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

June 19, 2024 36 mins
As anti-trans legislation has ramped up, historian Jules Gill-Peterson turns the lens to the past in her book, A Short History of Trans Misogyny. This week, we talk about how panics around trans femininity are shaped by wider forces of colonialism, segregation and class interests.

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This week, we're turning our sights on the word "felon", and looking into what it tells us (and can't tell us) about the 19 million people in the U.S. — like Donald Trump and Hunter Biden — carrying that designation around.

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President Biden just issued an executive order that can temporarily shut down the U.S.-Mexico border to asylum seekers once a daily threshold of crossings is exceeded. On this episode, we dig into how the political panic surrounding what many are calling an immigration "crisis" at the border, isn't new. And in fact...it's a problem of our own creation.

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As war continues to rage in the Middle East, attention has been turned to how American Jews, Muslims, and Palestinians relate to the state of Israel. But when we talk about the region, American Christians, particularly evangelical Christians, are often not part of that story. But their political support for Israel is a major driver for U.S. policy — in part because Evangelicals make up an organized, dedicated constituency with the ...
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This week Code Switch digs into The Ministry of Time, a new book that author Kailene Bradley describes as a "romance about imperialism." It focuses on real-life Victorian explorer Graham Gore, who died on a doomed Arctic expedition in 1847. But in this novel, time travel is possible and Gore is brought to the 21st century where he's confronted with the fact that everyone he's ever known is dead, that the British Empire has collapse...
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As protests continue to rock the campuses of colleges and universities, a familiar set of questions is being raised: Are these protests really being led by students? Or are the real drivers of the civil disobedience outsiders, seizing on an opportunity to wreak chaos and stir up trouble?

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Daniel Olivas's novel puts a new spin on the age-old Frankenstein story. In this retelling, 12 million "reanimated" people provide a cheap workforce for the United States...and face a very familiar type of bigotry.

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This week on the podcast, we're revisiting a conversation we had with Ava Chin about her book, Mott Street. Through decades of painstaking research, the fifth-generation New Yorker discovered the stories of how her ancestors bore and resisted the weight of the Chinese Exclusion laws in the U.S. – and how the legacy of that history still affects her family today.

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In the wake of October 7, and the bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli government, many American Jews have found themselves questioning something that had long felt like a given: that if you were Jewish, you would support Israel, and that was that. But as more Jews speak out against Israel's actions in Gaza, it's exposing deep rifts within Jewish communities – including ones that are threatening to break apart friendships, families, ...
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April 17, 2024 32 mins
The Panama Canal has been dubbed the greatest engineering feat in human history. It's also (perhaps less favorably) been called the greatest liberty mankind has ever taken with Mother Nature. But due to climate change, the Canal is drying up and fewer than half of the ships that used to pass through are now able to do so. So how did we get here? Today on the show, we're talking to Cristina Henriquez, the author of a new novel that ...
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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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