Code Switch

Monday night's NCAA men's basketball final will attract millions of viewers. One player on Duke's team — Sean Obi — hails from Nigeria. He's not the only African player who has enjoyed a successful hoops career in the U.S. The most famous is Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwon, who starred at the University of Houston before going on to a Hall of Fame career with the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors.

Wal-Mart, Apple, Angie's List, NASCAR — some of the biggest names in business this week pushed back against "religious freedom" laws in Indiana and Arkansas. They said the laws could open the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians and were bad for their business.

Such corporate intervention is not new.

Friday night marked the start of Passover, when Jews around the world tell the story of Exodus. That story, with its radical message of freedom, has resonated with African-Americans since the days of slavery.

More than 40 years ago, these two communities wove their stories together for a new Passover ritual — the Freedom Seder.

A recent study found that in general, college students aren't taking foreign language classes as much as they used to — a slowdown of nearly 7 percent since 2009. But for one language in particular, there's actually been a pretty amazing jump in the rate of enrollment: Korean.

New York City's public school system is vast, with more than a million students spread across thousands of schools. And like the city itself, it's remarkably diverse — about 15 percent Asian, just under 30 percent black, about 40 percent Latino, and about 15 percent white, with all sorts of finer shadings of ethnicity, nationality and language in that mix.

How do you say the Four Questions of Passover in Mende, a language of Sierra Leone?

I've been wondering this in preparation for tonight, the eve of Passover. The ritual of the Four Questions kicks off the first Seder dinner by asking, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" to begin the story of how Israelite slaves escaped Egypt to freedom.

But tonight, I'd like to ask the Four Questions in a different way. I want to say the words in Mende, one of the languages of my enslaved West and Central African forebears.

Over the past several days, Michel Martin has been leading a conversation across various NPR shows about how black men navigate a world that so often sees them as dangerous.

Last week, Nellie Andreeva, the co-editor of the insider-y Hollywood trade Deadline, wondered aloud whether the explosion of diversity this prime-time TV season had gone too far. Might it be putting deserving white actors out of work? Clicks sufficiently baited, the Internet went apoplectic.

Editor's note: This post contains words and sentiments you might find deeply offensive.

The glow had barely dimmed on Comedy Central's unveiling of comedian Trevor Noah as the new host of The Daily Show when Noah's Twitter past came under fire. His critics have called some of his old tweets offensive, racist, misogynistic, homophobic and — the charge that seems to be getting the most attention — anti-Semitic.

Equality Illinois

LGBT supporters have been in an uproar since Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. Illinois has had a similar law on the books for years but it never raised a stir. The leader of Equality Illinois explains why.

National television news may overrepresent terrorists as Muslims or immigrants accused of crimes as Latino. 

Using media archives from the University of California at Los Angeles from 2008 to 2012, University of Illinois professor Travis Dixon found that breaking news on cable and national network news often disproportionately broadcast stories that portrayed terrorists as Muslim and immigrants accused of crimes as Latino, but also underrepresented African-Americans as both victims and perpetrators of crime. 

NPR's Michel Martin led two challenging conversations about race this week, focusing on fearful perceptions of African-American men and how these fears play out in people's everyday lives. Guests including author and Georgetown University Law professor Paul Butler examined the research and the complicated emotions behind this fear.

"When you're in an elevator or walking behind somebody and you feel like you have to perform to make them feel safe, it's like apologizing for your existence," Butler says.

There's no place like home. Or is there? At least, that seems to be the premise of the new animated film Home, which is about a "Boov" alien named Oh who flees to Earth and meets Tip, a 12-year-old girl (voiced by Rihanna), and her mother Lucy (voiced by Jennifer Lopez), who both recently moved from Barbados to the U.S.

Home director Tim Johnson talked with The Huffington Post's Latino Voices about the film's "immigrant theme."

Queens, N.Y., is one of the most diverse urban spaces in the world, and one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Queens is Astoria, across the East River from upper Manhattan.

Astoria has a reputation as New York City's Greektown, but it's more like an urban United Nations. People from nearly 100 countries live there, according to census data.

They coexist pretty peacefully, but that wasn't always the case. The explosion of diversity has helped foster a more tranquil community.

Southern Baptist leaders were supposed to be talking about bioethics this week at a summit in Nashville, Tenn. That changed in December after a New York grand jury declined to return an indictment in the police choking death of Eric Garner.

When Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, sent out tweets expressing his shock, there was pushback. Should the church get involved in a divisive political issue?

Over in Chicago, a restaurant called Chop Chop Chinaman has been getting a lot of heat for its name. In February, Chicago-area resident Jeannie Harrell was arrested for scrawling "F*** this hate crime s***. It's 2015" in lipstick on the restaurant's window, right next to the shop's decal sticker of a rickshaw and a man wearing a triangular hat.

The very first time we encounter Dong Nguyen, one of several hotly debated characters in Tina Fey's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, he has just introduced himself to Kimmy in their GED class. And, as surely happens to Dong all the time, ever since he immigrated to New York from Vietnam, she's stifling a giggle over his name.

Even before the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., or the Eric Garner incident in New York City last summer, Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia's police commissioner, called on the federal government to look into how the officers in his department used force, and how their use of force might contribute to the department's often strained relationship with the city's residents.

Police departments around the county are under more and more pressure to diversify. In Oakland, Calif., officials say police-community relations also might be improved by increasing the number of cops who actually live in the city.

Margaret Dixon, a fiery retired Oakland police officer, grew up in a rough part of this city of 400,000. These days she's teaching classes at Merritt College, an Oakland community college — including one on policing and community relations.

Janine Harper and Marc Bushelle's photo series of their daughter Lily dressed up as different African-American heroines started as a Black History Month project.

Sex traffic in the US isn't exclusive to people forced to come here against their will. Illinois residents and natives have also become part of the black-market industry. So says Jody Raphael, a DePaul University law professor and researcher. She'll speak Tuesday night at 7pm at UIS (info HERE). She recently spoke with us about her work:

Lacey Schwartz grew up in Woodstock, N.Y., a mostly white, middle-class community. But even as a child she sometimes questioned why her deeper skin tone and curly hair didn't look like every one else in her family. Her parents, who are white and Jewish, explained that her inherited looks came from a Sicilian grandfather with darker features and coarse hair.

When Ethel Payne stood to ask President Dwight Eisenhower a question at a White House press conference in July 1954, women and African-Americans were rarities in the press corps. Payne was both, and wrote for The Chicago Defender, the legendary black newspaper that in the 40s and 50s, was read in black American households the way The New York Times was in white ones.

In a beautifully illustrated comic over at The Nib, cartoonist Ronald Wimberly relays the story of working with an editor who asked him to lighten the skin tone of a character he was working on, Melita Garner, who has been described as Mexican and African-American, a reporter, and Wolverine's ex-girlfriend.

Fifty years ago, civil rights protesters began their successful march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., two weeks after a crackdown by police at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. NPR talked with three people from different parts of the country, of different races and religions, who answered the call from Martin Luther King Jr. to join the marchers.

Todd Endo:

What do Fox's runaway hit Empire and booming sales of Goya rice and beans have in common? They're examples of the growing clout a segment of hyper-engaged, hyperconnected consumers of color, according to a new report from Nielsen.

Last night was Empire's season finale, and at one of D.C.'s biggest Empire watch parties, a sharply dressed crowd of hundreds is huddled around every flat-screen in The Stone Fish Grill Lounge downtown.

"Here we go! Here we go! Here we go, come on everyone! Round of applause!" shouts one of the hosts for the night. "It's Empire time!"

Starbucks' campaign to get people talking about race has already birthed a very public, very cringeworthy conversation about race. Jay Smooth, a radio DJ and video blogger, was on MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes Tuesday night, discussing the coffee company's "Race Together" campaign with fellow guest Nancy Giles, a contributor to CBS Sunday Morning.

More than 70 years ago, the federal government took land from descendants of West African slaves, known as the Gullah, living in Georgia. Now they're fighting to get it back.

In 1942, they were given just weeks to leave marsh property on the Georgia coast so that the U.S. military could construct an air base for training pilots and conducting anti-submarine flights. Twenty years later, the former base and the land around it were converted into the 2,762-acre Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.