Equity

Race, Culture & Ethnicity

The slew of obituaries that have been published since Olympic diver Sammy Lee's death on Friday rightly highlight his conquest over racism and indignity on the way to winning gold medals in London and Helsinki nearly 70 years ago. As Greg Louganis, Lee's most famous protege, reflected in the Los Angeles Times, "At a time of intolerance, being Korean, he broke down racial barriers, setting an example of what it meant to be an Olympian."

As an Asian-American woman, I've had any number of opportunities to see someone who looked like me on the big and small screen.

Since I was a little girl, I've seen Disney's Mulan, Trini Kwan from Fox Kids' Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey's Anatomy, to name a few. And while the portrayal of Asian-American women by Hollywood and television could use some work — too often they're oversexualized or rendered exotic — at least we're present and have some depth.

Dr. Sammy Lee, the first Asian-American man to win an Olympic gold medal, died over the weekend after battling pneumonia. He was 96.

In the 1930s, Southern California had enough of the South in it that young Sammy Lee could only watch through the iron fence most days when other boys his age swam at the pool in Pasadena's Brookside Park. The pool, like the area's beaches and many other public facilities, was segregated. But not on Wednesdays.

Rachel Otwell

A forum hosted at University of Illinois Springfield Tuesday will focus on combating hate that's spread online by neo-Nazis and other terrorist groups. The discussion is titled “Protecting Ourselves from the Lure of Online Violent Hate Ideologies” and will be in Brookens Auditorium from 7 to 8pm, and is free and open to the public.

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This week in race: Sports (dog) whistles, protection for Dreamers, a special book—and some hunky calendar men. Really.

Now that the turkey endorphins have worn off, the leftovers are a distant memory, and the Obamas prepare for their last Christmas in the White House, we thought we'd put some of the things that happened over the holiday weekend (and this week) on a platter and offer them to you. No thank you notes required.

Race and Immigration:

Oshun Afrique is getting her 35th tattoo.

She has come to the Pinz-N-Needlez tattoo shop in Washington, D.C., where practically every inch of wall space is covered in artwork. While Afrique lounges on the sofa at the front of the small, quaint shop, owner Christopher Mensah sits at his desk and sketches her tattoo design.

Afrique came to the store after seeing Mensah's work in her Facebook news feed. She and Mensah both agree that anyone looking to get tattooed should scour online portfolios to find the right artist.

Chart of children in poverty by race.
2015 American Community Survey / U.S. Census Bureau

Poverty rates in Illinois are starting to go down. But economic inequality  is growing between white Illinoisans and their black and Latino counterparts.   That's according a recently issued report by group of anti-poverty organizations. That report also showed that being poor in Illinois is a costly proposition. Food, housing, credit and other things often cost for impoverished people than the general population

On election night, as it became clear that Donald Trump would be the country's next president, Dorcas Lind was feeling unsettled. With her children tucked in bed, Lind watched as the results trickled in and battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina turned red on the TV map. She thought about work.

Maybe, she thought, this would be good for business. Or, maybe, it was time for a career change.

Lind is a diversity consultant in the health care industry. It's her job to go into companies and help them create inclusive environments for their employees.

There is popular wisdom out there that conversations about race are most productive when the people engaged in them are deeply, emotionally vested in the well-being of one another. Family might be a rejoinder to that wisdom. Perhaps there's such a thing as being too vested.

Over the weekend, a sizable gaggle of the white nationalist "alt-right" convened at a federal building in Washington, D.C., to puff their chests. It was a motley crew, emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, with whom they shared a broad aversion to immigration and contempt for "political correctness." Their views were finally flitting around the mainstream of American politics.

As resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, N.D., concludes its seventh month, two narratives have emerged:

  1. We have never seen anything like this before.
  2. This has been happening for hundreds of years.

Both are true. The scope of the resistance at Standing Rock exceeds just about every protest in Native American history. But that history itself, of indigenous people fighting to protect not just their land, but the land, is centuries old.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

On our post-election episode of the Code Switch podcast, Shereen Marisol Meraji and I interviewed Negin Farsad, a comedian and filmmaker, and Gustavo Arellano, the editor of the OC Weekly and the author of the satirical ¡Ask A Mexican! column.

Yep. President-elect Donald J. Trump. That's still a thing. So while you continue to process that, we wanted to catch you up on some of some things you ought to read, hear and watch around the world of race and culture. And — good news — not all of it is election-related. (Okay a lot, but not all.) So.

The Post-Election Hangover Continues (pass the Alka-Seltzer)

A surrogate of President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday invoked Japanese internment camps as precedent for creating a registry for Muslim immigrants. This comes less than a week after the Kansas secretary of state told Reuters that Trump's team might reprise a post-Sept. 11 national registry of immigrants from countries regarded as havens for "extremist activity."

Such conversations in the president-elect's circles have raised new concerns about civil rights among advocates for American Muslims.

courtesy

President-elect, Donald Trump, ran a campaign that many considered harsh toward immigrants - especially those without legal citizenship. This week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Chicago will remain a “sanctuary city” regardless of immigration related mandates that may come from the Trump administration. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is asking Governor Bruce Rauner and the legislature for further protections.

I was in a Brooklyn coffee shop when a woman, an apparent regular, leaned over to the barista and relayed an unnerving scene she witnessed on the subway:

A Muslim man asked another passenger what stop to take for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. The passenger, a white man, responded, "Why, so you can go bomb it?"

The Muslim man explained that he was on vacation and that he'd always dreamed of taking his family to see the landmark. Other passengers joined in with the first one, taunting the man and questioning his motives as his two young children and wife looked on.

There was a time when some people thought President Obama's election ushered in a post-racial America.

Nobody is saying that now. Obama's administration was marked by protests against police shootings, among other events. Donald Trump questioned Obama's birth certificate for years, and now, after a profoundly divisive campaign, is preparing to replace Obama in the White House.

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery has witnessed a lot of this.

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.

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