Code Switch

Code Switch
4:28 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Justice Department Prepares Broader Ban On Racial Profiling

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia on November 5, 2013
Matt Rourke ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 1:33 pm

The Justice Department is preparing to unveil new guidelines that ban racial, ethnic and religious profiling in federal investigations, a law enforcement source tells NPR.

The long-considered move by Attorney General Eric Holder could be announced by the end of January. Holder discussed the guidelines in general terms Wednesday in a meeting with New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio; a closed-door conversation that covered strategies for preventing crime "while protecting civil rights and civil liberties," a Justice Department spokesman said.

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Code Switch
3:07 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Decades Later, Desegregation Still On The Docket In Little Rock

Eight of the nine black students who integrated Little Rock Central High School walk from school to their waiting Army station wagon on Oct. 2, 1957.
Ferd Kaufman AP

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 1:23 pm

In Little Rock, Ark., on Monday, a federal judge is considering a deal that would end one of the longest-running and most notorious school desegregation cases in the country. The state, its largest school districts and lawyers representing black students have agreed to settle a complex lawsuit over unequal education.

Little Rock has long been the symbol of the South's violent reaction to Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that declared school segregation unconstitutional.

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Code Switch
3:08 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

Should NAACP Image Awards Only Go To African-Americans?

Robin Thicke, center, performs with Verdine White, left, and T.I. at The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! in Los Angeles in December. Thicke is nominated for Outstanding Male Artist at the NAACP Image Awards this year.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Who should be eligible to receive an award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People? And if that definition becomes flexible, what does that do to the mission of the award itself?

That's a question worth asking as the NAACP Thursday unveiled a huge roster of nominees for its 45th annual Image Awards — a ceremony long thought to be a way to honor African-American performers who are often ignored by mainstream Hollywood awards contests.

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Code Switch
12:18 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

Superhero Super-Fans Talk Race And Identity In Comics

As part of Orion Martin's project, X-Men of Color, he reimagined this famous X-Men cover by recoloring two characters as brown. This cover comes from a storyline in which mutants are being rounded up and exterminated by the government.
Orion Martin

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 6:17 pm

The X-Men comic franchise has proven remarkably sturdy in the half-century since its launch. It's spawned dozens of animated series and four major Hollywood films with a fifth due out this summer. Part of that is due to its central premise — a minority of superpowered humans called mutants are discriminated against by their government and fellow citizens — which has functioned as a sci-fi allegory for everything from the civil rights movement to the AIDS crisis.

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Code Switch
12:23 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Los Angeles Tries A New Approach To Discipline In Schools

Attorney General Eric Holder presented yesterday the first national guidelines on school discipline. In this file photo from Oct. 2013 he attends the announcement of Jeh Johnson as the next Homeland Security Secretary.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 4:20 pm

Rosa Solache was fed up with getting teased every day before school, between classes, and even on the way home, so one day she punched her antagonist in the face.

"I was really sick of it and I had told the teacher, but no one was doing anything, so I said, 'What the heck, I'm going to take care of this by myself.'"

Solache was an eighth-grader at the time, 12 years old, and until that day, she says, "I had always been a good girl."

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Code Switch
5:59 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
4:28 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

For Key And Peele, Biracial Roots Bestow Special Comedic 'Power'

Keegan-Michael Key (left) and Jordan Peele both started their careers at Second City, Peele in Chicago and Key in Detroit.
Ian White Comedy Central

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 2:29 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 20, 2013.

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Code Switch
7:59 am
Mon December 30, 2013

The Best Of Code Switch In 2013

Like many Japanese-Americans, Yuri Kochiyama was place in an internment camp during World War II. She became an outspoken civil rights activist, and began an unlikely friendship with Malcolm X.
Courtesy of the Kochiyama family/UCLA Asian American Studies Center

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 7:19 pm

Everyone else is doing their year-end lists, and we didn't want to be left out. The Code Switch crew compiled our favorite and best-received coverage from the past year: a novel revisiting of a pivotal year a half century ago; attending homecoming at a historically black college that is now nearly all-white; and rounding up some alternately hilarious and excruciating stories our readers told us about race.

When Our Kids Own America

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Code Switch
7:59 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Muslim 'Hipsters' Turn A Joke Into A Serious Conversation

The YouTube video "Somewhere in America," featuring diverse Muslim women wearing hijab, immediately sparked strong reactions — both positive and negative.
Sheikh and Bake Productions YouTube

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 3:28 pm

It started off as a joke, calling themselves Mipsterz, which is short for Muslim hipsters.

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Code Switch
7:59 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Journalists — Of Color! — To Watch In 2014

Fusion is gambling on Alicia Menendez, who has been a fixture on cable news but has never hosted a news show.
Wilfredo Lee AP

Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 7:03 am

You can set your watch to it: If it's the end of the year, journalists are putting together their obligatory lists. And often when someone decides to cobble together a list of the "35 Blanks Under 35 To Watch For," the list is monochromatic. So it went with Politico's "10 Journalists to Watch in 2014," which boasted nary a single person of color.

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All Tech Considered
3:05 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

The 'Blacks In Tech' Series Wraps, But Let's Keep Talking

Omar Wasow founded BlackPlanet, one of the earliest social networks, but isn't as widely recognized as the founders of Facebook or Myspace.
Willi Wong

Editor's Note: As part of Tell Me More's three-week-long Twitter exploration of black innovators in the tech sector, digital lifestyle expert Mario Armstrong analyzed the tweets and the conversations going on under the hashtag #NPRBlacksinTech. The series wraps today. Below, he looks back on what we've learned.

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Code Switch
2:04 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Zoinks! Tracing The History Of 'Zombie' From Haiti To The CDC

A still from the 1943 film I Walked With A Zombie.
RKO The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 10:14 am

Each week, we take a look at a word or phrase that's caught our attention, whether for its history, usage, etymology, or just because it has an interesting story. You can see past "Word Watch" entries here.

"Who doesn't like zombies?"

That was the subject line of an email blast that landed in my inbox recently from a major online retailer as it announced it was "bringing their Black Friday deals back to life."

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Code Switch
12:47 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Why Isn't Open Source A Gateway For Coders Of Color?

The hands of this ostensibly black stock photo model might be coding on an open-source project. But probably not.
istockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 7:03 am

All this month, our friends at Tell Me More are digging into the role of blacks in technology. You can join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #NPRBlacksInTech.

Software development is a huge and growing industry, and there are likely to be far more jobs in the future than there are folks to do them. But today, there's a paucity of blacks and Latinos in software development positions.

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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
12:47 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Where Do 'Hoodlums' Come From? San Francisco

Anton Refregier's Beating the Chinese is a panel in the History of San Francisco mural at the city's Rincon Center. Chinese immigrants were frequent targets of hoodlums in the late 19th century.
Carol M. Highsmith Library of Congress

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 1:46 pm

Singer Chris Brown was in the news last week after being accused of punching a fan outside a Washington, D.C., hotel. Police later identified the alleged victim as 20-year-old Parker Isaac Adams. Brown maintains it was his bodyguard who threw the punch and only after Adams tried to board the singer's tour bus.

Adams' uncle came to his defense after the incident, insisting to reporters that his nephew wasn't a troublemaker.

"Parker's not some kind of hoodlum," Creighton Adams told the AP.

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Code Switch
5:07 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

What's So 'Chinese' About A Chinese Fire Drill?

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 6:09 pm

Enter the phrase "Chinese fire drill" into YouTube and you'll find page upon page of videos of a classic car prank that's been popular since the 1960s.

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Code Switch
1:09 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Code Switch Roundup: Status Symbols, Sriracha And Soul Food

The maker of the popular Thai hot sauce Sriracha hot sauce is under fire — get it? — for allegedly fouling the air around its Southern California production site.
Nick Ut ASSOCIATED PRESS

Here are some things we've been musing on over the last few days. Share yours on Twitter or shout us out in the comments below.

"We shine because they hate us/floss 'cuz they degrade us." After two young, black customers accused the high-end retailer Barneys of racially profiling them after they made expensive purchases there, those customers themselves came in for criticism. Just why were these kids who probably aren't rich spending their money so recklessly?

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Code Switch
3:36 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

It's Their Money; They Can Buy What They Want To

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 12:10 pm

There's been lots of attention paid lately to black shoppers at Barneys, the high-end retailer. Ahem.

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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
10:15 am
Mon October 14, 2013

How Columbus Sailed Into U.S. History, Thanks To Italians

Though he sailed in 1492, Christopher Columbus was not widely known among Americans until the mid-1700s.
Spencer Arnold Getty Images

It's been 521 years since the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus "sailed the ocean blue/in fourteen hundred and ninety-two." Since then, there have been thousands of parades, speeches and statues commemorating Columbus, along with a critical rethinking of his life and legacy.

But the question remains, how did a man who never set foot on North America get a federal holiday in his name? While Columbus did arrive in the "New World" when he cast anchor in the Bahamas, he never made it to the United States.

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Code Switch
4:40 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Immigration Reform Rally Ends In Arrests In Front Of U.S. Capitol

Protesters chant during the immigration reform rally in front of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. Capitol Police arrested 200 demonstrators after they sat down and blocked a street.
Abbey Oldham NPR

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 9:27 am

UPDATE October 9, 2013: As of early Wednesday morning, all of the demonstrators arrested at Tuesday's rally have been processed and released. A U.S. Capitol Police spokesperson also provided the final tally of protesters arrested, and the article below has been updated to reflect that number.

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Code Switch
11:27 am
Mon October 7, 2013

How Far Is It To The 'Boondocks'? Try The Philippines

The "boondocks" or "boonies" refers to places that are in the middle of nowhere. But few people know that the phrase was made mainstream by a fatal military training accident.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 3:16 pm

"Ugh, I have to visit my aunt out in the boondocks this weekend."

How often have you said or heard something similar? For more than half a century, Americans have used the phrase "the boondocks" or "the boonies" to indicate that a place was in the middle of nowhere. However, few people realize that the phrase is a relic of American military occupation in the Philippines, and that it was later brought to mainstream attention because of a now largely forgotten, fatal training accident on Parris Island.

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Code Switch
12:23 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Actors With Disabilities In Big Roles? 'We Don't Have A Chance'

The original Ironside starred Raymond Burr as a detective who became a paraplegic after being shot in the line of duty.
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 6:19 pm

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