On Thursday, Minneapolis faced a curfew and a tense night after a murder suspect's downtown suicide led to clashes with cops and looting.
Fox 9 dispatched reporter Hannah Flood to the street to cover the night's events. Flood, native to this state and a graduate of the University of Minnesota, has been with the station for just over a year, and has dived into assignments complicated by race, especially recently.
This summer, she's covered Juneteenth celebrations and plans for its greater future; she interviewed Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis NAACP chapter; just a couple weeks ago, she interviewed the author and illustrator team behind a children's book called Black Boy, Black Boy, which depicts Black children growing up to achieve a wide variety of success. Flood appears to have handled these stories capably, and with sensitivity.
And yet, local Twitter has at least one reason to question if Flood's the right choice to cover a racially charged protest: a 2012 tweet she sent to the (since-deceased) hip-hop artist ASAP Yams.
It was… not a good look.
Some wondered if the screenshot was authentic, while one person asked: “Can…can someone tell me if this is part of the healing or not."
“Could we get permission to use this video?” she asked. “Please DM me!”
“Don’t do it,” a commenter warned, “Local news is racist af.”
Seemingly to this point, Twitter user @MannyDuran posted a screenshot of Flood’s 2012 ASAP Yams tweet.
Yeah, and this Becky is... uhh... pic.twitter.com/rKOMBEJjRN— ☭ (@MannyDuran) June 21, 2020
Soon after its discovery, Flood issued a followup thread taking responsibility for the tweet and apologizing. She said she had been 19 at the time, and would “never” use the slur included in the tweet now, but that doesn’t make what she wrote “okay.”
“Almost eight years later, I know this but am continuing to learn how much hurt, pain, and trauma comes with that word.”
Fox 9 declined to comment outside Flood's statement, which you can read in its entirety here.
That doesn’t make what I wrote okay. Almost eight years later, I know this but am continuing to learn how much hurt, pain and trauma comes with that word. (2/4)— Hannah Flood (@hannahfloodfox9) June 22, 2020
I’m committed to fighting for racial equality and I apologize to the people I have hurt. It is in no way acceptable. For some, it will never be enough. But the best I can do now is to keep learning. I must keep learning. (4/4)— Hannah Flood (@hannahfloodfox9) June 22, 2020
At the time, the statement itself got only a smattering of comments, the majority of them sympathetic or appreciating Flood's apology.
But one of the reasons it got attention in the first place was to make a point about local news being “built upon the same white power structures that all other institutions use as a foundation,” as @MannyDuran wrote, and that takes more than a thread or two to fix.
Or one newsroom, for that matter. Last month, journalists of color at the Star Tribune sent an open letter to management asking them to address disparities in hiring, valuing, and retaining nonwhite staff, particularly in the context of Floyd’s murder and the ensuing unrest.
In a key passage, the letter read: “We cannot sit by and watch other media outlets openly reckon with their complicity in perpetuating institutionalized and structural inequities as if similar problems do not exist at the Star Tribune."