Code Switch

Code Switch
10:38 am
Mon March 2, 2015

The Man Behind The Speech: Judge Carlton Reeves Takes On Mississippi's Past

District Judge Carlton Reeves has presided over key race and equality cases in Mississippi.
Courtesy of Jackson State University

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 12:03 pm

In a Mississippi courtroom in February, three young white men were sentenced for a hate crime: beating up a black man in a parking lot one June night in 2011, running over his body with a truck and leaving him to die. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, who heard the case, asked the young men to settle into their chairs before he delivered their sentence. He had something to tell them.

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Code Switch
4:29 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

How Pittsburgh's Freedom House Pioneered Paramedic Treatment

Freedom House paramedics, who first were deployed in the 1960s, provided a crucial service for Pittsburgh residents. The program became a national model for emergency medical transport and care.
Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh

In the 1960s, Pittsburgh, like most cities, was segregated by race. But people of all colors suffered from lack of ambulance care. Police were the ones who responded to medical emergency calls.

"Back in those days, you had to hope and pray you had nothing serious," recalls filmmaker and Hollywood paramedic Gene Starzenski, who grew up in Pittsburgh. "Because basically, the only thing they did was pick you up and threw you in the back like a sack of potatoes, and they took off for the hospital. They didn't even sit in the back with you."

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Code Switch
6:06 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Mr. Spock, Mixed-Race Pioneer

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock. The character's mixed Vulcan and human heritage set him apart from the rest of the Star Trek crew.
Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 1:35 pm

At a time when the mere sight of Petula Clark touching Harry Belafonte's arm held the potential to upset delicate sensibilities, the half-human, half-Vulcan character Mr. Spock embodied an identity rarely acknowledged, much less seen, on television: a mixed-race person.

Sure, the mixing of races was allegorical in Spock's case, as was the brilliantly subversive mode for social commentary on Star Trek. But that doesn't mean it didn't resonate.

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Murders Of Young Black Males Are Less Likely To Be Solved, Report Says

Isaiah Milton holds a candle during a memorial for his 19-year-old cousin who was shot in Chicago last year.
Credit Alex Wroblewski

When young black males in poor inner-city areas are murdered, their cases are less likely to be resolved, particularly if a gun is involved.

That’s the finding of Alonzo DeCarlo, division chair of social and behavioral sciences at the Springfield campus of Benedictine University. His findings, after a look into 10 years of Uniform Crime Reporting data kept by the FBI, were published in January by the journal Contemporary Social Science.

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Poverty Rate Doesn’t Budge Despite Recession’s End

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population universe used to calculate poverty is smaller than the total population of the state because certain groups of people, like unrelated children under age 15, are excluded.
Credit Social IMPACT Research Center / Heartland Alliance

The poverty rate in Illinois has held steady in recent years despite the fact that the nation has emerged from the Great Recession.

That’s according to a report issued recently by the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center. The group reported that the 14.7 percent poverty rate in Illinois for 2013, which is the most recent data available for the analysis, has been unchanged since 2012. The 2011 poverty rate was slightly higher at 15 percent.

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Code Switch
4:53 pm
Sat February 28, 2015

Diversity Sells — But Hollywood Remains Overwhelmingly White, Male

Gina Rodriguez stars alongside Justin Baldoni in The CW's Jane the Virgin.
Danny Feld The CW

Originally published on Sat February 28, 2015 5:39 pm

If you want an accurate picture of ethnic and gender diversity in the United States, don't look to Hollywood.

That's the conclusion of the "2015 Hollywood Diversity Report" conducted by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.

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Code Switch
9:03 am
Sat February 28, 2015

A 'Show Boat' With An Asian-American Cast Hits The Rocks

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 12:45 pm

A heads-up to our readers: This post quotes a racial slur.

When actress Erin Quill saw a casting notice earlier this month for a Show Boat musical revival with a completely Asian-American cast, she raised an eyebrow.

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Code Switch
7:04 am
Sat February 28, 2015

'The Black Summit' Draws African-American Skiers And Boarders To Aspen

Art Clay, 78, of Chicago takes a run in a light snowfall on Wednesday. Clay is a co-founder of the National Brotherhood of Skiers.
Sonya Doctorian for NPR

Originally published on Sat February 28, 2015 2:28 pm

We've all heard the old adage that every snowflake is different, but they do have one thing in common: They're all white. That's also the image that many have of the people taking part in winter sports, including skiing and snowboarding, here in the U.S.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Sat February 28, 2015

Uncovering Hidden Black History, On Screen And On The Page

Viewers have criticized the lack of characters of color in Marvel's Agent Carter -- K. Tempest Bradford says it's just one of a long line of properties that overlook the presence of African-Americans outside of slavery, Reconstruction and the civil rights era.
Kelsey McNeal ABC

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 1:02 pm

One of the major criticisms leveled against the popular but problematic Marvel's Agent Carter (which just finished up its first season on ABC) is that it lacks black characters. The show takes place in New York City in 1946, and to some people that means the lack of diversity makes sense — and it's only the most recent example in an ongoing conversation/argument about books and other media set in the past — whether it's the real past or an alternate history — that are missing people of color.

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Code Switch
6:25 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy's Advice To A Biracial Girl In 1968

A young girl with a white father and a black mother wrote to the half-Vulcan, half-human Spock for advice on fitting in.
FaVE! Magazine, via My Star Trek Scrapbook

It wasn't supposed to be "Leonard Nimoy + Biracial Kids Day" here at Code Switch, but the news takes you where it takes you.

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Code Switch
3:18 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy On Mr. Spock's Jewish Heritage

Leonard Nimoy said that Mr. Spock was "an alien everywhere he went."
Jordan Strauss AP

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 11:48 am

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Code Switch
1:12 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

In The South, Way More People Are Identifying As Both Black And White

AP

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 7:40 pm

The number of people who identify as belonging to two or more races keeps climbing with each Census. The number of people identified as both black and white, for example, more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, from about 780,000 to 1.8 million.

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Code Switch
9:37 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Even If Chicago 'Black Site' Story Is A Stretch, It Stirred Up Bad Memories

Jon Burge, ex-Chicago police commander, has become synonymous with police brutality and abuse of power in Chicago.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 12:43 pm

There are plenty of possible explanations behind Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's failure to get enough votes in Tuesday's election to avoid a runoff. His tenure has been plagued by gang violence. Many African-American voters are disenchanted with Emmanuel's decision to close some 50 public schools.

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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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