Ever find yourself in a conversation about race and identity where you just get...stuck? Code Switch can help. We're all journalists of color, and this isn't just the work we do. It's the lives we lead. Sometimes, we'll make you laugh. Other times, you'll get uncomfortable. But we'll always be unflinchingly honest and empathetic. Come mix it up with us.
For more than two decades, a cellphone store in Washington, D.C. has blasted go-go music right outside of its front door. But a recent noise complaint from a resident of a new, upscale apartment building in the area brought the music to a halt — highlighting the tensions over gentrification in the nation's capital.
In 1968, thousands of students participated in a series of protests for equity in education that sparked the Chicano Movement. But for two of the students at one struggling high school, that civil unrest — which became known as East L.A. Walkouts — also marked the beginning of a 50-year romance. This week, Code Switch is cosigning that love story, brought to us by our play-cousins at Latino USA.
Support for Israel has long been the rare bipartisan position among lawmakers in Washington. But recently, several younger, brown members of Congress have vocally questioned the U.S.'s relationship with Israel — and were met with fierce condemnation, including charges that their criticism was anti-Semitic. On this episode: We're talking about why it remains so hard to have nuanced conversations about Israel.
This week, we tackle reader questions on vegetarianism, the specter of grocery store Columbuses, and the quiet opprobrium directed at "smelly ethnic foods" in the workplace.
Fifty years ago a multi-racial coalition of students at a commuter college in San Francisco went on strike. And while their bloody, bitter standoff has been largely forgotten, it forever changed higher education in the United States.
What does "civility" look like and who gets to define it? What about "respectable" behavior? This week, we're looking at how behavior gets policed in public.
A deadly tornado ripped through Lee County Alabama this past Sunday. An NPR investigation found that white Americans and those with safety nets often receive more federal dollars after a disaster than people of color and Americans with less wealth.
When Colin Kaepernick stopped standing for the national anthem at NFL games it sparked a nationwide conversation about patriotism and police brutality. Black athletes using their platform to protest injustice has long been a tradition in American history. In this episode we tap in our friends at Throughline to explore three stories of protest that are rarely told but essential to understanding the current debate: the heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson, the sprinter Wilma Rudolph, and the basketball ...more
Anali, a young woman from Los Angeles, wants to break into the film industry. A local program taught her the skills of the trade and the language, but will any of that that matter in an industry that runs mostly on connections?
Okay, news cycle: you win. We're talking about blackface. This week, we delve into the hidden history of "blackening up" in popular culture — from a certain iconic cartoon mouse's minstrel past to Instagram models trying to pass as black.
Another week of racial controversies, another week of calls to "start a dialogue on race." What does that even mean? We talk to two veterans of one high-profile attempt at a national conversation on race, who have different views of its effectiveness.
Some may think of beauty as frivolous and fun, but on this episode, we're examining a few of the ugly ways that its been used to project power.
Another day, another drama: Last week, a federal judge ruled against the Trump administration's decision to add a controversial citizenship question to the 2020 census. But if the Justice Department has any say, the fight will go on...all the way to the Supreme Court.
Jason Kim and his father were once very close, but drifted apart after the family came to the United States from Korea. They drifted even further after Jason came out to his parents as gay. But after a health crisis, Jason and his father try to reckon with the silence between them. This week, a story about a family's hopes, dreams, and obligations, brought to us by the dope folks at WNYC's Nancy podcast.
Meet one of the people caught up in the Trump Administration's hard-line stance on immigration: Javier Zamora. He was living in the US legally under Temporary Protected Status but when the White House threatened to take it away, Javier went back to El Salvador to apply for a new visa. He didn't know if he'd ever return to the US, his home of nearly twenty years.
This week, we're uncovering the stories behind three American Anthems. First, we hear from two musical greats about their respective versions of "Fight the Power." Next, we learned about the transformation of the children's choir staple, "This Little Light of Mine." Finally, we took a trip down "Whittier Blvd."
Spit into a tube and get in touch with your ancestors! Or not. This week we're revisiting a conversation about DNA, and what it tells us about who we are.
A professor at the University of Texas San Antonio designed a college course based around episodes of the Code Switch podcast! In it, her students learned how to have tough conversations about race and identity, using Shereen and Gene as an example. But after an incident on campus involving the police made national news, their theoretical classroom discussions stopped being polite and started getting real.
We checked in with authors, poets and great literary minds to see what books they think everyone should read this holiday season.
Reporter Julia Simon tells us about a radical miners' union in Birmingham, Alabama. It laid the foundation for civil rights organizers in the South, and holds lessons for the future of labor.
On this episode, we're hanging out with pups. First, is Kat's anxious dog Samson really just a little beagle bigot? Then, the author Bronwen Dickey and the political scientist Michael Tesler explain how the pitbull transformed from America's most beloved sidekick to a doggo non grata.
Gene and Shereen talk to poet Denice Frohman, percussionist Bobby Sanabria, chef Marcus Samuelsson and comedian Ashley Nicole Black at Harlem's World Famous Apollo Theater in New York City.
The news item about the shooting was bare: one man shot another 17 times in a dispute over drugs. The actual story — of a family that feared for its safety but who couldn't rely on the police for help — was far more complicated.
We know where your mind's going to be this week: midterm election results!!! So, we're handing the reins over to our play cousins from NPR's Politics Podcast. They'll tell you what happened and what it all means.
Ron Brown High School was built on a novel notion: a school for boys of color, based on a model of restorative justice. We visited the school last year for several episodes to follow its first-ever freshman class. This week, we're going back to see whether the school's unique approach to education is bearing fruit.
This week: why people don't vote, why people can't vote, and two state races that might have national implications for 2020.
So "The Star-Spangled Banner" is kind of a mess: notoriously tough to sing and with some weird stanzas about slavery. This week, we're looking at two of the country's other anthems with their own messy histories to find out what those songs tell us about American ideals.
This week, we're handing the mic over to transracial adoptees. They told us what they think is missing from mainstream narratives about adoption, and how being an adoptee is an identity unto itself.
Decades before Christine Blasey-Ford testified before lawmakers, the country had another reckoning with sexual misconduct set against the backdrop of a Supreme Court nomination. This week: what we have — and haven't — learned in the years since the Anita Hill hearings about identity politics, sexual harassment and power.
The reckoning that is reshaping Hollywood is finally making its way to the critic's perch. Bilal Qureshi joins us to talk about exciting movies coming this fall, and who gets to judge.
Long before Hurricane Maria devastated the territory, the threat of financial disaster loomed over Puerto Rico. Now, an old, bitter struggle over who gets to chart the islands' economic future is upending life for everyday Puerto Ricans trying to pick up the pieces.
For better or worse, classrooms have always been a site where our country's racial issues get worked out — whether its integration, busing, learning about this country's sordid racial history. On today's Ask Code Switch, we're talking about fitting in, standing out, and standing up for what you believe in.
In a unanimous decision, India's Supreme Court struck down a long-standing ban on gay sex. In light of this, we're revisiting an episode about same-sex love and dating apps for South Asians.
Prodigy made up half of the hugely influential hip-hop duo Mobb Deep, but spent his life in excruciating pain due to a debilitating disease called sickle cell anemia. On this episode, the hosts of WNYC's The Realness podcast chronicle Prodigy's struggle with the disease, share the story of how the disease was discovered, and explain how black revolutionaries pressed their communities (and the President of the United States) to do something about it.
In recent weeks, rumors of a recording of President Trump using the N-Word have resurfaced. But critics have been describing Trump as racist for years. So, if this tape were to exist, would it even matter?
Shereen and Gene head to Alabama to talk about race in the American South. Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham talks about growing up in the shadow of his city's history. The poet Ashley M. Jones shares how she learned to love her hometown. And Gigi Douban of WBHM takes on some tough listener questions about race in the Magic City.
It's a battle that's endured throughout so much of American history: what gets written into our textbooks. Today we tag in NPR education correspondent Anya Kamenetz, and hear from author James Loewen about the book, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.
What is the "Standard American Accent"? Where is it from? And what does it mean if you don't have it? Code Switch goes on a trip to the Midwest to find out.
We're back this week with the grand finale of the Word Watch Game Show! First, we'll uncover the messy history of the term "white trash." Then we'll get into a ditty that signals ... anything "Asian." Come play with us!
English is full of words and phrases with hidden racial backstories. Can you guess their histories? On part one of this two-part episode, we're unpacking the meaning behind "guru" and "boy."
Olutosin Oduwole was a college student and aspiring hip hop star when he was charged with "attempting to make a terrorist threat." Did public perceptions of rap music play a role? This week we're tagging in our friends at Hidden Brain to tell this story.
Since 1992, the study known as "The 30 Million Word Gap" has, with unusual power, shaped the way educators, parents and policymakers think about educating poor children. NPR education correspondent Anya Kamenetz joins us to talk about what it gets right, and what it misses.
We're going on a trip, and we're taking you with us! From the peak of Mount Denali to the beaches of Queens, we're talking camp, suntans and our favorite summer jams.
Anti-immigrant sentiment is on the rise, and the prospect of mass deportation is in the news. But as much as this seems like a unique moment in history, in many ways, it's history repeating itself.
Online matchmaking sites are making it easier than ever for couples seeking an arranged marriage to meet. Well...not all couples.
We have one story of how blackface was alive and well on network television in Colombia until 2015.
On this episode, the story of one family's struggle to end a toxic cycle of inter-generational trauma from forced assimilation. Getting back to their Native Alaskan cultural traditions is key.
Last week, the NFL announced a new policy to penalize players who kneel during the national anthem. The announcement drew fresh attention to the century-old tightrope that outspoken black athletes — from Floyd Patterson to Rose Robinson to Colin Kaepernick – have had to walk in order to compete and live by their principles.
Hispanos have lived side by side the Pueblo people for centuries—mixing cultures, identities and even bloodlines. But recently, tensions have risen among the two populations over Santa Fe's annual conquistador pageant, known as La Entrada, which celebrates the arrival of the Spanish.
Black-and-gray tattoos have become increasingly popular over the last four decades. But many people don't realize that the style has its roots in Chicano art, Catholic imagery and "prison ingenuity." (Yes, they were called Prison-Style tattoos for a reason.) Freddy Negrete, a pioneer in the industry, started tattooing fellow inmates in the early 1970s. And while he's no longer tatting people up with guitar strings and ballpoint pens, he's still using some of the same techniques he mastered back ...more
Mother's Day is coming up, so we're taking on your most difficult questions around parenting. We'll talk about choosing a school, raising bilingual children, modeling gender identity, and what to do if your kid's afraid of black people.
We've said it before: The U.S. Census is way more than cold, hard data. It informs what we call ourselves and how we're represented. On this episode, we explore the controversial citizenship question that the Trump administration added to the 2020 census. We also talk about how the U.S. Census helped create the 'Hispanic' label.
Muslims make up a little over one percent of the U.S. population, but they seem to take up an outsized space in the American imagination. On this episode we explore why that is.
Today, Americans tend to think of Jewish people as white folks, but it wasn't always that way. On this episode, we dig into the complex role Jewish identity has played in America's racial story — especially now, when anti-Semitism is on the rise.
It's the force that animates so much of what we cover on Code Switch. And on the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, we take a look at some ways residential segregation is still shaping the ways we live. We head to a border with an ironic name , before dropping in on a movement to remap parts of the South.
Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis, Tenn. This week, we have two stories about the aftermath of his death. The first takes us to Memphis to remember King's final days. The second brings us to Oakland, Calif., where King's assassination "transformed the position of the Black Panther Party overnight."
People are constantly telling Amara La Negra that she doesn't fit anywhere. Sometimes, she's "too black to be Latina." Other times, she's "too Latina to be black." But Amara says afro-Latinas aren't rare and they're no cause for confusion — they're just in dire need of more representation.
The NCAA men's basketball tournament is going on right now and will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The coaches and commissioners who benefit are overwhelmingly white. The players on the court are MOSTLY black. So what, if anything, are those players owed?
"Shouldn't you help out your own community first?" That's the question we're exploring this week via our play-cousins at Latino USA. A black celebrity is criticized for helping a Latino immigrant. On this episode, that celebrity makes his case.
In February 2017, Srinivas Kutchibhotla fell victim to an alleged hate crime. In the aftermath, his widow, Sunayana Dumala, had her life and her immigration status thrown into question. Now, she's trying to figure out what it means to stay — and find community — in the small Kansas town where her husband was killed.
All four of the Gonzalez kids grew up under one roof, in Los Angeles, Calif. But when the oldest was in middle school, she realized that she and her siblings might have drastically different lives. That's because she comes from a mixed-status family, where some members are free to work, and others are constrained by the fear of deportation.
It's Alabama, 1963. A black woman stands before a judge, but she refuses to acknowledge him until he addresses her by an honorific given to white women: "Miss." On this week's episode, we revisit the forgotten story of Mary Hamilton, a Freedom Rider who struck a blow against a pervasive form of disrespect.
To get y'all in the mood for Valentine's Day, we're exploring some of our juiciest listener love questions. Should your race and gender affect how much you pay into a relationship? What's the difference between a preference and a fetish? And what's the quickest way for black women to find love?
If you're Native American, who or what gets to define your identity? We dive into an old system intended to measure the amount of "Indian blood" a person has. We hear from two families about how they've come to understand their own Native identities and how they'll pass that on to future generations.
On the occasion of President Trump's first State of the Union speech, we're looking at where things stand on civil rights at the Justice Department, the state of play for the country's white nationalist fringe, and how Puerto Rico is faring as the federal government prepares to cut off its emergency aid.
When Donald Trump allegedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador and some African countries as "shitholes," we called his comments r-...rr-...really really vulgar. Why were we so afraid to call them racist?
Our episode about multi-racial people and their search for identity struck a nerve. Now we're asking, "What other stories do you want to hear?"
On this weeks episode we hear the story of Shalon Irving, who passed away after giving birth to her daughter. Black women in the United States are 243 percent more likely than white women to die of pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. There's evidence that shows this gap is caused by the "weathering" effects of racism.
This week, Gene Demby talks with ESPN's Jemele Hill. The SportsCenter anchor discusses becoming a lightning rod in the culture wars and the flimsy partition between politics and sports. And we'll look ahead to a year of looking back: the 50th anniversaries of the tumultuous events of 1968.
In this episode: lessons learned post-Charlottesville, the Latinas who said "me, too" before it went viral, race-and-rep wins in pop-culture and some of this year's real-life losses. You'll yell, you'll cheer, you'll shed a tear.
We're answering your holiday race questions: Why do we still think of Santa as white? Are POCs responsible for calling-out the racism at holiday parties? How do you tell your black family you're a non-believer? And, can you resurrect a dead family tradition?
As of January 1, it will be legal to sell recreational cannabis in California. But as the legal weed market gains traction, people of color who were targeted by the drug war are being left out of the green rush. This week, we revisit the history of marijuana in the U.S. ― and how its criminalization has everything to do with race.
Indonesia is one of the most ethnically diverse countries on Earth. And while that pluralism is embraced in the country's founding documents, its ethnic Chinese minority has been persecuted for generations. NPR's Ari Shapiro tells the story of a young Indonesian of Chinese descent, who is trying to navigate his country's roiling tensions.
It's Alabama, 1963. A black woman stands before a judge, but she refuses to acknowledge him until he addresses her by an honorific given to white women: "Miss." On this week's episode, we revisit the forgotten story of Mary Hamilton, a Freedom Rider who struck a blow against a pervasive form of disrespect.
It's a Thanksgiving mashup episode! We speak to Lin-Manuel Miranda about Puerto Rico, a parenting expert about tense family gatherings, and a Native professor about the truth behind the holiday. And for desert, the debate of our time: pumpkin or sweet potato pie?
Hosts Shereen and Gene take on Chi-City with help from Chicago-natives Eve Ewing and Natalie Y. Moore, plus Code Switch's play cousin, Hari Kondabolu. Ewing opens the show with a poem from her new collection, Electric Arches. Kondabolu talks about his upcoming documentary, "The Problem with Apu." And Moore brings her Chicago-expertise to some tough questions from our listeners.
We spent the past three episodes looking at the first year of a high school for black boys in Washington, D.C. Now, we're taking a look back on our reporting. What does it mean for a school like Ron Brown to exist — and what does that say about our society?
With 40 percent of its students at risk of failing, one radical new high school in Washington, D.C. wrestles with whether to lower its own high expectations.
In a radical new high school in Washington, D.C., the push for academic success sometimes clashes with providing young men the love and support they need to thrive.
Too many young, black men struggle in America's education system. Washington D.C. is trying to do something about it with a new, boys-only high school. NPR's Cory Turner and Education Week's Kavitha Cardoza spent hundreds of hours there, reporting on the birth of a school built on one word: Love.
When a school shuts down, students lose more than a place of learning; they lose friends, mentors and a community. This is an experience that disproportionately affects black students in the U.S. Shereen Marisol Meraji looks at what it's like when a predominantly black suburb outside Pittsburgh loses its only public high school.
The haphazard response to Hurricane Maria has underscored the tricky, in-between space that Puerto Ricans occupy. They're U.S. citizens — although nearly half of the country doesn't know that. But those who live in Puerto Rico don't enjoy many of the same privileges as citizens on the mainland. In this week's episode, Shereen travels to one of the most Puerto Rican enclaves in the country to explore the fraught relationship Puerto Ricans have with their American-ness.
When social interactions become racially charged, sometimes even the most woke among us are prone to faux pas. So this week, we're taking on our listeners' most burning questions about race. We'll talk weddings. We'll talk kiddos. And most of all, we'll talk paletas.
The history of cannabis in the U.S. ― and its criminalization ― is deeply interwoven with race. As the legal cannabis market gains traction, people of color who were targeted by the drug war could be left out of the green rush.
On this week's episode we talk about why certain communities are more vulnerable to catastrophic weather events like hurricanes and heat waves. Saying "mother nature doesn't discriminate," ignores the fact that discrimination exacerbates her wrath.
How do you get black people to buy cigarettes made for cowboys and antebellum-style beer? Turns out, you don't. On this episode: Tom Burrell, who transformed the ad industry with a simple motto, "Black people are not dark-skinned white people."
On this week's episode, a viral video gives us the opportunity to talk about racism towards and within the Latino community. When a Latino flipped over a street vendor's cart in Los Angeles, many were surprised it was a Latino-on-Latino incident. We'll talk about why the video is surprising and why it isn't.
As calls to remove Confederate memorials grow louder, we head to Richmond, Va., where the veneration of Confederate leaders has been a source of local pride — and revulsion — for more than a century.
After a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville spiraled into deadly violence, residents of the Virginia town do some soul-searching. Plus: a scholar on the politics of white resentment, and a GOP operative worries about the party's long-term future.
Spit into a tube and get in touch with your ancestors! Or not. On this episode we interview the founder of a project that uses DNA tests to talk about race in America. And Kim TallBear, a Native American anthropologist, says why she thinks DNA tests don't really tell you much about yourself.
The Census is so much more than cold, hard data. It's about what we call ourselves, the ways we see ourselves and how we're represented. On this episode we ask the former head of the Census bureau why he quit. We talk about how the Census helped create 'Hispanic' identity. And we talk through some of the proposed race and ethnicity categories that may show up on the 2020 questionnaire.
Shereen and Gene mix it up with the pioneering hip-hop radio hosts Stretch and Bobbito. These impresarios ran a legendary show in New York City during most of the 1990s. Now they're hosting an interview podcast featuring guests like Stevie Wonder, Dave Chappelle and Mahershala Ali.
Leila Day and Hana Baba are hosts of a new podcast called The Stoop. It features conversations black people have amongst themselves — but rarely in public. The pair swing by to talk with Shereen and Gene about their show, and share an episode about a very thorny question: Can African-Americans wear clothing and accessories that originated with African cultures they're not familiar with?
This encore presentation goes deep on a case involving a white police officer and an unarmed black man in Charlotte, NC. Videos in police-involved shootings can add detail to these cases, but as our colleague Kelly McEvers of the Embedded podcast reports, what you see depends on who you are.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided in favor of Simon Tam, front man of the band The Slants. The group has been fighting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for nearly a decade, for the right to use the slur.
Shereen and Gene celebrate our first year on the podcast. We take a look back to some memorable stories with updates from the team and some of our guests.
In the aftermath of the acquittal of the officer who shot and killed Philando Castile, Gene and Shereen speak to a reporter who has followed the case since the beginning. We also speak to a friend of Castile's.
Why do some people of color embrace the American flag while others refuse to wave it? In this episode from the Code Switch archives, Gene Demby and Adrian Florido unpack the complicated patriotism and evolving use of the flag with immigrant rights protesters and Native American veterans.
Shereen and Gene look at "racial imposter syndrome." It's what one listener described as feeling fake, or inauthentic, in her identity. We invited listeners to write in, and hundreds of bi-racial and multi-cultural people shared their views. We'll also talk to social scientists about the basic need for belonging and the role language plays in identity. Later, writer Heidi Durrow joins us. She's founder of The Mixed-Remixed Festival, the largest annual gathering of its kind in the U.S.
This week, we follow the strange trend of white dance-music DJs who pass themselves off as black artists. Gene talks to legendary House music DJ Ron Trent. The European producer Guy Tavares chimes in from The Netherlands on what he sees as overhyped controversy. Piotr Orlov, who covers dance music for NPR weighs in on what this all means for music fans.
This week, we join the global conversation on The Atlantic's essay "My Family's Slave," in which Alex Tizon writes about Eudocia Tomas Pulido, who was his family's katulong, or domestic servant, for 56 years. Why did Eudocia's story hit such a raw nerve in the U.S. and the Philippines? Shereen and Gene talk to Vicente Rafael, a professor who has studied and written about the practice in his native Philippines. We also hear from Lydia Catina Amaya, a Filipina who was a katulong in the Philippines...more
The story of over 100,000 Japanese Americans enduring life in internment camps during WW II is well known, but a few thousand avoided the camps, entirely by, essentially, self-exiling. Code Switch correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates talks with research historian Diana Tsuchida, about the hidden history of Japanese Americans who survived by creating farming communities, like the one in Keetley, Utah. We also hear directly from survivors about life as internally displaced American citizens.
Gene and guest co-host Lenika Cruz, who covers culture at The Atlantic, welcome Alan Yang. He and comedian Aziz Ansari created an Emmy-winning comedy series that stepped comfortably out of the usual TV comfort zones. Master of None just premiered an already beloved second season, and Yang talks about making bold creative choices, crafting inclusive stories, and writing complex characters with an Asian American lead at the center of it all.
Miss Saigon has returned to Broadway. When the hit musical was first performed was controversial for its stereotypes and story and casting choices. Shereen is joined by teammate Kat Chow to explore Miss Saigon's journey in 2017.
Black-ish creator (Kenya) and the show's 17-year-old star (Yara) talk about what's next for them on TV and in real life. Kenya explains why he's never felt pressure to explain cultural jokes. Yara breaks down ways Gen Z is ahead of the rest of us. Plus, they preview a possible spin-off!
We hear from a Latino city councilman who was there when it all went down, a Korean-American who worked at her family's gas station in Compton and a prominent black pastor who gave a memorable sermon to his South LA congregation. Oh, and we tag in our play cousins Mandalit Del Barco and David Greene for this one.
This week, Gene welcomes NPR's Audie Cornish to talk about multi-talented writer, producer and comedian John Leguizamo. As a performer, he's mined his Latino identity through his own family and old New York neighborhoods for decades. Audie interviewed Leguizamo in New York during the current run of his latest one-man show, Latin History For Morons. Now a father, Leguizamo struggles with what he knows and what he can teach his son and daughter about being Latino in the U.S., while challenging him...more
Shereen and Gene tackle listeners' reactions to recent episodes. One wants to know the difference between Persian and Iranian. (It's complicated.) Another wants more details about the risks to churches for becoming sanctuaries. (We asked a lawyer.) And a professor gave us a "loving critique" of our episode on Native hunting rights and sovereignty. (Thank you.) Plus a special call-out to the racial imposter in you.
In this Podcast Extra, NPR correspondent Joe Shapiro recalls the life and legacy of Martin Sostre, someone he first reported on as a student in the 1970s. Sostre died a free man in 2015. But he spent at least nine years of his life in solitary confinement, including in the notorious Attica prison. Today, Sostre's life and pioneering prisoners' rights work is largely hidden from the public.
Shereen and Gene welcome reporter Nate Hegyi, who spent a day in Montana with a Nez Perce hunting party, a tribe that faces strong opposition from some who see these rights as unfair and out of sync with modern life.
Gene and guest host Glen Weldon (our play cousin from Pop Culture Happy Hour) explore how comics are used as spaces for mapping race and identity. Gene visits Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse in Philadelphia, and chats with proprietor Ariell Johnson who is reclaiming the comic book store, which once made her uneasy as a black fan. Meanwhile, C. Spike Trotman, another black woman, has made a name for herself as an online comics publisher of Iron Circus Comics in Chicago. We also talk to artist and ...more
Jeanette Vizguerra speaks with Adrian Florido about her experience living in the church where she's taken sanctuary as she fights her deportation case. Jeanette Vizguerra habla con Adrián Florido sobre su experiencia viviendo en la iglesia donde ha tomado santuario mientras disputa su caso de deportación.
Code Switch's Adrian Florido has been covering the new sanctuary movement for us. For this episode, he spoke to key players to understand why hundreds of churches are ready to start a public fight with the current administration to prevent deportations of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. He also looks at why the movement has to wrestle with important questions: Who controls the story and the message? How much say does an individual or family have in how a sanctuary church leverages their...more
It's springtime, and the celebration of rebirth and the New Year in Iranian-American communities is tempered by the recent rise in Islamaphobic incidents and ongoing uncertainties around the travel ban. To mark Nowruz, Gene and Shereen talk about what's bitter and what's sweet with Nilou Motamed, the Iranian-American editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine, and visit with Code Switch friend and comedian Negin Farsad.
In Nashville, there was a time when the idea of a "Negro park" ruffled feathers. For more than 80 years, there's been confusion about whether a park originally created during segregation and named for a seemingly nonexistent "Fred Douglas" might have actually been intended to honor the great abolitionist and statesman. Reporter Blake Farmer of member station WPLN explores the park's controversial history and how the city finally decided to clarify the park's name.
Gene and Shereen tackle some Code Switch listeners' questions about race and identity with a voice coach, a professor of children's literature, and two former interns who are now reporters: What's someone really asking when they say "What are you?" Where did the archetype of "The Magical Negro" come from? How has the meaning of "woke" evolved? And what does it mean to sound like an American in 2017? And many other questions in between the lines.
Does wearing safety pins and giving speeches at awards shows make you an ally? On this episode we explore the conundrums of ally-ship with activist and blogger ShiShi Rose, who helped organize the Women's March, Taz Ahmed, co-host of the GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast, the Reverend Timothy Murphy, and our editor, Juleyka Lantigua-Williams. We also talk with the co-founder of a black-owned company that teaches white people how to be better allies, for a fee.
Puerto Ricans are migrants not immigrants, Spanish and English, domestic yet foreign — as we like to say on Code Switch, it's complicated. A hundred years ago this week, Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens by law with the passing of the Jones Act. Since then, they've had a complicated and fraught relationship with what it means to be American. Shereen traveled to Holyoke, Massachusetts to explore what the Jones Act has meant to Puerto Rican identity on stateside in the last century. Holyoke has t...more
It's one of the oldest clichés of horror movies: the black guy dies first. But that's not the case in the new film "Get Out," written and directed by Jordan Peele (best known for the Comedy Central series "Key And Peele"). Gene and guest host Eric Deggans chat with Peele about his new film, check in with African-American filmmaker Ernest Dickerson, who's directed many scary movies and TV shows, and dive deep into race in horror-movie history with Robin Means Coleman, who's been analyzing and wri...more
Gene welcomes Code Switch reporter Kat Chow as guest host and they camp out at one of the biggest conferences for writers on the planet, held by the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. There, they talk with literary stars and publishing world veterans about everything from hip hop lyricism to the role of the artist in trying political times to buzz-worthy emerging writers of color.
A filmmaker of color is almost certain to win this year's Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. In fact, for the first time, African-American documentarians made up most of the nominees. We talk with Ava DuVernay, whose movie "13th," made her the first black female director to be nominated in this category. And the Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentarian Noland Walker, now of ITVS, tells us about how the film industry has responded to documentarians of color since he started as a production a...more
Shereen and Gene are joined by Code Switch's own Adrian Florido to revisit a conversation about how advocates are challenging the narrative of the "good" or "bad" immigrant. Adrian previously reported on what happens when advocates try to champion an undocumented immigrant who was convicted of a crime. For many people, "DREAMers," were considered the most sympathetic characters in the immigration reform drama. But a new administration is in the White House, and what was once a very complicated l...more
Code Switch listeners join Shereen and Gene in talking about their concerns and frustrations during the first hundred days of President Trump's administration. Our guest is MacArthur "genius grant" recipient Ahilan Arulanantham of the ACLU of Southern California.
We conclude our three part series of conversations on President Obama's racial legacy. It's likely that Barack Obama will be known not only as the first black president, but also as the first president of everybody's race. Many Americans and people beyond the U.S. borders have projected their multicultural selves onto the president. Gene and Shereen are joined by poet Richard Blanco, Angela Rye, head of the political advocacy firm IMPACT Strategies, and NYU history professor Nikhil Singh.
Shereen and Gene continue our conversation on President Barack Obama's racial legacy. Where did the president fall short — or fail — people of color? We hear opinions about Obama's actions as they affected Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans. Janet Murguia is president of the National Council of La Raza. Simon Moya-Smith is editor of Indian Country Today and a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation. Carla Shedd teaches sociology and African American studies at Columbia University; she ...more
In the first of three conversations about President Barack Obama's racial legacy,Code Switch asks how much race or racism drove the way the first black president was treated and how he governed. Did the president misjudge the state of race relations in America? Real talk about the Obama legacy is just a click away on this week's podcast. Gene and Shereen are joined by Jamelle Bouie, Slate's chief political correspondent, and Tressie McMillan Cottam, sociologist at Virginia Commonwealth Universit...more
We revisit Gene's conversation with filmmaker Barry Jenkins to close out 2016. Jenkins' latest movie is Moonlight. There's buzz for awards nominations, including the Oscars.
You know it when you see it or, maybe by the smell. It's the holiday dish no one really likes but someone always makes "because it's tradition." Not all food traditions are equally appetizing... but they often remind us who we are. We asked you to tell us about dishes you don't like, but that keep showing up during the holiday season. We check in with poet Kevin Young to find out why chitlins will always grace his table. And restaurateur Genevieve Villamora joins Gene and Shereen to talk about d...more
Gene and Shereen ask how much cultural context to give when talking about race and culture. So, how much context should you have to provide? Comedian Hari Kondabolu, co-host of the podcast Politically Re-Active, deals with these questions regularly, both in his stand-up routine and on his podcast.
NPR's Audie Cornish was bused to an affluent suburban school outside Boston in a voluntary integration program. She reflects on her experiences with Gene Demby and talks about stories she recently reported on kids using the program today. Matthew Delmont joins the conversation. He teaches history at Arizona State University and wrote the book "Why Busing Failed."
We present an encore episode from Summer 2016: Shereen Marisol Meraji and Kat Chow talk with Christina Xu about her project to open up a difficult race conversation between younger and older generations of Asian-American families. We hear from a daughter and her father as they discuss why she thought it was important to join Black Lives Matter marches.
For families of color, the recent Presidential campaign season and election results may affect the tone of conversations at Thanksgiving and throughout this holiday season. Shereen and Gene are joined by Kat from the Code Switch Team to dissect dinner table politics. We also hear from people who answered our social media call-out, and later, journalist and professor Asra Nomani and her father Azar talk with Shereen about how they came to terms with political differences in the family. Asra Noman...more
Actor Christopher Jackson steps down this week from his role as George Washington in the award-winning Broadway show Hamilton. Gene gets an exit interview.
Gene and Shereen digest the surprising results of the presidential election with help from a comedian and a columnist. Negin Farsad hosts the podcast "Fake The Nation." Gustavo Arrellano is editor of "OC WEEKLY" in Orange County, California, and writes the column "¡Ask A Mexican!."
In just a few days, the election will be over. But the racism, anger and fear that have surfaced will still be with us. Gene and Shereen talk with Carol Anderson, historian and author of "White Rage," and Whitney Dow, creator of the Whiteness Project, about what happens to those feelings after Nov. 8.
Just kidding. But seriously, "Moonlight," Jenkins' new film, is the movie of the moment. Gene talks with him about what it took to get the movie made, what it was like to film in the Miami projects where he grew up, and - yep - the theme of black masculinity.
From the Code Switch archives: Gene talks with Ezra Edelman, director of the ESPN documentary "OJ: Made in America." For a long time, O.J. Simpson seemed to be running away from his race. "I'm not black, I'm O.J.!" he'd tell his friends. Gene and Ezra consider O.J.'s identity beyond the frame of the so-called "Trial of the Century." (A warning, this episode has some racially charged language.)
You might call "Dreamers" the most sympathetic characters in the immigration reform drama. But what happens when advocates try to champion an illegal immigrant who's a felon? Adrian and Shereen explore how advocates are challenging the narrative of the "good" and "bad" immigrant.
Awkward comments. Rude questions. Casual racism. What do you do when it happens in your presence? The mental calculus is hard enough. It gets even harder when the comment is coming from your friends or family. Gene, Shereen, and Karen from Code Switch along with special guest Nicole Chung share stories and search for solutions.
It's time for some real talk on trigger warnings. Gene and Shereen dig into it with two college professors. What really happens in the classroom when hard topics come up, especially about race? Are trigger warnings necessary? We also hear the results of an NPR survey of more than 800 professors.
Tupac Shakur died 20 years ago this week. Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji debate his legacy with the writer Kevin Powell, who covered the rapper for three years until Tupac's death. How should we view Tupac's talents and imperfections today?
Marc Lamont Hill untangles the decades of dysfunction that have led to recent racial flash-points in his latest book, Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond. He talks with Gene Demby about the book, and his support for one particularly unconventional approach to making our justice system more fair.
Many Mexican and Mexican Americans loved Juan Gabriel's music, but ridiculed his sexuality. Can his death open a new conversation about gay identity in the community? Code Switch's Adrian Florido explores how Juan Gabriel's sexuality complicated his fame and relationship with his fans.
From Apu to Ashton Kutcher, mimicking the Indian accent is still widely seen as fair game. Even lots of ABCD's — American-born confused desis — do it. But is it out of love, or mockery? Code Switch's Tasneem Raja talks to Indians with and without accents on what "Thank you, come again" means to them.
Code Switch's Karen Grigsby Bates and NPR movie critic Bob Mondello discuss "Southside With You," a fictionalized version of Barack and Michelle Obama's first date, and other black love stories in film.
Actor Nate Parker is the center of a lot attention these days because of his upcoming movie The Birth of A Nation. Parker wrote, directed and stars as Nat Turner, leader of an historic 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia. Last winter, Parker won a multi-million dollar distribution deal for the movie at the Sundance Film Festival. As the anticipation grows for the film's release, a chapter from Parker's college past has come under scrutiny. He was charged and later acquitted in a rape trial as a stu...more
When a school shuts down, students often lose more than a place of learning; they lose friends, mentors and a community. This is an experience that disproportionately affects black students. Shereen Marisol Meraji looks at what it's like when a predominantly black suburb outside Pittsburgh loses its only public high school. Shereen's reporting, along with that of producer Chris Benderev, was originally produced for the NPR podcast Embedded.
When you have a name like Aparna Nancherla or Maz Jobrani, you get used to people butchering it. These two comedians, who both come from immigrant families, talk to Code Switch editor Tasneem Raja about their "Starbucks names," all of the weird ways people mispronounce their names, and whether having a "difficult" name has impacted their careers.
News stories of conflict involving people of color raise questions about the role of diversity in newsrooms. With the current election cycle drenched with racially charged rhetoric, how do journalists of color deal with the idea of "objectivity," when it can seem at odds with the work of telling hard truths? Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji talk with veteran political journalist Pilar Marrero whose reporting appears in the Spanish language newspaper La Opinion; and with Wesley Lowery, a Pul...more
The day after the police shooting of Philando Castile, hundreds of young Asian Americans connected online to write an open letter to their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, asking them to support movements like Black Lives Matter. It also broached a subject many felt deeply uncomfortable bringing up to their older relatives: anti-black racism in Asian American communities. The letter has set off countless conversations across generations of immigrant families in many different languages. ...more
When Philando Castile was killed by a police officer during a recent traffic stop, it was the last of at least 46 times he had been pulled over by police. How does that happen? And what does it say about policing in communities of color? Gene Demby talks with NPR's Cheryl Corley and Eyder Peralta, who reported on Castile's encounters with local police.
In the aftermath of deadly police shootings of black men and the deaths of five policemen by at the hands of a black gunman, Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby explore perspectives on policing while black. They talk with Gregory Thomas the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; Michael Rallings, interim director of police services in Memphis, Tennessee; and Jelani Cobb, of The New Yorker, who embedded for nearly a year with police in Newark, New Jersey for the recent PBS F...more
It's hard to figure out what to say after the horrific violence of the last week, which began with two new viral videos of police shooting black men and ended with a deadly attack by a black gunman on police officers. But Shereen Marisol Meraji, Gene Demby along with Kat Chow of the Code Switch Team got some help from a Dallas resident as well as Harvard historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad, who has written extensively about race, crime and policing.
Why do some people of color embrace the American flag while others refuse to wave it? Gene Demby and Adrian Florido unpack the complicated patriotism and evolving use of the flag with immigrant rights protesters and Native American veterans.
For a long time, O.J. Simpson seemed to be running away from his race. "I'm not black, I'm O.J.!" he'd tell his friends. The he was charged with murder, and his defense team needed that jury to see O.J. as black. So, they had to get creative. Gene talks to Ezra Edelman, director of the new ESPN documentary "OJ: Made in America."(A warning, today's episode has some racially charged language.)
Gene and Kat talk about "rep sweats," worrying over how people of color are portrayed on TV and in the movies. Kat remembers growing up watching TV with her sisters and yelling "Asian!" every time they saw someone who looked like them. Gene admits he is #TeamRafael. Also, a conversation with Hudson Yang, star of the ABC sitcom "Fresh Off the Boat," along with his dad Jeff Yang, a well-known cultural critic.
The tragedy in Orlando this week shook many people in communities that already feel vulnerable...LGBTQ Americans, Latinos, Muslims and people living at the intersection of those identities.
Sure, Ali was the greatest, a humanitarian, an inspiration. He was also a complicated, messy figure. Gene and the team dig in, and wonder what people mean when they say Ali "transcended race."
Black people don't hike? Latinos don't like camping? Asians are afraid of the sun? Adrian and Shereen dig into the stereotypes — and truths — about people of color and their relationship to the great outdoors.
Gene and Shereen dig into why it's so hard to talk about white identity in America — and why it's really important that we figure out how.
Here's a preview of our new podcast, exploring how race and culture collide with everything else in our lives.