Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, co-founder of Racial Justice NOW!, will be featured throughout the second season of “Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas.” The series will focus on education in America. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Local woman talks education on HBO’s ‘Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas’

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar is the co-founder of Racial Justice NOW!

A local woman who helped found an organization dedicated to dismantling racism will appear next month on a popular HBO late-night series. 

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, co-founder of Racial Justice NOW!, will be featured throughout the second season of “Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas.” The series will focus on education in America. 

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Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, co-founder of Racial Justice NOW!, will be featured throughout the second season of “Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas.” The series will focus on education in America. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Photo: Rodney Ladsomn

“I really hope people see it in a positive light,” Sankara-Jabar said. “The show is sort of comedic, but talks about serious issues. I hope that people see some hope.” 

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The series follows Cenac, a comedian and writer, across the country as he explores social and cultural issues, according to HBO’s website. Cenac is also known for his work as a correspondent on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. 

Sankara-Jabar was flown to an HBO studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., last fall for her appearance on the show. 

Segment director Edmond Hawksin, from left, Wyatt Cenac and director of photography Graham Willoughby go over blocking on the set of Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas. (Bryan Derballa/The New York Times)
Photo: BRYAN DERBALLA/NYT

During the interview she and Cenac discussed the work Racial Justice NOW! has done in the Dayton community, including creating programs with Dayton Public Schools and working with Sen. Peggy Lehner to pass Ohio House Bill 318, which prohibits out-of-school suspensions or expulsions for pre-K to third-grade students who commit minor offenses, starting in the 2021-2022 school year. 

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“The show is about what’s wrong with education in America, but we talked about solutions,” Sankara-Jabar said. “I was consulted about my expertise in what people call the ‘school to prison pipeline,’ so I talked about the different solutions we put forth in Dayton.” 

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, co-founder of Racial Justice NOW!, will be featured throughout the second season of “Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas.” The series will focus on education in America. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

They also discussed racial disparity, restorative justice and practices, and forging strong relationships with parents, teachers and community members. 

“We talked about creating strong relationships to make a healthy school community and a healthy school climate.” 

Wyatt Cenac, an alumnus of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show in his office discussing his new show on HBO, "Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas,"(Bryan Derballa/The New York Times)
Photo: BRYAN DERBALLA/NYT

The first episode of the second season of “Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas” airs April 5. Sankara-Jabar said she makes an appearance in many episodes during the series but will be featured heavily in the second episode. 

“I’m hoping it is a story of resilience for people,” Sankara-Jabar said. “I also hope it inspires somebody if they’re watching the show and maybe if they are experiencing that in their community they can see us as a model to feel empowered to do something similar in their own community.”

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