Erin Aubry Kaplan

Writer / Journalist



ERIN AUBRY KAPLAN is a contributing writer to the New York Times opinion page and a former weekly op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times, the first African American in the paper's history to hold the position. Kaplan first appeared in a monthly independent newsmagazine called Accent L.A., a small publication dedicated to a large mission of providing thoughtful, literate, alternative coverage of black Los Angeles. From 1987 to 1992 at Accent, Kaplan authored everything from book reviews to commentary and began developing a voice at once broadly political and deeply personal, a voice that would become something of a hallmark. She began working full-time as a journalist in 1992 for the Los Angeles Times, for a short-lived but much-heralded section called City Times that was created in the aftermath of the civil unrest to expand meaningful coverage of the central city. Kaplan essentially continued the mission begun by Accent L.A., covering the Crenshaw district, South Central and events affecting L.A.’s disparate black communities and black communities at large.


Kaplan was an original staff writer for New Times Los Angeles in 1996, and moved to the staff of the LA Weekly later that year. At the Weekly she indulged her interest in race matters and a host of other issues—some related to race, some not—with essays and features on culture, politics, the arts and the many smaller, but no less significant concerns therein. She began writing a column for the Weekly in 2000 called “Cakewalk,” a forum that showcases her not only as a journalist but as an author and observer of varying scales who speaks as passionately about the history of affirmative action as she does about beauty trends and initial forays into psychotherapy. 


Kaplan was a 2000 fellow in the Sundance Institute’s Creative Nonfiction Writing Program, and the 2001 recipient of PEN Center West’s award for literary journalism for the cover essay, “Blue Like Me,” a rumination on the connections between ancient American race struggles and modern-day depression. In 2001 she was runner-up for Print Journalist of the Year in the Los Angeles Press Club annual awards, and again for Columnist of the Year in 2002. Kaplan has been widely anthologized in books such as “Body Outlaws ” (Seal Press); the Salon magazine essay collection “Mothers Who Think: Tales of Real-Life Parenthood” (Villiard); “Step Into A World,” a compendium of journalism and nonfiction by new black writers (John Wiley & Sons); “Geography of Rage” (Really Great Books), an essay collection reflecting on the April 1992 civil unrest and its long-term effects in South Central Los Angeles and elsewhere; and “Rise Up Singing,” (Doubleday), a collection of essays by black women writing on motherhood whose contributors include Maya Angelou, Marian Wright Edelman, June Jordan and Alice Walker, among others. The collection won an American Book Award in 2005. 


Kaplan’s articles have appeared in many publications, including Ms. Magazine, UCLA Magazine, Barnard magazine, the London Independent, the Guardian,, The Crisis, Newsday, Contemporary Art Magazine, the Utne Reader and Black Enterprise. She is the author of “Black Talk, Blue Thoughts and Walking the Color Line: Dispatches From a Black Journalista,” (2011) and “I Heart Obama” (2016).  

Kaplan was born and raised in Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. in English and M.F.A. in Theater Arts from U.C.L.A. She was married to Alan Kaplan, a fellow Los Angeles native and history teacher, until his death in 2015.


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