Code Switch

Code Switch
7:36 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Navajo Nation Presidential Candidate Suspends Campaign

Chris Deschene greets supporters in Arizona in early October.
Felicia Fonseca AP

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 2:47 pm

Days before Election Day, Chris Deschene's campaign to become Navajo Nation president has officially gone into limbo.

Deschene, 43, made it onto the Nations ballot after receiving 19 percent of the vote — second to Dr. Joe Shirley Jr., a former Navajo president. But Navajo law requires that all presidential candidates speak the Navajo language fluently, and Deschene quickly came under fire when he was accused of not passing that test.

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Code Switch
7:37 am
Wed October 29, 2014

The Struggle Of Being Asian-American For Halloween

The author (right) and his sister, one awkward Halloween day.
Courtesy of Steve Haruch

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 12:05 pm

The other night, at a large outdoor Halloween-themed party, I saw a young white girl, probably about 3 or 4, dressed up in a long, purple kimono. I felt an involuntary uneasiness. I wanted to ask her parents who she was supposed to be — maybe it's a character in some cartoon I don't know about, I thought — but I didn't want to embarrass anyone. Which is to say, Problematic Dress-up Season is in full swing.

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Code Switch
4:04 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Some St. Louis Teachers Address Ferguson With Lessons On Race

Vincent Flewellen leads a lesson on Ferguson during his eighth-grade multicultural studies course at Ladue Middle School.
Tim Lloyd/St. Louis Public Radio

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 7:21 pm

This story is a consolidated version of a three-part series by St. Louis Public Radio that profiles how issues of race and class sparked by Ferguson are being discussed in St. Louis-area schools.

It was early September and Vincent Flewellen had just wrapped up his day teaching at Ladue Middle School, in an affluent suburb about 13 miles south of where protests erupted in Ferguson.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Tue October 28, 2014

A Timeline Of Sitcoms Featuring Families Of Color

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the early days — with the original Aunt Viv, too!
AP

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 11:30 am

We've heard some of the same comments a lot about this fall's television lineup, which includes the shows Black-ish, Cristela, Selfie and Fresh Off the Boat: "Why is diversity all the rage now?" asked Robert Rorke of the New York Post. And Esther Breger called this season the "most diverse in recent TV history."

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Code Switch
11:08 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Navajo Nation Changes Language Law

Supporters of Navajo presidential candidate Chris Deschene gather outside an administrative court in Window Rock, Ariz. Questions about his fluency in the Navajo language have dogged his campaign.
Felicia Fonseca AP

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 1:30 pm

In the space of a few months, the quest for one candidate to become the next Navajo Nation president has become intertwined with the changing culture of Indian Country. It has turned into what could be described as a political thriller with a distinctly Navajo hue.

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Code Switch
10:42 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Today's Irish Dancers Step Away From Stereotype

Julia O'Rourke (center) wins the 2014 World Irish Dancing Championships. Here, she poses with the top five performers in her age group.
Jimmy McNulty FeisPix

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 3:03 pm

When Riverdance debuted 20 years ago, Irish step dancers — whether citizens of Ireland or any other country — looked, well, stereotypically Irish. The red-haired, freckle-faced lass doing a jumpy jig still comes to mind for many. But the All Ireland Dancing Championships, currently underway in Dublin, will show how that image no longer reflects the reality.

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Code Switch
4:24 pm
Sun October 26, 2014

'Gotham' Resurfaces Hollywood's Tricky History Of 'Painting Down'

Fox's Gotham stars (from left) John Doman, Camren Bicondova, Jada Pinkett Smith, Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith. The show was recently criticized for initially selecting a white stuntwoman as a body double for a black guest star.
Fox TV

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 12:19 pm

The new show Gotham has been one of fall's most successful television debuts. But earlier this month, the show found itself in hot water when it hired a white stuntwoman as a body double for a black guest star.

"They took the white stuntwoman and put her through hair and makeup and they applied the black makeup on her, so that she could pass as the black guest star," says David Robb, a reporter at Deadline Hollywood. It's a practice known as "painting down."

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Race
6:52 am
Sat October 25, 2014

Rare Silent Film With Black Cast Makes A Century-Late Debut

Scene still from Bert Williams Lime Kiln Field Day Project. Bert Williams, Walker Thompson (standing center), John Wesley Jenkins (seated right). In a concession to white audiences, Williams, the lead, wore blackface, but the other black characters did not.
Museum of Modern Art

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 10:17 am

A rare, untitled 1913 silent film is the subject of a new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibit, 100 Years In Post-Production: Resurrecting A Lost Landmark of Black Film History, tells the story behind the silent film's production.

The film features Bert Williams, one of the era's famed black entertainers and the first black Broadway star. He performed in blackface on the stage, and does the same in this film, a romantic comedy with a large black cast of actors.

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Code Switch
2:11 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Tips For Avoiding Racial Missteps From The Makers Of 'Dear White People'

It's a minefield out there.
Ashley Nguyen AP

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 4:03 pm

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Race
5:48 am
Fri October 24, 2014

A Black Cosmetic Company Sells, Or Sells Out?

Real Housewives of Atlanta star Lisa Wu Hartwell gets a hair treatment at a "Curl Party" hosted by Carol's Daughter and theYBF.com in 2010.
Paras Griffin Landov

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 1:50 pm

Cosmetics giant L'Oréal purchased Carol's Daughter, a beauty company that sells natural hair and skin products for black women, earlier this week. It may seem like an unlikely chapter in the story of a business that began in a Brooklyn kitchen.

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Code Switch
3:53 am
Fri October 24, 2014

A Tale Of Asian Gangs Unleashed In 'Green Dragons' Film

Paul Wong (Harry Shum, Jr.) leads the Green Dragons, a young, Asian-American gang that trafficked Chinese immigrants into the U.S. with help from the so-called "Snakehead Mama" (Eugenia Yuan).
Courtesy of A24 Films

Originally published on Sun November 30, 2014 4:40 pm

Thousands of Chinese immigrants took to the seas in the 1980s and 1990s. Many stowed away on cargo ships, spending months on voyages to America organized by Chinese-American gangs in New York.

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Politics
3:33 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Concern Over New-Voter Registration In Georgia Ahead Of Election

A voter casts her ballot at a polling site for Georgia's 2014 primary election in Atlanta.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 4:26 pm

This election season is proving to be tough for Democrats, but many believe they can turn the red state of Georgia blue with the help of new voters.

One voter registration campaign led by the New Georgia Project, a "nonpartisan effort" according to its website, has targeted black, Latino and Asian-American residents.

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Remembrances
4:27 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Model Remembers Oscar De La Renta As An 'Extraordinary Gentleman'

Bethann Hardison said that Oscar de la Renta wasn't scared about putting models of color on the runway in his clothes.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 7:48 am

Bethann Hardison was one of the "spiritual mothers of the supermodels who ruled the '90s," and she credited some of her rise to prominence to Oscar de la Renta, the influential Dominican-born fashion designer who died this week at the age of 82.

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Code Switch
7:03 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Apps Make Googly Eyes At Riders Tired Of Being Snubbed By Cabbies

Cities like New York and Washington, D.C., have strict penalties for taxi drivers who don't pick up passengers based on their race or destination. But some investigations show that drivers routinely pass up black and brown customers.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 11:50 am

One night last fall, I was walking through Chinatown in Washington, D.C., with my friend Terryn. We were not far from a dude who was in his mid-20s — slim, with neat, shoulder-length locks, skinny chinos, loafers and a leather briefcase slung across his torso — standing on the corner, his arm raised skyward. He was trying without luck to hail a cab.

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The Race Card Project: Six-Word Essays
3:35 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Six Words: 'Must We Forget Our Confederate Ancestors?'

Waverly Adcock, a sergeant and founder of the West Augusta Guard, prepares his company for inspection and battle at a Civil War re-enactment in Virginia. Sara Smith, whose great-great-grandfather was wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg, holds the Confederate battle flag.
Courtesy of Jesse Dukes

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 7:55 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.

Jesse Dukes does not have Confederate ancestors. But in the time he has spent writing about Civil War re-enactors, he has met many who say they do.

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Code Switch
4:24 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

The Boston Herald's Missed 'Cartoongate' Lessons

The Boston Herald published this cartoon earlier this month.
The Boston Herald

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 9:38 am

The worst fate of all may be to make a terrible mistake and then learn the wrong lessons from the experience.

That's the thought I had reading a heartfelt column about the Boston Herald's unfortunate decision to publish a cartoon featuring a White House gate-crasher asking the nation's first black president if he had "tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste."

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Code Switch
4:08 pm
Sat October 18, 2014

Watching 'Dear White People' At Harvard

Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris) plays Lionel Higgins in Dear White People
Roadside Attractions

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 12:28 pm

A new movie about race and identity is out in select theaters today. It's called Dear White People, and it's a satire set at a fictitious ivy league college. Or, as the promotional materials say, it's "about being a black face in a white place."

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Code Switch
3:57 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Navajo Presidential Race Shaken By Language Gap

Navajo presidential candidate Chris Deschene greets supporters ahead of a hearing in Window Rock, Ariz., to determine whether Deschene is fluent enough in Navajo to qualify for the presidency.
Felicia Fonseca AP

According to Navajo law, Navajo Nation presidents must speak the Navajo language to hold office. Chris Deschene is a strong contender for the position, but there's a problem: He's not fluent in the language.

The challenge to Deschene's candidacy has become a window into how the Navajo Nation views itself and its cultural future, as well as how Native people continue to define themselves in the face of cultural change.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Wed October 15, 2014

In The World Of Chefs, Asian-American Women Are Turning Up The Heat

Chef Niki Nakayama.
Zen Sekizawa Courtesy of n/naka

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 1:54 pm

Food writers have argued that Asian-American chefs are having a moment. Besides running popular food establishments, chefs David Chang, Roy Choi and Eddie Huang have each inspired his own cultlike fan base. All three have published best-selling books; Huang's Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir is the basis for a highly anticipated sitcom debuting this fall on ABC.

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Movies
5:09 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Animated 'Book Of Life' Celebrates Día De Los Muertos

Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna, left) meets Carmen Sanchez (voiced by Ana de la Reguera) in the Land of the Remembered.
20th Century Fox & Reel FX

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 1:07 pm

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) — a holiday that celebrates those who have passed — will come alive this Thursday in the movie The Book of Life. It is director and animator Jorge Gutiérrez's first feature film, and he says it's his own take on what happens after death.

Set in the 1920s in Mexico, the animated movie centers on the fiery and brave Maria Posada (voiced by Zoe Saldana), and her two suitors: the handsome town hero Joaquin (Channing Tatum) and the soft-spoken Manolo (Diego Luna), who comes from a long line of bullfighters.

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Code Switch
2:19 am
Mon October 13, 2014

What's In A Name? It Could Matter If You're Writing To Your Lawmaker

And so continues Code Switch's battle with illustrating studies about the subtle biases that inflict our email outboxes.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 8:42 am

In recent years, social scientists have tried to find out whether important decisions are shaped by subtle biases. They've studied recruiters as they decide whom to hire. They've studied teachers, deciding which students to help at school. And they've studied doctors, figuring out what treatments to give patients. Now, researchers have trained their attention on a new group of influential people — state legislators.

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Code Switch
1:55 pm
Sun October 12, 2014

Seattle Swaps Columbus Day For 'Indigenous Peoples' Day'

Native American protesters have been demonstrating against Columbus Day in Seattle for several years. Protest organizers say Columbus should not be credited with discovering the Western Hemisphere at a time when it was already inhabited.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 12:50 pm

This year's Columbus Day holiday will have a slightly different, more Native flavor in the city of Seattle. Thanks to a unanimous vote this summer by the city council, the federal holiday will now be known by a different name: Indigenous Peoples' Day.

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Code Switch
7:35 am
Sat October 11, 2014

Comer Cottrell, Creator Of The People's Jheri Curl, Dies At 82

Comer Cottrell, right, confers with adman Jerry Metcalf in 1977.
Los Angeles Times

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Code Switch
4:12 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Twitter Recap: What Does 'Passing' Look Like Today?

John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Ar Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 26, 2014 5:15 pm

In her book A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, Allyson Hobbs delves into the personal histories of light-skinned African-Americans who, because of their fair complexions and social circumstance, were able to "pass" as white. Code Switch's Karen Grigsby Bates spoke with Hobbs, who explained that, in the past, passing was really a group effort that involved the complicity of a person's family and community.

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Race
5:06 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Videos Of Deadly Police Encounters Grab The Media Spotlight, But Why?

The casket of Michael Brown sits inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, awaiting the start of his funeral in August.
Robert Cohen AP

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 12:26 pm

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this story, we had two videos of encounters with the police. They contained graphic language and violence, so we've removed them from the story. If you still want to see them, we've included links.

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Code Switch
4:58 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

'A Chosen Exile': Black People Passing In White America

Dr. Albert Johnston passed in order to practice medicine. After living as leading citizens in Keene, N.H., the Johnstons revealed their true racial identity, and became national news.
Historical Society of Cheshire County

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 1:24 pm

Several years ago, Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs was talking with a favorite aunt, who was also the family storyteller. Hobbs learned that she had a distant cousin whom she'd never met nor heard of.

Which is exactly the way the cousin wanted it.

Hobbs' cousin had been living as white, far away in California, since she'd graduated from high school. This was at the insistence of her mother.

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Law
4:06 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Alaska Must Translate Election Material Into 2 Indigenous Languages

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 9:50 am

Earlier this year, a judge ruled that Alaskan election officials were in violation of the Voting Rights Act because they did not provide election materials in two dying indigenous languages. They were given until this Friday to comply with the ruling.

The court's decision applies to everything from the buttons that poll workers wear that read "Can I Help?" to candidates' statements to the ballots themselves. There are four regional election pamphlets that are more than 600 pages, and they must be translated into Yupik and Gwich'in.

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Code Switch
10:33 pm
Sun October 5, 2014

Black Women's Groups Meet With NFL On Domestic Violence

Roger Goodell, the NFL's commissioner, met last week with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. But several black women's organizations said the groups the league is working with to craft its plan to combat domestic violence don't have footholds in black communities — an oversight for a league that is mostly black.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 8:53 am

The beginning of the NFL's 2014 season has been marked by scandals around players' off-field behavior. But each time the league mustered an official response, it seemed to invite even more criticism — especially in the case of Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back who was seen on surveillance video punching his then-fiancee and knocking her unconscious.

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Code Switch
4:50 pm
Sat October 4, 2014

Does Television Spanglish Need A Rewrite?

Giancarlo Esposito won acclaim as the ruthless gangster Gustavo "Gus" Fring in Breaking Bad. Even some fans says his accent missed the mark.
Ursula Coyote AP

I watched the season premiere of Law & Order SVU, and I was excited to see that it covered a topic I've reported on for the last year — sex trafficking of women in Mexico — and that a very rich cast of Latino actors were featured on the show. But man, that good feeling stopped almost as soon as I heard them speak.

The Spanish and Spanglish used in the show was embarrassing. When it comes to Latinos on the screen, Hollywood keeps missing the mark on the way we speak.

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Code Switch
9:24 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Muslims In Minnesota Weigh Whether To Expel Or Engage At-Risk Youth

Ahmed Ismail, a soccer coach, runs the West Bank Athletic Club in Minneapolis. His players practice near a large Somali community where young people have been recruited to fight in overseas conflicts.
Craig Lassig AP

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 10:39 am

There's a common argument around Muslim extremism that calls for moderate Muslims to denounce and condemn radical adherents of Islam. Many folks push back on that idea by pointing out that Islam isn't a monolith, that there are well north of a billion Muslims in the world, and that it's wrong to conflate the small number of dangerous radicals with everyone who belongs to the faith.

Those very tensions are playing out right now in the Somali immigrant communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

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