The
Barbershop that is part of the radio series Tell Me More. The Barbershop is a
conversational forum, moderated by Michel Martin, where jimi discusses politics, sports
and pop culture events with syndicated columnist Rubin Navarette, civil rights attorney
Arsalan Ifithar and NPR Political Editor Ken Rudin. You don’t have to agree with jimi but
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