Code Switch

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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Code Switch
6:03 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Study: Black Girls Are Being Pushed Out of School

According to a new study from African-American Policy Forum, black girls and teens are disproportionately impacted by zero-tolerance policies in schools.
Terry Vine Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 4:05 pm

News surrounding a confrontation in a Baltimore school is raising new questions about the role race plays in discipline for black girls. Baltimore television station WBAL has been reporting on an October incident that led to three students at the city's Vanguard Middle School being injured, and later arrested and suspended, after an altercation with a school security officer.

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Code Switch
4:53 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

FBI Director Faces 'Hard Truths' Of Policing Minority Communities

FBI Director James Comey tackled the topic of race and law enforcement at Georgetown University in Washington on Thursday.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 4:56 pm

There's a reason why new agents are required to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial during their training, says FBI Director James Comey. It's the same reason he keeps on his desk a copy of Attorney General Robert Kennedy's one-page approval of a request to wiretap King: "To ensure that we remember our mistakes and that we learn from them."

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Code Switch
3:58 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Study: Locking Lots Of People Up Did Not Cause The Great Crime Drop

California's prison population had boomed since the 1990s. The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that the levels of overcrowding were unconstitutional.
AP

The long-running debate over what's driving the country's staggering (and ongoing) drop in crime just got more complicated. With a major new report, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU has effectively squashed one popular theory: throwing massive amounts of people in prison did not bring down crime.

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Code Switch
1:12 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

'Community' Actor Ken Jeong Might Be Getting His Own Show

There's more good news in Asian-American TV land.

ABC recently greenlighted a pilot starring Ken Jeong, best known as quirky Spanish language teacher Señor Chang in Community, also The Hangover villain Mr. Chow. Jeong, who worked as a doctor for seven years before turning to acting, will play a frustrated MD who's struggling to keep the rest of his life afloat.

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Code Switch
10:52 am
Thu February 12, 2015

In San Diego, Wild Discrepancies Between Video Footage And A Police Report

Diego Lobaton stands with his mother, Hedy Julca, and her son, Bruce, inside their cellphone store. Lobaton, Julca and Lobaton's brother Luis were arrested last year after San Diego police stopped the brothers on the suspicion they were breaking into the store.
Dustin Michelson

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 11:30 am

Voice of San Diego has a head-spinning story of a policing debacle involving a late-night cop patrol, two Peruvian-American brothers and a break-in that wasn't.

Late one night in July, Luis and Diego Lobaton were ambushed by San Diego police; Luis was beaten up and arrested. Their crime: walking into their family's store, to which they had keys, after a cigarette break. H.G. Reza reports:

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Code Switch
11:10 am
Wed February 11, 2015

One Of The Chapel Hill Victims Was Raising Funds To Help Syrian Refugees

Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, were shot and killed on Tuesday evening in North Carolina. The couple married last December.
Courtesy of Our Three Winners

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 2:28 pm

On Tuesday night, three young Muslims were shot dead near the University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill campus.

From member station WUNC:

"46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks has been charged with 3 counts of 1st Degree Murder for the murders of Deah Barakat, a second-year student [at UNC] in the School of Dentistry and his wife, Yusor, who had planned to begin her dental studies here in the fall. Her sister, Razan, a student at NC State University, was also killed."

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Code Switch
10:02 am
Wed February 11, 2015

What's It Like To Be Black And Have A Famous Nazi Grandfather?

Nigerian-German author Jennifer Teege discovered her grandfather was Nazi concentration camp commander Amon Goeth. The English version of her book, My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past, will be available in April.
Oliver Hardt AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 1:36 pm

Jennifer Teege is a German-born black woman who — during her quest to learn more about her birth family — uncovered a surprising connection to the Holocaust and Amon Goeth, the Nazi commander famously portrayed in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List. The following article appeared on the website of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which has made the story available to NPR readers as a courtesy.

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Code Switch
7:53 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

New Report Examines Lynchings And Their Legacy In The United States

A lynching attended by a large mob.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 8:52 am

Nearly 4,000 blacks were lynched in the American South between the end of the Civil War and World War II, according to a new report by the Equal Justice Initiative.

The report, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, says that the number of victims in the 12 Southern states was more than 20 percent higher than previously reported.

Lynchings were part of a system of racial terror designed to subjugate a people, says the Alabama-based nonprofit's executive director, Bryan Stevenson.

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Code Switch
1:08 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

NYPD's Top Cop Wants To Make It A Felony to Resist Arrest

Bill Bratton, the NYPD commissioner, told reporters that "we need to get around this idea that you can resist arrest ... and we need to change that, and the way to change that is to start penalties for it."
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 1:37 pm

Last week, at a New York state Senate hearing on protests against police brutality, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton asked lawmakers to raise the penalty for resisting arrest from a misdemeanor to a felony.

"We need to get around this idea that you can resist arrest," he later told reporters. "It results in potential injuries to the officer, to the suspect. And we need to change that, and the way to change that is to start penalties for it."

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Code Switch
11:42 am
Tue February 10, 2015

'Stop Telling Women To Smile': Denouncing 'Jackals' And Catcalling In Mexico

Magali, 33, describes the worst catcall she received from a soldier in Mexico City.
Courtesy of Fusion

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 6:36 pm

Note: This post contains language that some people may find offensive.

Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh recently went to Mexico City to talk with women who've gotten unwanted "piropos," as catcalling is known in Mexico. Here are some of the things they recalled hearing:

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Part Asian-American, All Jewish?

Sociologists Helen Kim and Noah Leavitt look on during their son Ari's bris. They've worked together to research how kids with mixed Asian-American and Jewish heritage think about faith.
The Kim-Leavitt family

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 11:33 am

I was five years old when my mother threatened to give me away to journalist Connie Chung.

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Code Switch
4:38 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Jail Time For Unpaid Court Fines And Fees Can Create Cycle Of Poverty

Edward Brown, who was jailed for not paying fines he couldn't afford, is among 16 plaintiffs in two lawsuits filed against the cities of Ferguson and Jennings, Mo.
Joseph Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 5:27 pm

On a night last week when the temperature dropped to 17 degrees, Edward Brown, who's 62 and homeless, slept at the bus stop in front of the Jennings, Mo., city hall in St. Louis County.

"It was cold, very cold," he says. "It's so cold I can't really move so I kept playing with my feet — rubbing 'em, twisting 'em, trying to keep warm."

Brown's troubles started when he tried to fight the city of Jennings, and his story shows how court fines and fees can grow, turning an impoverished person's life upside down.

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Code Switch
3:26 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Authorities Probe Alleged Hate Crime Against Native American Kids

Oglala Sioux leaders and city officials at a press conference following the incident discuss possible charges, which could include child abuse, hate crimes and assault.
Charles Michael Ray South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 5:55 pm

An investigation into a possible hate crime is underway in Rapid City, S.D., after a group of men allegedly assaulted Native American kids at a minor league hockey game. The incident angered many in the community, and racial tensions in Rapid City are running high.

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Code Switch
10:41 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Graphic Novelist Adrian Tomine Takes On The Notorious Long Duk Dong

In 2001, graphic novelist Adrian Tomine (Shortcomings) published a pungent one-page comic describing his own history with the legacy of Long Duk Dong.
Adrian Tomine

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 2:35 pm

On Friday, I explained what's "cringeworthy" about Sixteen Candles' Long Duk Dong, whose broken English and social ineptitude left a painful stamp on many Asian-American children of the '80s.

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Code Switch
8:03 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

Civil Rights Attorneys Sue Ferguson Over 'Debtors Prisons'

Tonya DeBerry (center) and her children, Herbert Nelson and Allison Nelson, have all been held in Ferguson and Jennings jails for unpaid traffic tickets.
Joseph Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 7:06 am

In a new challenge to police practices in Ferguson, Mo., a group of civil rights lawyers is suing the city over the way people are jailed when they fail to pay fines for traffic tickets and other minor offenses.

The lawsuit, filed Sunday night on the eve of the six-month anniversary of the police shooting of Michael Brown, alleges that the city violates the Constitution by jailing people without adequately considering whether they were indigent and, as a result, unable to pay.

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Code Switch
5:27 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

Korean Dictator, All-American Dad: One Actor's 'Very Unique Year'

Randall Park and Constance Wu co-star as husband and wife Louis and Jessica Huang in Fresh Off the Boat.
Gilles Mingasson ABC

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 8:53 am

When Randall Park realized just how big a deal Fresh Off The Boat was going to be, he got cold feet. The stakes were high for the first network sitcom in 20 years to feature an Asian-American family.

But he'd already filmed the pilot, in which he starred as family patriarch Louis Huang, a Taiwanese immigrant and firm believer in the American Dream. (The sitcom, which centers on Louis' son Eddie, begins as Louis uproots his young family from Washington, D.C., to suburban Orlando to open a steakhouse.)

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Code Switch
5:18 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

100 Years Later, What's The Legacy Of 'Birth Of A Nation'?

Actors dressed in full Ku Klux Klan regalia for scenes in 1915's The Birth of a Nation.
Hulton Archive/ Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 6:56 pm

One hundred years ago Sunday, the nascent film industry premiered what would go on to be its first blockbuster: The Birth of a Nation.

As the house lights dimmed and the orchestra struck up the score, a message from director D.W. Griffith flickered on the screen: "This is an historical presentation of the Civil War and Reconstruction Period, and is not meant to reflect on any race or people of today."

But its effects on race relations were devastating, and reverberations are still felt to this day.

Epic Film, Embedded Bigotry

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