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Kristal Brent Zook

Kristal Brent Zook

Investigative Journalist


Kristal Brent Zook, Ph.D., was born in Los Angeles and raised in an all-female household by her mother and grandmother, who are African American. Her father is Anglo American. She received a B.A. in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. from the History of Consciousness Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work as a journalist and cultural reporter began in the mid-1990's when she wrote regularly about film, tv and books for the Village Voice and the LA Weekly. Read More >

In 1999, Dr. Zook published her first book, Color By Fox: the Fox Network and the Revolution in Black Television, Oxford University Press, which took readers behind the scenes of popular African American television productions such as In Living Color, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Martin, New York Undercover, The Sinbad Show, Living Single, Roc, and South Central. The book revealed the internal dynamics that prevented certain depictions from appearing on air. Color By Fox is required reading in many college-level media and communications courses nationwide.

Her most recent book is I See Black People: Interviews with African American Owners of Radio and Television (Nation Books, February 2007). Through frank discussions with broadcast and cable owners, large and small, Dr. Zook sheds light into the mystery of why there are so few minority and women media owners.

Her previous book is Black Women's Lives: Stories of Power and Pain, which chronicles Dr. Zook's many years traveling across America, interviewing and building relationships with a diverse array of African American women. In these intimate portraits, she reveals the multilayered experiences and thoughts of women such as, an organic dairy farmer in Vermont, a filmmaker in California, a catfish worker and union organizer in Mississippi, an HIV/AIDS education activist in Florida; a New York corporate executive, and inmates in a Washington prison. At their core, the portraits presented are explorations of the dreams and disappointments of ordinary women living their own quiet revolutions.

Dr. Zook is currently a Contributing Writer with the Women's Media Center and Essence magazine and Associate Professor of Journalism at Hofstra University in Long Island. She has produced and edited for NPR’s “The Tavis Smiley Show” and appears as a commentator on NPR’s “News & Notes with Ed Gordon.” She speaks regularly on college campuses (www.apbspeakers.com) and on national cable and broadcast outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, MTV, Fox, and TV-One.

Her print work has also appeared in publications such as The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, Vibe, Savoy, Emerge, Honey, The Nation, The Source, Real Simple, The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, and other publications. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

Missing White Woman Syndrome: Why the Media Ignores Women of Color Who Disappear

The Essence of Truth & Justice: A Catfish Worker in the Mississippi Delta Fights for Respect

Media Monopoly: Why Having a Black-Owned TV Network or Radio Station is the Impossible Dream

Invisible Lives: Black Women Soldiers Dying In Iraq

Movin’ On Up: New Research on Race, Gender & Corporate Politics

It's Not About Sex: AIDS, African American Women & the Search for Self

Getting Clean: America's First Sugar-Free Elementary School & the Daring Woman Who Started It

Oil Wars in Africa: The Little-Known Story of the Women Who Stood Up, Undressed & Shut Down Powerful Multinational Corporations

Books & Media


I See Black People