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
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

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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.

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