Code Switch

Race
6:52 am
Sat October 25, 2014

Rare Silent Film With Black Cast Makes A Century-Late Debut

Scene still from Bert Williams Lime Kiln Field Day Project. Bert Williams, Walker Thompson (standing center), John Wesley Jenkins (seated right). In a concession to white audiences, Williams, the lead, wore blackface, but the other black characters did not.
Museum of Modern Art

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 10:17 am

A rare, untitled 1913 silent film is the subject of a new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibit, 100 Years In Post-Production: Resurrecting A Lost Landmark of Black Film History, tells the story behind the silent film's production.

The film features Bert Williams, one of the era's famed black entertainers and the first black Broadway star. He performed in blackface on the stage, and does the same in this film, a romantic comedy with a large black cast of actors.

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Code Switch
2:11 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Tips For Avoiding Racial Missteps From The Makers Of 'Dear White People'

It's a minefield out there.
Ashley Nguyen AP

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 4:03 pm

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Race
5:48 am
Fri October 24, 2014

A Black Cosmetic Company Sells, Or Sells Out?

Real Housewives of Atlanta star Lisa Wu Hartwell gets a hair treatment at a "Curl Party" hosted by Carol's Daughter and theYBF.com in 2010.
Paras Griffin Landov

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 1:50 pm

Cosmetics giant L'Oréal purchased Carol's Daughter, a beauty company that sells natural hair and skin products for black women, earlier this week. It may seem like an unlikely chapter in the story of a business that began in a Brooklyn kitchen.

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Code Switch
3:53 am
Fri October 24, 2014

A Tale Of Asian Gangs Unleashed In 'Green Dragons' Film

Paul Wong (Harry Shum, Jr.) leads the Green Dragons, a young, Asian-American gang that trafficked Chinese immigrants into the U.S. with help from the so-called "Snakehead Mama" (Eugenia Yuan).
Courtesy of A24 Films

Originally published on Sun November 30, 2014 4:40 pm

Thousands of Chinese immigrants took to the seas in the 1980s and 1990s. Many stowed away on cargo ships, spending months on voyages to America organized by Chinese-American gangs in New York.

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Politics
3:33 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Concern Over New-Voter Registration In Georgia Ahead Of Election

A voter casts her ballot at a polling site for Georgia's 2014 primary election in Atlanta.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 4:26 pm

This election season is proving to be tough for Democrats, but many believe they can turn the red state of Georgia blue with the help of new voters.

One voter registration campaign led by the New Georgia Project, a "nonpartisan effort" according to its website, has targeted black, Latino and Asian-American residents.

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Remembrances
4:27 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Model Remembers Oscar De La Renta As An 'Extraordinary Gentleman'

Bethann Hardison said that Oscar de la Renta wasn't scared about putting models of color on the runway in his clothes.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 7:48 am

Bethann Hardison was one of the "spiritual mothers of the supermodels who ruled the '90s," and she credited some of her rise to prominence to Oscar de la Renta, the influential Dominican-born fashion designer who died this week at the age of 82.

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Code Switch
7:03 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Apps Make Googly Eyes At Riders Tired Of Being Snubbed By Cabbies

Cities like New York and Washington, D.C., have strict penalties for taxi drivers who don't pick up passengers based on their race or destination. But some investigations show that drivers routinely pass up black and brown customers.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 11:50 am

One night last fall, I was walking through Chinatown in Washington, D.C., with my friend Terryn. We were not far from a dude who was in his mid-20s — slim, with neat, shoulder-length locks, skinny chinos, loafers and a leather briefcase slung across his torso — standing on the corner, his arm raised skyward. He was trying without luck to hail a cab.

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The Race Card Project: Six-Word Essays
3:35 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Six Words: 'Must We Forget Our Confederate Ancestors?'

Waverly Adcock, a sergeant and founder of the West Augusta Guard, prepares his company for inspection and battle at a Civil War re-enactment in Virginia. Sara Smith, whose great-great-grandfather was wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg, holds the Confederate battle flag.
Courtesy of Jesse Dukes

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 7:55 am

NPR continues a series of conversations from The Race Card Project, where thousands of people have submitted their thoughts on race and cultural identity in six words.

Jesse Dukes does not have Confederate ancestors. But in the time he has spent writing about Civil War re-enactors, he has met many who say they do.

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Code Switch
4:24 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

The Boston Herald's Missed 'Cartoongate' Lessons

The Boston Herald published this cartoon earlier this month.
The Boston Herald

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 9:38 am

The worst fate of all may be to make a terrible mistake and then learn the wrong lessons from the experience.

That's the thought I had reading a heartfelt column about the Boston Herald's unfortunate decision to publish a cartoon featuring a White House gate-crasher asking the nation's first black president if he had "tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste."

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Code Switch
4:08 pm
Sat October 18, 2014

Watching 'Dear White People' At Harvard

Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris) plays Lionel Higgins in Dear White People
Roadside Attractions

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 12:28 pm

A new movie about race and identity is out in select theaters today. It's called Dear White People, and it's a satire set at a fictitious ivy league college. Or, as the promotional materials say, it's "about being a black face in a white place."

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Code Switch
3:57 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Navajo Presidential Race Shaken By Language Gap

Navajo presidential candidate Chris Deschene greets supporters ahead of a hearing in Window Rock, Ariz., to determine whether Deschene is fluent enough in Navajo to qualify for the presidency.
Felicia Fonseca AP

According to Navajo law, Navajo Nation presidents must speak the Navajo language to hold office. Chris Deschene is a strong contender for the position, but there's a problem: He's not fluent in the language.

The challenge to Deschene's candidacy has become a window into how the Navajo Nation views itself and its cultural future, as well as how Native people continue to define themselves in the face of cultural change.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Wed October 15, 2014

In The World Of Chefs, Asian-American Women Are Turning Up The Heat

Chef Niki Nakayama.
Zen Sekizawa Courtesy of n/naka

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 1:54 pm

Food writers have argued that Asian-American chefs are having a moment. Besides running popular food establishments, chefs David Chang, Roy Choi and Eddie Huang have each inspired his own cultlike fan base. All three have published best-selling books; Huang's Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir is the basis for a highly anticipated sitcom debuting this fall on ABC.

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Movies
5:09 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Animated 'Book Of Life' Celebrates Día De Los Muertos

Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna, left) meets Carmen Sanchez (voiced by Ana de la Reguera) in the Land of the Remembered.
20th Century Fox & Reel FX

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 1:07 pm

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) — a holiday that celebrates those who have passed — will come alive this Thursday in the movie The Book of Life. It is director and animator Jorge Gutiérrez's first feature film, and he says it's his own take on what happens after death.

Set in the 1920s in Mexico, the animated movie centers on the fiery and brave Maria Posada (voiced by Zoe Saldana), and her two suitors: the handsome town hero Joaquin (Channing Tatum) and the soft-spoken Manolo (Diego Luna), who comes from a long line of bullfighters.

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Code Switch
2:19 am
Mon October 13, 2014

What's In A Name? It Could Matter If You're Writing To Your Lawmaker

And so continues Code Switch's battle with illustrating studies about the subtle biases that inflict our email outboxes.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 8:42 am

In recent years, social scientists have tried to find out whether important decisions are shaped by subtle biases. They've studied recruiters as they decide whom to hire. They've studied teachers, deciding which students to help at school. And they've studied doctors, figuring out what treatments to give patients. Now, researchers have trained their attention on a new group of influential people — state legislators.

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Code Switch
1:55 pm
Sun October 12, 2014

Seattle Swaps Columbus Day For 'Indigenous Peoples' Day'

Native American protesters have been demonstrating against Columbus Day in Seattle for several years. Protest organizers say Columbus should not be credited with discovering the Western Hemisphere at a time when it was already inhabited.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Mon October 13, 2014 12:50 pm

This year's Columbus Day holiday will have a slightly different, more Native flavor in the city of Seattle. Thanks to a unanimous vote this summer by the city council, the federal holiday will now be known by a different name: Indigenous Peoples' Day.

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Code Switch
7:35 am
Sat October 11, 2014

Comer Cottrell, Creator Of The People's Jheri Curl, Dies At 82

Comer Cottrell, right, confers with adman Jerry Metcalf in 1977.
Los Angeles Times

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Code Switch
4:12 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Twitter Recap: What Does 'Passing' Look Like Today?

John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Ar Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 26, 2014 5:15 pm

In her book A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, Allyson Hobbs delves into the personal histories of light-skinned African-Americans who, because of their fair complexions and social circumstance, were able to "pass" as white. Code Switch's Karen Grigsby Bates spoke with Hobbs, who explained that, in the past, passing was really a group effort that involved the complicity of a person's family and community.

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Race
5:06 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Videos Of Deadly Police Encounters Grab The Media Spotlight, But Why?

The casket of Michael Brown sits inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, awaiting the start of his funeral in August.
Robert Cohen AP

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 12:26 pm

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this story, we had two videos of encounters with the police. They contained graphic language and violence, so we've removed them from the story. If you still want to see them, we've included links.

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Code Switch
4:58 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

'A Chosen Exile': Black People Passing In White America

Dr. Albert Johnston passed in order to practice medicine. After living as leading citizens in Keene, N.H., the Johnstons revealed their true racial identity, and became national news.
Historical Society of Cheshire County

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 1:24 pm

Several years ago, Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs was talking with a favorite aunt, who was also the family storyteller. Hobbs learned that she had a distant cousin whom she'd never met nor heard of.

Which is exactly the way the cousin wanted it.

Hobbs' cousin had been living as white, far away in California, since she'd graduated from high school. This was at the insistence of her mother.

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Law
4:06 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Alaska Must Translate Election Material Into 2 Indigenous Languages

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 9:50 am

Earlier this year, a judge ruled that Alaskan election officials were in violation of the Voting Rights Act because they did not provide election materials in two dying indigenous languages. They were given until this Friday to comply with the ruling.

The court's decision applies to everything from the buttons that poll workers wear that read "Can I Help?" to candidates' statements to the ballots themselves. There are four regional election pamphlets that are more than 600 pages, and they must be translated into Yupik and Gwich'in.

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Code Switch
10:33 pm
Sun October 5, 2014

Black Women's Groups Meet With NFL On Domestic Violence

Roger Goodell, the NFL's commissioner, met last week with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. But several black women's organizations said the groups the league is working with to craft its plan to combat domestic violence don't have footholds in black communities — an oversight for a league that is mostly black.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 8:53 am

The beginning of the NFL's 2014 season has been marked by scandals around players' off-field behavior. But each time the league mustered an official response, it seemed to invite even more criticism — especially in the case of Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back who was seen on surveillance video punching his then-fiancee and knocking her unconscious.

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Code Switch
4:50 pm
Sat October 4, 2014

Does Television Spanglish Need A Rewrite?

Giancarlo Esposito won acclaim as the ruthless gangster Gustavo "Gus" Fring in Breaking Bad. Even some fans says his accent missed the mark.
Ursula Coyote AP

I watched the season premiere of Law & Order SVU, and I was excited to see that it covered a topic I've reported on for the last year — sex trafficking of women in Mexico — and that a very rich cast of Latino actors were featured on the show. But man, that good feeling stopped almost as soon as I heard them speak.

The Spanish and Spanglish used in the show was embarrassing. When it comes to Latinos on the screen, Hollywood keeps missing the mark on the way we speak.

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Code Switch
9:24 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Muslims In Minnesota Weigh Whether To Expel Or Engage At-Risk Youth

Ahmed Ismail, a soccer coach, runs the West Bank Athletic Club in Minneapolis. His players practice near a large Somali community where young people have been recruited to fight in overseas conflicts.
Craig Lassig AP

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 10:39 am

There's a common argument around Muslim extremism that calls for moderate Muslims to denounce and condemn radical adherents of Islam. Many folks push back on that idea by pointing out that Islam isn't a monolith, that there are well north of a billion Muslims in the world, and that it's wrong to conflate the small number of dangerous radicals with everyone who belongs to the faith.

Those very tensions are playing out right now in the Somali immigrant communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

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Code Switch
1:08 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

The Korean Fan Who Sparked Kansas City's Playoff Run

SungWoo Lee is a fan who has become a fan favorite. In August, he even got a chance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before a Royals game.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 12:47 pm

The Major League Baseball playoffs begin in earnest Thursday night, and this year's postseason offers a story so far out of left field that even the most ardent stats heads find themselves forced to consider the possibility that not only are the baseball gods real, they are also insane. Or perhaps secretly Korean.

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Code Switch
8:14 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Can NBC's New Tiger Lily Overcome The Character's History?

Actress Alanna Saunders was recently cast as Tiger Lily in NBC's Peter Pan LIVE!
Bloc Academy

Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 1:38 pm

Across many stage and screen adaptations of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan over the past century — such as Walt Disney's Peter Pan and Hook — the portrayal of the story's Native American characters has been an ongoing point of contention.

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Code Switch
6:03 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Mexico Pays To Help Its Citizens Avoid Deportation From The U.S.

Mexican consulates, like this one in Houston, are helping some unauthorized immigrants from Mexico pay application fees for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
WhisperToMe Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 7:08 pm

Mexico is helping some of its citizens apply for a controversial immigration program in the U.S. called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Since the Obama administration created the program in 2012, more than 580,000 unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors have received temporary relief from deportation and been given work permits that last for at least two years.

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Code Switch
1:47 pm
Sun September 28, 2014

People Be Triflin', From 'Bills, Bills, Bills' To The Bible

Yes, this ad was really in the newspaper – from the October 1, 1922 New York Tribune.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 10:10 am

In our semi-regular Word Watch feature, we take a look at a word or phrase that's caught our attention, whether for its history, usage, etymology, or just because it has an interesting story.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Sun September 28, 2014

In 'Selfie', John Cho Gets An Unlikely Shot As A Romantic Lead

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 2:49 am

Survey the current TV landscape and you'll see more Asian-American men than ever. (Which is to say, still not very many, but more than there used to be.) Most visibly, there's Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee on The Walking Dead. There's Ken Jeong as Señor Ben Chang on Community, leering and creeping like a modern-day Fu Manchu, only weirder and less smart. There are Kumail Nanjiani, Aly Mawji and Jimmy O. Yang on Silicon Valley.

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Code Switch
11:26 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Marriage Rates Are Falling, And For Some Faster Than Others

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 4:41 pm

The biggest takeaways from a new study on marriage by the Pew Research Center are these: Fewer Americans who are older than 25 are married than ever before, and by the time they're middle-aged, a record 25 percent will have never tied the knot.

That might not be too much of a surprise, since marriage rates have been sliding for decades.

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Code Switch
7:51 am
Wed September 24, 2014

The Pre-Huxtable Golden Age Of The Black Family Sitcom

Sanford and Son averaged around 20 million viewers a week for NBC during the 1974-75 season.
AP

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 1:16 pm

A lot has been made of the suite of shows featuring families of color set to hit the airwaves this fall — ABC's Black-ish, the CW's Jane the Virgin, ABC's Cristela and the network's midseason replacement, Fresh Off the Boat.

This season happens to dovetail with the 30th anniversary of The Cosby Show, a seminal moment for families of color on the small screen that many credit with resurrecting the moribund sitcom genre.

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