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

April 12, 2024 17 mins
With the news of O.J. Simpson's death on Thursday, we're revisiting our reporting from 2016, where we took a look into how Simpson went from being "too famous to be Black," to becoming a stand-in for the way Black people writ-large were mistreated by the U.S. carceral system.

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What's a portrait of Frederick Douglass doing hanging in an Irish-themed pub in Washington, D.C.? To get to the answer, Parker and Gene dive deep into the long history of solidarity and exchange between Black civil rights leaders and Irish republican activists, starting with Frederick Douglass' visit to Ireland in 1845.

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April 3, 2024 30 mins
It's that time of year again: time to file your taxes. And this week on the pod, we're revisiting our conversation with Dorothy A. Brown, a tax expert and author of The Whiteness Of Wealth: How The Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans And How To Fix It. She talks through the racial landmines in our tax code and how your race plays a big role in whether you get audited, how much you might owe the IRS, which tax breaks you can get...
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Many Lakota people agree: It's imperative to revitalize the Lakota language. But how exactly to do that is a matter of broader debate. Should Lakota be codified and standardized to make learning it easier? Or should the language stay as it always has been, defined by many different ways of writing and speaking? We explore this complex, multi-generational fight that's been unfolding in the Lakota Nation, from Standing Rock to Pine R...
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This episode is brought to you by our play cousins over at NPR's It's Been A Minute. Brittany Luse chops it up with New Yorker writer and podcast host Vinson Cunningham to discuss his debut novel Great Expectations. It's a period piece that follows the story of a young man working on an election campaign that echoes Obama's 2008 run. Brittany and Vinson discuss American politics as a sort of religion - and why belief in politics ha...
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We've probably said it a hundred times on Code Switch — biological race is not a real thing. So why is race still used to help diagnose certain conditions, like keloids or cystic fibrosis? On this episode, Dr. Andrea Deyrup breaks it down for us, and unpacks the problems she sees with practicing race-based medicine.

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Gene Demby and NPR's Huo Jingnan dive into a conspiracy theory about how "global elites" are forcing people to eat bugs. And no huge surprise — the theory's popularity is largely about its loudest proponents' racist fear-mongering.

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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.

*This e...
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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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