Code Switch

Illinois Issues - Code Switch Illinois
3:25 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Springfield NAACP President On What Ferguson Has Taught Us

Teresa Haley
Credit springfieldnaacp.org

It's been about a week since the decision was made not to indict police officer Darren Wilson after the shooting death of Michael Brown. Reactions to that decision are still resulting in protests, prayer vigils, and round-table discussions across the nation.

In Springfield, Teresa Haley who heads the local chapter of the NAACP has been at the center of much of the events concerning issues like racism and police brutality -- issues that Ferguson has brought to the forefront of many peoples' minds.

Listen to our interview with Haley, here: 

Read more
Code Switch
1:22 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

A Brief History Of Racial Protest In Sports

Members of the St. Louis Rams raise their arms in a "hands up, don't shoot" pose as they walk onto the field before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders.
L.G. Patterson AP

On Sunday, five St. Louis Rams players jogged onto the field with their arms raised by their heads, a stream of fog behind them: hands up, don't shoot.

The players — Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Stedman Bailey — were invoking the gesture that's been widely used in protesting the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. This followed the announcement that a grand jury would not indict Wilson in Brown's death, and the release of a hefty batch of evidence shown to the jury by St. Louis prosecutor Robert McCullough.

Read more
Code Switch
2:33 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

On World AIDS Day, Fighting HIV And Stigma

HIV activist Maria Mejia found out she was HIV-positive just before she turned 18.
Courtesy of Maria Mejia

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 4:19 pm

Read more
Europe
4:03 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Santa's Black-Faced Helpers Are Under Fire In The Netherlands

People line the road to greet Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of Santa Claus, and his "Swarte Piet" (Black Pete) sidekicks in Amsterdam on Nov. 17, 2013. In the past few years, Black Pete has come under fire. Some say it's a beloved tradition that should remain; others say it is a racist stereotype.
Peter Dejong AP

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 5:49 pm

For an American, watching a Sinterklaas parade, like the one I recently went to in Amsterdam, can be a bit of a shock. Because dancing around the dear old Dutch Santa are his helpers, known as Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete.

And Black Pete is played by scores of white people dressed up in black face ... and wearing Afro wigs.

In the past few years, Black Pete has come under fire. A beloved tradition for some, others say he is a racist stereotype. And the increasingly rancorous debate over Black Pete has gripped the Netherlands.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Impoverished in Illinois

In some areas of Englewood, one of six homes is vacant, according to a recent Crain's Chicago Business investigation.
Robert Loerzel WUIS/Illinois Issues

This story first appeared in the January 2014 issue. Statistics have been updated where new numbers were available.

In some pockets of Illinois, where one in every three people live in poverty or close to it, the need is visible in the landscape: empty lots where buildings once stood in Cairo; abandoned houses marked with X’s in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood; families living in ramshackle trailers in Kankakee County’s Pembroke Township.

Read more
Code Switch
5:50 am
Sun November 30, 2014

Updating Centuries-Old Folklore With Puzzles And Power-Ups

The story in Never Alone is based on a Native Alaskan legend about a quest to end a never-ending blizzard.
E-Line Media

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 11:41 am

Never Alone, a new video game by E-Line Media, has been generating a lot of buzz in recent months. Its developers teamed up with the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, a nonprofit that works with Native Alaskans, creating Never Alone as a way to help transmit traditional tribal stories to younger indigenous kids.

Read more
Code Switch
3:57 pm
Sat November 29, 2014

'The Banh Mi Handbook': A Guide To A Viet-French Sandwich

Paperboy Kitchen, Melbourne

Originally published on Sat November 29, 2014 5:29 pm

Some kids know they want to be doctors or pilots or professional sports players— Andrea Nguyen knew by the time she was 10 she wanted to be a sandwich maker. She says she's been making sandwiches and fooling around with the recipes and the ingredients since elementary school.

The sandwich she fell for first and that she still loves the most? Banh mi. (It's pronounced "bun-mee.") Her latest cookbook, The Banh Mi Handbook, is a guide for home cooks who want to make banh mi of their own.

Read more
Code Switch
11:05 am
Sat November 29, 2014

A Musical Tribute For A Waiter Who Spoke Out Against Racism

Justin Hopkins sings during a tribute show for Booker Wright, who worked in a whites-only restaurant in the Mississippi Delta.
Brandall Atkinson Courtesy of Southern Foodways Alliance

Editor's note: This story contains racial slurs.

A new musical work pays tribute to an unlikely and little-known civil rights activist: Booker T. Wright. You won't find his name in history textbooks. But his story is a testament to the everyday experiences of blacks in the Jim Crow South.

Read more
Code Switch
2:36 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

A 'Dreamer' With Parents Still In The Shadows

Aashana Vishnani's graduation from the Auburn University last year.
Courtesy of Aashana Vishnani

Aashana Vishnani is a "dreamer" in the truest sense of the word.

She came to the United States when she was only 10 years old. Her accent is more Alabamian than Indian. She loves to sing and aspires to someday perform in musicals like Rent or Hairspray. She is also a huge college football fan. Her favorite team is Auburn University, her alma mater where she received a merit-based full-tuition scholarship.

Read more
Code Switch
2:51 am
Thu November 27, 2014

Stories Of Your First Thanksgiving In The U.S.

We don't endorse using a trident to carve your turkey.
floodllama Flickr

Originally published on Thu November 27, 2014 11:12 am

This past week, we called for stories about your first Thanksgiving in the United States. Who'd you spend it with? Where were you coming from? What'd you eat? What'd you think of it? we wondered.

And many of the stories we heard from you were about food: You had issues roasting the turkey properly. Your mom found, um, a creative solution to making your bird golden-brown. You ate a lot of different alternative Thanksgiving meals. Your stories were goofy and weird, but most of them made us smile. Here are some of them:

Leticia Ortiz

Read more
Code Switch
3:41 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

How Ferguson Residents Are Giving Thanks This Holiday Season

Karen Gold paints on a boarded window of her store in Ferguson, Mo.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 5:39 pm

The kickoff to the holiday season in St. Louis has been overshadowed by unrest following the grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson. And for some residents of Ferguson, the meaning of this year's Thanksgiving — amid the anger, hostility and unresolved issues — is hazy.

The Schnucks grocery store is pretty busy on this cold, gray Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Michael Howell, a local musician picking up a few staples, says he just wants to relax at home and have a little turkey. Howell's home is right near a string of looted and burned businesses.

Read more
Code Switch
2:33 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

In Darren Wilson's Testimony, Familiar Themes About Black Men

A crowd rallies to protest the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Sid Hastings AP

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 3:29 pm

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."

Read more
Code Switch
7:57 am
Wed November 26, 2014

In Ferguson, A Trove Of Evidence — But No Trial

A photo of officer Darren Wilson released as part of evidence shown before the grand jury.
CBS News

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 11:23 am

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.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:08 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

At Vandalized Ferguson Businesses, Anger And Tears

A worker cleans up glass outside a Quiznos restaurant that was damaged during a demonstration Tuesday in Ferguson, Mo.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 10:29 pm

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.

Read more
Ferguson
11:36 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Notes From Ferguson: Q & A With St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann

Tear gas was used in Ferguson
Credit 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:

Read more
Code Switch
8:38 am
Mon November 24, 2014

'Ferguson Forward': Churchgoers Seek A New Normal

Youths walk past a mural depicting peace in Ferguson on a vacant building up the street from the city's police department.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 5:42 pm

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.

Read more
Code Switch
4:15 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

Racial Disparities In Arrests Are Prevalent, But Cause Isn't Clear

Protesters and law enforcement officers face off during a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department in October. Ferguson police statistics show the department arrest blacks at a higher rate than other racial groups — but that disparity is true for police departments across the country.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 11:00 am

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.

Read more
Code Switch
1:38 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

Running Late? Nah, Just On 'CPT'

Almost there! Always delayed.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 8:19 am

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.

Read more
Code Switch
12:16 pm
Sat November 22, 2014

Who Will Get The Biopic Treatment Next?

After Chadwick Boseman played Jackie Robinson in 2013's 42, he starred as a suspiciously tall James Brown in 2014's Get On Up.
Universal Pictures

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.

Read more
NPR Ombudsman
2:27 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Asking Bill Cosby If He Is A Serial Rapist

Entertainer Bill Cosby pauses during a news conference. Cosby's attorney said Sunday that Cosby will not dignify "decade-old, discredited" claims of sexual abuse with a response.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 3:33 pm

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:

Read more
Code Switch
11:43 am
Thu November 20, 2014

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

Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope on Shonda Rhimes' political drama Scandal, one of TV's most talked-about broadcast shows.
Danny Feld ABC

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 12:47 pm

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

Read more
Code Switch
6:02 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Ex-Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders, Racial Moderate In A Split South, Dies

Former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders shakes hands with members of the crowd at a campaign event leading up to a runoff against Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination for Governor in Atlanta.
AP

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 8:26 pm

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:

Read more
Code Switch
11:19 am
Tue November 18, 2014

The Many Stories Behind Double-Eyelid Surgery

Double eyelids, single eyelids — ” why do we change our eyes, or keep them the way they are?
Claire O'Neill/NPR

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 12:23 pm

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.

Read more
Code Switch
4:12 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

In 'Straight White Men,' A Play Explores The Reality Of Privilege

Gary Wilmes, James Stanley and Pete Simpson star in Young Jean Lee's Straight White Men.
Julieta Cervantes

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 10:40 am

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."

Read more
Code Switch
4:15 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Is Beauty In The Eye(Lid) Of The Beholder?

A plastic surgeon performs a double-eyelid surgery on a patient at the BK Clinic in Seoul in August 2007.
Han Jae-Ho Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 12:25 pm

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.

Read more
The Race Card Project: Six-Word Essays
2:44 am
Mon November 17, 2014

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

Marc Quarles, his wife, Claudia Paul, and their children, Joshua and Danielle, live in an affluent, predominantly white neighborhood in California. Quarles says his neighbors treat him differently when his children aren't around.
Courtesy of Marc Quarles

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 8:18 am

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.

Read more
Code Switch
4:44 am
Sun November 16, 2014

Marvel's 'Black Panther' Isn't Just Another Black Superhero

Introduced, issue #52 of the Fantastic Four as a would-be for, the Black Panther would come to be a long-time ally.
Marvel Entertainment

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 4:26 pm

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.

Read more
Code Switch
4:05 pm
Sat November 15, 2014

How Hema Ramaswamy Found Healing Through Traditional Indian Dance

Hema Ramaswamy prepares backstage for her performance. She studied with Chitra Venkateswaran (right) for 4 1/2 years in preparation for this recital.
Preston Merchant

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 3:11 pm

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.

Read more
Race
8:38 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Political Diversity Pioneers Win Medal Of Freedom

Rep. Patsy Mink, D-Hawaii, talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in 1997.
Joe Marquette AP

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 2:13 pm

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.

Read more
Code Switch
2:29 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood: It's Time To 'Obliterate The Term Black Film'

"My hope has always been to make movies with people of color in them but tell stories that are universal," says Gina Prince-Bythewood.
Suzanne Tenner Blackbird Productions

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 1:39 pm

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.

Read more

Pages