Code Switch

After Michael Brown was shot dead in August, his mother, Leslie McSpadden, said, "My son was sweet. He didn't mean any harm to anybody." He was, she said, "a gentle giant."

On Monday night, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch delivered the news that police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown. And in an unusual move, the announcement was accompanied by the release of an enormous batch of evidence presented to the grand jury — including much-talked-about photos of Wilson, taken after he shot and killed Brown.

Residents and business owners in Ferguson, Mo., awoke Tuesday morning to assess the damage done to their neighborhoods. In the aftermath of the grand jury's decision Monday night not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, many business were vandalized and some were destroyed.

Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann has been covering the situation in Ferguson, MO since it started back in August. She was at the announcement made by Prosecutor Bob McCulloch on Monday night that a grand jury chose not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

In this interview, Lippmann tells us about the reactions from Brown's family, protests and riots, and more:

I reunited with the Rev. Daryl Meese at his place of worship, a no-frills brick Methodist Church in Ferguson, Mo., on this stormy Sunday morning.

We first met at a coffee shop last August. I was looking for a cool place to file a story about the protests over the death of an unarmed black 18-year-old at the hands of a white police officer; he was taking a break from the chaos. We shared a table and ended up chatting.

Ferguson, Mo., continues to watch and wait as a grand jury decides whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Brown's death was the spark for mass protests in Ferguson, but many of the city's black population say the problems go deeper, and that blacks are unfairly singled out by police.

Ferguson police statistics show the department does arrest blacks at a higher rate than other racial groups. But that disparity is true for police departments across the country.

In our semi-regular Word Watch feature, we take a look at a word or phrase that has caught our attention, whether for its history, usage, etymology, or just because it has an interesting story.

Movie award season is upon us once again, which means that it's peak biopic season. You know what I mean — those big, sweeping epics about the life of a Very Important Person portrayed by a Very Serious Actor.

Did host Scott Simon unfairly—and sordidly—ambush Bill Cosby by raising rape charges in a Weekend Edition interview that was otherwise about art?

The 77-year old comedian and wife Camille—she was present—were being interviewed on air Saturday about the many pieces of art that they are lending to the Smithsonian Museum when Simon, at the end, changed the subject:

4 Reasons Why 'Scandal' Is A Telenovela. And A Good One

Nov 20, 2014

Editor's note: If you're not caught up, you may feel that some plot references below are mild spoilers. Fair warning.

Carl E. Sanders, who served as governor of Georgia from 1963 to 1967 and is credited with bringing about more racial integration to the state, died in Atlanta on Sunday. He was 89.

Sanders was considered to be a Southern moderate, and fought to create a "New South." His politics set him apart from lawmakers who tried to keep public schools and facilities segregated.

In his inaugural address in January 1963, Sanders said:

This is the second half of a look at the history and motivations behind the Asian blepharoplasty, popularly known as "double-eyelid surgery." On Monday, we dug into its background and some of its history. Today, we'll explore the "why."

A lot of assumptions are made about why people undergo double-eyelid surgery. Assumptions like: They wanted to look more white, or they wanted to look less Asian.

The straight white men of Straight White Men aren't what you might expect. Near the beginning of the new off-Broadway play, two adult brothers play a homemade, family board game, refashioned out of an old Monopoly set. Because the family is liberal and progressive, it's called "Privilege." It makes fun of their own straight-white-male privilege.

"Ah, 'excuses' card!" one of the brothers exclaims. The other reads it aloud. "What I just said wasn't racist/sexist/homophobic because I was joking," he deadpans. "Pay $50 to an LGBT organization."

This is part one of a two-part series looking at the history and motivations behind the Asian blepharoplasty, popularly known as "double-eyelid surgery." Find part two here.

Six Words: 'With Kids, I'm Dad. Alone, Thug'

Nov 17, 2014

NPR continues a series of conversations from The Race Card Project, where thousands of people have submitted their thoughts on race and cultural identity in six words.

Marc Quarles is African-American, with a German wife and two biracial children — a son, 15, and daughter, 13. The family lives in Pacific Grove, a predominantly white, affluent area on California's Monterey Peninsula.

Last month Marvel Studios announced the roster for some upcoming features. In addition to Ant-Man and a female-led Captain Marvel film, Marvel's Kevin Feige confirmed that on November 3, 2017, the studio planned to release one of its longest-rumored projects: The Black Panther.

We in the nerdier parts of the Internet promptly lost our minds.

Jewish girls become a bat mitzvah; 15 year-old Latinas celebrate with quinceañeras. But for generations of Indian-American girls, the rite of passage is performing a classical Indian dance before a crowd of hundreds. After years of preparation, Hema Ramaswamy of Middletown, N.J., is ready to unveil her arangetram.

Several of this year's recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the national government gives to civilians, are people of color. They include recording star Stevie Wonder and the late Alvin Ailey, legendary choreographer and founder of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

Still, many of the honorees made their presence felt on the political stage, challenging America's presumptions about people of color.

Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood is tired of hearing about "black films." In fact: "It is one of my goals in life to obliterate the term 'black film,' " she tells NPR's David Greene.

Prince-Bythewood tells love stories. She created the films Love and Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees, and most recently, Beyond the Lights.

"For me it's just about putting people of color in every genre and making it become normal," she says.

As America's longest-lived white supremacist organization, the Ku Klux Klan has achieved a rare kind of name recognition. You know the way people say "Xerox" when they mean "to photocopy" or "Kleenex" when they mean "tissue"? "KKK" functions something like that, except it shorthands to "racial terrorism and extrajudicial killings."

It's a dilemma that some Klan groups are trying to address by being less, well, Klan-ish.

Back in April, after a 73-year-old Klansman went on a deadly shooting spree in Kansas City, a whole lot of avowed racists condemned the shootings.

Photograph by Alex Wroblewski

The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has brought to national attention the obstacles that many young black males face - including racial profiling and a world where media portrayals of their peers are often less-than-flattering. Maureen McKinney took a look at the topic in Illinois. She joined Rachel Otwell for this interview: 

Most reviews of the CW's Jane The Virgin mention that it was loosely adapted from a Venezuelan telenovela called Juana La Virgen. Then they predictably misrepresent a telenovela as a Latin American soap opera.

The Republican Party made historic gains during this week's midterm elections. Among their victories were three wins by black Republicans, who seem to be building momentum for diversifying the GOP ranks.

Mia Love — who is Mormon and Haitian-American — is one of those three, and Republicans in Utah's 4th District will be sending her to Congress next year.

"Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black, Republican, LDS woman to Congress," Love told a crowd on Tuesday. "And guess what? Not only did we do it, we were the first to do it!"

A heads-up to our readers: We use some language in this post that some folks might find offensive.

Last week, the Toronto Star found itself in the midst of one of those blink-and-you-missed-it Internet kerfuffles over race.

Here's what happened. The Ontario Human Rights Commission had settled on a term to use in reference to people of color — "racialized people."

The commission wrote:

Six months ago, we brought you the story of the Edna Karr High School marching band in New Orleans. Two members of the band in particular, snare drummer Charles Williams and tuba player Nicholas Nooks, or Big Nick as his friends call him, earned scholarships to Jackson State University in Mississippi — their dream.

The marching band at Jackson State is known as the Sonic Boom of the South. Band camp began in August with 164 freshmen. But after weeks of late nights and early mornings, musical training and also push-ups, 24 had quit.

Every time you type on your cellphone's keyboard, you're punching in tiny bits of Unicode, a universal standard for creating text, numbers and emoji.

'La Chancla': Flip Flops As A Tool of Discipline

Nov 4, 2014

As business jargon goes, there are certainly duller expressions than "open the kimono."

Translation: To disclose information about the inner workings of a company.

There's a video that's been circulating online since Tuesday, and it frames itself like this: a woman walks around New York City for 10 hours, with a camera secretly recording as she gets street-called 100 times by men.

It's Halloween — a time for Frankenstein monsters and vampires and werewolves. But many of us have our own monsters from different cultures, and When we threw out a call to our readers asking what ghost stories and folktales they grew up with in their own traditions, we got back stories of creatures stalking the shadows of Latin American hallways and vengeful demons from South Asia with backwards feet. (And that's before we get to the were-hyenas and the infernal bathroom stalls.) Below are some of the best we've found or that were told to us from Code Switch readers.

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