Hansi Lo Wang

Hansi Lo Wang is a reporter covering race, ethnicity and culture for NPR's Code Switch team. In early 2015, he will move to NPR's New York bureau to cover the Northeast as a National Desk reporter.

After joining NPR in 2010 as a Kroc Fellow, Wang reported on topics ranging from immigration and demographics to movies and graphic novels. In 2014, he won the National Journalism Award for General Excellence in Radio from the Asian American Journalists Association for his profile of a white member of a Boston Chinatown gang. His report on a former slave jail near Washington, D.C., was chosen as a finalist for a Salute to Excellence National Media Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Wang contributed to NPR's breaking news coverage of the 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla., the trial of George Zimmerman in Florida, the Washington Navy Yard shooting and the chemical spill in West Virginia's Elk River. He has also reported for Seattle public radio station KUOW and worked behind the scenes of NPR's Weekend Edition as a production assistant.

Currently based in Washington, D.C., Wang was born in Philadelphia, where his first job was to find and furnish apartments for newly-arrived refugees. He graduated from Swarthmore College with a bachelor's degree in political science. As a student, he hosted, produced, and reported for a weekly radio program on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wang speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese dialects of Chinese.

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Code Switch
4:03 am
Mon April 21, 2014

In Asian-Majority District, House Race Divides Calif. Voters

Rep. Mike Honda (left) walks down the House steps with Rep. Raul Ruiz after a vote at the Capitol on March 20, 2013.
Bill Clark CQ-Roll Call

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 12:52 pm

In the heated race for a congressional seat in northern California, Mai Xuan Nguyen fought for her candidate with another cold call.

"Yes, that's K, H, A, N, N, A," she patiently explained in Vietnamese to a potential voter, spelling out her choice for Congress, Democrat Ro Khanna, as she marked her call list one recent evening at a coffeehouse in San Jose, Calif.

It was all part of Nguyen's role in an only-in-America scene: a Vietnamese-language phone bank for an Indian-American lawyer, who's challenging a Japanese-American congressman.

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Code Switch
7:12 am
Sat April 19, 2014

In Silicon Valley, Immigrants Toast Their Way To The Top

Engineer Mit Shah gives a speech at a meeting of the "ArtICCulators" Toastmasters Club in Milpitas, Calif.
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 11:18 am

Public speaking can be nerve-wracking whatever your native tongue. It can be especially difficult for immigrants who speak English as a second language.

In California's Silicon Valley, some immigrant tech workers strengthen their voices by joining public speaking support groups like Toastmasters clubs.

Members usually meet once a week to practice giving speeches, which are timed to the second and judged for grammar and presentation. There's even a designated counter of ums and ahs.

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Code Switch
6:58 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

The Harlem Hellfighters: Fighting Racism In The Trenches Of WWI

The Harlem Hellfighters, a new graphic novel by Max Brooks, retells the story of the first African-American unit to fight in World War I.
Caanan White Courtesy of Broadway Books

The 369th Infantry Regiment served 191 days under enemy fire in Europe. They returned home one of the most decorated American units of World War I.

"The French called them the 'Men of Bronze' out of respect, and the Germans called them the 'Harlem Hellfighters' out of fear," explains Max Brooks, author of The Harlem Hellfighters, a new graphic novel about the first African-American infantry unit to fight in World War I.

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Code Switch
6:03 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Latinos Live Longer But Struggle To Save Enough For Retirement

Isaias Hernandez (left) counsels Paul Garcia on his finances at the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation in Montebello, Calif.
Courtesy of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation

Originally published on Fri March 28, 2014 2:26 pm

Many American workers find themselves financially unprepared for retirement. Among racial and ethnic groups, Latinos are the least prepared.

They're one of the fastest-growing racial or ethnic groups, and they have a longer life expectancy than whites and blacks — at about 81 years old.

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Code Switch
7:36 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Changing Demographics A Factor In Rhode Island's Gubernatorial Race

Two supporters of gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo walk past protesting union members outside a rally at which Raimondo announced her run for the Democratic nomination in Rhode Island in January.
Michael Dwyer AP

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 11:06 am

Parades, social clubs and awards dinners are part of the routine of political campaigns everywhere. But if you're running to be Rhode Island's next governor, then there's one more stop you just can't miss.

Namely, the makeshift studios of Latino Public Radio, which is housed in a two-story, single-family home complete with a living room, dog and cat.

This local Spanish-language radio station based in Cranston, R.I., was co-founded almost a decade ago by Pablo Rodriguez.

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Code Switch
11:01 am
Tue March 11, 2014

These Cute Images Make Reading Chinese Characters 'Chineasy'

ShaoLan Hsueh worked with illustrators to develop pictograms that help readers learn Chinese characters.
Rick Pushinsky Courtesy of ShaoLan Hsueh

Growing up in Taiwan, ShaoLan Hsueh stuck out.

She liked writing in Chinese.

"I know all the children hated it, but I was a bit odd in that I loved writing Chinese characters," says Hsueh, the daughter of a Chinese calligrapher.

Now living in London, she later discovered that the love she had for Chinese language felt like "torture" to her two British-born children. "I found it really challenging to try to convince them that it's really cool to read Chinese," she said. "No one in their environment would be interested or have contact with Chinese-speaking people."

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Code Switch
6:02 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

To Play The Part, Actors Must Talk The Talk — In Chinese

Chinese billionaire Xander Feng, played by Terry Chen, shakes hands with Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, in Netflix's House of Cards.
Nathaniel E. Bell Courtesy of Netflix

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 11:08 am

The success of the Netflix series House of Cards lies in the details.

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Code Switch
6:36 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Asian-American Contestant, 'Villain' Of 'Jeopardy,' Set To Return

Game show contestant Arthur Chu with host Alex Trebek on the set of Jeopardy!
Courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 1:55 pm

If there are any unwritten rules to playing Jeopardy! Arthur Chu may have broken them all.

During his four-day winning streak in late January, he sometimes interrupted host Alex Trebek and cut in before the host could finish a sentence. He often jumped to the hardest clues on the board first and furiously tapped his buzzer whenever he knew the answer.

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Code Switch
7:07 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

For Abused Native American Women, New Law Provides A 'Ray Of Hope'

Deborah Parker, vice chair of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington state, reacts to President Barack Obama signing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 in Washington.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

This Thursday, three Native American tribes are changing how they administer justice.

For almost four decades, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling has barred tribes from prosecuting non-American Indian defendants. But as part of last year's re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a new program now allows tribes to try some non-Indian defendants in domestic abuse cases.

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Code Switch
11:55 am
Wed February 19, 2014

After Tour, Medal For WWII Japanese-American Soldiers Returns Home

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, shown here in a 1944 photo taken in France, returned home from World War II as one of the most decorated U.S. military units.
Courtesy of National Archives

More than 70 years ago Wednesday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that led to the internment of more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II.

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Code Switch
10:53 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Walking Down The Widening Aisle Of Interracial Marriages

Kelly Mottershead and Louie Okamoto held a beach party last October for their wedding ceremony in Carmel, Calif.
Dana Barsuhn Courtesy of Louie Okamoto

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 12:13 pm

Editor's Note: Code Switch has been engaged in a month-long exploration of romance across racial and cultural lines. Follow the Twitter conversation via the hashtag #xculturelove.

The numbers are small but growing.

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Code Switch
1:39 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

National Puerto Rican Day Parade Reorganizes After Misuse Of Funds

Parade onlookers cheer marchers in last year's National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York.
Craig Ruttle AP

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 4:32 pm

The National Puerto Rican Day Parade will be marching down New York City's Fifth Avenue under new leadership this year.

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Code Switch
4:46 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

'Still Turning Heads' At Lunar New Year, An All-Female Lion Dance Troupe

Gund Kwok troupe member Heang Ly takes a break next to her lion costume during a rehearsal in Boston's Chinatown.
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 7:14 pm

Lion and dragon dancers are set to parade down Chinatown streets around the country again with the Friday start of another Lunar New Year.

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Code Switch
4:30 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Remaking All That Jazz From Shanghai's Lost Era

Electronic music producer Dave Liang and jazz singer Zhang Le collaborated on a new album of Shanghai jazz standards from the 1930s and 1940s.
Zhuang Yan Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 5:55 pm

You may not hear it when you're listening to Shanghai jazz standards from the 1930s and '40s, but dig deeper into their history and you'll find a generational skip in the record.

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Around the Nation
4:31 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Even As Ban Lifts, Many Remain Wary Of Tap Water

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 6:44 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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Around the Nation
4:12 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

West Virginia Tap Water Ban Awaits A Good Flush

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 7:53 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Faucets in parts of West Virginia are running drinkable water again. This after a chemical spill leaked into the Elk River and tainted the local water supply. After a five-day ban on tap water in and around Charleston, Governor Earl Tomblin today announced the results of days of testing.

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Code Switch
4:59 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

White House Picks Choctaw Nation To Fight Poverty In Oklahoma

Chief Gregory Pyle (left) and Assistant Chief Gary Batton stand in front of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma's Capitol building in Tuskahoma, Okla.
Larissa Copeland Courtesy of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared his "War on Poverty," President Obama issued his own plan to combat poverty Thursday with the nation's first five "Promise Zones."

All "Promise Zones" will receive a competitive advantage when applying for federal grants, on-site support from federal officials, and, pending congressional approval, tax incentives for businesses hiring and investing in the community.

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Code Switch
2:21 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Films With Black Actors, Directors Go To 11 In 2013

Monica Calhoun (left), Melissa De Sousa and Nia Long star in The Best Man Holiday, one of this year's eleven top-grossing films starring black actors and by black directors.
Michael Gibson Universal Pictures

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 10:33 am

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year — numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we're living in, right now. You'll hear the stories behind numbers ranging from zero to 1 trillion.

When it comes to race and film, the number of the year is 11.

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Race
3:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Chinese-American Descendants Uncover Forged Family Histories

William Wong (standing) poses with his parents and nephew in an old family photo. Wong's mother immigrated to the U.S. from China as his father's "sister" to bypass the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Courtesy of William Wong

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:30 pm

What if you discovered the last name you've lived with since birth is fake?

That's what happened in many Chinese-American families who first came to the U.S. before World War II, when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese laborers from legally entering the country.

The law, formally repealed by Congress 70 years ago Tuesday, prompted tens of thousands of Chinese to use forged papers to enter the U.S. illegally.

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Code Switch
12:17 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Supporters Of Immigration Overhaul Remain Focused

Activists Cristian Avila (left), Dae Joong Yoon and Eliseo Medina ended their fasting for immigration reform after 22 days in Washington, D.C.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill face a lengthy to-do list before they head home for the holidays. Near the top is an issue deemed a priority after last year's election — immigration reform. So far, only the Senate has passed a bill.

Despite the standstill, supporters of immigration reform are pushing to keep the issue alive on a crowded legislative slate.

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Code Switch
1:55 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

New Pilot Program Gives Immigrant Detainees Public Defenders

Matthew Diller, dean of Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law, talks with press about the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project in June.
Cardozo School of Law

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 10:34 am

In the American criminal justice system, you have the right to an attorney. And if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

That's not the case if you're a defendant in U.S. immigration court. Immigration proceedings are civil matters, and the Constitution does not extend the right to court-appointed attorneys to immigrant detainees.

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Code Switch
2:07 am
Tue November 19, 2013

A New Life For An Old Slave Jail

Formerly known as the Alexandria Slave Pen, this ashen gray row house in Alexandria, Va., once housed one of the country's largest slave-dealing firms.
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 6:31 pm

President Abraham Lincoln stood on a battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa., 150 years ago and declared "a new birth of freedom" for the nation.

That same year, an African-American man named Lewis Henry Bailey experienced his own rebirth. At age 21, Bailey was freed from slavery in Texas. His journey began in Virginia, where he was sold as a child in a slave jail.

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Code Switch
4:20 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Asian-American Lawyers Act Like '22 Lewd Chinese Women'

Attorney Francis Chin (center) runs through his lines with Yang Chen at a rehearsal for 22 Lewd Chinese Women, the latest trial re-enactment by the Asian American Bar Association of New York.
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 10:24 am

A cast of New York lawyers and a federal judge debuted a new production on Friday off-off Broadway — all the way in Kansas City, Mo.

Attorneys have gathered there for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association's annual convention. For the past seven years, the meeting has featured dramatic re-enactments of historic trials involving Asian-Americans.

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NPR Story
4:46 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Amid A Rough Patch, Howard University Faces Flagging Morale

Students walk by Founders Library on Howard University campus in Washington, D.C.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 4:12 pm

Howard University, one of the country's most prominent historically black schools, has hit a rough patch in recent months.

The school's Faculty Senate recently voted no confidence in leaders of the school's Board of Trustees. That vote came just weeks after Howard's president announced a surprise early retirement and Moody's Investors Service downgraded the university's credit rating, as my Code Switch teammate Gene Demby has reported.

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Law
6:11 am
Sun November 3, 2013

N.Y. Stop-And-Frisk Reforms On Hold For New Year, New Mayor

New York police officers walk through a Brooklyn housing development in August.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 2:45 pm

In New York City, the country's largest police force has been involved in a high-profile legal battle over its stop-and-frisk policy.

Few policies of outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have been as controversial as stop-and-frisk, the tactic New York police use to stop people on the streets without a search warrant.

The police department says it's been vital in catching criminals and reducing the city's crime rate.

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Code Switch
5:01 am
Sun October 27, 2013

N.Y. Chinatown Family Finds Roots In Early Chinese Cinema

Harold Lee's son Henry, perched on the roof of a camera truck, helped produce and import Chinese-language films from Hong Kong and China in the late 1940s.
Courtesy of the Lee Family

Douglas Lee thought he knew just about everything about the family business.

Since the late 1930s, the Lee family has sold insurance at 31 Pell Street in New York City's Chinatown. Their entrepreneurial roots in the Chinese-American community stretch back to 1888, when the Lees opened a grocery store at the same location.

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Code Switch
5:44 am
Sat October 19, 2013

'12 Years' Is The Story Of A Slave Whose End Is A Mystery

In the new film adaptation of Twelve Years A Slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841.
Jaap Buitendijk Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 10:18 am

There's a true American saga on screens this weekend.

Twelve Years a Slave tells the story of Solomon Northup. He was an African-American musician from New York — a free man, until he was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., and sold into slavery. After an unlikely rescue from a Louisiana cotton plantation, he returned home and wrote a memoir, first published 160 years ago.

But the end of Northup's story is an unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for years.

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Code Switch
5:15 am
Sat October 5, 2013

'Linsanity': For Asian Fans, It Felt Just Like 'Young Love'

Jeremy Lin fans cheer during a game between the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers in March 2012.
Drew Hallowell Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 5, 2013 11:44 am

Twenty months after it first took pop culture by storm, the global sports craze known as "Linsanity" has found a revival on screen.

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Education
4:59 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Student Loan Changes Squeeze Historically Black Colleges

Students and alumni line up at Howard University in Washington, D.C., before August's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Nathaniel Grann The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 5:46 pm

Stricter lending guidelines for federal school loans have made it harder to borrow money for college. Changes made in 2011 to the PLUS loan program especially have hurt historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, over the past few years.

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Code Switch
5:18 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

After Drop, Number Of Immigrants Illegally In U.S. Levels Off

Young people stand in line in Los Angeles to apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows qualified immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to study or work openly.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 6:01 pm

The latest estimate by the Pew Research Center puts the number of immigrants living illegally in the U.S. at 11.7 million.

This new number, based on U.S. government data, can be found in a report released Monday titled "Population Decline of Unauthorized Immigrants Stalls, May Have Reversed." The key word in that headline is "may." As the authors write in the report:

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