Code Switch

Code Switch
6:03 am
Fri February 27, 2015

This Month (And Every Month), Black Sci-Fi Writers Look To The Future

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 7:12 pm

Author Steven Barnes vividly remembers attending science fiction conventions when he first started in the field 30 years ago: "For almost 20 years, as far as I could tell, I was the only black male science fiction writer in the world," he says. The legendary Samuel R.

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Code Switch
8:41 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

As First Black American NHL Player, Enforcer Was Defenseless Against Racism

Val James of the Toronto Maple Leafs takes warmup prior to a preseason game against the Boston Bruins at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1986.
Graig Abel Collection Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 9:03 am

The first black American hockey player in NHL history is telling his story almost 30 years after he retired.

Val James was a revered and feared fighter — known in hockey as an enforcer — during short stints for the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1980s. But he was defenseless to the racist taunts and slurs that showered down on him from opposing teams' fans.

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Code Switch
3:58 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

When Tech Workers Arrive On Visa, What About Their Spouses?

Upasana Kone's husband works at Microsoft on an H-1B tech visa, but her spouse visa does not include a work permit. The Obama administration has announced a possible rule change to allow some spouses to get a job.
Upasana Kone

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 8:51 am

This week, spouses of high-tech foreign workers got some good news: the federal government will begin offering some work permits. A lot of tech companies in the U.S. hire foreign workers who come here on H-1B visas, but their spouses — mostly wives — have long pointed to a major drawback. They haven't been allowed to work.

Now, things are changing. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced it will start taking applications for work permits in May. It's expected that up to 180,000 spouses would initially qualify, then around 50,000 more each year after.

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Code Switch
2:21 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Supreme Court Looks At Abercrombie & Fitch's Hijab Discrimination Case

Samantha Elauf was not hired by the preppy retailer Abercrombie & Fitch because she wore a headscarf during her job interview, which the company said conflicted with its dress code.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 7:27 pm

A closely watched case before the Supreme Court Wednesday could have big consequences for religious rights in the workplace. It involves Abercrombie & Fitch, the preppy, mall-based retailer, and a young Muslim woman who wore a headscarf to a job interview at the company seven years ago.

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Code Switch
2:14 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

'Her Calling Was To Help People Understand One Another': Remembering Dori Maynard

Dori J. Maynard, of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, speaks during a forum at Preservation Park's Nile Hall in Oakland, Calif., in 2013.
Jane Tyska Bay Area News Group

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 6:18 pm

In a heartfelt tribute, Fusion Voice's deputy editor Latoya Peterson recalled her seven-year relationship with journalist Dori Maynard as one of "an advisor, a mentor, and a beloved friend." Maynard, president of the Robert C. Maynard institute for Journalism Education, died Tuesday night at her home in Oakland, Calif. She was 56.

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Code Switch
12:41 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

African Emoji CEO: Apple 'Missed The Whole Point' With Its Diverse Emojis

Here's a set of Afro-centric emoticons that Oju Africa's CEO thinks trumps Apple's new diverse emojis.
OjuAfrica.com

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 6:23 pm

Alpesh Patel, the CEO of African-based emoji company Oju Africa, thinks Apple missed the mark with its new set of iPhone emoji options, which offers more skin-tone options than before.

"Look at their new emoticons — it's all about skin colour," he told Vice's Motherboard. "Diversity is not about skin colour — it's about embracing the multiple cultures out there that have no digital representation."

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Code Switch
11:02 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Journalism Diversity Pioneer Dori Maynard Dies

Dori Maynard
Knight Foundation/Flickr

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 7:06 pm

Dori J. Maynard, a relentless champion of diversity in newsrooms, died on Tuesday at her Oakland, Calif., home. She was 56.

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Code Switch
3:47 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Here's Where Emoji Skin-Tone Colors Come From

Here are the latest set of emoji.
AP

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 7:14 pm

In emoji news (one of my favorite types of weird news, ever): Apple this week released a beta operating system to its testers that finally includes noticeably browner — and, um, yellower — choices.

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Code Switch
1:52 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

How Birthright Citizenship For American Samoans Could Threaten 'The Samoan Way'

Pago Pago Harbor, on the American Samoan island of Tutuila.
Taiger808 Flickr

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 7:28 am

American Samoans are in a very peculiar political limbo: Unlike on any other patch of U.S. soil in the world, children born on the small Pacific Islands are not automatically granted American citizenship. They are U.S. nationals, but not U.S. citizens.

Leneuoti Tuaua, one of the plaintiffs in a case for birthright citizenship in American Samoa that's currently before the Supreme Court, wrote an op-ed in Samoa News back in 2012 laying out what that means for everyday life:

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Code Switch
1:51 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Oscar Speeches Spotlight Income Inequality, Immigration And Incarceration

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, center, and the cast and crew of Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) accept the award for the best picture at the Oscars on Sunday.
AP

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 2:06 am

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Author Interviews
5:23 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Struggling Writer's Debut Novel Gets Coveted Oprah Winfrey Nod

First-time author Cynthia Bond
Courtesy of Cynthiabond.com

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 6:53 pm

Oprah's Book Club has turned unknown authors into superstars. Her latest selection is the novel Ruby. The book is set in an all-black hamlet called Liberty Township, in East Texas, and is part of a planned trilogy by first-time author Cynthia Bond.

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Code Switch
7:03 am
Sun February 22, 2015

Pot Policy Splits Native Americans Over Whether Business Is Worth It

David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 11:23 am

When it comes to marijuana laws, the Justice Department is now treating American Indian tribes the way it treats states that have legalized pot.

The move, announced in December, has inadvertently sparked interest in the marijuana business. While many see dollar signs, others worry about contributing to the impact substance abuse has already had on Indian Country.

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Code Switch
7:04 pm
Sat February 21, 2015

Malcolm X's Public Speaking Power

Malcolm X addresses a rally in Harlem in New York City on June 29, 1963.
AP

Originally published on Sun February 22, 2015 9:37 am

From what people remember, he fell like a tree. Malcolm X — all 6 feet, 4 inches of him — had taken a shotgun blast to the chest and a grouping of smaller-caliber bullets to the torso while onstage at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights on Feb. 21, 1965. After a ghastly moment of stasis, he careened backward. His head hit the floor with a crack.

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Code Switch
9:43 am
Sat February 21, 2015

NASCAR Hall-Of-Famer Helped Open The Track For Black Drivers

Wendell Scott, pictured here in 1969, is the first — and only — black man to win a race in NASCAR's top series.
AP

Originally published on Sun February 22, 2015 11:36 am

On Dec. 1, 1963, Wendell Scott became the first African-American to win a race in NASCAR's top division. More than 50 years later, he is still the only African-American to have done that.

The new NASCAR season begins this weekend, and some in the sport are using Scott's recent induction into its Hall of Fame to celebrate a pioneering achievement — but also to examine why NASCAR still struggles with diversity.

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Code Switch
4:14 am
Sat February 21, 2015

Korean Tailors Try To Keep The Lunar New Year Hanbok Ritual Alive

Models present the traditional costume known as hanbok during the 2010 Korea Hanbok Festival in Seoul.
Ahn Young-joon AP

Originally published on Sat February 21, 2015 10:06 pm

Getting ready for the Lunar New Year once meant buying a new set of clothes for many families of Korean ancestry.

For centuries, the costume known as hanbok – a two-piece outfit traditionally made of embroidered cotton or silk worn by men and women – has played a central role in the new year's wardrobe.

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Code Switch
4:06 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Instead Of Stop-And-Frisk, How About Stop-And-Shake?

Yonkers community activist Hector Santiago demonstrates the "stop-and-shake" with Lt. Pat McCormack of the Yonkers Police Department. The idea, Santiago says, is to get people to introduce themselves to cops on the street.
Courtesy of Hector Santiago

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 7:13 pm

James Comey's speech on race and policing last week was a big departure for a sitting FBI director. For one thing, Comey quoted a lyric from the Broadway musical Avenue Q: "Maybe it's a fact we all should face: Everyone makes judgments based on race."

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Code Switch
3:20 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Oscars Voter Says 'Selma' Cast's 'I Can't Breathe' Tees Were 'Offensive'

A scene from Selma.
Atsushi Nishijima Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 6:18 pm

The Hollywood Reporter is doing a series of interviews with voting members of the academy, the folks who decide who gets an Oscar. Yesterday's (anonymous) interviewee had this to say about why Selma didn't get a nod:

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Code Switch
2:22 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

A White Supremacist's Legacy Looms Over Schools In South Carolina

A statue of Benjamin Tillman, a governor and proud white supremacist, stands in front of the state house in Columbia, S.C.
Mary Ann Chastain AP

Earlier this week, the board of trustees at Clemson University in South Carolina decided not to change the name of the school's iconic clock tower, Tillman Hall, despite protests by grad students and professors.

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Code Switch
10:30 am
Thu February 19, 2015

The 'Black, Queer, Feminist' Legal Trailblazer You've Never Heard Of

Dr. Pauli Murray was an unheralded pioneer who argued civil rights cases challenging discrimination based on race and gender.
AP

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 1:51 pm

Dr. Pauli Murray is hardly the household name that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is, but a recent profile in Salon argues she should be. As Salon's Brittney Cooper explains, Murray, who graduated from the Howard University School of Law in 1944, was one of the first lawyers to argue that the Equal Protection Clause's approach to racial discrimination should apply equally to gender-based discrimination.

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Code Switch
4:00 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Whatever Floats Your Goat: The 2015 Lunar New Year Animal Is Up For Debate

Will the real 2015 animal please stand up?
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 8:50 pm

Many East Asian cultures use zodiac animals to symbolize each New Year and predict a person's fortunes. But which animal represents 2015 is up for debate.

You may have seen goat, sheep or ram as the English translation for this year's animal according to the Chinese zodiac — yang, in Mandarin. All of them are correct, says Lala Zuo, a Chinese language and culture professor at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland.

"I don't think there's a wrong translation," she says. "I think there are various ways of translation. It really depends on the context."

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Code Switch
6:23 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Ala. Governor Apologizes To Indian Government In 'Excessive Force' Case

Sureshbhai Patel lies in a bed at Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, Ala., on Feb. 7. Patel was severely injured when police threw him to the ground.
Chirag Patel AP

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 7:11 pm

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley apologized on Tuesday to the government of India for an incident, captured on a squad car's dashboard camera, in which officers slammed an Indian man to the ground.

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Code Switch
3:08 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

After a Racial Attack, A South Philly School Tries to Heal

Duong Nghe Ly, center, at a news conference in 2011, in which Asian and community leaders discussed a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into a series of racial attacks, in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 3:21 pm

In December 2009, 30 students at a high school in South Philadelphia, mostly recent Asian immigrants, were beaten up at school by their peers. Several had to be hospitalized.

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Code Switch
5:02 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Did South Carolina Sabotage Its Public Historically Black College?

Supporters of South Carolina State University rallied at the state's capitol on Monday to protest a proposal that would close the historically black college for two years.
Jeffrey Collins AP

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 5:18 pm

Last week, South Carolina lawmakers proposed shutting down the state's only public historically black college for two years.

"We are looking at a bankrupt institution," state House Rep. Jim Merrill told reporters. "No one takes any pleasure in recommending this."

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Code Switch
3:24 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Some Thoughtful Words — And Many Unanswered Questions — After Chapel Hill

Kheira Benkreira and Hasnia Bekkadja attend a vigil for the slain Chapel Hill victims in Washington, D.C., last week.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 5:49 pm

Since the killing of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, N.C., last week, a grand jury has indicted the victims' neighbor Craig Hicks for the murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

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Code Switch
3:03 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

One Playwright's 'Obligation' To Confront Race And Identity In The U.S.

Originally published on Mon February 16, 2015 6:35 pm

Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins may be only 30 years old, but he's already compiled an impressive resume. His theatrical works, which look at race and identity in America, have been performed in New York and around the country. Last year, Jacobs-Jenkins won the best new American play Obie Award for two of his works, Appropriate and An Octoroon.

An Octoroon is currently playing at Theater for a New Audience in New York.

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Code Switch
2:47 am
Mon February 16, 2015

'Through A Lens Darkly': Black Photography Fades Up To Joy

Through a Lens Darkly challenges stereotypical images of African-Americans families and experiences through photography. The document airs on PBS Monday.
Lyle Ashton Harris

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 10:20 am

Rare glimpses of black soldiers from the Civil War come into view, their presence asking nothing more than to be remembered, if not celebrated. The documentary film Through A Lens Darkly draws audiences deep into a world of black photography, and will broadcast Monday on the PBS program Independent Lens.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Sun February 15, 2015

How Black Lives Have Always Mattered: A Reading List

Stokely Carmichael, shown here in 1967. Historian Peniel Joseph argues Carmichael's writings on slavery and capitalism deserve more attention.
AFP/Getty Images

This year, Black History Month carries a special significance, because America is marking not just the 150th anniversary of Emancipation, but also the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. It was propelled into reality through the heroic witness of non-violent demonstrations in Selma, Alabama and across the nation.

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Code Switch
3:57 pm
Sat February 14, 2015

'Strange Fruit' Shares Uncelebrated, Quintessentially American Stories

Bass Reeves, depicted here in an illustration from Joel Christian Gill's Tales of the Talented Tenth, was one of the first African-American U.S. marshals. Click here for a closer look.
Courtesy of Fulcrum Publishing

Originally published on Sat February 14, 2015 5:32 pm

Illustrator and historian Joel Christian Gill is full of stories.

There's the one about Box Brown, a slave who escaped to freedom by mailing himself in a box, then became an abolitionist speaker.

And then there's the story of the first American stage magician, a black man from New Hampshire named Richard Potter.

And of course there's Spottswood Rice, a slave who escaped and then wrote two impassioned letters: a heartfelt message to his children still in slavery, and a threat to his former slavemaster.

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Code Switch
11:03 am
Sat February 14, 2015

Haitian's Lynching Renews Protests Against Dominican Citizenship Law

Thousands of Dominicans, mostly those of Haitian descent, were stripped of their citizenship last week. Those affected, including during this 2013 protest, say "We are as Dominican as you."
Manuel Diaz AP

A Haitian man was lynched at a public plaza in the Dominican Republic this week. Authorities there say it was the result of a personal dispute, but activists claim it's part of rising racial animus and anti-Haitian attitudes in the Caribbean nation.

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Code Switch
12:02 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

A Black Mississippi Judge's Breathtaking Speech To 3 White Murderers

U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves, for the Southern District of Mississippi.
Courtesy of cleoinc.org

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 10:14 am

Here's an astonishing speech by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, who in 2010 became the second African-American appointed as federal judge in Mississippi. He read it to three young white men before sentencing them for the death of a 48-year-old black man named James Craig Anderson in a parking lot in Jackson, Miss., one night in 2011. They were part of a group that beat Anderson and then killed him by running over his body with a truck, yelling "white power" as they drove off.

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