Equity

Race, Culture & Ethnicity

Mélisande Short-Colomb knew her family had been enslaved. But until recently, she didn't know that they were enslaved, and later sold, by Georgetown University.

She found out about that part of her history when she got a message from a genealogist for the Georgetown Memory Project, which is dedicated to finding the descendents of the 272 people sold by the university in 1838.

Remember Katie? She is the woman from Delaware who is thinking about getting married, but her boyfriend doesn't want her to take his last name. "He was strongly against it," she wrote. "He doesn't want an obviously Latino surname (think: Lopez or Garcia) to affect me negatively."

Ask Luis Garza how the La Raza exhibition came to be at The Autry Museum of the American West, and he raises his palms, eyes heavenward:

"Karma," he says. "Fate. Serendipity. The gods have chosen to align us at this moment in time."

Each week on "Ask Code Switch," we tackle your trickiest questions about race. This time, we're unpacking that old nursery rhyme: First comes love, then comes a heated discussion of unconscious bias, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.

Katie from Wilmington, Del., asks:

We take black mega-celebrity endorsers as a given today: Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, the husk that was once Tiger Woods. They wield a kind of agency that seems to continually reset the upper limits of black aspiration, while remaining more or less incidental to the median black condition.

Over the course of his presidency, many have tried to explain Donald Trump's ideology as a rejection of globalization, or the "political establishment." Political pundits on both the left and the right have talked about economic anxieties and regional values as motivating Trump's election. But for Ta-Nehisi Coates, it all comes down to race.

The Trump administration announced Tuesday it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, in six months if Congress doesn't find a more permanent solution.

It was the early 1940s, when 12-year-old Charles "Bob" Martin, a Washington, D.C., kid who had always loved the water, decided to try to rent a boat. So he headed down to the waterfront to ask about the cost. A white man working there told him it would cost $5 to reserve a rowboat, plus a quarter for every hour on the water.

The next week Martin headed back to the waterfront with money he'd cobbled together from his job at a local pharmacy. He saw the same man with the boats for rent.

What happened next remains seared into his memory.

Keith Freeman / Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Illinois' child poverty rate is just as high as it was in 2010. Is the state doing enough to bring it down?

Kellia Phillips’ teen-aged daughters Jaleece and Janae run track. They have had to do so in ill-fitting shoes sometimes as old as three years.

Janae, 13, loves to knit and crochet. Her mother, says, “I could only get her yarn like every three months and she was so much into knitting and crocheting. I still can’t do that for her right now because I have no income.’’ 

Illinois' attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago in an effort to enforce changes to a police department plagued by systemic racism, unnecessary use of force and a lack of accountability.

Joining state Attorney General Lisa Madigan in announcing the lawsuit, was Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, reversing his position on whether the city needs strict federal court oversight to make significant changes in the troubled police department.

This viral video out of Hollywood raises an interesting question: What does racism look like from one Latino to another?

When high-priced LA lawyers get together for lunch, it's as likely as not they'll be someplace with white tablecloths, silver flatware and a wine list.

But today, attorneys from the big global firm Nixon Peabody are having chicken, rice and beans from a Mexican fast-food chain.

No ties or heels either, as the lawyers fill their paper plates and chow down while they listen to some instructions from Michele Seyler.

Welcome back to Ask Code Switch, a segment where we dissect your trickiest questions about race. This week, we're tackling one version of a question that we hear all the time: What do you do when people just won't stop making assumptions about you because of how you look?

Franchesca in San Francisco writes:

As the debate rages over what role Confederate monuments do — and should — play in commemorating U.S. history, Jennifer Allen says we can learn a lot from Germany.

Allen is an assistant professor of German history at Yale University, and she specializes in something called memory politics.

flickr / user: Benson Kua

LGBTQ rights activists say two pieces of legislation should be signed by the governor. Both passed the General Assembly unanimously.

Well, we asked and then you asked. Over the past couple of weeks, dozens of you have responded to our call out — we've gotten letters from all over the country about the complex racial situations people find themselves in.

Our goal? Offer up some advice on America's race problems — from the merely awkward to the downright inappropriate — with a thing we're calling 'Ask Code Switch.'

The front page of The Daily Progress, Charlottesville's local paper, on June 28, 1921, offers a mix of local minutiae folded in with larger news.

"VALUABLE DOG DEAD," shouts one headline.

"WON'T ACCEPT WAGE CUT," says another.

And then, right up near the top, bordered with teeny asterisks, is this headline: "KU KLUX KLAN ORGANIZED HERE."

Rachel Otwell

Since last weekend's events in Charlottesville, Virginia – politicians and everyday citizens across Illinois have spoken out against the violence and hateful rhetoric.

As we struggled this week to make sense of what happened in Charlottesville, Va., some big questions bubbled up:

What lessons does history teach about white resentment in the United States? How is the experience of other countries and other times — like Germany — relevant? How are those in power reacting to President Trump's shifting response?

Jared Taylor was not in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday. But Taylor, one of the leading voices for white rights in the country, says it was clear what really happened at that rally.

To walk around Berlin is to constantly, inevitably, trip over history.

Almost literally, in the case of the Stolpersteine, or "stumbling stones," embedded in the sidewalks outside homes where victims of the Holocaust once lived.

Germany's culture of "remembrance" around the Nazi years and the Holocaust is a well-documented and essential part of the nation's character. Though occasionally political parties may challenge it, those elements have thus far remained thoroughly fringe.

What Can I Do To Stop Hate Groups?

Aug 15, 2017

The violent racism we saw in Charlottesville, Virginia is not new.

But after last weekend’s attack, many people are looking for new ideas about how to stop extremists. On Monday’s show, our guest Jameta Barlow said “Everyone needs to do something every day.”

But what? What is the most productive response to a white nationalist rally in your town? Or on your campus? What should you do if a cousin says something racist at Thanksgiving?

Demonstrators came from across the country to gather at the White House in support of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as toddlers and children.

Five years ago today, President Obama signed an executive order protecting them from deportation. It's known as DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Now immigrant rights groups — and immigrants themselves — worry that opponents and President Trump's administration are quietly working to revoke protection for DACA participants — young people like Claudia Quiñonez from Bolivia:

A rally with white nationalists chanting phrases like "Jews will not replace us" and "end immigration, one people, one nation" was, as many expressed online, disturbing yet not really all that surprising.

Within hours of the tragedy in Charlottesville, journalists, scholars and other leading voices weighed in around the Internet, with analysis and deeper understanding of how this unfolded.

Central Illinois residents gather outside Springfield city hall.
Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

About 300 people gathered near the fountains outside city hall in Springfield Sunday night. They were there to hold a vigil for racial unity in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

From the scene in Charlottesville on Saturday.
A.D. Carson

A.D. Carson says he was asked by counter-protestors to speak out in response to the white-supremacist, "alt-right" and neo-Nazi organizers who had descended on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.  Carson, who gained international attention for earning a Doctorate with a thesis in the form of a hip hop album, has been settling into his new home there. 

It didn't take long for a photo of a throng of torch-wielding white supremacists to go viral. The picture from Friday night captured the faces of young (mostly) men who had descended onto the University of Virginia's campus to protest the pending removal of a nearby statue of Robert E.

DaQuan Mosley just graduated high school and will be attending college in the fall. He grew up in Englewood on Chicago's South Side, where he saw violence regularly and was nudged to join that lifestyle. He is planning a life turned directly toward the aftermath of violence and other loss by following a long time goal to become a funeral director and work with the families of victims.

Imagine finding out one day that many of the stories that you told about yourself weren't really true. The way you understood your family history, the way you explained your personality ("I'm Italian, of course I talk loud!"), the way you talked about your hair — what if all of it was just, well, stories?

Or maybe even stranger: What if you found out that you had a whole hidden history that you'd never known about? That generations of your family had lived through events that you had no idea you were connected to?

Would that change who you are?

Since its inception nearly a decade ago, Airbnb has faced questions from people of color as to whether the company's worldwide "vacancy" sign really applied to them.

The company has been plagued by allegations and several lawsuits, predominantly but not exclusively from African-Americans, claiming discrimination.

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