Code Switch

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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Code Switch
10:45 am
Sun December 7, 2014

This Is America, As It Is

In the wake of recent police shootings involving black men, State of the Re:Union host Al Letson recalls when his father taught him to "behave" to survive.
Tiffany Manning

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 10:31 am

At 14 or 15 years old, I was with my father when he got pulled over by a police officer. The cop, much younger than him, spoke to my dad like he was trash — I swear the cop called him boy — but my father was cool. He said "Yes sir," and "No sir" and dealt with this young cop's horrible attitude.

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Code Switch
10:38 am
Sat December 6, 2014

Four Lessons From The Media's Conflicted Coverage of Race

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appeared on the Fox Business Network earlier this year. He has been a frequent cable news commentator about the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.
Rob Kim Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 12:52 pm

Now more than ever, America needs productive conversations about race, stereotyping, police, crime and social justice. And too often, our national media continues to fall short.

After many years of dissecting how race works in media, I was both disappointed and but, sadly, not surprised by much of the coverage so far. It repeats many of the same mistakes we've seen for years in how we talk about race-fueled controversies in America.

We don't have the right conversations.

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Code Switch
3:53 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Chris Rock On Standup, Sellouts And Defining Success

Chris Rock talked with Audie Cornish from NPR's New York bureau.
Brian McCabe

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 8:02 pm

Quick: Can you name your top five favorite singers? What about authors? And comedians? Chris Rock plays this game in his new movie, Top Five. The film, which Rock wrote, directed and stars in, tells the story of Andre Allen, a marquee comedian who has abandoned his standup roots for blockbuster film glory.

"He's languishing," Rock tells NPR's Audie Cornish. "He's not as edgy as he once was. He's kind of watered down; he's kind of sold out."

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Code Switch
2:33 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Civil Rights Attorney On How She Built Trust With Police

Civil rights attorney Constance Rice worked with the Los Angeles Police Department to build trust with minority communities.
Valerie Macon Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 7, 2014 6:50 am

As a civil rights attorney, Constance Rice became known in the 1990s for, as she puts it, going to war with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Rice filed lawsuits against the department, mainly over their treatment of minorities in underprivileged communities.

Following the recent decisions not to indict white cops in the deaths of two black men — President Obama has said one of his top priorities is building trust between minority communities and local police.

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Illinois Issues - Code Switch Illinois
8:00 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Transforming A Personal History Of Racism

Jim and Debbie Pauley at their home
Rachel Otwell/WUIS

The holidays can bring out the compassionate side of people. Some might be inspired to donate to charities or take on volunteer work. For one local man, helping the less fortunate is something he does on a daily basis. But it wasn't always that way.

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10:00 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Unequal Skylines For An Unequal Nation

What would our cities look like if wealth was represented by the height of buildings? Here's Chicago...
Over the summer, designer and blogger Nickolay Lamm re-envisioned New York's skyline such that the height of buildings represented the wealth of the people who inhabited them. The art was striking, and exposed the city's vast inequalities. "I feel a lot of people look at New York's skyline and think, 'that's where dreams happen, that's where dreams are made," he says.
Illinois Issues - Code Switch Illinois
3:25 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Springfield NAACP President On What Ferguson Has Taught Us

Teresa Haley
Credit springfieldnaacp.org

It's been about a week since the decision was made not to indict police officer Darren Wilson after the shooting death of Michael Brown. Reactions to that decision are still resulting in protests, prayer vigils, and round-table discussions across the nation.

In Springfield, Teresa Haley who heads the local chapter of the NAACP has been at the center of much of the events concerning issues like racism and police brutality -- issues that Ferguson has brought to the forefront of many peoples' minds.

Listen to our interview with Haley, here: 

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Code Switch
1:22 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

A Brief History Of Racial Protest In Sports

Members of the St. Louis Rams raise their arms in a "hands up, don't shoot" pose as they walk onto the field before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders.
L.G. Patterson AP

On Sunday, five St. Louis Rams players jogged onto the field with their arms raised by their heads, a stream of fog behind them: hands up, don't shoot.

The players — Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Stedman Bailey — were invoking the gesture that's been widely used in protesting the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. This followed the announcement that a grand jury would not indict Wilson in Brown's death, and the release of a hefty batch of evidence shown to the jury by St. Louis prosecutor Robert McCullough.

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Code Switch
2:33 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

On World AIDS Day, Fighting HIV And Stigma

HIV activist Maria Mejia found out she was HIV-positive just before she turned 18.
Courtesy of Maria Mejia

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 4:19 pm

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Europe
4:03 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Santa's Black-Faced Helpers Are Under Fire In The Netherlands

People line the road to greet Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of Santa Claus, and his "Swarte Piet" (Black Pete) sidekicks in Amsterdam on Nov. 17, 2013. In the past few years, Black Pete has come under fire. Some say it's a beloved tradition that should remain; others say it is a racist stereotype.
Peter Dejong AP

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 5:49 pm

For an American, watching a Sinterklaas parade, like the one I recently went to in Amsterdam, can be a bit of a shock. Because dancing around the dear old Dutch Santa are his helpers, known as Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete.

And Black Pete is played by scores of white people dressed up in black face ... and wearing Afro wigs.

In the past few years, Black Pete has come under fire. A beloved tradition for some, others say he is a racist stereotype. And the increasingly rancorous debate over Black Pete has gripped the Netherlands.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Impoverished in Illinois

In some areas of Englewood, one of six homes is vacant, according to a recent Crain's Chicago Business investigation.
Robert Loerzel WUIS/Illinois Issues

This story first appeared in the January 2014 issue. Statistics have been updated where new numbers were available.

In some pockets of Illinois, where one in every three people live in poverty or close to it, the need is visible in the landscape: empty lots where buildings once stood in Cairo; abandoned houses marked with X’s in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood; families living in ramshackle trailers in Kankakee County’s Pembroke Township.

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Code Switch
5:50 am
Sun November 30, 2014

Updating Centuries-Old Folklore With Puzzles And Power-Ups

The story in Never Alone is based on a Native Alaskan legend about a quest to end a never-ending blizzard.
E-Line Media

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 11:41 am

Never Alone, a new video game by E-Line Media, has been generating a lot of buzz in recent months. Its developers teamed up with the Cook Inlet Tribal Council, a nonprofit that works with Native Alaskans, creating Never Alone as a way to help transmit traditional tribal stories to younger indigenous kids.

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Code Switch
3:57 pm
Sat November 29, 2014

'The Banh Mi Handbook': A Guide To A Viet-French Sandwich

Paperboy Kitchen, Melbourne

Originally published on Sat November 29, 2014 5:29 pm

Some kids know they want to be doctors or pilots or professional sports players— Andrea Nguyen knew by the time she was 10 she wanted to be a sandwich maker. She says she's been making sandwiches and fooling around with the recipes and the ingredients since elementary school.

The sandwich she fell for first and that she still loves the most? Banh mi. (It's pronounced "bun-mee.") Her latest cookbook, The Banh Mi Handbook, is a guide for home cooks who want to make banh mi of their own.

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Code Switch
11:05 am
Sat November 29, 2014

A Musical Tribute For A Waiter Who Spoke Out Against Racism

Justin Hopkins sings during a tribute show for Booker Wright, who worked in a whites-only restaurant in the Mississippi Delta.
Brandall Atkinson Courtesy of Southern Foodways Alliance

Editor's note: This story contains racial slurs.

A new musical work pays tribute to an unlikely and little-known civil rights activist: Booker T. Wright. You won't find his name in history textbooks. But his story is a testament to the everyday experiences of blacks in the Jim Crow South.

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Code Switch
2:36 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

A 'Dreamer' With Parents Still In The Shadows

Aashana Vishnani's graduation from the Auburn University last year.
Courtesy of Aashana Vishnani

Aashana Vishnani is a "dreamer" in the truest sense of the word.

She came to the United States when she was only 10 years old. Her accent is more Alabamian than Indian. She loves to sing and aspires to someday perform in musicals like Rent or Hairspray. She is also a huge college football fan. Her favorite team is Auburn University, her alma mater where she received a merit-based full-tuition scholarship.

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Code Switch
2:51 am
Thu November 27, 2014

Stories Of Your First Thanksgiving In The U.S.

We don't endorse using a trident to carve your turkey.
floodllama Flickr

Originally published on Thu November 27, 2014 11:12 am

This past week, we called for stories about your first Thanksgiving in the United States. Who'd you spend it with? Where were you coming from? What'd you eat? What'd you think of it? we wondered.

And many of the stories we heard from you were about food: You had issues roasting the turkey properly. Your mom found, um, a creative solution to making your bird golden-brown. You ate a lot of different alternative Thanksgiving meals. Your stories were goofy and weird, but most of them made us smile. Here are some of them:

Leticia Ortiz

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Code Switch
3:41 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

How Ferguson Residents Are Giving Thanks This Holiday Season

Karen Gold paints on a boarded window of her store in Ferguson, Mo.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 5:39 pm

The kickoff to the holiday season in St. Louis has been overshadowed by unrest following the grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson. And for some residents of Ferguson, the meaning of this year's Thanksgiving — amid the anger, hostility and unresolved issues — is hazy.

The Schnucks grocery store is pretty busy on this cold, gray Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Michael Howell, a local musician picking up a few staples, says he just wants to relax at home and have a little turkey. Howell's home is right near a string of looted and burned businesses.

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Code Switch
2:33 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

In Darren Wilson's Testimony, Familiar Themes About Black Men

A crowd rallies to protest the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Sid Hastings AP

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 3:29 pm

After Michael Brown was shot dead in August, his mother, Leslie McSpadden, said, "My son was sweet. He didn't mean any harm to anybody." He was, she said, "a gentle giant."

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Code Switch
7:57 am
Wed November 26, 2014

In Ferguson, A Trove Of Evidence — But No Trial

A photo of officer Darren Wilson released as part of evidence shown before the grand jury.
CBS News

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 11:23 am

On Monday night, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch delivered the news that police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown. And in an unusual move, the announcement was accompanied by the release of an enormous batch of evidence presented to the grand jury — including much-talked-about photos of Wilson, taken after he shot and killed Brown.

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Around the Nation
4:08 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

At Vandalized Ferguson Businesses, Anger And Tears

A worker cleans up glass outside a Quiznos restaurant that was damaged during a demonstration Tuesday in Ferguson, Mo.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 10:29 pm

Residents and business owners in Ferguson, Mo., awoke Tuesday morning to assess the damage done to their neighborhoods. In the aftermath of the grand jury's decision Monday night not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, many business were vandalized and some were destroyed.

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Ferguson
11:36 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Notes From Ferguson: Q & A With St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann

Tear gas was used in Ferguson
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann has been covering the situation in Ferguson, MO since it started back in August. She was at the announcement made by Prosecutor Bob McCulloch on Monday night that a grand jury chose not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

In this interview, Lippmann tells us about the reactions from Brown's family, protests and riots, and more:

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Code Switch
8:38 am
Mon November 24, 2014

'Ferguson Forward': Churchgoers Seek A New Normal

Youths walk past a mural depicting peace in Ferguson on a vacant building up the street from the city's police department.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 5:42 pm

I reunited with the Rev. Daryl Meese at his place of worship, a no-frills brick Methodist Church in Ferguson, Mo., on this stormy Sunday morning.

We first met at a coffee shop last August. I was looking for a cool place to file a story about the protests over the death of an unarmed black 18-year-old at the hands of a white police officer; he was taking a break from the chaos. We shared a table and ended up chatting.

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Code Switch
4:15 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

Racial Disparities In Arrests Are Prevalent, But Cause Isn't Clear

Protesters and law enforcement officers face off during a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department in October. Ferguson police statistics show the department arrest blacks at a higher rate than other racial groups — but that disparity is true for police departments across the country.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 11:00 am

Ferguson, Mo., continues to watch and wait as a grand jury decides whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Brown's death was the spark for mass protests in Ferguson, but many of the city's black population say the problems go deeper, and that blacks are unfairly singled out by police.

Ferguson police statistics show the department does arrest blacks at a higher rate than other racial groups. But that disparity is true for police departments across the country.

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