Shereen Marisol Meraji

Shereen Marisol Meraji tries to find the humor and humanity in reporting on race for the NPR Code Switch team.

Her stories center on the real people affected by the issues, not just experts and academics studying them. Those stories include a look at why a historically black college in West Virginia is 90 percent white, to a profile of the most powerful and most difficult-to-target consumer group in America: Latinas.

Prior to her time with Code Switch, Meraji worked for the national business and economics radio program Marketplace, from American Public Media. There, she covered stories about the growing wealth gap and poverty in the United States.

Meraji's first job in college involved radio journalism and she hasn't been able to shake her passion for story telling since. The best career advice Meraji ever received was from veteran radio journalist Alex Chadwick, who said, "When you see a herd of reporters chasing the same story, run in the opposite direction." She's invested in multiple pairs of running shoes and is wearing them out reporting for Code Switch.

A graduate of San Francisco State with a BA in Raza Studies, Meraji is a native Californian with family roots in Puerto Rico and Iran.

Code Switch
4:36 am
Sat July 12, 2014

35 Years After Minnie Riperton's Death, New Fans Still Find Her

Celebrated soul singer Minnie Riperton, shown here in March 1976, passed away in 1979 at the age of 31.
AP

Originally published on Sat July 12, 2014 11:12 am

"There are just some songs you just don't touch because they're done so well, so like, don't even try," says 24-year-old Moses Sumney. "But I'm going to try."

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Code Switch
5:50 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Community Outraged Over Video Showing Officer Beating Woman

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Prosecutors here in Los Angeles are being asked to look into what happened last week when an officer with the California Highway Patrol - the CHP - was caught on video repeatedly punching in African-American woman on the side of a freeway. The video has since gone viral and civil rights activists have called for swift action against the officer. NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji has more.

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Code Switch
5:53 am
Mon June 30, 2014

'Do The Right Thing' Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

Spike Lee directed, wrote and starred in "Do the Right Thing." The landmark film prompted a national conversation about racial tension.
Universal The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 3:22 pm

Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing was hotly anticipated when it was released 25 years ago.

The film about racial tension reaches a boiling point on a scorching summer day in Brooklyn. All the action takes place on one block in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City; a block where African-Americans and Puerto Ricans live, Koreans and Italians work and the New York Police Department plays dirty.

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Men In America
3:20 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Bathrobes And Baby Carriers: The Stuff Of Manliness?

David Lee writes an online men's guide to Asian lifestyle and entertainment. He says he voted against a battle-ax and for his bathrobe when choosing a masculine object. The blue terry cloth robe is based on the Adventure Time cartoon.
Courtesy of Salima Koroma

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 11:30 am

This summer, All Things Considered is looking at the lives of Men in America and how things have changed — or haven't. Part of that is redefining masculinity, so the show asked me to ask guys about the stuff they equate with manliness today. (Submit your own stories in the form below.)

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Sports
3:44 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

A View On The World Cup, Seen From An LA Bar On A Midweek Morning

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 6:10 pm

Fans of the U.S. soccer team gathered across the country to watch Thursday's World Cup match against Germany. More than a thousand people watched the game at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., and many others filled Grant Park in Chicago. Meanwhile, NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji was with fans in Los Angeles, and she offers some of their reactions.

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Code Switch
10:18 am
Sun June 22, 2014

Shape-Up And Checkup: LA Barbers To Start Testing Blood Pressure

Ben Russell iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun June 29, 2014 2:14 pm

Barbershops are a traditional gathering place for African-American men — a place to talk politics, sports and gossip. Now, some doctors in Los Angeles are hoping to make the barbershop a place for combating high blood pressure among black men.

Death rates from hypertension are three times higher in African-American men than in white men of the same age, says Dr. Ronald Victor, the director of Cedars-Sinai Center for Hypertension in Los Angeles.

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Health Care
7:01 am
Sun June 22, 2014

In LA, Barbers Cut Hair And Check Blood Pressure

Originally published on Sun June 22, 2014 11:19 am

A Los Angeles doctor is training barbers to check their customers for high blood pressure. He's targeting the social hubs for black men because of the health risks associated with hypertension.

Code Switch
3:21 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

For These Inner-City Dads, Fatherhood Comes With Homework

Edward Pitchford is a responsible-fatherhood specialist with the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore.
Courtesy of Carde Cornish

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 4:32 pm

About two dozen dads — all African-Americans, ranging in age from their early 20s to late 40s — are standing in a circle participating in a call-and-response exercise:

Call: You done broke them chains.
Response: From my body and my brain!
Call: But you was deaf, dumb and blind.
Response: 'Til I took back my mind!

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Race
3:33 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Honored Puerto Rican Army Unit Made A Name For Itself In Korean War

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:31 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

They fought for the U.S. and countered ethnic stereotypes in the process. Today, President Obama honored the Puerto Rican soldiers of the 65th Infantry Regiment. The president signed legislation recognizing the veterans for their military valor. They'll be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal - a distinction given to other segregated military units in the past, such as the Tuskegee Airmen and the Navajo code talkers.

NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji was at the White House as the president signed the bill.

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Code Switch
2:39 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Before 'Brown V. Board,' Mendez Fought California's Segregated Schools

Sylvia Mendez was a young girl in the 1940s when her parents fought for Latinos to have access to white schools in the California court case Mendez v. Westminster. They won in 1947.
Shereen Marisol Meraji NPR

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 9:51 pm

Sylvia Mendez says the only reason she wanted to go to an all-white school in California's Westminster District in the 1940s was because of its beautiful playground. The school that she and other Latino students were forced to attend didn't have monkey bars or swings.

"I was 9 years old," she says. "I just thought my parents wanted us to go to the nice-looking school."

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Code Switch
9:36 am
Mon May 5, 2014

After Decades, A University By And For Latinos Will Shut Its Doors

The National Hispanic University sits in the shadow of the East San Jose foothills in a working-class Latino neighborhood.
Shereen Marisol Meraji

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 9:34 am

The National Hispanic University was created more than 30 years ago to educate first-generation college students from Latino backgrounds. Next year, the only school of its kind west of the Mississippi will close its doors.

NHU sits in the shadow of the East San Jose foothills in California's Silicon Valley. All the classrooms and faculty offices fit in one modern three-story building in the heart of a working-class Latino neighborhood. But the postwar elementary school right next door used to serve as the institution's hallowed halls.

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Code Switch
8:09 am
Tue April 22, 2014

More Art, Less Tequila In Tijuana On Spring Break

El Norteño says this mural tells the story of a grown man haunted by the bullies from his childhood.
Brenda Delgadillo Canett.

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 5:38 pm

For decades, Southern Californians thought Tijuana was Spanish for "spring break." The streets of TJ used to be packed full of spring breakers pounding shots of tequila and taking drunken photos astride donkeys painted like zebras. That is, well, a thing of the past. The rise in drug violence over the years caused tourism in this border city to plummet. But now tourists are trickling back, and I was recently among them.

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Code Switch
2:05 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Lending Circles Help Latinas Pay Bills And Invest

Alicia Villanueva gives change to a customer at Off the Grid, a weekly street-food market in San Francisco.
Sarah Peet Sarah Peet Photography

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 7:50 am

As part of its Changing Lives of Women series, Morning Edition is exploring women and their relationship with money: saving, purchasing and investing for themselves and their families.

Cuban-American Barb Mayo describes a tanda like this: "It's like a no-interest loan with your friends." Mayo had never heard of tandas growing up, and it wasn't until she started working in sales for a cable company in Southern California that she was introduced to the concept.

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Code Switch
2:37 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Latin Pride Swells For Mystery Model Behind Oscar Statuette

Hollywood legend has it the Oscar statuette was modeled after Mexican actor and director Emilio Fernandez.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 7:23 pm

The 8-pound, 24-carat-gold-plated statuette that will be handed out at the Academy Awards Sunday night is said to be modeled after a real man.

That man's name is not Oscar.

It might be Emilio, Emilio "El Indio" Fernandez. He was a famous Mexican director and actor who used to live in Hollywood in the 1920s. His nickname, "The Indian," came from the Kickapoo side of his family.

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Race
4:03 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Pop Music Lags In Dealing With Interracial Love Anxieties

They're most likely not listening to a song about cross-cultural love.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 4:00 pm

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Code Switch
4:27 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

English Only? For Mainland Puerto Ricans, The Answer Is Often 'Yes'

Shereen Marisol Meraji NPR

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 7:01 pm

Javier Fossas asked me, "Do you speak Spanish?"

It's complicated. I do, but I'm really insecure about my Spanish.

I grew up in California in a Puerto Rican family where English was the dominant language. Adults used Spanish mostly to share secrets or express frustration. So I hate the Spanish question.

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Race
5:32 am
Mon January 6, 2014

The First Latino 'Bachelor' Makes His Debut

Juan Pablo Galavis, a contestant on a past season of "The Bachelorette," stars in the 18th season of "The Bachelor."
Craig Sjodin AP

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 4:04 pm

The Bachelor is back again. Yep — the ABC reality show where a single guy gets to choose a potential wife from a couple dozen women. This season's single guy is Latino. He's the first bachelor-of-color in the show's 11 year history.

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Code Switch
3:43 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Why Chaucer Said 'Ax' Instead Of 'Ask,' And Why Some Still Do

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele talk Ax vs. Ask with NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji.
Sonari Glinton NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 5:39 pm

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Code Switch
4:51 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Arturo Sandoval: Free To Blow His Trumpet The Way He Wants

Cuban jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday.
Shereen Marisol Meraji NPR

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 8:43 am

A former president, a media mogul and a Cuban jazz trumpeter are among the 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday. That Cuban jazz trumpeter, Arturo Sandoval, happened to be performing not too far away from NPR West, at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, last Friday. So I went to pay him a visit during rehearsals.

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NPR Story
3:44 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

An East L.A. Football Rivalry, Unchanged For 79 Years

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 5:49 pm

An East Los Angeles rivalry has become the largest high school football game west of the Mississippi. The football teams of Garfield High School and Roosevelt High School will meet on the gridiron Friday night for the 79th year. The game is expected to draw 20,000 fans.

Code Switch
2:08 am
Fri October 18, 2013

The Whitest Historically Black College In America

Deirdre Guyton, the school's director of alumni affairs, is proud of Bluefield State College's history and wants to preserve it. Here, she holds up a photo of the school's football team from 1927 to 1928, when it was the best black college team.
Shereen Marisol Meraji NPR

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 4:13 pm

It opened in the late 19th century as the Bluefield Colored Institute, created to educate the children of black coal miners in segregated West Virginia. Although it still receives the federal funding that comes with its designation as a historically black institution, today Bluefield State College is 90 percent white. The road that separates those realities is as rocky as any story of racial transition in post-World War II America.

We went to the campus of Bluefield State to see what campus life was like at this unusual college.

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Code Switch
5:24 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

LA Dodgers' Spark Yasiel Puig Is Lightning Rod For Criticism

Yasiel Puig (right) celebrates with teammate Brian Wilson on Monday night after the Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 4-3 to advance to the National League Championship Series.
Danny Moloshok AP

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 9:22 am

It might be the comeback of 2013. The Los Angeles Dodgers went from last place in their division four months ago to the National League Championship Series after Monday night's 4-3 win against the Atlanta Braves. And a 22-year-old Cuban defector has been credited with sparking the turnaround: No. 66, Yasiel Puig.

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Code Switch
1:23 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Summer Of '63: Old Lessons For A New Movement

Participants in the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride sit on a bus that will travel from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2003.
J. Emilio Flores Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 5:38 pm

All this summer, NPR is looking back to civil rights activism of 1963, marking the 50th anniversary of a number of events that changed our society. From the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers in Mississippi to the March on Washington; NPR is remembering the past and examining how our society has changed.

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Code Switch
10:59 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Latinas Drive Hispanic Purchasing Power In The U.S.

Latina pop star Thalía holds a toddler playing a tumbadora during a Pampers promotional event launching Mi Música, Mi Herencia (My Music, My Heritage).
Marc Serota AP

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 12:05 pm

Meet Pamela Maria Wright — the "contemporary Latina consumer." She has two kids — Nico and Rita — whom she hopes will be bilingual, as she is. She's a tech-savvy working professional with a master's degree, but she's also very traditional and family-oriented. (While I was visiting her home, her father showed up for a surprise visit. "How much more Latino can you get?" Wright asked.)

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Business
4:42 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Why Modern Latinas Are A Challenge To Marketers

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 6:59 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Hispanic American are an increasingly important consumer demographic to woo. That's according to a new study from the market research firm Nielsen. The report says that most of today's Latinas are the primary decision makers when it comes to household spending.

But marketing to them is a real challenge, as NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji reports.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: Welcome to the home of the contemporary Latina consumer.

PAMELA MARIA WRIGHT: Hi.

MERAJI: Hi. How are you?

Good. How are you?

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Author Interviews
5:44 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Comedian Aisha Tyler Talks About Flipping Off Failure

Tyler says as a kid she stood out because of her height, her glasses, and her vegetarian lunches.
Aisha Tyler

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 11:50 am

Comedian and actor Aisha Tyler brews beer, plays video games, tells dirty jokes, drinks fancy booze and ... writes books.

She has a new one out this week: Self-inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humilation. We sat down in the NPR studios over a mug of 18-year-old scotch to talk about her most embarrassing moments on the road to success. (No, really, we did. Listen to us toast.)

For those of you wondering who Aisha Tyler is, here's a quick breakdown (to be read quickly):

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Sat June 29, 2013

What [BLANK] Folks Don't Understand About Rachel Jeantel

Witness Rachel Jeantel continues her testimony to defense attorney Don West during the trial of George Zimmerman on Thursday.
Jacob Langston AP

Originally published on Sat June 29, 2013 1:36 pm

Rachel Jeantel. Her hourslong testimony spanned two days of the George Zimmerman trial, and I bet you'll be talking about it with your friends over the weekend. She's the 19-year-old key witness for the prosecution who had a cellphone conversation with Trayvon Martin moments before he was killed.

And she most definitely touched a nerve.

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Code Switch
4:33 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Black Americans Give Entertainment Options Failing Grades

A poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that African-Americans are unhappy with their local entertainment venues.
Corbis

Originally published on Fri June 7, 2013 7:29 pm

All this week on Code Switch and on air we've been digging into the findings of a survey of African-American views of their communities, finances and social lives. We conducted the poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Code Switch
10:53 am
Wed May 8, 2013

USC Students Allege Racial Profiling By LAPD

Mark Jones, a USC freshman, protests on Monday.
Shereen Marisol Meraji NPR

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 10:43 am

The Los Angeles Police Department is under scrutiny again. This time it's for sending almost 80 officers to break up a college house party. Most of the partygoers were African-American students from the University of Southern California.

USC senior Nate Howard organized the party that was shut down by the police. At a protest on campus Monday he condemned the response.

"Seventy-plus officers?" he said. "What else was going on at that time in the community that you needed to be at a party of students getting ready to graduate?"

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Code Switch
3:42 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Seeking Oakland's Soul In The 'New Oakland'

A DJ plays for a crowded street at Oakland's Art Murmur celebration in February.
David Kashevaroff

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 7:17 pm

Oakland, Calif., was once a hub of African-American culture on the West Coast.

In the 1940s and '50s, Oakland was home to an entertainment corridor nicknamed The Harlem of the West. In the '60s, the city gave birth to the Black Panther Party. By the '80s, black folks made up nearly half of Oakland's population.

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