Karen Grigsby Bates

Karen Grigsby Bates is the Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News. Bates contributed commentaries to All Things Considered for about 10 years before she joined NPR in 2002 as the first correspondent and alternate host for The Tavis Smiley Show. In addition to general reporting and substitute hosting, she increased the show's coverage of international issues and its cultural coverage, especially in the field of literature and the arts.

In early 2003, Bates joined NPR's former midday news program Day to Day. She has reported on politics (California's precedent-making gubernatorial recall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign and the high-profile mayoral campaign of Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa), media, and breaking news (the Abu Ghrarib scandal, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams).

Bates' passion for food and things culinary has served her well: she's spent time with award-winning food critic Alan Richman and chef-entrepreneur Emeril Lagasse.

One of Bates' proudest contributions is making books and authors a high-profile part of NPR's coverage. "NPR listeners read a lot, and many of them share the same passion for books that I do, so this isn't work, it's a pleasure." She's had conversations with such writers as Walter Mosley, Joan Didion and Kazuo Ishiguru. Her bi-annual book lists (which are archived on the web) are listener favorites.

Before coming to NPR, Bates was a news reporter for People magazine. She was a contributing columnist to the Op Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times for ten years. Her work has appeared in Time, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Essence and Vogue. And she's been a guest on several news shows such as ABC's Nightline and the CBS Evening News.

In her non-NPR life, Bates is the author of Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People, mysteries featuring reporter-sleuth Alex Powell. She is co-author, with Karen E. Hudson, of Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times, a best-selling etiquette book now in its second edition. Her work also appears in several writers' anthologies.

Bates holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. Additionally she studied at the University of Ghana and completed the executive management program at Yale University's School of Organization and Management.

This week in race: Sports (dog) whistles, protection for Dreamers, a special book—and some hunky calendar men. Really. Now that the turkey endorphins have worn off, the leftovers are a distant memory, and the Obamas prepare for their last Christmas in the White House, we thought we'd put some of the things that happened over the holiday weekend (and this week) on a platter and offer them to you. No thank you notes required. Race and Immigration: The University of California system said no,...

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of several things, among them race. The law, however, doesn't define "race." It also doesn't say anything about hair. Which brings us to Chastity Jones. In 2012, Jones, who is African-American, was denied a job because she wouldn't cut off her dreadlocks. Jones sued, saying the company was guilty of race-based, disparate treatment. When the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against...

Ask Walter Mosley what he does, and he'll say, simply, "I'm a writer." And he's written a lot: 52 books, about 30 short stories and another 30 or 40 articles, he says. While most writers specialize in one or two types of books, Mosley refuses to be constrained. He has written mysteries, science fiction, erotica, young adult fiction, plays, opinion pieces and essays. He has even penned a slim book that instructs would-be fiction writers on how to get started. "I have all these things, I'm...

Charles Kinsey, a Florida health worker, was swept into the national debate about police and African-Americans after video of police shooting him went viral. Just over a week before, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile became familiar names and hashtags following their shooting deaths by police, and the videos of those incidents spreading across traditional and social media. But fewer people know about Delrawn Small, an African-American man was shot to death by an officer in early July. So...

The deaths last week of three African-American men in encounters with police, along with the killing of five Dallas officers by a black shooter, have left many African-American gun owners with conflicting feelings; those range from shock to anger and defiance. As the debate over gun control heats up, some African-Americans see firearms as critical to their safety, especially in times of racial tension. The Reverend Kenn Blanchard , who's known on social media as Black Man With A Gun, is an...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Flags in New York City began flying at half-staff Monday, in honor of Roscoe C. Brown. He died Saturday at age 94 and was one of the last few "Red Tail" pilots, a subset of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Airmen were part of a grand experiment in racial integration that the Army reluctantly undertook. As a Red Tail, Brown was a pioneer. He was one of the first black pilots in the Army Air Forces. Back before Brown and his colleagues took pilot training, the common assumption among the U.S. military...

Think of Etha Robinson as the Johnny Appleseed of pastry. Her mission, rather than planting apple trees, is to plant the idea of reviving the tea cake, a little cookie that has a lot of historical significance packed into it. "There's an old saying," Robinson offers as she unpacks a china plate from the bag she's brought to our interview. "If you don't progress, you'll regress." She places a batch of golden cookies on the plate. "So my thing is, is we can revitalize the tea cake, and allow...

Muhammad Ali kissed me once. Don't be a dope — it wasn't like that. It was in front of a whole bunch of people and my then-boyfriend and Mrs. Ali. (And two of his future wives. I'll get to that in a moment.) I was lucky enough to meet him a few times over several decades, but the first time was the most memorable. It was my senior year in college. Ali was in Boston — probably on other business — and came to speak to Harvard's class of 1973. I didn't go to Harvard, but the boyfriend did, so I...

Over the past few days, we've seen image after image of Muhammad Ali: triumphant in the ring, joking on talk shows and shakily lifting the Olympic torch at the 1996 Atlanta games. He's remembered these days as an athlete and a humanitarian, and that was, definitely, Ali. But so was the defiant, incisive Ali. "I'm sayin' you talking about me about some draft, and all of you white boys are breaking your necks to get to Switzerland and Canada and London!" Ali once said. "I'm not going to help...

Ah, the cardigan: your granny's cozy go-to used to be available year-round, but in limited quantities and colors. It was considered the sartorial equivalent of flossing: necessary, but not glamorous. "The cardigan used to be something to keep you warm in the work place," explains Teri Agins, who covered the fashion industry for the Wall Street Journal for years. "It was not really an accessory you left on—unless you wore it as part of a twin set." That look, sweater upon sweater, was...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aixV4KmAsb4 This is dating me, but I know this to be true: In the 1970s, black guys who wanted to be considered culturally serious always had some Miles to throw on the turntable. They might jam to Sly Stone, James Brown or Earth, Wind & Fire at a party. They often sang Stevie Wonder at the top of their voices while in the shower. But on quiet evenings, it always went back to Miles. Maybe they were alone after a long day. Often there was a girl they wanted to...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy6gjkICKfk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTJT3fVv1vU Among the countless ads airing during Super Bowl 50, there will be an anti-domestic violence spot from the group No More. It's the second consecutive year the organization's public service announcements air during the big game. Domestic violence and the NFL have been unhappily coupled more than a few times in recent years, perhaps no more prominently than in 2014. That's when a troubling video from a hotel...

The second mystery by Mette Ivie Harrison boasts details about contemporary Mormon life that most of us aren't privy to. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates says His Right Hand is is her "one that got away." Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: We're going to close out the program today by telling you about some good music that you might want to catch in the upcoming year. And we'll remember a musical icon who just passed away. But first, NPR's...

A YouTuber named James Wright Chanel has been all over the Internet praising Patti LaBelle's sweet potato pies; a video he uploaded of himself bursting into song upon tasting the singer and cookbook author's name-brand concoction has been viewed over 2 million times. Chanel's endorsement created a tsunami of consumer demand, and Wal-Mart shelves around the country have been denuded of the pies in its wake. People have posted on Facebook about successfully waylaying delivery trucks to score a...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8OH46SoyqA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCPZYsGGXfc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBdgpjnKInA Over the years, many of us women have heard or used lots of euphemisms to describe menstruation: My Friend. The Curse. Aunt Flo. The Crimson Tide. (Yeah, sorry, Alabama, but that preceded you.) But code words for menopause? Not so much. Menopause was a process that was shrouded in mystery, myth and misinformation. Somehow, the reversal of menstruation, tied as it...

The hip-hop drama chronicling the ups and downs of record mogul Lucious Lyon and his family became the breakout hit of last year, and the breakout hit of the show was Taraji P. Henson's character, Cookie Lyon. Cookie is the ex-wife of drug dealer turned hip-hop mogul Lucious Lyon (portrayed by Terrence Howard), and the character is famous for speaking without a filter. Just out of jail, she makes a beeline for her grown son Jamal's apartment. Jamal is gay and, apparently, not the best...

"My parents are both Indian," Ravi Patel explains during an interview as he fixes a cup of chai for a visitor. "And we were born here. And while they grew up the Old School way, not dating, having family put them together, we're like, American . Even though in many important ways we're very Indian." Which is precisely the tension in Meet the Patels , the new documentary (or reality romance) featuring Ravi and filmed by his sister, Geeta. In a nutshell, the movie asks what happens when your...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hnezPl7JNI Some people take the day off for their birthdays. Not Cynthia Hawkins. She's at the grill of Hawkins House of Hamburgers, making food that keeps her customers happy, like her bacon cheeseburger. And she's persnickety about the bacon. "Applewood bacon," she says. "The best bacon you can eat on a burger. The best bacon you can eat for breakfast. The best bacon you can eat anytime!" Out back, the tiny patio has upended crates that the staff can sit on...

If you looked at the children at the edge of Conrad Cooper's pool, you'd think you were watching an ad for something. Jell-O, maybe. Or a breakfast cereal kids like. They're that cute. They're lined up on the steps in the shallow end, 10 little ones, ranging from age 2 to 5. The boys are in board trunks, many wearing rash-guard shirts like the weekend surfers they might become years from now. The girls wear bright one-piece suits and two-pieces that show their childish potbellies. They are a...

John A. Williams might be one of the most prolific writers most people have never heard of. Although he was often compared to Richard Wright and James Baldwin, Williams didn't much like that. He felt that when black writers were lumped together by the literary establishment, only one at a time would be allowed to succeed. His novels, which were always focused through the prism of race and were told from his black characters' point of view, were well-reviewed. But Williams never reached the...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARUN RATH, HOST: And in the aftermath of those shootings in Charleston, many white Americans are wondering how they can fight racism. Karen Grigsby Bates from NPR's code-switch team reports on some suggestions. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE SHALL OVERCOME") PETE SEEGER: (Singing) We shall overcome. KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: One of the highlights of the civil rights movement in the 1960s was the visible willingness of many non...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: The Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., is holding services today for the first time since nine of its members were shot and killed Wednesday night. The church itself has been a sanctuary from violence against African-Americans for hundreds of years. But the church known as Mother Emanuel by many does not stand alone as a target. Karen Grigsby Bates from NPR's Code Switch team looked into the long...

It's early evening and several men are making their way, alone or in twos or threes, to the community room at the Jordan Downs public housing complex. This building looks like everything else here: squat, rectangular, painted boring, government-regulation beige. But what's going on inside is pretty exciting. It's Wednesday night, and Project Fatherhood is in session. As always, it opens with a prayer, led by Elder Michael Cummings, known to most everyone as Big Mike. A towering man with a...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Heading into the French Open this weekend, the sport's top-ranked woman is Serena Williams. Since Williams and her sister, Venus, entered pro tennis in the '90s, they are said to have inspired thousands of African-Americans to take up the sport. Golf is still trying to reach that level of diversity. Karen Grigsby Bates of NPR's Code Switch team looks at what accounts for the difference. (SOUNDBITE OF...

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