2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty Honoree: Rasheed Zaire Ajamu
Rasheed Zaire Ajamu, Journalist/Organizer for the Germantown Info Hub, will be honored during the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event on Aug. 26.
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The third annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event serves to highlight and showcase some of the most diverse and impactful young professionals across the Philadelphia region.
At this year's event, taking place Friday, Aug. 26, Rasheed Zaire Ajamu will be one of the 40 honorees.
For Rasheed Zaire Ajamu, his identities and related experiences have helped develop his passion for storytelling. As a journalist and reporter for the Germantown Info Hub, which comes from under the leadership for Resolve Philly, he is able to produce community-centered journalism that approaches stories from a solutions-based standpoint in Germantown, the neighborhood in which he was born and raised in.
With this approach, rather than simply citing the problems that affect the Germantown community, Ajamu and the Resolve team try to offer solutions and explore the pros and cons of those solutions
As a reporter, Ajamu also co-hosts the Germantown Info Hub Hour radio show, where he reports on the solutions that can go toward addressing gun violence, food insecurity, gentrification and other problems affecting the community.
Among his other work includes creating the Phreedom Jawn Instagram account in response to the state and police violence Black Philadelphians were subjected to. Since its launch in May 202020, the account has evolved and helped connect neighbors to different services, organizations, and events.
As part of the lead-up to the AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event, AL DÍA asked each of the honorees a set of identical questions and collected their responses.
Here are Rasheed Ajamu's responses:
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your professional career?
Burnout. I'm a workaholic as a side effect of internalized trauma. I also live with ADHD and anxiety. I try to take on many things and pour into those commitments without giving myself time to replenish. Even on my off days, I feel like there is something I'm forgetting or to be done. It's an everyday struggle to be intentional about how I show up for myself, but I take it day by day.
What are steps that can be taken to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in your industry? Why is it important to do?
Community engagement in the neighborhoods of the demographic that your newsroom claims to serve. Recently, there's a trend of focusing on the things that are viral or trending, but no one is actually speaking to people on the ground. Nor are they putting their money where their mouth is by making a budget for these things. Everything can't be take take take for the benefit of growing your brand or adding to the faux credibility of your organization. You can't frame a community's problems for them without actually speaking to the community. Journalism can be a mutual exchange. Journalism can build trustworthy and long-sustaining relationships. You have to be willing to be led.
What does being a leader mean to you?
Being a leader means being a servant to your community. Leadership is knowing when to use what you have for the good of your people and when to take the back seat for the sake of your people. Be adaptable and be teachable. You're not above criticism, and everything goes out of style one time or another, meaning just because what you did a year ago, five years ago, or twenty years ago worked doesn't mean it works now.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself having a food truck or a stand. While I love journalism, I love food that much more. Before journalism, I was a cook for nearly six years, which got me through high school and college. I hope that within the next few years, I can retire my pen and pick back up my spatula.
The 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event will take place Friday, Aug. 26 at The Vie at Cescaphe. To learn more or purchase your ticket, click here.