Code Switch

Code Switch
2:57 am
Tue January 6, 2015

For Many Navajo, A Visit From The 'Water Lady' Is A Refreshing Sight

Darlene Arviso is known as the water lady in Smith Lake, N.M., on the Navajo Nation. She delivers water to 250 people each month. Here, she fills buckets from her water truck.
Laurel Morales KJZZ

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 8:37 am

The people who live in the northwest corner of New Mexico consider Darlene Arviso to be a living saint.

"Everybody knows me around here. They'll be waving at me," she says from behind the wheel of the St. Bonaventure Indian Mission water truck. "They call me the water lady."

That's because Arviso hauls water for tribe members of the Navajo Nation, where, on average, residents use 7 gallons a day to drink, cook, bathe and clean. The average person in the U.S. uses about 100 gallons a day.

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Politics
7:08 am
Sun January 4, 2015

Newark's New Mayor Proves His Crime-Fighting Powers Early

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, speaks during a news conference in November. He had met with city Police Chief Anthony Campos and protest organizers after a Ferguson, Mo., grand jury chose not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 4:21 pm

Across the Hudson River in Newark, N.J., the murder rate is down, but the new mayor there says that's just a small step in a very long effort to make Newark a safer place to live.

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Around the Nation
4:19 pm
Sat January 3, 2015

In Preventing Trans Suicides, 'We Have Such A Long Way To Go'

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 1:03 pm

The death of transgender 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn has started a national conversation about the issues faced by trans youth.

Alcorn left behind a suicide note referencing her parents' refusal to accept her identity, saying, "The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was, they're treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights."

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Code Switch
10:42 am
Sat January 3, 2015

The Goal: To Remember Each Jim Crow Killing, From The '30s On

Police watch a crowd of African-Americans as they wait for a car pool lift in 1956 during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Don Cravens The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

Originally published on Sat January 3, 2015 1:00 pm

The state of race relations in the United States has captivated the country for months. But a group of Northeastern University law students is looking to the past to a sometimes forgotten, violent part of American history.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Thu January 1, 2015

2014 Remembrances: Honoring Some Exceptional Lives

Sam Greenlee during the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival.
John Heller WireImage via Getty

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 10:27 am

As we begin the new year, Code Switch takes a moment to look back at some of the extraordinary, influential and interesting people whom we lost in 2014.

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Code Switch
3:24 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

2014 Stories At The Intersection Of Race And Sports

Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, pictured with associate V. Stiviano. Her recordings of his racist remarks about blacks sparked an NBA scandal this spring and cost him his team.
Associated Press

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Code Switch
2:25 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Roxane Gay: 2014 Was The Year Of 'Enough Is Enough'

Roxane Gay is an author who examines race, culture and gender.
Jay Grabiec Roxanegay.com

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 11:32 am

In an interview this week with NPR, President Obama asserted that the country is less racially divided than when he took office:

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Code Switch
1:44 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Whites More Optimistic Than Blacks On Race Relations In The U.S.

President Obama told NPR that he thinks the U.S. is less racially divided today than when he first took office.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 2:48 pm

In a Morning Edition interview, NPR's Steve Inskeep asked President Obama if he thinks America has become more racially divided during his administration.

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Code Switch
9:33 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Diversity In Space: Tracking The First Asian Pilot In The Star Wars Movies

Lieutenant Telsij of Return of the Jedi is one of just a handful of Asian characters in the Star Wars film series.
Lucasfilm

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 9:00 am

"There's ... too many of them," a Y-wing pilot says as Imperial ships overwhelm the Rebel fleet in the climactic space battle in Return of the Jedi.

This scene is important because we've just learned that the Rebels have been lured to the forest moon Endor by the Emperor — it's a trap! It's also important for another reason: This is the first line spoken by an Asian character in the original Star Wars movies.

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Code Switch
4:23 pm
Sat December 27, 2014

For Hollywood, 'Selma' Is A New Kind Of Civil Rights Story

Common plays James Bevel, Tessa Thompson plays Diane Nash, Lorraine Toussaint plays Amelia Boynton and Andre Holland plays Andrew Young in Ava DuVernay's Selma.
Atsushi Nishijima Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 5:54 pm

The movie Selma opened to high praise on Christmas Day — Variety says director Ava DuVernay delivers "a razor-sharp portrait of the civil rights movement." The film focuses on a 1965 voting rights march from Selma, Ala., to the state capital in Montgomery — a march remembered for the savage beatings participants sustained at the hands of both state and local police.

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Code Switch
5:50 am
Sat December 27, 2014

ICYMI 2014: Soccer Field Standoff Highlights Gentrification Tension

Screenshot via YouTube

Originally published on Fri January 9, 2015 10:22 am

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Code Switch
8:03 am
Fri December 26, 2014

Sony Hack Reveals Hollywood's Acceptance Of White Privilege

The Rev. Al Sharpton (left) and Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, speak to reporters after they met with Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal on Dec. 18.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 12:00 am

It is, perhaps, the worst nightmare for those of us constantly trying to get a white-dominated Hollywood to widen its doors of opportunity for people of color: All those executives who say the right things in public and give to the right causes, just might think something much less admirable about diversity behind closed doors.

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Code Switch
8:33 am
Wed December 24, 2014

New Blood Donation Rules Would Still Exclude Many Gay Men

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 7:46 am

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration recommended a change in the discriminatory and unscientific policy that effectively prohibited men who have sex with men from donating blood for life. Those guidelines kept any man who had sex with another man — even just once — since 1977 from donating blood forever.

While gay discrimination has been reduced in so many other areas of life, up until now, there hasn't been enough medical or political will to intervene on the blood ban. That policy perpetuated stigma without improving safety.

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Code Switch
4:21 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

A Very Code Switch Christmas TV Special

PBS

It's that time around Christmas, when all we can see
is the same set of specials on network TV.
There's
Frosty, and Charlie, and Ralphie, and Kevin
But not too much brown in this mostly white canon.

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Code Switch
4:24 pm
Sun December 21, 2014

The Whiteness Project: Facing Race In A Changing America

Whiteness Project participants were filmed talking about race. The project doesn't use their names, to encourage frankness.
Feral Films, Inc.

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 1:34 pm

The voices in the Whiteness Project vary by gender, age and income, but they all candidly express what it is like to be white in an increasingly diverse country.

"I don't feel that personally I've benefited from being white. That's because I grew up relatively poor," a participant shared. "My father worked at a factory." These are the kinds of unfiltered comments that filmmaker Whitney Dow was hoping to hear when he started recording a group of white people, and hoped to turn their responses into provocative, interactive videos.

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Code Switch
8:03 am
Sun December 21, 2014

New Cuba Policy Stirs Caribbean Memories

Cuba's President Fidel Castro visits Jamaica's Michael Manley during a huge rally in Montego Bay on Sept. 17, 1977.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 10:04 am

I was surprised by the strong emotional reaction I had when I saw the news of the U.S. change in policy toward Cuba. I found myself in tears. As a journalist, I could process it on an intellectual level and I understand the foreign policy implications. But as a naturalized American citizen of Jamaican and Caribbean heritage, I wanted to jump for joy and shout "Hallelujah!" that finally, Cuba was no longer a pariah and there was nothing to fear. This is something I never thought would happen in my lifetime.

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Code Switch
8:33 am
Fri December 19, 2014

The Walkout Protest: Past And Present

Congressional staff members gather at the Capitol to raise awareness of the recent killings of black men by police officers, both of which did not result in grand jury indictments, on Dec. 11. They are joined by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. (second from left), and Senate Chaplain Barry Black (far right).
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Workers at Buffalo's City Hall staged a walkout on Wednesday to protest the recent grand jury decisions to not indict white police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. This follows a week of walkouts around the country to draw attention to troubled relations between police and communities of color.

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Code Switch
3:28 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

An Updated 'Annie' And The Tradition Of Nontraditional Casting

Quvenzhane Wallis (second from right) stars in an updated version of Annie, produced by Jay Z.
Barry Wetcher Sony Pictures Entertainment

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 8:07 pm

That lovable moppet with the red dress, the curly hair, the big dog, and the even bigger voice is back.

This time, though, Little Orphan Annie is back with a difference: Quvenzhane Wallis is playing an African-American orphan in an ethnically diverse, up-to-date world. And that got us thinking about other instances where producers have breathed fresh life into familiar shows by making them dance to a new beat.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Is Courting Controversy An Urban Outfitters Strategy?

This Lord Ganesh tapestry is currently being advertised on Urban Outfitters' website. The company previously drew outrage for its Lord Ganesh duvet cover.
Urban Outfitters

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 4:38 pm

Earlier this week, Gawker published an image of an invitation sent to Urban Outfitters employees, exhorting them, as the invite put it, to "break out your juttis, kurtas, turbans, saris, lehenga cholis and harem pants" for the company holiday party.

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Code Switch
3:55 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

LAPD Chief Has Lessons To Share About Department's Past 'Ghosts'

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, a reformer hand-picked by former LAPD Chief William Bratton, is seen as an innovator and also someone respected by the old guard.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 5:59 pm

On the 11th floor of the Los Angeles Police Department's downtown high-rise, Chief Charlie Beck has been fielding a lot of calls since the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Beck's counterparts around the country are calling to find out how his department addressed what he calls the "ghosts of LAPD's past."

"I don't want people to have to have their city go up in flames like Los Angeles did in 1992 to learn these lessons," he says.

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Code Switch
3:50 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Serial Isn't About Ferguson. (But It's Kind Of About Ferguson.)

Serial focuses on Adnan Syed, who was a teenager when he was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, despite big question marks in the case. (But you almost certainly knew that already.)
Courtesy of Serial

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 4:16 pm

As The Conversation About Serial reaches a fever pitch in certain circles, those of us behind Code Switch and Monkey See have been talking quite a bit about the show. You can read Matt Thompson's initial entry in this conversation here.

Below is the second part of our exchange, from Code Switch blogger Gene Demby.

Matt, Linda and Kat,

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Code Switch
3:35 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

150 Years Later, A Formal Apology For The Sand Creek Massacre

As part of their annual remembrance, descendants of massacre survivors erected teepees at the historic site over the weekend of Dec. 13. Some were for public visitors, while others were used in closed ceremonies.
Megan Verlee Colorado Public Radio

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 9:16 am

A stretch of dry, empty prairie where the Sand Creek Massacre took place in Colorado has hardly changed in a century and a half.

Back in December 1864, America was still months from the end of the Civil War. Gen. William Sherman was making his infamous march across Georgia. And from the Western Frontier, word of the shocking Sand Creek Massacre was starting to trickle out. A regiment of volunteer troops in Colorado had attacked a peaceful camp of Native Americans, slaughtering nearly 200 of them — mostly women and children.

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Code Switch
8:37 am
Mon December 15, 2014

'Half Asian'? 'Half White'? No — 'Hapa'

What you find when you search for "hapa" images on Flickr — "Limited Time"!
istolethetv Flickr

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 10:55 am

She was tall and freckled, with long, dark hair — and we stood out in the same way. As I leaned in to say hi, she yelled over the din, "You're hapa, aren't you?" It was the last word I expected to hear in D.C., but I welcomed the refreshing respite from the constant and inevitable question: "What are you?"

What am I? This is what they're really asking here: What is the particular racial mix that created you? Because YOU don't fit into a single box in my mind, and that confuses me.

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Code Switch
3:18 pm
Sat December 13, 2014

Black Fraternities And Sororities Split On Protest Policy

The home page of the Dallas Morning News on Dec. 6, 2014 showed a protester wearing a Delta Sigma Theta shirt. Soon after, some black sororities banned members from wearing their logos at protests.
PastPages.org

Thousands of Americans gathered in Washington, D.C. Saturday for the 'Justice for All' rally. The demonstration was to protest the police shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, as well as decisions not to indict white police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner on Staten Island, N.Y.

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Code Switch
1:04 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Flitting Between Solutions For Police Violence

Since the unrest in Ferguson this summer, there have been calls to diversify police forces. But the results of studies on whether police forces that are more diverse can reduce tensions are decidedly mixed.
Jeff Roberson AP

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 3:38 pm

Take a look at the flier for this weekend's planned "Justice For All March" in Washington, D.C., which is centered on several recent police-involved killings of unarmed black men. There's no specific policy demand on that flier — perhaps because the problem doesn't lend itself to a singular fix.

A look at the post-Ferguson headlines shows how different ideas to fix this problem have caught on, even before we know how well those ideas might work.

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Code Switch
2:01 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Jacqueline Woodson On Growing Up, Coming Out And Saying Hi To Strangers

Jacqueline Woodson has published 30 books, and won three Newbery honors and a Coretta Scott King Book Award for her young adult book Miracle's Boys.
Marty Umans Courtesy of Penguin Group USA

When author Jacqueline Woodson was growing up in Greenville, S.C., in the '60s and '70s, she was keenly aware of segregation.

"We knew our place," Woodson tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "We knew our place was with our family. We knew where it was safest to be. There wasn't a lot of talk about the white world and what was going on in it; it didn't really have a lot to do with us, except in situations where there was the talk of resistance."

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Code Switch
4:16 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

The Annie Of Tomorrow Has The Same Hard Knocks, But Different Hair

Quvenzhané Wallis, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild, plays little orphan Annie in the new film adaptation of the 1977 musical.
Barry Wetcher Sony Pictures Entertainment

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 1:09 pm

When you think about the musical Annie, what associations come to mind? Probably the song "Tomorrow," right? And Annie's bright red, curly hair? Red hair comes with its own cultural mythology. In this case, it underscores Annie's plucky, independent spirit.

As it turns out, hair is almost a character in this trailer for the new version of Annie coming out Dec. 19, says Noliwe Rooks, a professor at Cornell University. In just 2:19 minutes, you'll see three or four jokes about or references to hair.

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Author Interviews
4:10 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Perry Wallace, Who Broke Basketball Barriers, Didn't Set Out To Be A Pioneer

Perry Wallace, playing for Vanderbilt University, blocks the shot of 'Pistol' Pete Maravich, circa 1970.
Frank Empson The Tennessean

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 5:49 pm

Language advisory: Quotes in this story contain language some find offensive.


Many people are familiar with the big stories of racial integration in sports — Jackie Robinson with the Dodgers, Althea Gibson at Wimbledon. But after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many lesser-known African American athletes became "firsts" — whether they liked that distinction or not.

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Code Switch
11:33 pm
Sun December 7, 2014

SNL Ferguson Sketch Cut For Time

SNL sketch cut for time this weekend satirized Ferguson.

Code Switch
4:13 pm
Sun December 7, 2014

Pastor: The Way Forward In Ferguson Is Talk And Prayer

People stand in prayer after marching about a mile to the police station to protest the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Sun December 7, 2014 5:16 pm

Anger and frustration over two recent cases where unarmed black men were killed by police brought new protests to New York City, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Miami and Cleveland this week.

On a recent Wednesday night in Ferguson, black and white community members are trying a different tactic to create change — a potluck.

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