Race, Culture & Ethnicity

Annie E. Casey Foundation

The standard of living for African-American children in Illinois is worse than most other states. That’s according to a report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Illinois is 34th in the nation in the terms of the living conditions of African- American children, according to the report.

“You see that African-American children in particular are lagging far behind when you look at this composite score,” says Anna Rowan of Voices for Illinois Children.

One of the paradoxes of racial discrimination is the way it can remain obscured even to the people to whom it's happening. Here's an example: In an ambitious, novel study conducted by the Urban Institute a few years ago, researchers sent actors with similar financial credentials to the same real estate or rental offices to ask about buying or renting a home or apartment.

"They can't just be average."

Charles Curtis is talking about the roughly 100 young, black men in the inaugural freshman class at Ron Brown College Prep, a radical new high school in Washington, D.C.

Curtis, the school psychologist, puts it simply: "There is no place in the world for an average black person."

So begins Part 2 in our series: Raising Kings: A Year of Love and Struggle at Ron Brown College Prep.

So, you're at your friend's elaborately decorated Halloween party. There are cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, bloody handprints on the wall, a frothing potion brewing on the stove. It's creepy! And scary! But is it ... spooky?

The NFL's players are 70 percent black; its fans are 83 percent white and 64 percent male, according to online sports site The Real GM.

And when it comes to the controversy over the national anthem and players taking a knee, that statistic is playing a huge role.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

The Trump administration earlier this month rolled back birth control provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  The new rules let almost any employer with religious or moral objections to skip rule that contraception coverage had to be provided without co-pays.  

The State of Illinois already passed a law to offer even greater protections than the ACA.  But with the new Trump guidelines not all women in the state can be sure they're covered.  

Since this past weekend, women and men have been sharing their accounts of sexual violence with the hashtag #MeToo. While many assumed the movement started with actor Alyssa Milano's tweet about Hollywood producer/mogul and alleged sex offender Harvey Weinstein, some are pointing out that a black woman named Tarana Burke used the same terminology for a project also mean to address sexual assault.

At Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, students aren't kids or boys.

In the classrooms and cafeteria, they're kings.

That's just one of the many things that stand out in this new boys-only, public school in Washington, D.C. The school opened in August 2016 to a class of roughly 100 young men. All are freshmen. All are students of color. All are determined to change the narrative.

Never mind ghosts and goblins, zombies and vampires.

UIUC School of Social Work

About a hundred students traveled to Washington D.C. last week to urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act. Among them was Bruna Cardoso, a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduate student,

llinois State Museum, Dickson Mounds Museum. Artist, Andy Buttram.

Across the country, some cities are giving up Columbus Day and replacing the designation with ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” The state of Illinois has tried to find a middle ground.

It's my first interactive theater experience. I'm standing in a dark, large room with a stage in the middle. Other audience members are huddled around. We're not really sure what we've gotten ourselves into.

Here's the premise: We've been asked to be part of a focus group run by a K-pop label. Its leaders have invited us to tour a Korean pop "factory," where the stars hone their dancing and singing in Korean and English. We, the audience, are supposed to help figure out just why Korean megastars haven't been able to break into the American market.


Psychologists in Illinois talk of fears they have for young recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Luis Gomez says his anxiety has been exacerbated by the ongoing debate over whether to end DACA.

Last month, the Trump administration announced it was terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also known as DACA. Created by President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential order, DACA grants undocumented youth who entered the country as children temporary protection against deportation, as well as the right to work.

Kazuko Golden was raised in Springfield and now lives in Los Angeles where she's an independent filmmaker and producer. Her mother was born in a California internment camp, her grandparents lost their home and business before being sent to what was originally called the "Manzanar War Relocation Center" for four years.

Anyone who looks a little — or a lot — different from their parents is used to being asked nosy questions: Whose kid are you? Where did you come from? Where do you belong?

Those questions can be even more pervasive when you don't look like anyone in your community.

So is there anything parents can do to protect their kiddos (and themselves) from those grating interactions? This week, we're exploring these questions on Ask Code Switch — and in the podcast.

This piece originally ran in September, 2016, when Colin Kaepernick was still with the San Francisco 49ers.

Daddy would not have liked Colin Kaepernick. Had the San Francisco quarterback refused to stand for the national anthem in my father's presence, Daddy would have fixed him in a stare that could freeze the blood in your veins. Then, to no one in particular — but to everyone within earshot — he'd give the young man a two-sentence lesson in patriotic etiquette.

They say if you want something done right, do it yourself. But for Ray Halbritter, it was more a case of, "if you want something done at all."

Halbritter, the CEO of Oneida Nation Enterprises, wasn't seeing stories by or about Native Americans in mainstream media outlets, and on the rare occasion those places did try to write about indigenous people, the stories often got distorted.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a nationally recognized, not-quite-a-month. (It's the back half of September and the front half of October).

(Legally) Selling Weed While Black

Sep 22, 2017

Amber Senter, Andrea Unsworth, Nina Parks and Tsion "Sunshine" Lencho are women of color who work in the legal cannabis industry in Oakland, Calif. Even in 2017, that's unusual.

As the city's weed industry grows, the players who are most likely to jump in on the "green rush" have two things in common: They are overwhelmingly white, and have access to lots of money.

So together, Senter, Unsworth, Parks and Lencho decided to change that.

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.

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.

Shereen Marisol Meraji / NPR

Seventy years ago a California lawsuit started by five Mexican-American families, helped pave the way for the landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education.  That court decision led to the desegregation of schools across the country. Sylvia Mendez, the oldest daughter of the Mendez family—one of the families in the lawsuit— has spent the last twenty years sharing her family’s lesser known story. 

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."

Over 200 people rallied outside the state capitol building in Springfield over the weekend to show support for immigrants.

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.