Code Switch

Despite the fiery, complicated past of the 6200 block of Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia, Gerald Renfrow is bullish on its future.

He's one to know; he has lived here forever. His parents bought one of the bigger houses on the corner of 62nd and Osage Avenue and he grew up there. When it was time for him to buy his own home, he landed just up the block and raised his own kids there.

Talk to some of the folks who lived through the bombing of 62nd and Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia 30 years ago, and you'll notice that they refer to the event by its full date. May 13, 1985.

Just outside Pittsburgh is the tiny borough of Braddock, Pa., best known as the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie's first steel mill. Today, it's something of a poster child for rust belt revitalization, a place where artists can buy property for pennies and even construct outdoor pizza ovens using the bricks from abandoned or demolished buildings.

The Harlem Children's Zone is a nonprofit known for its innovative, multifaceted approach to ending the cycle to poverty. It's garnered kudos from President Obama and philanthropists like William Louis-Dreyfus, who recently announced he would donate up to $50 million to the organization.

Zahra Noorbakhsh and Tanzila "Taz" Ahmed host the podcast #GoodMuslimBadMuslim. But they don't have a shtick where one of them is good and the other is bad. It's more complicated than that.

Noorbakhsh, an Iranian-American comedian, and Ahmed, a Bengali-American writer and activist, say this podcast was born out of conversations about just what it means to be a "good Muslim."

Desilicious is a raucous dance party that was started by LGBT South Asians in New York. The name is a play on words; many people of South Asian descent refer to themselves as Desi, and hundreds regularly turn out for the event.

On a spring Saturday night in a New York City dance club, longtime Desilicious partygoer Sazzad Reza congratulates the event's founders on its big anniversary. The organizers have been staging the party every month or so since 2002.

Editor's note: In 2013, we wrote about a band named The Slants and the legal battle over its name. As the saga continues, we check back in on what it means to the band's members — and what it could mean for trademark law.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate a change in the flow of immigrants arriving in the U.S. from around the world and offer a look at what the nation will look like in the future.

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

People make a lot of assumptions based on a name alone.

Jamaal Allan, a high school teacher in Des Moines, Iowa, should know. To the surprise of many who have only seen his name, Allan is white. And that's taken him on a lifelong odyssey of racial encounters.

It was after the bars had closed and well into the pre-dawn hours of an August morning in 1966 when San Francisco cops were in Gene Compton's cafeteria again. They were arresting drag queens, trans women and gay hustlers who had been sitting for hours, eating and gossiping and coming down from their highs with the help of 60-cent cups of coffee.

Yukia Harris Walker remembers the thrill of getting engaged, but the luster on that glow dimmed when she visited bridal salons and realized there weren't many dresses that would fit her. Walker was a size 14 at the time — as are a lot of American women — but there were no high end gowns for her to try, and the stores had to make-do.

It was a few days after the funeral for Freddie Gray, and the Baltimore streets that had exploded into violence this week had mostly calmed down.

Baltimore's lead prosecutor, Marilyn J. Mosby, announced on Friday that the death of Freddie Gray was a homicide. Mosby, who took office in January, is charging six city police officers with a range of offenses — including second-degree murder and manslaughter.

The complexities of Baltimore seem largely out of the reach of the media outlets that descend, as usual, only when certain neighborhoods burn.

Birthday parties and backyard barbecues – rituals of daily life and love – seem to never make the headlines. Yet images of overturned cars claim the top spot on the evening news every time.

In West Baltimore, at Pennsylvania and North avenues, media featured a drug store on fire.

When Edward Buck Jr. learned that Baltimore schools were shutting down Tuesday, he decided to spend the day giving his 5-year-old son, who's also named Edward, a tour of West Baltimore.

"I wanted to be the one painting the picture of what was happening in our neighborhood," he explains.

Editor's note: Code Switch reporter Shereen Marisol Meraji spent Wednesday with a West Baltimore principal charged with a huge task: helping her middle and high school students, who are overwhelmingly poor and black, make sense of what's happening in Baltimore right now.

Editor's note: This post contains some language that many will find offensive.

Lots of people are looking for words to make sense of Freddie Gray's death and the subsequent unrest in Baltimore, and have turned to writers — from novelist and social critic James Baldwin to hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar — for an assist. They're sharing these writers' words on social media, as screenshots in tweets, Instragrammed pictures of open books, and Photoshopped collages uploaded to Facebook.

Here are some of the virtual readings that stuck out to us — with context.

How would you like to be remembered, in a word or two? That question was posed by a black man and answered by other black men in a multimedia art project called "Question Bridge: Black Males."

Some of the answers to that query included "warrior," "sincere," "motivated," "dedicated," "family-oriented" and "father."

A tiny independent movie has been picked by one of Hollywood's biggest moguls to promote his latest venture. Robert L. Johnson created BET and now, the Urban Movie Channel — an online channel that's being called the black Netflix.

The first original film it has acquired is a gay interracial romance set in the Deep South. In Blackbird, the main character Randy is in high school. Everyone thinks he's gay, and they're totally fine with it.

Randy, 18, is fervently religious. Even though his best friend is gay, Randy's in denial about his own sexuality.

On the most recent episode of HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, Chris Rock talked about the loneliness of being a black baseball fan in 2015, at a time when fewer than 10 percent of baseball's players and fans are black.

Over the weekend, The New Republic posted a 10,000-word essay by black academic and author Michael Eric Dyson that's created quite a buzz within a certain segment of black America.

Remember that Deadline article from a few weeks back? In which the writer pointed out that Hollywood is diversifying — and claimed that's a bad thing?

At least one good thing may come of it:

Organizers with the Black Lives Matter movement staged protests across the country on April 14, 2015. Publicized online with the hashtag #ShutDownA14 — as in, shut down your cities on April 14 — the protests called for students and employees to walk out of school and work, to bring attention to the recent police killings of unarmed minorities.

Planet Money intern Ryan Kailath observed the day's rally in New York's Union Square, and spoke with several of the hundreds of protesters and passers-by.

In 1778, the British explorer Capt. James Cook became probably the first European to encounter the Hawaiian Islands. Things got really ugly, really fast: Not too long after their first encounter, Cook died in a skirmish with the Native Hawaiian population in which dozens of Natives were killed.

While no one knows exactly how many Native Hawaiians there were when Cook arrived, scholars agree that that contact with Europeans had disastrous consequences for the islanders.

An obscure but riveting genre of theater is being revived in New York City.

They're called "anti-lynching plays." Most were written by black playwrights during the early 1900s to show how lynchings devastated African-American families.

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