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Black media’s quarterback: an interview wit’ journalist Kevin Weston

November 3, 2012

Join Kevin Weston and a pantheon of superstars being honored on Black Media Appreciation Night Nov. 26, 8 p.m., at Oakland Yoshi’s

by Minister of Information JR

Kevin Weston with daughter Lelah, now 1½ years old
Kevin Weston is one of my original journalism teachers and mentors. I remember debating with Kev about story ideas, arguing about money that I was supposed to be paid and all types of things and, although there were ripples in the water, there has never been a time when we were not friends, where I couldn’t depend on his sound big brotherly advice to work out family issues, disputes in the workplace or anything else.

I don’t know how many times I showed up to Kev’s office over the years, broke and frustrated, telling him about my new found plans to quit journalism. Every single time, he talked me down from jumping off of the cliff and helped me to see opportunities that were right in front of my face that I didn’t recognize.

Although this may sound like a special relationship we have, which it is, Kevin has this type of relationship with at least a dozen young journalists of all colors, who he has helped to keep in the journalism game. If we looked at journalism as a sport, he would be the quarterback deserving hall of fame recognition.

So on Monday, Nov. 26, at Yoshi’s in Oakland, we will be honoring Kevin and a number of other Black media-makers who represent for the Black community in Northern California. Everyone is invited. The night will be a celebration of life and resistance in the home of the Black Panther Party and independent rap music. Until then, here is Kevin in his own words.

M.O.I. JR: How are you, bruh? I’m so glad to have the chance to interview you. We had a recent scare with your health. Can you tell the people what is going on with you?

Kevin Weston: I have been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Generally my health has been good since my diagnosis, but it’s been a long haul. And we have long way to go.

The doctors gave me only days to live, so I’m thankful for every day that I am awake and able to contribute to my community. I am eternally thankful and grateful for all the friends and family who stepped up and supported me and my family as we went through this.

Kevin Weston and his wife, acclaimed attorney and activist Lateefah Simon
M.O.I. JR: What is a bone marrow transplant? Why do you need it?

Kevin Weston: A bone marrow transplant basically replaces your immune system with the immune system of a donor. This donor could be a sibling or someone that you don’t know.

African Americans are less likely than white folks to have donors in the international donor database. We need to have more African-American donors and more donors of color in general. It’s less likely for Asians and other minorities to get matches through the international donor database. It’s crucial for us to get tested and get in this.

M.O.I. JR: Why is it important for Black people to donate their bone marrow?

Kevin Weston: Go to marrow.org to find more information or Google “Be the match” to get tested and get in this database. It’s simple. They’ll send you a test kit to your home. You swab the inside of your mouth and send it back and that gets the ball rollin’.

I need a bone marrow transplant because it’s really my only chance for an actual cure to the disease.

M.O.I. JR: What is the state of Black journalism in your opinion in California and nationally?

Kevin Weston: I think Black media, just like mainstream media, is in a period of change, and I think there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation and new blood. For the most part, the Black community is working on a 50-year-old business model that needs to get updated. More revenue streams need to be mined and taken advantage of, and the tone and tenor of our media is going to have to reflect not just our ethnicity but geography as well.

When the doctors were giving Kevin only days to live, Lateefah married him in a beautiful wedding on Sept. 1, 2012, in his hospital room crowded with friends and family. Now that he needs a bone marrow transplant, it’s time for everyone to go to marrow.org and join the donor database.
The fact is the Black community in the Bay Area is shrinking. We are moving to the outskirts of the Bay Area. So the paper that will serve the cities is going to have to take into account our new non-Black neighbors and how we interact with them.

M.O.I. JR: Is there anything that you are happy about in this current media landscape?

Kevin Weston: I think technology has had the greatest impact on what I see as good news for media – more people can actually create media and do it themselves. I think this is very positive.

M.O.I. JR: What can people do to assist you and your family in this trying time?

Kevin Weston: People should really consider getting tested, swabbed for bone marrow transplants. This doesn’t just affect folks like me but also sickle cell patients and other autoimmune deficiency patients. It is crucial for us to get involved and help save more people’s lives.

The People’s Minister of Information JR is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He also hosts two weekly shows on KPFA 94.1 FM and kpfa.org: The Morning Mix every Wednesday, 8-9 a.m., and The Block Report every Friday night-Saturday morning, midnight-2 a.m. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.

 

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