Kat Chow

Kat Chow is a journalist covering race, ethnicity, and culture for NPR's new Code Switch team. In this role, Chow is responsible for reporting and telling stories using social media, sparking conversations online, and blogging.

Prior to coming to NPR, Chow worked with WGBH in Boston and was a reporting fellow for The Cambodia Daily, an English-language newspaper in Phnom Penh.

While a student at the University of Washington in Seattle, Chow was a founding member of a newsmagazine television show and freelanced for the Seattle Weekly. She also interned with the Seattle Times and worked on NBC's Winter Olympics coverage in Vancouver, B.C. You can find her tweeting away for Code Switch at @NPRCodeSwitch, and sharing her thoughts at @katchow.

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7:03am

Sat June 27, 2015
Code Switch

Grace Lee Boggs, Activist And American Revolutionary, Turns 100

Originally published on Sat June 27, 2015 10:47 pm

Grace sits before a "Welcome Friends" sign in her home.
Courtesy of American Revolutionary

Grace Lee Boggs, who has spent much of her life advocating for civil rights and labor rights, became such a noted figure in Detroit's Black Power movement that people assumed she must be partially black. In some of her FBI files, Boggs, who is Chinese-American, was described as "probably Afro Chinese."

(We'll let that sit with you for a moment.)

And that's not the only assumption she's defied. For almost a century — she turned 100 Saturday — she's challenged how people think about their own activism.

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2:12pm

Thu June 18, 2015
Code Switch

Denmark Vesey And The History Of Charleston's 'Mother Emanuel' Church

Originally published on Sat June 20, 2015 8:44 pm

The sun rising behind the steeple of Emanuel AME Church the morning after nine people were shot and killed inside.
David Goldman AP

There's a long history to the Emanuel African Methodist Espiscopal Church in Charleston, S.C., — affectionately known as "Mother Emanuel" — where nine churchgoers were allegedly shot and killed by 21-year-old Dylann Roof on Wednesday night in what authorities are calling a hate crime. In fact, this church has become a revered symbol of black resistance to slavery and racism.

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10:19am

Thu May 28, 2015
Code Switch

BuzzFeed's Saeed Jones Wrote A Beautiful Thing On Being Black In The Book World

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 1:59 pm

Today on Code Switch, writer and critic Roxane Gay, who's a favorite of ours, writes about the problem of all-white recommended readings lists.

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1:04pm

Fri May 8, 2015
Code Switch

The Slants Frontman Fights Government To Register His Band's Name

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 10:38 pm

Here's the band.
Sarah Giffrow The Slants

Editor's note: In 2013, we wrote about a band named The Slants and the legal battle over its name. As the saga continues, we check back in on what it means to the band's members — and what it could mean for trademark law.

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2:45pm

Fri May 1, 2015
Code Switch

Reaction To Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby's Remarks

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 5:49 pm

Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore's prosecutor, announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody.
Alex Brandon AP

Baltimore's lead prosecutor, Marilyn J. Mosby, announced on Friday that the death of Freddie Gray was a homicide. Mosby, who took office in January, is charging six city police officers with a range of offenses — including second-degree murder and manslaughter.

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5:26pm

Tue April 28, 2015
Code Switch

Virtual Readings For Baltimore's Freddie Gray

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 1:55 pm

A man rides a bicycle through heavy smoke from a fire at a nearby store on Monday during unrest following the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.
Patrick Semansky AP

Editor's note: This post contains some language that many will find offensive.

Lots of people are looking for words to make sense of Freddie Gray's death and the subsequent unrest in Baltimore, and have turned to writers — from novelist and social critic James Baldwin to hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar — for an assist. They're sharing these writers' words on social media, as screenshots in tweets, Instragrammed pictures of open books, and Photoshopped collages uploaded to Facebook.

Here are some of the virtual readings that stuck out to us — with context.

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3:03pm

Wed April 22, 2015
Code Switch

In Its Season Finale, 'Fresh Off The Boat' Is Still Wrestling With Authenticity

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 11:06 am

"Why are you dressed like Chun Li from Street Fighter?" Eddie asks his mom Jessica.
Fresh Off The Boat/ABC

Note: This piece contains spoilers.

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2:31pm

Mon April 20, 2015
Code Switch

George Takei And Company To Hollywood Gatekeepers: Fix Your Diversity Problem

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 11:54 am

Remember that Deadline article from a few weeks back? In which the writer pointed out that Hollywood is diversifying — and claimed that's a bad thing?

At least one good thing may come of it:

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9:46am

Thu April 16, 2015
Code Switch

How The South Korean Government Made K-Pop A Thing

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 6:57 am

Sun Hi (Megan Lee), Jodi (Louriza Tronco) and Corki (Erika Tham) star in Make It Pop.
Stephen Scott Nickelodeon

4:48pm

Fri April 3, 2015
Code Switch

Way More College Students Are Studying Korean. Is 'Hallyu' The Reason?

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 6:12 pm

A recent study found that in general, college students aren't taking foreign language classes as much as they used to — a slowdown of nearly 7 percent since 2009. But for one language in particular, there's actually been a pretty amazing jump in the rate of enrollment: Korean.

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12:00pm

Thu March 26, 2015
Code Switch

Some Messy History Behind A Fight Over A Restaurant Called 'Chop Chop Chinaman'

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 2:02 pm

The logo of Chop Chop Chinaman restaurant sits on a window outside the dining area Thursday in Chicago.
Armando L. Sanchez Chicago Tribune/TNS/Landov

Over in Chicago, a restaurant called Chop Chop Chinaman has been getting a lot of heat for its name. In February, Chicago-area resident Jeannie Harrell was arrested for scrawling "F*** this hate crime s***. It's 2015" in lipstick on the restaurant's window, right next to the shop's decal sticker of a rickshaw and a man wearing a triangular hat.

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8:33am

Thu March 26, 2015
Code Switch

Why It's So Hard For Us To Agree About Dong From 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 10:35 am

The gesture Kimmy's making doesn't mean the same thing to Dong.
Eric Liebowitz Netflix

The very first time we encounter Dong Nguyen, one of several hotly debated characters in Tina Fey's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, he has just introduced himself to Kimmy in their GED class. And, as surely happens to Dong all the time, ever since he immigrated to New York from Vietnam, she's stifling a giggle over his name.

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1:22pm

Fri March 20, 2015
Code Switch

The Time A Cartoonist Was Told To 'Lighten Up' A Character

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 4:02 pm

Cartoonist Ronald Wimberly was told to "lighten up" a Mexican and African-American character.
Ronald Wimberly The Nib

In a beautifully illustrated comic over at The Nib, cartoonist Ronald Wimberly relays the story of working with an editor who asked him to lighten the skin tone of a character he was working on, Melita Garner, who has been described as Mexican and African-American, a reporter, and Wolverine's ex-girlfriend.

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5:12pm

Wed March 18, 2015
Code Switch

Starbucks Campaign Already Inspiring Awkward Conversations About Race

"It's also interesting because I'm actually black, but you assumed otherwise," Jay Smooth told Nancy Giles.
MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes

Starbucks' campaign to get people talking about race has already birthed a very public, very cringeworthy conversation about race. Jay Smooth, a radio DJ and video blogger, was on MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes Tuesday night, discussing the coffee company's "Race Together" campaign with fellow guest Nancy Giles, a contributor to CBS Sunday Morning.

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11:58am

Fri March 6, 2015
Code Switch

The Fascinating Story Of New Orleans' Two Lost Chinatowns

Chinese who operated small shops in New Orleans' Chinatown for many decades learned in 1937 that their small city-within-a-city was doomed to make way for a parking lot. Shown in front of one of the shops on Tulane Avenue between Elk Place and Rampart Street are Big Gee, seated, and Lee Sing, standing.
The Times-Picayune/Landov

New Orleans is known for its enormous Vietnamese population, one of the largest in the country. But we recently came across a story about a now-lost Chinatown in New Orleans — two of them, in fact — and how they came to be. To understand how these hubs came about, and why they disappeared, we have to rewind the clock 150 years, to the end of the Civil War.

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2:20pm

Thu March 5, 2015
Code Switch

Study: At 'Rate My Professors,' A Foreign Accent Can Hurt A Teacher's Score

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 7:21 pm

The biggest gaps overall were in the South.
Kat Chow/NPR

"So-and-so is really, really hard to understand." Or: "His accent is so distracting." I remember hearing off-the-cuff remarks like this a few times in college, complaints by classmates about teaching assistants and instructors, almost all of them of Asian descent and non-native English speakers.

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9:50am

Wed March 4, 2015
Code Switch

Rapper Jin Tries To Stretch His '15 Minutes' Of Fame

Jin poses for a photograph during an interview with the AP in Hong Kong in 2008.
Jerome Favre AP

10:03am

Sat February 28, 2015
Code Switch

A 'Show Boat' With An Asian-American Cast Hits The Rocks

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 1:45 pm

A heads-up to our readers: This post quotes a racial slur.

When actress Erin Quill saw a casting notice earlier this month for a Show Boat musical revival with a completely Asian-American cast, she raised an eyebrow.

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1:41pm

Wed February 25, 2015
Code Switch

African Emoji CEO: Apple 'Missed The Whole Point' With Its Diverse Emojis

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 7:23 pm

Here's a set of Afro-centric emoticons that Oju Africa's CEO thinks trumps Apple's new diverse emojis.
OjuAfrica.com

Alpesh Patel, the CEO of African-based emoji company Oju Africa, thinks Apple missed the mark with its new set of iPhone emoji options, which offers more skin-tone options than before.

"Look at their new emoticons — it's all about skin colour," he told Vice's Motherboard. "Diversity is not about skin colour — it's about embracing the multiple cultures out there that have no digital representation."

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4:47pm

Tue February 24, 2015
Code Switch

Here's Where Emoji Skin-Tone Colors Come From

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 8:14 pm

Here are the latest set of emoji.
AP

In emoji news (one of my favorite types of weird news, ever): Apple this week released a beta operating system to its testers that finally includes noticeably browner — and, um, yellower — choices.

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4:20pm

Thu February 19, 2015
Code Switch

Oscars Voter Says 'Selma' Cast's 'I Can't Breathe' Tees Were 'Offensive'

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 7:18 pm

A scene from Selma.
Atsushi Nishijima Paramount Pictures

The Hollywood Reporter is doing a series of interviews with voting members of the academy, the folks who decide who gets an Oscar. Yesterday's (anonymous) interviewee had this to say about why Selma didn't get a nod:

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4:21pm

Wed February 18, 2015
Code Switch

After a Racial Attack, A South Philly School Tries to Heal

Duong Nghe Ly, center, at a news conference in 2011, in which Asian and community leaders discussed a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into a series of racial attacks, in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke AP

In December 2009, 30 students at a high school in South Philadelphia, mostly recent Asian immigrants, were beaten up at school by their peers. Several had to be hospitalized.

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4:24pm

Tue February 17, 2015
Code Switch

Some Thoughtful Words — And Many Unanswered Questions — After Chapel Hill

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 6:49 pm

Kheira Benkreira and Hasnia Bekkadja attend a vigil for the slain Chapel Hill victims in Washington, D.C., last week.
Win McNamee Getty Images

2:12pm

Thu February 12, 2015
Code Switch

'Community' Actor Ken Jeong Might Be Getting His Own Show

There's more good news in Asian-American TV land.

ABC recently greenlighted a pilot starring Ken Jeong, best known as quirky Spanish language teacher Señor Chang in Community, also The Hangover villain Mr. Chow. Jeong, who worked as a doctor for seven years before turning to acting, will play a frustrated MD who's struggling to keep the rest of his life afloat.

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12:10pm

Wed February 11, 2015
Code Switch

One Of The Chapel Hill Victims Was Raising Funds To Help Syrian Refugees

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 3:28 pm

Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, were shot and killed on Tuesday evening in North Carolina. The couple married last December.
Courtesy of Our Three Winners

On Tuesday night, three young Muslims were shot dead near the University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill campus.

From member station WUNC:

"46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks has been charged with 3 counts of 1st Degree Murder for the murders of Deah Barakat, a second-year student [at UNC] in the School of Dentistry and his wife, Yusor, who had planned to begin her dental studies here in the fall. Her sister, Razan, a student at NC State University, was also killed."

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12:12pm

Mon February 9, 2015
Code Switch

Graphic Novelist Adrian Tomine Takes On The Notorious Long Duk Dong

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 3:35 pm

In 2001, graphic novelist Adrian Tomine (Shortcomings) published a pungent one-page comic describing his own history with the legacy of Long Duk Dong.
Adrian Tomine

On Friday, I explained what's "cringeworthy" about Sixteen Candles' Long Duk Dong, whose broken English and social ineptitude left a painful stamp on many Asian-American children of the '80s.

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4:16pm

Fri February 6, 2015
Code Switch

What's So 'Cringeworthy' About Long Duk Dong in 'Sixteen Candles'?

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 8:21 am

Gedde Watanabe as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles.
Universal/The Kobal Collection

In Thursday's post about failed Asian-American TV shows, I called actor Gedde Watanabe's notorious performance as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles "cringeworthy." Some of you piped up to ask, Hey, what's wrong with Long Duk Dong?

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1:29pm

Thu February 5, 2015
Code Switch

A Brief, Weird History Of Squashed Asian-American TV Shows

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 10:54 am

David Carradine played a Shaolin monk and martial arts expert in Kung Fu.
ABC Photo Archives Getty Images

1:21pm

Tue January 20, 2015
Code Switch

Barbie Has Some Royal Competition In Nigeria

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 9:26 am

Taofick Okoya sells between 6,000 and 9,000 of his Queens of Africa and Naija Princess dolls a month and reckons he has 10 to 15 percent of a small but fast-growing market.
Akintunde Akinleye Reuters/Landov

In Nigeria, Barbie has some fierce — some brown — competition: Taofick Okoya, a 43-year-old entrepreneur, has created Queens of Africa dolls and Naija Princess dolls that are outselling Mattel's classics. Okoya tells Reuters that he sells about 6,000 to 9,000 dolls a month and that he has "about 10-15 percent of a small but fast-growing market."

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4:24pm

Wed December 31, 2014
Code Switch

2014 Stories At The Intersection Of Race And Sports

Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, pictured with associate V. Stiviano. Her recordings of his racist remarks about blacks sparked an NBA scandal this spring and cost him his team.
Associated Press

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