Kat Chow

Kat Chow is a journalist covering race, ethnicity, and culture for NPR's new Code Switch team. In this role, Chow is responsible for reporting and telling stories using social media, sparking conversations online, and blogging.

Prior to coming to NPR, Chow worked with WGBH in Boston and was a reporting fellow for The Cambodia Daily, an English-language newspaper in Phnom Penh.

While a student at the University of Washington in Seattle, Chow was a founding member of a newsmagazine television show and freelanced for the Seattle Weekly. She also interned with the Seattle Times and worked on NBC's Winter Olympics coverage in Vancouver, B.C. You can find her tweeting away for Code Switch at @NPRCodeSwitch, and sharing her thoughts at @katchow.

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Code Switch
7:06 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Who's Boosting Box Office Numbers? Report Says Latinos

Cesar Chavez pulled in $3 million at the box office last weekend and did noticeably better in areas where the farmworkers advocate was most active.
Courtesy of Lionsgate

According to a recent report published by the Motion Picture Association of America, Latinos went to the movies in 2013 way more often than other ethnic groups in the U.S. relative to their population.

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Code Switch
7:03 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

When Vanilla Was Brown And How We Came To See It As White

Fun fact: The vines that vanilla beans grow on also produce orchids.
Malcolm Manners via Flickr

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 9:31 am

Say you know someone, maybe a friend of a friend, who's perfectly pleasant but just sort of lacks any sort of oomph. You don't want to be mean (because, you, unkind? Never), but if you had to describe that person in a really, really honest way, how would you do it?

Call the FOF boring? Bland? Dull?

Vanilla?

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Code Switch
5:09 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

They Cast Whom?! Actor Choices To Offend Every Racial Sensibility

From a mixed heritage, Adam Jacobs plays Aladdin in the Disney Broadway production of the same name.
Cylla von Tiedemann AP

Originally published on Sun March 23, 2014 12:48 pm

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Code Switch
5:54 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Iconoclastic Musician Takes Measure Of His Life: 'I Became A Fighter'

Fred Ho practices his baritone saxophone in a dressing room before a performance.
Joseph Yoon Courtesy of Fred Ho

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 3:43 pm

When I first walked through the door of Fred Ho's apartment in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, I asked, "How are you?" And he said, "Not good. I'm dying."

Ho has always been matter-of-fact and in-your-face. He painted himself green and posed naked for the cover his album, Celestial Green Monster. In the photo, he has a baritone saxophone placed strategically between his legs. He looks strong — like the Hulk.

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Parallels
2:46 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Who's The Momma? Artist Gets Asians Young And Old To Swap Styles

This clothing swap seems perfectly natural to me.
via Qozop

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 5:07 pm

Ever wear your parents' or grandparents' old clothes or have them wear yours? A photographer asked individuals to swap garb with their relatives who are from a different generation.

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All Tech Considered
11:27 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Researchers Are Totes Studying How Ppl Shorten Words On Twitter

Some clippings: "Hilar" or "hilars" mean "hilarious." "Alc" is shorthand for "alcohol" in some circles. And "obvi" is pretty straightforward (er, "obvious").
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 1:31 pm

Shortening words, swapping them out, giving them different meanings — that's not new. Remember in Mean Girls when the queen bee character, Regina George, berated one of her underlings for trying to make the word "fetch" catch on?

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Code Switch
8:03 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Comic Artist Yumi Sakugawa On Friend-Love, Identity And Art

Yumi Sakugawa's book I Think I Am In Friend Love With You helps define the joys of modern friendships.
Yumi Sakugawa

About a month ago, I asked my followers on Twitter if they had any recommendations for a comic artist whose work I should check out. Person after person brought up Yumi Sakugawa, a California-based artist. And I was familiar with her work: she's the brains behind the ever-nostalgic strip, "Claudia Kishi: My Asian-American Female Role Model Of The 90s."

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Code Switch
3:19 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

MSNBC Host Apologizes For Comments About Mitt Romney's Grandson

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry asked her guests to comment on this photo of Mitt Romney's family, which included Romney's adopted grandson.
MSNBC

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:44 pm

Melissa Harris-Perry, host of an MSNBC weekend show, apologized on Tuesday for comments she and her panelists recently made. On Sunday, Harris-Perry had her guests — a group of comedians — caption a photo of Mitt Romney's family, which included Romney's adopted grandchild.

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Code Switch
11:45 am
Tue December 31, 2013

As 2013 Winds To An End, So Do The Tweets Of 1963

The limousine carrying mortally-wounded President John F. Kennedy races toward Parkland Hospital in Dallas just seconds after he was shot.
Justin Newman AP

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 12:30 pm

As 2013 winds down, so does @Todayin1963, Code Switch's historical Twitter account. Since June, I've been "live-tweeting" moments from 50 years ago as if they were happening today, picking slices of that year that might have made their ways into people's Twitter timelines had tweeting been a thing back then.

It's been an obsessive project, to say the least.

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Code Switch
4:49 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Seeking Wonderful Young Adult Novels That Deal With Race

What books about race or culture would you recommend to a not-so-bookish teen?
iStockphoto

At Code Switch, we receive a whole bunch of emails and messages from readers and listeners. And many times, folks ask questions that get us buzzing during our editorial discussions.

One Code Switch reader sent us a note seeking book recommendations for a multiracial teen. The emailer described the teen as not very "bookish" but still a good reader.

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Code Switch
1:58 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Screening Room: Who Might Be The Next Black Actress On 'SNL'?

Kerry Washington (with Taran Killam) recently appeared on SNL to spoof the show's lack of a black female cast member.
Dana Edelson AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 3:22 pm

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Code Switch
6:10 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Telemundo's 'Highly Unusual' Resurrection of 'El Señor'

Rafael Amaya plays drug lord Aurelio Casillas on El Señor de los Cielos.
Billy Coleman Telemundo/NBC Universal

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 6:22 pm

Telemundo recently announced that its telenovela El Señor de los Cielos (Lord of the Skies) will be back for a second season; production began this week in Mexico City. This resurrection sets it apart from almost every other telenovela because, unlike American soap operas, telenovelas have a clear beginning and a definitive ending, airing for a set number of episodes.

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Code Switch
4:19 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Letters From Parents To Their Kids That'll Make You Smile (Or Cry)

This week, we've seen two stories with the theme of how tough parents and tough kids struggle to express their love for one another without, well, saying it aloud.

Many of us have lived these stories. We're the children of immigrant parents, of single moms and dads whose tired sighs at the end of the day we know all too well, of grandparents who stepped in and raised us when their children couldn't, and of parents who just found it hard to share their emotions.

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Code Switch
12:13 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

A Windfall For A New Jersey Man And The Dominican Republic

Pedro Quezada, the winner of a $338 million Powerball jackpot, sent $57 million of his winnings to the Dominican Republic, according to his lawyer.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 4:50 pm

Pedro Quezada, winner of a $338 million Powerball lottery prize in March 2013, is being sued by his ex-girlfriend for a greater share of the winnings. In the course of the legal proceedings, Quezada's lawyer made public an interesting tidbit: Quezada has sent a whopping $57 million to the Dominican Republic. It's a high-profile and big-ticket example of an everyday phenomenon where immigrants to the U.S. send a total of billions and billions of dollars back to their country of origin.

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Code Switch
2:33 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Author Catherine Chung: 'I Want To Embrace The Things That I Am'

Catherine Chung's first novel, Forgotten Country, was an honorable mention for a PEN/Hemingway Award.
Ayano Hisa Courtesy of Catherine Chung

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 4:50 pm

Catherine Chung went from mathematics to writing, though she says words were always her first love. She was named one of Granta's New Voices in 2010, and her first novel, Forgotten Country, received honorable mention for a PEN/Hemingway Award last year.

In Forgotten Country, Chung writes of a family with a curse that stretches back generations — from their time in Korea to their life in America. Since the Japanese occupation of Korea, each generation of the family has lost a daughter.

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Code Switch
11:59 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Halloween And Blackface: Same Story, Different Year

Halloween: The day people think it's OK to dress in stereotypical garb.
adrigu Flickr

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 1:26 pm

Halloween is — uh, how do you say? — high season for writing about race and culture. The list of celebrities, stores and college freshmen sporting racist costumes — plus the inevitable backlash — means these stories practically write themselves.

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Code Switch
6:14 am
Sun October 20, 2013

Asian-American Band Fights To Trademark Name 'The Slants'

The Slants' band members are all of Asian descent.
Courtesy of The Slants

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 10:08 am

The Slants, a six-member band from Portland, Ore., calls their sound "Chinatown Dance Rock" — a little bit New Order, a little bit Depeche Mode. They describe themselves as one of the first Asian-American rock bands. Their music caters to an Asian-American crowd, they've spoken at various Asian-American events, and they're proud of all of it.

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Code Switch
12:34 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

A Photographer Turns Her Lens On Men Who Catcall

"Untitled."
Courtesy of Hannah Price

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 4:20 pm

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Code Switch
7:03 am
Sun September 29, 2013

Studying How The Blind Perceive Race

A biopic about the musician Ray Charles, who became completely blind by age 7, inspired Osagie Obasogie to research how blind people 'see' race.
AP

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 3:55 pm

Law professor Osagie Obasogie walked into a movie theater to see "Ray," a biopic about the musician Ray Charles, and walked out with a question that would drive eight years worth of research.

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Code Switch
12:06 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Why Do We Describe Asian Eyes As 'Almond-Shaped'?

The shape of Asian eyes has been compared to almonds by Westerners for centuries.
iStockphoto.com

Last week, Julie Chen revealed on The Talk that she had double eyelid surgery to make her eyes look "less Chinese" in order to advance her TV career.

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Code Switch
5:15 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

The Wondrous, Melancholy Worlds Of Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki's film My Neighbor Totoro features the young sisters Mei and Satsuki, seen here sitting next to the whimsical and outsized Totoro.
The Kobal Collection/Tokuma Enterprises

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 3:44 pm

The revered Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, 72, announced this weekend at the Venice Film Festival that he's retiring from making full-length feature films. (He previously went into "semi-retirement" after directing Princess Mononoke in 1997.)

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Code Switch
3:43 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Research Says: Actually, Where You Go To College Matters

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 11:08 pm

There are lots of questions for high school grads: Should you go for an associate degree or a bachelor's? A community college or a four-year university? Does it really matter where you go? If we're comparing top-tier schools with open-access ones, then yes. It matters a whole lot, and it has long-lasting effects.

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Code Switch
1:15 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Your More/Less Ethnic-Sounding Name

Earlier this week, the Code Switch team got a note from a publicist named Hector Andres Silva who said he had some news to share.

Silva was ditching his nickname, "Andy," which he'd been using for two decades. Silva grew up in South America (his parents are Mexican and Colombian) and moved to Alexandria, Va., when he was 7.

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Code Switch
4:55 am
Sat July 20, 2013

Do Racing Snails Drive Racial Stereotypes In 'Turbo'?

Actor Michael Pena voices Turbo's human friend Tito, an ambitious character whose outlandish dreams don't seem to sync up with his brother's vision for their food truck and stand, Dos Bros Tacos.
DreamWorks Animation

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 10:03 am

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Code Switch
11:07 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Dueling Stereotypes: Bad Asian Drivers, Good At Everything

Asians are bad drivers but can navigate roundabouts like this one in Shanghai, eh?
Tauno Tõhk via Flickr

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 4:09 pm

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