Karen Grigsby Bates

Karen Grigsby Bates is the Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News. Bates contributed commentaries to All Things Considered for about 10 years before she joined NPR in 2002 as the first correspondent and alternate host for The Tavis Smiley Show. In addition to general reporting and substitute hosting, she increased the show's coverage of international issues and its cultural coverage, especially in the field of literature and the arts.

In early 2003, Bates joined NPR's former midday news program Day to Day. She has reported on politics (California's precedent-making gubernatorial recall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign and the high-profile mayoral campaign of Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa), media, and breaking news (the Abu Ghrarib scandal, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams).

Bates' passion for food and things culinary has served her well: she's spent time with award-winning food critic Alan Richman and chef-entrepreneur Emeril Lagasse.

One of Bates' proudest contributions is making books and authors a high-profile part of NPR's coverage. "NPR listeners read a lot, and many of them share the same passion for books that I do, so this isn't work, it's a pleasure." She's had conversations with such writers as Walter Mosley, Joan Didion and Kazuo Ishiguru. Her bi-annual book lists (which are archived on the web) are listener favorites.

Before coming to NPR, Bates was a news reporter for People magazine. She was a contributing columnist to the Op Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times for ten years. Her work has appeared in Time, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Essence and Vogue. And she's been a guest on several news shows such as ABC's Nightline and the CBS Evening News.

In her non-NPR life, Bates is the author of Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People, mysteries featuring reporter-sleuth Alex Powell. She is co-author, with Karen E. Hudson, of Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times, a best-selling etiquette book now in its second edition. Her work also appears in several writers' anthologies.

Bates holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. Additionally she studied at the University of Ghana and completed the executive management program at Yale University's School of Organization and Management.

Charles Kinsey, a Florida health worker, was swept into the national debate about police and African-Americans after video of police shooting him went viral.

The deaths last week of three African-American men in encounters with police, along with the killing of five Dallas officers by a black shooter, have left many African-American gun owners with conflicting feelings; those range from shock to anger and defiance. As the debate over gun control heats up, some African-Americans see firearms as critical to their safety, especially in times of racial tension.

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Flags in New York City began flying at half-staff Monday, in honor of Roscoe C. Brown. He died Saturday at age 94 and was one of the last few "Red Tail" pilots, a subset of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Airmen were part of a grand experiment in racial integration that the Army reluctantly undertook.

Terry McMillan's characters have grown along with her. So it's not surprising that her latest book — I Almost Forgot About You — is about middle age. Her protagonist, Georgia Young, is an optometrist. Dr. Georgia is attractive, successful and economically secure. But, McMillan says, Georgia's accumulation of fine things has left her wondering why she bothered.

Think of Etha Robinson as the Johnny Appleseed of pastry. Her mission, rather than planting apple trees, is to plant the idea of reviving the tea cake, a little cookie that has a lot of historical significance packed into it.

Muhammad Ali kissed me once.

Don't be a dope — it wasn't like that. It was in front of a whole bunch of people and my then-boyfriend and Mrs. Ali. (And two of his future wives. I'll get to that in a moment.) I was lucky enough to meet him a few times over several decades, but the first time was the most memorable.

Over the past few days, we've seen image after image of Muhammad Ali: triumphant in the ring, joking on talk shows and shakily lifting the Olympic torch at the 1996 Atlanta games. He's remembered these days as an athlete and a humanitarian, and that was, definitely, Ali. But so was the defiant, incisive Ali.

Ah, the cardigan: your granny's cozy go-to used to be available year-round, but in limited quantities and colors. It was considered the sartorial equivalent of flossing: necessary, but not glamorous.

"The cardigan used to be something to keep you warm in the work place," explains Teri Agins, who covered the fashion industry for the Wall Street Journal for years. "It was not really an accessory you left on—unless you wore it as part of a twin set."

That look, sweater upon sweater, was considered too prim for a lot of young women. It was their mother's look.

One would think we wouldn't be needing to have this conversation right about now, but apparently we do.

As you've surely heard by now, this time the peg comes courtesy of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose appearance in a comedy skit during a black-tie dinner over the weekend culminated with a "surprise" onstage visit from Hillary Clinton and Hizzoner's use of the phrase "C.P. Time."

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The night Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston, the reigning heavyweight champion, crowds had squeezed into the venue, expecting to watch Liston beat the stuffing out of the young braggart. The odds were 7-to-1 in Liston's favor. The air was filled with testosterone and cigar smoke. Few people noticed the tall, quiet man at ringside, immaculately dressed in a dark suit and tie and crisp white shirt, watching the fight intently.

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The second mystery by Mette Ivie Harrison boasts details about contemporary Mormon life that most of us aren't privy to.

NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates says His Right Hand is is her "one that got away."

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Kenya Barris sometimes looks at his five kids in wonderment. Private schools, professional parents who can give them things and open doors. No sense of privation. And the kicker is, he's responsible! "We're kind of taught to give your kids more than you had," Barris muses. "But in giving them more, what do they lose?"

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A YouTuber named James Wright Chanel has been all over the Internet praising Patti LaBelle's sweet potato pies; a video he uploaded of himself bursting into song upon tasting the singer and cookbook author's name-brand concoction has been viewed over 2 million times.

There's been lots of talk over the past few years about the glaring lack of diversity in Silicon Valley's tech industry. Software engineer Leslie Miley made national news this week when he publicly explained his recent decision to leave his job at Twitter — a job he loved — citing frustration over the company's overwhelmingly white workforce and internal resistance to changing it.

The hip-hop drama chronicling the ups and downs of record mogul Lucious Lyon and his family became the breakout hit of last year, and the breakout hit of the show was Taraji P. Henson's character, Cookie Lyon.

Cookie is the ex-wife of drug dealer turned hip-hop mogul Lucious Lyon (portrayed by Terrence Howard), and the character is famous for speaking without a filter.

"My parents are both Indian," Ravi Patel explains during an interview as he fixes a cup of chai for a visitor. "And we were born here. And while they grew up the Old School way, not dating, having family put them together, we're like, American. Even though in many important ways we're very Indian."

Photographer Tony Gleaton died last Friday at the age of 67 after struggling with a particularly aggressive cancer for 18 months. He was working, signing prints, talking to museums (several have his work in their collections, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Harvard's Peabody Museum of Natural History, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem) and checking in with his friends right up to the last day. I admired his work, but also treasured his friendship.

Some people take the day off for their birthdays. Not Cynthia Hawkins. She's at the grill of Hawkins House of Hamburgers, making food that keeps her customers happy, like her bacon cheeseburger. And she's persnickety about the bacon.

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If you looked at the children at the edge of Conrad Cooper's pool, you'd think you were watching an ad for something. Jell-O, maybe. Or a breakfast cereal kids like. They're that cute.

They're lined up on the steps in the shallow end, 10 little ones, ranging from age 2 to 5. The boys are in board trunks, many wearing rash-guard shirts like the weekend surfers they might become years from now. The girls wear bright one-piece suits and two-pieces that show their childish potbellies.

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John A. Williams might be one of the most prolific writers most people have never heard of.

Although he was often compared to Richard Wright and James Baldwin, Williams didn't much like that. He felt that when black writers were lumped together by the literary establishment, only one at a time would be allowed to succeed. His novels, which were always focused through the prism of race and were told from his black characters' point of view, were well-reviewed. But Williams never reached the level of fame of writers like Wright, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.

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And in the aftermath of those shootings in Charleston, many white Americans are wondering how they can fight racism. Karen Grigsby Bates from NPR's code-switch team reports on some suggestions.

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