Equity

Race, Culture & Ethnicity

Six years ago, when Marianne Alapat was a high school student in Yonkers, N.Y., she stood in her church's Bronx community hall and tried to convince the assembled Indian immigrants that they should consider holding services in English. Until that point, services at the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Church had been held in Malayalam, the native language of Kerala, a state in south India. It's the language this community has been praying and preaching in for centuries.

Two days before the presidential election, a remarkable media narrative was taking shape. Latinos, huge numbers of them, were turning out to vote early, and they were doing it in crucial swing states.

It looked like the election, in which many Latinos had felt attacked by the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, was going to end with the most poetic justice. Latinos were going to deliver Trump's candidacy its final death blow.

As you probably have guessed, there has been a lot of conversation about race this week — So. Much. Conversation. — as folks, including us, try to wrap their brains around Donald Trump's election to the presidency. Here are some Code Switch recommendations for things you should hear and read.

Late last month a bus carrying about 25 Texan students, mostly Latino, rolled into Springfield. The group was on a mission concerning the legacy of Santa Anna, who led many battles during the Mexican American War. Springfield is home to something that was once very close to the Mexican General, and the students say it belongs back in his home country, all these decades later.

Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T, has been making headlines of late with his proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner. But just before those plans were announced last month, Stephenson raised eyebrows for another reason. In a room full of AT&T employee support groups, Stephenson gave an impassioned speech on race relations.

Daniel Biss speaking to group
Office of state Sen. Daniel Biss

Recently, several social policy debates have moved  from the legislature to the judicial system.

On Tuesday, more than 128 million people voted for our next president. Nearly half were elated with the results: a Donald Trump victory.

It was Nov. 4, 2008. My birthday. Election Day. I made my way uptown to Harlem, where my friend Rakia was going to be watching the election returns with friends. I almost never wanted to go uptown — from Brooklyn, it may as well have been a trip to Guam — but that night I felt that I really, really needed to be in Harlem.

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We cover race, identity and culture here at Code Switch, and we're not the only ones. So we decided to pull together a weekly roundup of our favorite journalism and commentary about race from the world of public media and beyond. (And, uh, we're still looking for a name for this thing! If you've got any suggestions, holler at us @NPRCodeSwitch.)

A few years ago, the Urban Institute undertook a massive experiment to measure discrimination in home rentals and sales. The researchers sent hundreds of people in dozens of cities across the country to act as applicants trying to rent or buy apartments and houses. The "testers" were given similar credit histories and financial qualifications.

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Our charge at Code Switch is to cover race, identity and culture. And of course, we're not the only folks covering these issues. So today, we're kicking off a new weekly feature — name TBD, but we're taking suggestions at @NPRCodeSwitch — where we round up some of our favorite journalism and commentary about race from public radio and beyond.

A girl fights a Pokemon character in a parking lot and gets sucked into a Poke Ball. A mustachioed man, pretending to be El Chapo, runs through a cave, then a fast food restaurant and then a mall in search of Donald Trump, whom viewers see video of making denigrating comments about Mexicans. A young man satirizes the spare dishes presented in fancy restaurants.

There's an etiquette to holiday decorations.

The jack-o-lantern should be tossed in the compost on November 1st and the Christmas tree ornaments need to stay in the attic until Thanksgiving dinner is over.

And in my family, there's another holiday tradition to consider: On Diwali, we put out swastikas.

He leaned against the subway doors in a faded denim jacket, camo cargo pants, combat boots and, to top it off, a black ski mask. I wondered if he had a gun. I wondered if he was a white supremacist. I wondered if he had seen my friend and me, with our brown skin and black hair. Our Islamic faith and immigrant parents — could he somehow see that, too?

Was it me, or were his eyes darting up and down the crowded subway car? I yanked on my friend's sleeve and raised my mouth to his ear.

"We have to get out of here," I said.

So the family lore goes something like this: My mother was getting a checkup and some shots before a trip to Ghana with her boyfriend, who was from Accra. Then her doctor told her she was pregnant. Then more tests and more news: She was pregnant with twins. She would have to cancel her long-anticipated sojourn to the Motherland.

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.

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

It's easy to believe in a definitive American immigration story. So much of this country's mythos is built on that idea. ("Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ...") It foretells a fairy tale ending where parents have worked hard, sacrificed much, and settled their children into the new country. The family has assimilated, and the life that came before is a distant memory.

But it's more complicated than that. The telling of immigration stories exposes a rich array of experiences: loss, longing, duality, triumph and contradiction.

Playwright Qui Nguyen usually describes his show, Vietgone, as a "sex comedy" about his parents. He also acknowledges that that's a strange thing to do.

The play does have a lot of sex in it. There are raunchy jokes, and the characters frequently and unabashedly lust after one another and act on those desires. Nguyen said he wanted to make his characters — fictional Vietnamese refugees based on his parents — three-dimensional.

Netflix / courtesy

In this critical time it’s necessary to understand both the historical and present analysis of our oppression. It is connected to this country's long history of police brutality, as well as its flawed legal system and the evils of mass incarceration within. There is an overall framework of anti-blackness and white supremacy that has been imbedded in the US since the colonization of African people.

Last time I worshipped in a synagogue was Sept. 5, 2014. And I won't be going today.

That might surprise my friends, who put up with my bragging ad nauseam about how Jewish I am.

Late last month, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture was officially opened in Washington, D.C. Did you know that Springfield has had its own version for about five years?

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush once described Asian-Americans as the "canary in the coal mine" of the Republican Party, saying that if Republicans didn't make more of an effort to court the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, the party would pay a price at the polls.

Now a new report from the National Asian American Survey finds not only that Asian-Americans continue a steady drift away from the GOP, but that the party may be losing one of its most reliable ethnic groups.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

Last Friday, central Illinois held its final naturalization ceremony before this year’s election.

Fifty-eight men and women entered Springfield's Old State Capitol as citizens of 30 nations. An hour later, they left as citizens of one.

When she was growing up, Dina Gilio-Whitaker was constantly asked, "How much Indian blood do you have?" She could never figure out how to respond, which is not to say she didn't know who she was.

"I knew that I was Native, I knew that I was Colville, I knew my family up there on the reservation," she said recently. "But what I grew up with was a process of not being seen and not being recognized as being Native, because I was completely out of context.

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

A few years ago, a pair of sociologists named Andrew Papachristos and Christopher Wildeman decided to study gun violence in Chicago. They focused on a specific community on the west side: overwhelmingly black and disproportionately poor, with a murder rate that was five times higher than the rest of the city.

Their approach was to look at gun violence the way epidemiologists study disease — examining the way it spread by social connections. And like a virus, they found that there were certain people who were especially at risk of being touched by it.

It was the first 2016 presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and NBC's Lester Holt was moderating. Holt's topic was how to "heal the divide" between the races, but the conversation had meandered from stop-and-frisk to no-fly lists to the Department of Justice's 1973 racial discrimination suit against Trump.

When Clinton mentioned the discrimination lawsuit, Holt prompted Trump to respond.

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