Kai Wright

Kai Wright
Kai Wright Editor-at-Large
New York, NY

Kai Wright is editor-at-large of Colorlines and a reporting fellow of the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. His investigative reporting on economic inequity has closely followed by the housing and jobs crises. He is a regular commentator on National Public Radio and in other broadcast media, and is reporting a series on health care reform for WNYC News.

Kai is author, most recently, of "Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York." He is also the author of two books of African-American history: "The African American Experience: Black History and Culture Through Speeches, Letters, Editorials, Poems, Songs, and Stories," and "Soldiers of Freedom: An Illustrated History of African Americans in the Armed Forces," which explores America's struggle with race as it has been dramatized by the need to staff a viable military.

You can follow Kai on Twitter at @kai_wright and on Instagram. Check out Kai's media appearances here.

Feds Target Oil Spill Workers in Immigration Probe

Feds Target Oil Spill Workers in Immigration Probe

by Kai Wright on June 4 2010, 4:18PM

Federal officials have been targeting BP’s job sites in Louisiana in a hunt for undocumented workers who are risking their lives to clean up the disastrous oil spill.

Topics: Environment, Gulf Oil Spill, Immigration

Tea Party Fave Nikki Haley Not White Enough, After All

by Kai Wright on June 4 2010, 11:04AM

South Carolina state Sen. Jake Knotts has served up the latest in what will certainly be a rising chorus of racist gaffes as the campaign season heats up. Knotts guffawed on a political talk show that both President Obama and…

Topics: 2010 Elections

The Road Forward for Protecting Communities from Shady Lending

by Kai Wright on May 21 2010, 10:57AM

The Senate passed its financial reform bill yesterday with Sen. Chris Dodd’s consumer protection bureau intact. The contours of the debate over policing the products financial players push on communities didn’t change over the course of the drawn out fight….

Topics: Economy

States Can’t Lock Up Kids For Life, Says Supreme Court

by Kai Wright on May 18 2010, 10:46AM

The Supreme Court reined in juvenile imprisonment yesterday with a ruling that restricts states from locking up minors for life without parole for non-homicide convictions. The ruling expands on a 2005 decision that barred states from executing minors. CNN quotes…

Topics: Criminal Justice

White Wealth and Black Debt Shot Up in ‘Growth’ Years

by Kai Wright on May 17 2010, 3:22PM

The wealth gap between Blacks and Whites has grown by fourfold over the course of Generation X’s lifetime, exploding to $95,000, a study released today found. And the debt burden among African American families has nearly doubled. The study comes…

Topics: Economy

BP’s Spending on Its Spill is a Drop in the Bucket of Its Profits

by Kai Wright on May 14 2010, 1:22PM

When a big, relevant story breaks, it’s easy to get lost in the daily torrent of information. That’s no doubt been true for many people as we all try to make sense of BP’s Gulf Coast oil spill, which NPR…

Topics: Environment

Obama’s 2010 Drug Policy Tokes, but Doesn’t Inhale Reform

by Kai Wright on May 11 2010, 11:18AM

President Obama’s strategy for combatting drug use and trade is out, and it’s getting a welcome, if cautious, reception from reformers. As AlterNet’s Phillip Smith wrote yesterday, “While still heavy on the law enforcement side, the first Obama national drug…


Seattle Cop: ‘I’ll Beat the F—-ing Mexican Piss Out of You Homey’

by Kai Wright on May 10 2010, 2:16PM

A freelance photographer’s video of Seattle police kicking a suspect in the head while hurling racial slurs surfaced last week, and is quickly drawing national attention. The video, shot on April 17, is certainly shocking. A group of officers from…


Gov. Brewer: Immigrants as Drug Trafficking Thugs

by Kai Wright on May 10 2010, 12:02PM

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s going all-in on making her name synonymous with SB 1070. This weekend, she shot back at President Obama’s opposition to the law with a new campaign ad. The ad’s a pretty bleak affair. It first rattles…

Topics: Immigration

America vs. the Census

America vs. the Census

by Kai Wright on May 10 2010, 12:00PM

The country’s 2010 effort to enumerate itself was more ambitious than ever—and may have been more consequential. But it’s complicated by the question it begs: Who does and doesn’t count?

Topics: Immigration, Politics

Kagan's Harvard Hiring Record a Vision in White

Kagan’s Harvard Hiring Record a Vision in White

by Kai Wright on May 10 2010, 10:41AM

President Obama pointed out this morning that Solicitor General Elena Kagan, his pick to replace Justice Stevens, was the first woman to lead Harvard Law School. He noted Kagan’s reputation for broadening Harvard’s faculty to include more conservative viewpoints, to…

Topics: Elena Kagan

Will Banks Be Held Accountable to Communities? [Video]

by Kai Wright on May 3 2010, 10:41AM

Last week, Senate Democrats managed to get their financial reform bill past the Republican blockade. Floor debate on the bill, which would create a consumer protection bureau inside the Federal Reserve, will move forward this week, and the Senate’s…

Topics: Economy

Goldman Sachs Looks Slimy, But It’s Not Alone

by Kai Wright on April 27 2010, 4:00PM

Sen. Carl Levin’s series of hearings on Wall Street’s collapse reached their dramatic climax today, as Goldman Sachs executives sat in for their roles as national punching bags. Everybody from Levin to Sen. John McCain got in on the…

Topics: Economy

What’s at Stake in This Week’s Financial Reform Debate

by Kai Wright on April 26 2010, 9:10AM

The financial reform fight takes center stage on the Senate floor tonight, and likely all week. It is, of course, a dense, complicated and frankly boring bit of public policy. It’s also deeply consequential for communities of color everywhere. We’ll…

Topics: Economy

BREAKING: Obama Asks Staff to “Closely Monitor” Arizona Law

by Kai Wright on April 23 2010, 11:43AM

President Obama chimed in this morning on Arizona’s pending new law requiring cops to check immigration status of people suspected to be undocumented. In a Rose Garden ceremony for to naturalize 24 service members, he said Congress’ failure to act…

Topics: Immigration

Washington’s War of Words Over Immigration Heats Up

by Kai Wright on April 21 2010, 10:09AM

After days of blistering criticism from Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, both the White House and Congressional Hispanic Caucus leadership pushed back yesterday on immigration reform, insisting the process is moving along. White House spokesperson Bill Burton told Roll Call that…

Topics: Immigration

Gutierrez Rattles Election Saber at Obama Over Immigration

by Kai Wright on April 20 2010, 10:49AM

Rep. Luis Gutierrez is pissed. The Chicago Democrat and Congressional Hispanic Caucus immigration task force chair was once one of President Obama’s loudest Latino advocates. No longer. Here’s what he had to say about the November elections in today’s The…

Topics: Immigration, Politics

Obama: Don’t Holler at Me About ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

by Kai Wright on April 20 2010, 9:27AM

The gay rights group GetEQUAL got under President Obama’s skin a bit last night at a fundraiser for California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is facing a difficult re-election campaign. Five activists interrupted Obama’s speech big upping Boxer to demand…

Topics: Gender & Sexuality

Michelle: Congress, not Prez to Blame for Slow Immigration Reform

by Kai Wright on April 19 2010, 9:54AM

First Lady Michelle Obama told Univision in Mexico yesterday that the administration hasn’t moved immigration reform to the front burner, as promised, because Congress is too divided. As The Hill reports, Obama argued, “[W]hat we all have to understand…

Topics: Immigration

Regulators Who Ignored Banks’ Predatory Lending

by Kai Wright on April 16 2010, 2:27PM

Sen. Carl Levin spent the morning lashing into former banking regulators who were supposed to have prevented Washington Mutual’s spectacular 2008 failure, which was the largest-ever bank collapse. It’s now clear both the bank and federal regulators knew the subprime…

Topics: Economy