Code Switch

Code Switch

What's CODE SWITCH? It's the fearless conversations about race that you've been waiting for. Hosted by journalists of color, our podcast tackles the subject of race with empathy and humor. We explore how race affects every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, food and everything in between. This podcast makes all of us part of the conversation — because we're all part of the story. Code Switch was named Apple Podcasts' first-ever Show of the Year in 2020. Want to level up your Code Switch game? Try Code Switch Plus. Your subscription supports the show and unlocks a sponsor-free feed. Learn more at plus.npr.org/codeswitch

Episodes

February 28, 2024 30 mins
In February of 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government issued an executive order to incarcerate people of Japanese descent. That legacy has become a defining story of Japanese American identity. In this episode, B.A. Parker and producer Jess Kung explore how Japanese American musicians across generations turn to that story as a way to explore and express identity. Featuring Kishi Bashi, Erin Aoyama and Mary Nomu...
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In the U.S., flavored cigarettes have been banned since 2009, with one glaring exception: menthols. That exception was supposed to go away in 2023, but the Biden administration quietly delayed the ban on menthols. Why? Well, an estimated 85 percent of Black smokers smoke menthols — and some (potentially suspect) polls have indicated that a ban on menthols would chill Biden's support among Black people. Of course, it's more complica...
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To celebrate the history of Black romance, Gene and Parker are joined by reporter Nichole Hill to explore the 1937 equivalent of dating apps — the personals section of one of D.C.'s Black newspapers. Parker attempts to match with a Depression-era bachelor, and along the way we learn about what love meant two generations removed from slavery.

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It's 1969 at the University of Wyoming, where college football is treated like a second religion. But after racist treatment at an away game, 14 Black players decide to take a stand, and are hit with life-changing consequences. From our play cousins across the pond, our own B.A. Parker hosts the BBC World Service's Amazing Sport Stories: The Black 14. Listen to the rest of the series wherever you get your podcasts.

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"Three springs ago, I lost the better part of my mind," Naomi Jackson wrote in an essay for Harper's Magazine. On this episode, Jackson shares her experience with biopolar disorder. She talks about how she's had to decipher what fears stem from her illness and which are backed by the history of racism.

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Taylor Swift has become an American icon, (and she's got the awards, sales, and accolades to prove it.) With that status, she's often been celebrated as someone whose music is authentically representing the interior lives of young women and adolescent girls. On this episode, we're asking: Why? What is it about Swift's persona — and her fandom — that feels so deeply connected to girlhood? And, because this is Code Switch, what does ...
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After leaving the Pentecostal Church, reporter Jess Alvarenga has been searching for a new spiritual home. They take us on their journey to find spirituality that includes the dining room dungeon of a dominatrix, Buddhist monks taking magic mushrooms and the pulpit of a Pentecostal church. This episode is a collaboration with our friends at LAist Studios. Special thanks to the Ferriss, UC Berkeley's Psychedelic Journalism program f...
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The New York City Housing Authority is the biggest public housing program in the country. But with limited funding to address billions of dollars of outstanding repairs, NYCHA is turning to a controversial plan to change how public housing operates. Fanta Kaba of WNYC's Radio Rookies brings the story of how this will affect residents and the future of housing, as a resident of a NYCHA complex in the Bronx herself.

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When people think back to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, they often remember just the bullet points: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and voila. But on this episode, we're hearing directly from the many women who organized for months about what exactly it took to make the boycott happen.

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Martin Luther King Jr. was relatively unpopular when he was assassinated. But the way Americans of all political stripes invoke his memory today, you'd think he was held up as a hero. In this episode, we talk about the cooptation of King's legacy with Hajar Yazdiha, author of The Struggle for the People's King: How Politics Transforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Classrooms in Arkansas were at the center of school desegregation in the 1950s. Now, with the LEARNS Act, they're in the spotlight again. Code Switch comes to you live from Little Rock, Arkansas this week to unpack the latest education bill and how it echoes themes from decades past.

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For decades, the ingredients, dishes and chefs that are popularized have been filtered through the narrow lens of a food and publishing world dominated by mostly white, mostly male decision-makers. But with more food authors of color taking center stage, is that changing? In this episode, we dive deep into food publishing, past and present.

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It's that time of year again, fam, when we look back at the past 12 months and think, "WHOA, HOW'D THAT GO BY SO FAST?" So we're taking a beat: for this week's episode, each one of us who makes Code Switch is getting on the mic to reflect on — and recommend — an episode we loved from 2023.

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December 18, 2023 47 mins
The Color Purple remake drops this week and to celebrate, we're bringing you this special episode from our play cousins over at Pop Culture Happy Hour. Alice Walker's novel The Color Purple has been adapted a few times. Next week, the new movie The Color Purple hits theaters – it's based on the Tony-winning musical. The 1985 film is remembered as a fan-favorite centering Black women's lives, but this acclaimed adaptation was receiv...
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December 13, 2023 36 mins
"You can't meditate yourself out of a 40-hour work week with no childcare and no paid sick days," says Dr. Pooja Lakshmin. But when you're overworked and overwhelmed, what can you do? On this episode, host B.A. Parker asks: What are your options when a bubble bath won't cut it?

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We're bringing you an extra treat this week from our play cousins over at It's Been A Minute: In the credits for 'Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé' the Queen Bee makes it clear who is in charge. Written by? Beyoncé. Directed by? Beyoncé. Produced by? Beyoncé. And of course, starring...Beyoncé. For someone who is so in control of their own image, what is spoken and what is unspoken are equally loud.

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Kai Cheng Thom is no stranger to misanthropy. There have been stretches of her life where she's felt burdened by anger, isolation, and resentment toward other people. And not without reason. Her identities, especially as a trans woman and a former sex worker, have frequently made her a locus for other people's fear and hatred. But at a certain point, Kai decided to embark on a radical experiment: to see if she could "fall back in l...
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November 29, 2023 31 mins
Traveling is supposed to open your mind and expand your horizons — but what if it doesn't? In her new book Airplane Mode, author Shahnaz Habib suggests that sometimes, traveling does more to enforce our ideas about the world than to upend them. Which means that people with "passport privilege" — AKA, the ability to travel freely from country to country — may end up feeling like the stars of some massive international adventure, whi...
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November 22, 2023 51 mins
The word "reservation" implies "reserved" – as in, this land is reserved for Native Americans. But most reservation land actually isn't owned by tribes. That's true for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in northern Minnesota, where the tribe owns just a tiny fraction of its reservation land. But just northwest of Leech Lake is Red Lake: one of the only reservations in the country where the tribe owns all of its land.

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November 15, 2023 35 mins
On this week's Code Switch, we hear from two Palestinian American poets who talk about what it's like to be Palestinian American in the U.S. Fady Joudah and Tariq Luthun say the way their stories are told — or aren't told — has contributed to what they see as an erasure of their identities, and often of their humanity.

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