Equity & Justice

Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Culture, Income, and Justice

Don Cheadle may be one of Hollywood's quietest superstars. He was known for having high impact in supporting roles before Hotel Rwanda catapulted him to fame. He earned an Oscar nomination for playing the real-life hotel manager who protected more than a thousand Tutsis from the Hutu militia during the Rwandan civil war. Cheadle appeared in other critical and box office hits like Crash and Flight. He's now earned an Emmy nomination for his role in the TV show House of Lies.

The little plastic sample tray is empty, but the man behind the counter quickly replaces it with one full of a mooncake cut into teeny-tiny pieces. I grab a piece (OK, a couple) before the jostling crowd behind me can get to it. Samples are, after all, the only reason to visit Costco in the middle of a Sunday. There's a large display of square tins, each decorated with a painting of a Chinese man. I take one back to my mother and ask, "Can we get one?"

War On Poverty Still Worth Fighting?

Sep 19, 2013

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Sesame Street kicked off its new season this week, and it's putting a special focus on Hispanic heritage. There's also a new character on the block: Armando (also known as Mando). He's played by actor Ismael Cruz Cordova, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He earned a bachelor's in fine arts from New York University and has appeared in several films and the CBS drama The Good Wife. He's currently performing off-Broadway.

During one of our morning editorial meetings here at Code Switch, we chuckled heartily at this bit from Dave Chappelle's ongoing comeback tour. In this recording, Chappelle was recalling a conversation with a mixed-race couple in the front row of a recent performance. The comedian wanted to know: Where are you from?*

"The wife was obviously Asian. The husband his [expletive] was more mysterious. Might have been Mexican, might have been from Bangladesh — could have gone a lot of different ways.

What Does 'American' Beauty Look Like?

Sep 18, 2013

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


Pitbull On Music From His Latino Side

Sep 18, 2013

Cuban-American rapper Pitbull shares some of his favorite songs for Tell Me More's regular 'In Your Ear' segment.

One of his favorite songs is Nuestro Dia (Ya Viene Llegando) by Willy Chirino. "It's all about the story, the struggle and the hustle that a lot of Cubans go through to enjoy the freedom, liberties and opportunities that the United States has to offer," says Pitbull. He's proud of Chirino, and says the song keeps him grounded.

Pitbull's Playlist

September by Earth, Wind & Fire

Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, took the crown in this year's Miss America beauty pageant. It was the 87th year of the competition, and Davuluri was one of two Asian-Americans in the final round. Although she's just a few days into her reign, Davuluri has already made history. She's the first Indian-American Miss America.

Her win highlights how far the U.S. has come, but also how far the country has to go: Racist tweets flooded in on Twitter right after her victory.

Students at the University of Alabama and community leaders are reacting to allegations that white sororities denied access to black women because of their race.

The student newspaper in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson White, ran a story that quotes sorority members who say they wanted to recruit at least two black candidates but the students' names were removed before members could vote on them.

Editor's note: Fair warning — this essay is, in part, about Spanish profanities, and it includes several.

The man who taught me to swear in Cuban died last week.

This story comes to us from our friends at the science desk. They produced the 7-minute video documentary you see above.

"Modern-day rappers — all they talk about is money, and all these unnecessary and irrelevant topics," says Victoria Richardson, a freshman at Bronx Compass High School. Richardson's rhymes tackle a much less-popular subject: DNA.

We Need to Talk

Aug 7, 2013

Do you code switch?

Is the way that you speak to a business associate different than how you catch up with a friend?  Do you talk to the opposite sex differently?  How do you address people of other races?  NPR has launched a new effort examining the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.

Who, Exactly, Is A Gringo?

Aug 7, 2013

A college classmate asked me, "Where are you from?"

I gave him the long answer: I was born in Guatemala, but my mother is from Nicaragua, and I have lived in the U.S. my whole life.

"So, you're Guatemalan," he said. No, I'm not.

I may have been born in Guatemala, but I was raised in Florida. Regardless of the fact that I have lived in the U.S. since I was 2 years old, most Americans would find it strange to hear my grandma occasionally call me media gringa -- a half-gringa.

As our colleagues at The Two-Way reported, Tawana Brawley, the central figure in one of the most bizarre and racially polarizing cases in New York City's recent history, has begun to pay part of the more than $430,000 judgment against her.

Brawley accused a group of men of having raped her repeatedly. Among those she accused were several police officers and a prosecutor.

Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

When it comes to addressing the issue of racial profiling, Illinois has a data collection system that is a model for the nation. However, the state has done little to make use of that information to eliminate the discriminatory practice. 

A 2000 report from the U.S. Department of Justice defines racial profiling as “police-initiated action that relies on the race, ethnicity or national origin rather than the behavior of an individual or information that leads the police to a particular individual who has been identified as being, or having been, engaged in criminal activity.”

As the leader of a nonprofit group that helps Latino families in western Lake County, Carolina Duque knows how difficult it can be for poor immigrants to live in the suburbs. The challenges start with the immigrants’ limited ability to speak English and their low levels of schooling. But what makes those problems worse are the barriers that prevent her clients from adapting to their new surroundings. 

As many Illinoisans sing the praises of black men like Barack Obama, it's good to remember the thousands of African-American males whose splintered lives stand in sharp contrast to the high-achieving junior senator from Illinois. Stunted by low school attendance, widespread unemployment and disproportionate rates of incarceration, these men are frequent fixtures on street corners, idle, aimless and as disconnected from mainstream society as a dead cell phone.

Sen. Kwame Raoul wants you to slow down. Be patient. Another batch of data in Illinois' massive study of traffic stops has been released, and this is no time to be jumping to conclusions about how often police engage in racial profiling, the Chicago Democrat says. 

Problem is, he — and plenty of other officials, for that matter — isn't nearly so clear on how long people must wait or just who will dig into the numbers and figure out whether Illinois has a problem.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

A decade after federal welfare reform began to move women with children from welfare to work, activists and scholars are turning a spotlight on the plight of America's young black men. 

While women have made some social and economic gains under policies designed to promote work and limit public assistance, young men are losing ground. Black men in particular. Studies released this summer show that, more than any other cohort, black males increasingly are disconnected from school and from work.

Throughout the year, Illinois Issues will publish occasional mini-profiles of some of the state's rising public officials. 

Late one night in May, state Sen. James Clayborne Jr., a Belleville Democrat, stood on the Senate floor and fielded withering attacks from his fellow African-American senators over his sponsorship of landmark legislation to cap noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

In the weeks that followed Hurricane Katrina, the Chicago area's largest Christian evangelical churches amassed an astonishing amount of manpower, cash and goods.

The 20,000-member Willow Creek Community Church raised $800,000. The South Barrington church also bused 25 volunteers to Waveland, Miss., to help rebuild the Gulf Coast city of 7,000. 

And every four days, the church deployed another volunteer shift of 25. 

A boisterous crowd filled the Senate gallery last May to witness legislator after legislator rise to support a measure that would enable children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at public universities.

Alejandro Cortes needs to drive to work, take his 2-year-old daughter to daycare and buy groceries. But Cortes, a 33-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant, doesn’t have a driver’s license. To make matters worse, there’s no public transportation in the northwest suburban town where he lives. So he drives, as he’s done for the past three years he’s lived here, without the state’s permission. 

“We don’t want to be in trouble with the authorities,” he says in Spanish. “There’s a lot of drunks who can cause accidents. It worries me for my family.”

Alejandro Cortés necesita manejar para poder trabajar, para llevar a su hija de dos años a la guardería y para ir al supermercado. Pero Cortés, un inmigrante mexicano indocumentado de 33 años, no tiene licencia para conducir.

Para complicar las cosas, no hay transportación pública en el pueblo donde vive. 

Entonces él ha conducido por los ultimos tres años sin el permiso del estado. 

“No queremos problemas con las autoridades”, dijo en español. “Hay muchos borrachos que pueden causar accidentes y me preocupa por mi familia.”

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Samantha gave a lot of thought to her chances for a good education. A student at East St. Louis High, a down-and-out school in a virtually all-black, low-income district, she had once tried to transfer to a better school in nearby Fairview Heights, a mainly white district in the state’s Metro East region. It didn’t work.

Brown v. Board of Education
Charlotte Observer

After five decades of increasing integration, American schools are now moving in the other direction, toward more segregation for African-American and Latino students. In fact, the new study out of Harvard University making that contention names Illinois among the states that continue to have the most segregated schools.

A couple of decades ago, Naperville’s teachers were unlikely to encounter a child carrying an ornamental sword to school, or a parent who doesn’t understand that an art shirt is a painting smock, or a boy getting teased because his first name is Fuk, a good luck word in Chinese.

But these days such cultural collisions are regular occurrences in the far western suburb of Chicago.

Jon Randolph

The suburbs to the southwest of Chicago have never been known for eagerness to embrace diversity. Nevertheless, diversity is beginning to embrace them. 

The sprawling community of Oak Lawn and the smaller nearby towns of Bridgeview, Burbank, Hometown, Chicago Ridge and Palos Heights mushroomed in the '50s and '60s as white ethnics fled the South and Southwest sides of the changing city of Chicago.