Code Switch

Illinois Issues - Code Switch
12:00 am
Sun February 1, 2015

Declining Fortunes - Middle Class Faced Threats Prior to Great Recession

Gloria Davis, a meatpacker from Chicago, tell a state Senate committee that she is homeless because of working a minimum-wage job.
Credit Senate Democratic Caucus

America’s middle class faced threats to its financial well-being even prior to the Great Recession.

When Jorge Chapa was a student at the University of Chicago, he had a lab job collecting brain samples from a meatpacking plant. That’s how, in 1974, he became familiar with the industry and its bloody and backbreaking disassembly line. He revisited meatpacking 30 years later, as a sociologist. This time he analyzed it for a study showing how the once high-paying job had slid from providing a middle-class living into one paying minimum wage.

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Illinois Issues - Code Switch
12:00 am
Sun February 1, 2015

Rape Laws - Illinois Makes Major Moves Forward

Demonstrators protest planned cuts to social service agencies, including the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
Credit Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Legal system makes major moves forward in its handling of sexual assault, especially in Illinois

In December, a Chicago area man was convicted of raping a woman in a hotel room following their date in 2009.

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Illinois Issues - Code Switch
12:00 am
Sun February 1, 2015

A Personal Story - I’ve Come To Re-Evaluate What It MeansTo Be Raped

This personal account is a sidebar to the feature story Rape laws by Kristy Kennedy

Three different men sexually assaulted me when I was a sophomore in college. That was 30 years ago or so. In that time, I’ve come to re-evaluate what it means to be to be raped. And I’ve kept in mind what I can do to help protect my daughter, who at 22 is a little older than I was in the early 1980s when I was assaulted while a student at Eastern Illinois University.

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Code Switch
4:24 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Is There A #PubRadioVoice That Sounds Like America?

#PubRadioVoice brought together our listeners with African-American and Latino radio journalists in a discussion on whether the voices on air truly represent the "public" in public radio.
Emily Jan NPR

Chenjerai Kumanyika, a professor at Clemson University and aspiring public radio journalist, sparked a challenging conversation with his commentary about the "whiteness" of public radio voices. We hosted a Twitter chat about his essay and invited listeners and public radio professionals to share their thoughts using #PubRadioVoice.

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Illinois Issues - Code Switch
1:08 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Post-Recession Illinois Poverty Rates Didn't Decline

 The poverty rate in Illinois has held steady in recent years despite the nation’s post-Great Recession status.

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

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Code Switch
12:18 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

What Research Says About The Consequences Of PC Culture

One of the most popular arguments against political correctness is that it stifles speech, but a Cornell study found that it boosted creativity in mixed-gender groups.
Tamir Kalifa AP

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 2:32 pm

By now, you've surely seen Jonathan Chait's sprawling takedown of what he describes as a dangerous resurgence of political correctness in the 21st century. In his telling, a "PC culture" that flourished on college campuses in the '90s is back, stronger than ever thanks to Twitter and social media, and it's been crippling political discourse — and maybe even democracy itself.

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Code Switch
4:34 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Challenging The Whiteness Of Public Radio

Chenjerai Kumanyika worries that having a "public radio" voice won't allow him to sound like himself.
Linda Tindal Courtesy of Linda Tindal

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 9:32 pm

Editor's Note: This essay originally appeared on Transom.org, with a shorter version published on BuzzFeed. Author Chenjerai Kumanyika will join Code Switch — along with African-American public radio journalists — in a Twitter chat Thursday moderated by lead blogger Gene Demby. Join Code

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Code Switch
4:16 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

University Re-Imagines Town And Gown Relationship In Philadelphia

New apartment buildings are replacing empty lots in Mantua, one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods.
Will Figg for NPR

Originally published on Mon February 2, 2015 4:40 am

Dinner is served in the West Philadelphia neighborhood of Mantua.

"You look like you're ready to have a great Dornsife neighborhood partnership meal! Am I right about it?" Rose Samuel-Evans asks the crowd at a free community dinner of chicken marsala and stuffed flounder hosted by Drexel University.

Samuel-Evans works in this two-story, orange-brick schoolhouse; it's one of three refurbished buildings that opened last summer north of campus as part of Drexel's Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

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Code Switch
4:00 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Join Us Tonight To Talk About The 'Whiteness Of Public Radio Voice'

is public radio too white?
Ben McLeod Flickr

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 5:21 pm

When Chenjerai Kumanyika sat down to record his first public radio piece last summer, he was thrown off by his own voice.

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Code Switch
5:03 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Miss Colombia Wins Pageant; Miss Jamaica Wins Twitter?

Miss Universe contestants congratulate fifth-place-finisher, Kaci Fennell of Jamaica. Many pageant watchers on social media argued that Fennell should have won.
Wilfredo Lee AP

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 6:25 am

After Miss Colombia's Paulina Vega won the Miss Universe pageant on Sunday, she was greeted with a scepter, tiara and a kiss from the first runner-up, Miss U.S.A. But even as Vega took her first steps as Miss Universe, something that was happening elsewhere on stage caught a lot of attention.

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Code Switch
4:46 pm
Sun January 25, 2015

Black Doll Show Inspires With Wakandan Heroes And Jazz Superstars

For the past 34 years, the William Grant Still Arts Center has held a Black Doll Show to showcase diverse dolls for children. The exhibit features dolls submitted by artists and collectors from around the country.
Priska Neely NPR

Originally published on Sun January 25, 2015 5:38 pm

At The William Grant Still Arts Center in the West Adams neighborhood in Los Angeles, jazz superstars and comic book superheroes are gathered together — in miniature, as part of the Black Doll Show.

For the past 34 years, the center has held a doll show to showcase diverse dolls for children. The exhibit features dolls submitted by artists and collectors from around the country. This year's theme is A League Supreme: Jazz Superheroes.

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Code Switch
4:02 pm
Sat January 24, 2015

Between The Laughs, South African Comedian Hopes To Educate

Comedian Trevor Noah was born in South Africa during apartheid — "born a crime," as he says.
Byron Keulemans

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 6:15 pm

On Thursday, South African comedian Trevor Noah made his second appearance as a senior international correspondent on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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Code Switch
6:56 am
Sat January 24, 2015

A Japanese Singing Competition Blooms In Colorado

Two performers rehearse a traditional Japanese dance for Denver's 2015 Kohaku Uta Gassen.
Chloe Veltman KCFR

Originally published on Sat January 24, 2015 11:00 am

At a Buddhist temple in downtown Denver, Junko Higdon is rehearsing a traditional song for one of the local Japanese community's biggest annual events.

Higdon is one of 30 amateur singers competing in two teams at this year's Kohaku Uta Gassen, which means, "red and white singing battle."

"White is for the men, red is for the women and whoever gets the most points out the teams wins the trophy," she says.

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Code Switch
4:24 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

In Recruitment Effort, Akron Police Seeks To Mirror The Community

The Akron Police Department training class works out at Kent State Basic Police Officer Training Academy. Donald Clayton is the only African-American in the class of 20.
M.L. Schultze WKSU

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 8:00 am

Two years ago, the Akron, Ohio, police recruiting video began with pulsing music and an image of police in helmets and camouflage with assault rifles ready. This year, the most prominent video demonstrates how to prepare for the physical tests to be hired.

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Code Switch
1:18 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Could The Battle Over 'Redskins' Change Trademark Law?

In his 2015 State of Indian Nations speech, Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians, spoke out against the Washington football team's name.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 1:26 pm

In his yearly State of Indian Nations address Thursday, Brian Cladoosby — president of the National Congress of American Indians — quoted an 1863 advertisement from a Minnesota newspaper: "The state reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every redskin sent to Purgatory," he read.

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Illinois Issues - Code Switch
12:24 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Interview: Combating Systemic Racism In Springfield

SDART co-coordinators Leroy Jordan & Sister Marcelline Koch
Credit Patrick Yeagle

Some people claim we're living in a "post-racial" world. There's a black president, and laws to protect the rights of citizens no matter their skin color. But while it's no longer common place to overtly discriminate against others due to their looks - racism is alive and well in many of the institutions and systems of power in this country, and that includes in Springfield.

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Code Switch
12:44 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Barbie Has Some Royal Competition In Nigeria

Taofick Okoya sells between 6,000 and 9,000 of his Queens of Africa and Naija Princess dolls a month and reckons he has 10 to 15 percent of a small but fast-growing market.
Akintunde Akinleye Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 8:26 am

In Nigeria, Barbie has some fierce — some brown — competition: Taofick Okoya, a 43-year-old entrepreneur, has created Queens of Africa dolls and Naija Princess dolls that are outselling Mattel's classics. Okoya tells Reuters that he sells about 6,000 to 9,000 dolls a month and that he has "about 10-15 percent of a small but fast-growing market."

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Code Switch
3:19 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

In 'Selma,' British Actor Brings Outsider's Perspective To MLK

David Oyelowo stars as Joe "Lightning" Little in Red Tails.
Jiri Hanzl Lucasfilm

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 2:00 pm

British actor David Oyelowo has been praised for his chameleon-like ability to embody different accents and roles with confidence and ease.

In a relatively short eight years in Hollywood, the London transplant has assembled an impressive portfolio of supporting roles in films by directors Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan and J.C. Chandor. But it's his performance as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Ava Duvernay's Selma that has cemented his position as a leading man.

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Code Switch
4:22 pm
Sun January 18, 2015

Broken Promises On Display At Native American Treaties Exhibit

Suzan Shown Harjo points to a signature on Treaty K at the National Archives. The document will be on display in 2016 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian for an exhibit on treaties curated by Harjo.
James Clark NPR

Originally published on Sun January 18, 2015 4:33 pm

For centuries, treaties have defined the relationship between many Native American nations and the U.S. More than 370 ratified treaties have helped the U.S. expand its territory and led to many broken promises made to American Indians.

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Code Switch
11:43 am
Sun January 18, 2015

King's Family Builds Its Own Legacy Of Legal Battles

Bernice King is in a protracted legal battle with her brothers over control of their father's bible and Nobel Peace Prize.
John Bazemore AP

At the end of Selma, the new movie about a pivotal campaign in the Civil Rights Movement, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (played by David Oyelowo) rises to address a crowd in front of a courthouse.

It's a recreation of the moment in which King gave one of his most well-known speeches: "How Long? Not Long." You know the one: "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

But as the scene goes on, none of the actual language from that speech shows up.

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Code Switch
9:39 am
Sun January 18, 2015

'Fresh Off The Boat' Repackages The Asian-American Story For TV

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 9:15 am

Eddie Huang is a is a renaissance man with a string of careers: lawyer, TV host, restaurateur and author. His raw, funny and sometimes extremely profane memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, came out two years ago. It's a brutally honest story about his life as an Asian-American kid, reconciling two cultures.

That book is now an ABC sitcom, also called Fresh off the Boat. The show has retained at least some of that raw sensibility, but getting a story so nuanced and intense onto network television was very difficult for Huang.

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Code Switch
8:23 am
Sun January 18, 2015

Tech Program Helps Put Latinos On A Path To Silicon Valley

CSIT-In-3 students Daniel Diaz (left) and Brian De Anda map out options for reducing the size of a mobile app their team is building.
Krista Almanzan KAZU

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 6:03 am

About an hour south of Silicon Valley in a classroom at Hartnell Community College, Daniel Diaz and Brian De Anda stand at a whiteboard mapping out ideas on how to reduce the size of a mobile app their team is building.

This isn't a class, and the app they're building — an informational guide for a drug rehab center — isn't even a school project. But this is what it takes to have a chance at an elite summer internship, says Daniel Diaz.

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Code Switch
1:03 pm
Sat January 17, 2015

Iranian-American Filmmaker Breaks Out Of Boxes, Into The Box Office

Desiree Akhavan plays Shirin in Appropriate Behavior. Akhavan says she chose the name Shirin because it means sweet in Farsi. "Even though she's insane, she has a sweetness," says Akhavan.
Desiree Akhavan

Originally published on Sat January 17, 2015 3:25 pm

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Code Switch
11:13 am
Fri January 16, 2015

A Search For The Story In A Long-Buried, Jim Crow-Era Photo

Gordon Parks wrote in his notes about the photo that "although the Negro woman serves as nurse-maid for the white woman's baby, the two would not be allowed to sit and eat a meal together in any Atlanta restaurant."
Gino Domenico AP

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 2:52 pm

James Estrin of The New York Times' Lens blog and his colleagues have become fixated on a old, recently rediscovered old photo taken by Gordon Parks, the legendary Life magazine photographer. So they've put out a call to their readers for any helpful info about it.

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Code Switch
11:30 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Hawaii As 'Racial Paradise'? Bid For Obama Library Invokes A Complex Past

University of Hawaii students sit together to show the ethnic differences of Hawaii's population in 1948.
Eliot Elisofon The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 17, 2015 2:36 pm

Sometime in March, Barack Obama is expected to announce his choice of the institution that will hold his presidential archive. Vying for the honor (and the money that comes with it) are the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University in New York, and the University of Hawaiʻi (the Hawaiian language spelling of the state's name).

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Race
5:19 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Far From North Africa, Berbers In The U.S. Ring In A New Year

At this Yennayer celebration in Portland, Ore., several groups take to the stage, playing traditional songs, as well as the songs of more recent artists like Idir and Moh Alileche.
Mustapha Akebdan

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 2:29 pm

For most Americans, New Year's is fairly personal. It's a time to make resolutions and down some champagne — and it was also a couple of weeks ago. But for Berbers — the indigenous people of Northern Africa — the New Year starts this week, and it's an occasion to celebrate their heritage.

In Portland, Ore., some residents are celebrating Yennayer, the Berber New Year. It's a holiday that's not traditionally a big deal, but it's an opportunity to celebrate Berber culture, which hasn't always been easy to do.

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Code Switch
4:37 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Style Over Substance: How Clothes Can Work For And Against Us

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, attend the funeral of New York Police Officer Wenjian Liu in New York City on Jan. 4. McCray was criticized for her choice in clothing.
Dennis Van Tine UPI/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:28 pm

New York city's first lady, Chirlane McCray, is being publicly dressed down for not dressing up enough when she attended the funeral of slain NYPD officer Wenjian Liu on Sunday.

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Code Switch
5:02 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

The Story Behind '40 Acres And A Mule'

The Green-Meldrim House in Savannah, Ga., is where Gen. William T. Sherman held meetings with local black leaders, creating the plan later known as "40 acres and a mule."
Sarah McCammon NPR

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 1:30 pm

As the Civil War was winding down 150 years ago, Union leaders gathered a group of black ministers in Savannah, Ga. The goal was to help the thousands of newly freed slaves.

From that meeting came Gen. William T. Sherman's Special Field Order 15. It set aside land along the Southeast coast so that "each family shall have a plot of not more than forty acres of tillable ground."

That plan later became known by a signature phrase: "40 acres and a mule."

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Code Switch
11:32 am
Sun January 11, 2015

'Selma' Stirs Powerful Memories In Its Namesake Town

Selma residents, many with firsthand connections to the city's civil rights movement, file into the Walton Theater for a free screening of Selma.
Andrew Yeager NPR

It's a half-hour until showtime in Selma, Ala., and the majority of the auditorium seats are already taken.

Paramount Pictures is offering free screenings of Selma, the film depicting the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. In the movie's namesake town, the audience is excited.

In the front row, in the far left seat, is George Sallie, 85. He's black, grew up near Selma and was drafted as young man.

"Went to Korea fighting for someone else's freedom, and really I didn't have freedom myself," Sallie says.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Sat January 10, 2015

'Selma' Backlash Misses The Point

Historian Peniel Joseph says criticism of the film Selma as historically inaccurate is misguided, and that the movie correctly portrays African-Americans as the drivers of the civil rights movement.
Kelvin Ma Peniel Joseph

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 12:42 pm

Ava DuVernay's Selma is a cinematic masterpiece that depicts one of the most important episodes in civil rights history. The film presents history as a kaleidoscope, documenting the roiling Selma-to-Montgomery demonstrations that turned Alabama into a national symbol of racial violence and injustice in 1965. Many movie critics have enthusiastically praised Selma for its complex and intelligent screenplay and direction. David Oyelowo's extraordinary performance as King anchors a movie of unusual depth and breadth.

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