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Kristal Brent Zook - Hofstra University. Hempstead, NY, US

Kristal Brent Zook

Professor of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations | Hofstra University


Author and award-winning journalist whose work on race, women, culture and social justice has appeared in dozens of media outlets.



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Kristal Brent Zook's Media Reel Video chat with Dr. Kristal Brent Zook A Journalist's Perspective on Ferguson Kristal Brent Zook MSNBC MediaCritic




Dr. Kristal Brent Zook is a professor of journalism in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University and has more than 30 years of experience as an author and award-winning journalist. She is a former contributing writer for The Washington Post and Essence and her work on race, women, culture and social justice has been published by dozens of magazines, newspapers and digital outlets, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, LIFE, TIME, Entertainment Weekly, the Nation, Vibe, and the Guardian. Dr. Zook has provided on-air commentary for NPR, CNN, BET, MTV, MSNBC, and C-Span and appeared on CNN’s “The Nineties” where she discussed black television. A highlight of her career was interviewing Oprah Winfrey. She is the author of four books, including her most recent, a memoir, The Girl in the Yellow Poncho.

Industry Expertise (4)

Media - Print

Writing and Editing

Media - Online


Areas of Expertise (5)


Media Analysis

Social Justice Issues


Race and Gender Relations

Accomplishments (1)

The Girl in the Yellow Poncho (professional)


In her memoir, The Girl in the Yellow Poncho (Duke University Press), Kristal Brent Zook recalls growing up biracial and the painful search for her white father while being raised by two generations of black women, her mother and grandmother. It speaks to the rapidly exploding multiracial population, and to a daughter’s story of faith, forgiveness, and redemption.

Education (2)

University of California Santa Cruz: Ph.D., History of Consciousness 1994

University of California Santa Barbara: B.A., English 1987

Affiliations (3)

  • National Association of Black Journalists
  • Essence Magazine - Contributing Writer
  • Alicia Patterson Foundation Board of Directors

Languages (1)

  • Spanish

Media Appearances (12)

Did Greed Derail a Handful of Tulsa Massacre Commemoration Events?

Medium  online


A piece in Medium.com by Kristal Brent Zook, PhD, an author and professor of journalism at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, examines a controversy surrounding the 100th anniversary commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, in which a White mob looted and burned down a prosperous Black community, killing some 300 residents.

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Revisiting Sounder: Cicely Tyson’s first Oscar nod

Entertainment Weekly  print


Kristal Brent Zook, PhD, an author and professor of journalism at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, contributed an essay to Entertainment Weekly’s new special edition, “A Celebration of Black Film,” which looks back at films and artists spanning the last century. The piece, “Revisiting Sounder: Cicely Tyson’s first Oscar Nod,” published just days after the acclaimed actress’ death at age 96, discusses how “a simple story about a sharecropper family and their dog” reveals truths about institutional racism.

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Three Women Who Helped Their Sons Become Civil Rights Icons

The New York Times  print


Professor Zook wrote a review for The New York Times of Anna Malaika Tubbs’ nonfiction book, "The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation." The book examines the lives of Alberta King, Louise Little, and Berdis Baldwin, whom Tubbs says were largely “ignored even though it should have been easy throughout history to see them, to at least wonder about them.”

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How Black Lives Matter Came to the Academy

The New Yorker  print


A piece in The New Yorker by Kristal Brent Zook, PhD, an author and professor of journalism at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, examines the growth of the #BlackintheIvory hashtag as a way for Black people to share stories of systemic racism and give voice to painful experiences in the academic setting.

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Kamala Harris' checklist

Newsday  online


Kristal Brent Zook, PhD, an author and professor of journalism at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, wrote an op-ed for Newsday about the ongoing debate about multiracial identity, particularly as Kamala Harris, of both Black and Indian descent, stands in the spotlight as the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

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I Need a Break from Being a Woman of Color

Zora Magazine  online


"Of course, I don’t really want to give up who I am: a black, biracial, African American, and white woman. But I sometimes crave a break from having to trudge this descriptor with me into every thought and memory, every writing assignment, or vacation — every single new encounter with a stranger."

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For Mother’s Day, campaign aims to bail out moms jailed in an unjust system

Women's Media Center  online


Kristal Brent Zook, PhD, a journalist, author, and professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, writes about the National Bail Out movement in her latest piece for Women’s Media Center. She notes that the movement is “a collective effort to end pretrial detention and, eventually, the mass incarceration of black and brown people.” Black women, in particular, are twice as likely as white women to be arrested and jailed for common offenses such as traffic violations. Prof. Zook discusses how the bail out campaign aims to bring moms jailed in an unjust system home in time for Mother’s Day.

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Oscar Nominee Ava DuVernay on the Power of Storytelling

Essence  print


Kristal Brent Zook, a journalist and professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, has written the March 2017 cover story for Essence magazine about director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay, whose documentary feature, 13th, is nominated for an Academy Award this year. Her film, Selma, was also an Oscar nominee for best picture in 2015.

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Why the ‘Ethnic’ Aisle is Merging with the ‘Beauty’ One

The Washington Post  


SheaMoisture hair products launched the second phase of its national #BreakTheWalls campaign recently with 60-second commercials challenging what it sees as the beauty industry’s outmoded labeling practices. The spots feature a dazzling array of women of all shades, with every imaginable hair texture, color and style asking the singular question, “What is normal?” Or en Español: “Soy normal?” The implication is that in today’s multiracial United States, kinky, curly, wavy and nappy hair textures — rather than straight ones — are the new “normal.”...

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Anita Hill, Reluctant Hero

The Nation  


For those of us who witnessed them, the US Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings of October 1991 will remain forever etched in our memories. For three days, the hearings were broadcast live across every channel on the dial. We watched with bated breath as Clarence Thomas, George H. W. Bush’s beleaguered nominee for the Supreme Court, defended himself against charges of sexual harassment levied by Anita Hill, a former employee who’d worked as his personal assistant 10 years earlier. It was reality television at its inception; far more compelling than the latest string of flashy adaptations of real-life legal dramas: Netflix’s Making a Murderer, FX’s The People v. OJ Simpson. The story’s characters were archetypal: Thomas with his barely concealed rage; and Hill, a 35-year-old law professor at the University of Oklahoma, who was so measured, so thoroughly composed that it was unnerving...

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The Fluidity of Racial Identity

Dallas News  


A recent Pew study, “Multiracial in America: Proud, Diverse and Growing in Numbers,” has unleashed a flurry of new commentary about a group that’s growing three times as fast as the population as a whole. Pew says its numbers have been seriously underestimated by the U.S. census, which only began offering a box for those of more than one race in 2000. In 2010, those who checked it were 2.9 percent of the population, but Pew now places the number as high as 6.9 percent, with a serious caveat: Fully 61 percent of those with a mixed racial background don’t consider themselves to be part of this “mixed race or multiracial group.”...

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Are Dreams More Important to African Americans

The Huffington Post  


Every chance I get, I pull a neurobiologist or psychologist aside and compel him or her to tell me about the latest research on dreams and dreaming. The topic fascinates me. Not long ago I cornered Dr. Loma Flowers, a community psychiatrist in the mostly African American community of East Palo Alto, California into a phone interview. Dr. Flowers once hosted a national talk show on Black Entertainment Television during the 1980’s and is arguably the most prominent black woman researcher focused on dreams...

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