Redesign the race conversation

Redesign the race conversation

Tech Highlights:

  • Derek Chauvin, the former cop who shot Floyd, was found guilty of murder. Three individuals were found guilty in the assassination of Ahmaud Arbury in Georgia. In Atlanta, a white shooter killed eight individuals, six of them were Asian. The movement to recognise and confront systemic racism progressed. Local school boards clashed over how to teach the unsettling history of racism in the United States while local and state governments struggled to remove statues of racist historical figures.

  • After the public killing of George Floyd and demonstrations of racial injustices against Black people made 2020 a year of racial reckoning, 2021 delivered what can best be defined as a follow-up year — a continuation of certain established narrative lines with new ones forming.

Against this backdrop, AP’s Race and Ethnicity team tried to capture the story both in sweep and in painstaking detail. Here, some AP journalists from that team involved in the coverage reflect on some of the year’s stories and how journalism handles the coverage of race.

Journalists of color for decades in this country have been trying to bring race and coverage of inequity to the forefront, but it’s been a struggle. I don’t think that’s a secret. And I think that there are still struggles in terms of how to make sure that coverage is equitable, how to make sure that we are centering these voices from communities that have been ignored for so long.

I feel as if 2021 was really a continuation of everything that we dealt with in 2020. Race is still the story. It is still that constant through line to a lot of the issues that we have been covering. … This country right now is at a place where people are demanding that we talk more frankly about the role of structural and systemic racism and how that has led to all of these inequities that really cross over into every single beat that we cover here at AP. So that’s been what I’ve been reflecting on — how racism is at the forefront of all of these issues. And it’s not going away anytime soon.

I wrote a story this year about the amount of grief that Black Americans in particular are feeling because of the constant stream of Black Americans dying at the hands of police but also the toll of the dead that we’ve seen from the pandemic. So paying attention to grief and how people are grappling with all these issues that are impacting them right now.

I would also say climate change. I think that looking forward, we’re all in some way or another going to be climate reporters because this is a topic that intersects race and inequity — and intersects every single beat that we cover. So I think when we saw the hurricane earlier this year, there was a lot of talk about is this yet another example of how climate and environmental issues are going to have a disparate toll on communities of color.

I firmly believe that race coverage is not a standalone topic. It’s not a special interest topic, right? This is the through line in all of the coverage areas that we have in AP as well as other news organizations. So I think we as journalists right now in this moment really need to think about how we can dig deeper. How can we go beyond the breaking news headlines, and really tell robust stories and create robust coverage that moves the conversation forward, but again, you know, stick with the facts and report the truth? I think that is really one of the most important issues facing journalism right now.

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