Kat Stafford Profile picture
@AP national investigative writer, race & ethnicity • @IRE_NICAR board • Deputy Chair of @NABJ Print Task Force • Tips/story ideas: kstafford@ap.org
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19 Feb
A white neighbor displayed a KKK flag in a window facing a Black neighbor in a suburb near Detroit. "I was furious. How dare he feel comfortable putting a symbol of hatred, violence & domestic terrorism at his window facing my house? How dare he.” google.com/amp/s/amp.free…
I know y’all remember what I’ve been saying about Michigan’s dark history of racism that folks try to gloss over and deny. Guess what? Racism is still a problem here. Everywhere.
Grosse Pointe Park, as well as the other Pointes, are examples of places that Black parents warn their children about in Michigan. They’re located right next to Detroit.
Read 4 tweets
4 Feb
NEW: Communities of color are disparately impacted by environmental & climate issues. But philanthropic funding rarely goes toward environmental & climate justice groups led by Black, Indigenous & other POC.

There's a growing movement to change that.

Stunning: A 2020 study by the Tishman Environment & Design Center at The New School found between 2016 & 2017, 12 national enviro grant makers awarded $1.34B to orgs in the Gulf and Midwest regions.

Just $18M — 1.3% — was awarded to groups dedicated to environmental justice.
The Donors of Color Network launched a Climate Funders Justice Pledge Thurs, challenging the nation’s climate philanthropists to shift 30% of their donations toward environmental efforts led by Black/Indigenous/POC. The Kresge Foundation & five other top funders have committed.
Read 5 tweets
13 Jan

Flint mother Ariana Hawk struggled to find words.

Bittersweet came to mind, as did frustrated when she learned charges were forthcoming in the Flint water crisis.

And repairing the physical & emotional scars of Flint residents could take years.apnews.com/article/flint-…
You may remember Ariana Hawk's story. Her son, Sincere Smith, was two when his picture, captured by the talented @reginahboone, made the cover of Time magazine in 2016. Sincere suffered painful, severe rashes & dry patches because of Flint's water --A trauma impossible to forget.
I spoke to Hawk after the @AP broke the news. She's hopeful but said justice delayed is justice denied. Sincere is 7 now. He remains skeptical of all tap water.

The family went to FL recently. The children asked if the water was safe to drink.

"It's heartbreaking," Hawk said.
Read 5 tweets
12 Jan
DETROIT (AP) — The AP has learned ex-Michigan Gov. Snyder and others have been told they’re being charged in Flint water scandal.
Read 4 tweets
12 Nov 20
NEW: Black policy leaders will play a pivotal role in President-elect @JoeBiden's transition, marking one of the most diverse agency review teams in history. My latest for @AP:
Of the 500+ team members announced, more than half are women -- & Black men & women are leading more than one-quarter of the teams.

Diversity is significant: The teams will be responsible for evaluating the operations of federal agencies that have a broad impact on Americans’.
More on why it matters: Biden will take office at a time when the nation is confronting a historic pandemic, joblessness & police brutality -- crises that have disparately impacted Black Americans.

Black voters powered his victory. They want action now.
Read 5 tweets
1 Oct 20
Michigan AG Dana Nessel has filed felony charges against two well-known out-of-state Republican operatives for allegedly orchestrating robocalls aimed at suppressing the vote in the Detroit area. detroitnews.com/story/news/pol…
From the story: The calls were made in late Aug to nearly 12K residents with phone numbers from the 313 area code. They stem from a false robocall that discouraged mail-in voting by saying their personal info would be part of a public database used by police if they vote by mail.
Why is this significant? Detroit is the nation's largest Black-majority city, it will play a major role in deciding which way Michigan goes in Nov. & in turn, a role in the overall outcome of the election. Suppression tactics like this could impact turnout.
Read 4 tweets
22 Sep 20
Sen. @KamalaHarris stops in Flint at Magnificlips- a local downtown barber shop owned by Earl Jones and Tim Tyler. Due to the pandemic, their business was forced to shut down for a period of time one week after opening.
Harris was greeted by Senator Debbie Stabenow, who is wearing a black Biden/Harris face mask. Hard to hear but Harris talked to them about the challenges minority businesses owners face.
Sen. Kamala Harris taking a photo with a local business owner and her daughter. (Sen. Stabenow snapped the photo)
Read 24 tweets
24 Aug 20
I think often of how reporters are told to work their way up in newsrooms by starting out on a night cops shift/covering police. Breaking news is seen as an entry level, easy to do gig. But it's not. Nor is it a throwaway beat, it's an integral part of community coverage.
Why do many newsrooms treat it as if it doesn't require a certain level of expertise? Expertise that really is required on all fronts: Not just in learning how to cover a police department but more specifically the community that the police department is supposed to serve.
It's ingrained in reporters to develop police sourcing. Makes sense to a degree. But what if we spent as much effort developing sourcing within the community, too? Police coverage isn't just covering the institution itself but rather its interactions with the community.
Read 5 tweets
20 Aug 20
I'm encouraged to see so many newsrooms today publish internal diversity numbers & acknowledge that most don't reflect the communities they cover. But please remember, it's not enough to hire Black/POC journalists. These plans must include retainment & career advancement.
As you lay out hiring plans, ask yourself these questions: What sort of environment will these journalists be brought into? Will their voices be heard? Are they only being hired in entry level roles? Or in prominent beats and management roles?
Yes, newsrooms have shrunk/been decimated. But that doesn't change this fact: We weren't doing that great of a job covering these communities before that. The very future of journalism depends on all of us rising to the occasion to truly cover America's shifting demographics.
Read 4 tweets
18 Aug 20
This narrative is a double-edged sword. Black women have consistently show up & show out at the polls in higher numbers than just about every other demographic, ushering along families & friends. Many argue it's time for someone else to shoulder that unfair burden & expectation.
Let's stop placing a burden at the feet of Black voters. Yes, they're vital. Yes, their votes count. But we know how that supposed adoration can quickly turn into blame. I.E. the narrative after 2016.
Ugh. Shown up and shown out.*
Read 4 tweets
18 Aug 20
Michelle Obama: "... Here at home as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and a never ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered, stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation's highest office." #DemConvention
Michelle Obama: "Kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another ... They're looking around wondering if we've been lying to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value." #DemConvention
Michelle Obama: "Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country ... He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us." #DemConvention
Read 4 tweets
12 Aug 20
My latest: @JoeBiden naming @KamalaHarris as his running mate wasn’t just historical.

It represented a full-circle moment for Black women, who for generations have fought for their voices to be heard.

“It tells Black girls that they can be president." apnews.com/46ef207f32a089…
Harris’ selection is historic in many senses, according to the nearly dozen of political strategists, voters and experts I interviewed. It also notably marks the first time a person of Asian descent is on the presidential ticket.
@donnabrazile told me: “Joe Biden understood this historic moment required a tough, smart and respected public servant. He selected someone who fought her way to the top without a ladder or an elevator but she climbed those stairs and never lost faith."
Read 5 tweets
10 Aug 20
NEW: More than 100 Black male leaders sign letter demanding Joe Biden pick Black woman as VP. “Failing to select a Black woman ... means YOU WILL lose the election ... Black women are defining the future of politics so it's time you let one define the future of your campaign.”
Who signed onto the letter:
This comes on the heels of a separate letter signed by almost 700 influential Black women last week, who denounced racist and sexist attacks against the VP candidates.
Read 5 tweets
7 Aug 20
Tom Eckerle is on Leelanau County's Road Commission in Michigan. A colleague asked him why he wasn't wearing a mask. Using a racial slur, he blamed the pandemic on Detroit -- a 78% Black city: “Well, this whole thing is because of them n-----s in Detroit."washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08…
No one should be surprised. I'm not. Michigan is home to several sundown towns. Racism exists in Michigan. Yes, its home to "progressive" college towns like Ann Arbor. Guess what, racism exists there, too. Trust me, I covered many of these communities.
I'm also a native Detroiter whose parents lived through the '67 uprisings and who feel very little has changed about the city's relationship with certain neighboring and far flung suburbs. The racism isn't subtle, folks.
Read 5 tweets
5 Jul 20
Kanye West does not = Black voters. These takes are just flat out wrong. If anything, this moment is showing the deep disconnect the media has in truly understanding Black voters/people.
Potential young Black voters who are in the streets protesting for their lives, pushing for systemic change/end of structural racism & mourning the lost of loved ones( COVID-19) will be moved vote for Kanye West? If that’s the take away, you’re not truly hearing their cries.
Loss.* Damn autocorrect.
Read 4 tweets
1 Jul 20
NEW w/@hrfingerhut: As a national reckoning over racism & policing grips the nation, white Democrats are far more likely now than they were a few years ago to think police brutality is a serious issue. But will it push them to head to the polls in November?apnews.com/016ee8f275d615…
This has been a reality for Black Americans for decades, centuries. But for the first time, the poll shows significant changes in how white Democrats view police brutality & the consequences: 64% now describe police brutality as very/extremely serious. Just 29% did in July 2015.
Progressive @TurnoutPAC exec director @abmorgan: “Voters are recognizing that this is the most consequential election of our lifetimes. ... I think we’re going to see folks turn this pain and outrage of this moment into lasting change at the ballot box.”
Read 4 tweets
19 Jun 20
Just in!

"@AP’s style is now to capitalize Black in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense, conveying an essential and shared sense of history, identity and community among people who identify as Black."

#Juneteenth blog.ap.org/announcements/…

"We also now capitalize Indigenous in reference to original inhabitants of a place.

These changes align with long-standing capitalization of other racial and ethnic identifiers such as Latino, Asian American and Native American."
On white: "As a global news organization, we are continuing to discuss within the U.S. and internationally whether to capitalize the term white. Considerations are many and include any implications that doing so might have outside the United States."
Read 4 tweets
17 Jun 20
NEW: A new poll finds that more Americans today believe police brutality is a serious problem that too often goes undisciplined & unequally targets Black people -- a dramatic shift in the nation’s opinions on policing & race compared to five years ago.
About half of American adults now say police violence is a “very” or “extremely” serious problem, up from about a third as recently as Sept. last year. Only about 3 in 10 said the same in July 2015, a few months after Freddie Gray, a black man, died in Baltimore police custody. Image
More Americans also now think police in most communities are more likely to use deadly force against a black person than a white person, 61%, up from 49% in July 2015. NOTE: Changes in opinions about social issues are more often slow and incremental. This overall shift is rare. Image
Read 5 tweets
15 Jun 20
NEW from me: Black Americans are disproportionately likely to say a family member or close friend has died of COVID-19, according to a new series of surveys conducted since April that lays bare how black Americans have borne the brunt of the pandemic.
The findings are stark. @hrfingerhut’s analysis: Eleven percent of African Americans say they were close with someone who has died of COVID-19, compared with 5% of Americans overall & 4% of white Americans. The numbers are even more grim in cities & states hit hard by the virus. Image
Black Americans have been living in a perpetual state of crisis, experts say. The COVID-19 pandemic & civil unrest are the result of the longstanding effects of structural racism & generational trauma exacted upon Black Americans in the centuries following slavery.
Read 7 tweets
7 Jun 20
My latest: Black activists say the police killing of #GeorgeFloyd & the nationwide unrest that followed could be the catalyst to overhaul the criminal justice system. Some are pushing for sweeping change: Defunding or dismantling police agencies altogether.bit.ly/2AafCNx
“What we’re facing is a real reckoning on a lot of levels,” said @aliciagarza, Black Lives Matter co-founder. She said the pandemic pulled back the curtains on "decades of disinvestment, decades of devaluing" & now, we're seeing again the police violence black people face.
Many activists believe the unrest could be an opportunity to press Democratic leadership, including Joe Biden, to address criminal justice in a deeper way. Some credit Biden for condemning police brutality & urging fundamental change.

But they want him to go further.
Read 8 tweets
4 Jun 20
Everything that's happening right now, all of the anger and frustration you're seeing from black journalists isn't something that just bubbled to the surface. This is following years of our ideas, thoughts & expertise being cast aside.
It’s really not enough to just listen to us in this moment. We have been saying these things for years, for decades. There’s no need to form a task force to identify the problems. The issues are well documented. It’s time to shift toward tangible action.
To everyone saying we must have a “free exchange of ideas,” and that we “owe it to readers to present both sides,” this is true in many regards. But let’s be clear: Racism is not a both sides issue. The amplification of some voices can put people in very real danger.
Read 5 tweets