Kat Chow

Kat Chow is a founding member of NPR's Code Switch, an award-winning team that covers the complicated stories of race, ethnicity, and culture. She helps make new episodes for the Code Switch podcast, reports online features for Code Switch, and reports on-air pieces for NPR's shows like Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Her work has led readers and listeners on explorations of the gendered and racialized double standards surrounding double-eyelid surgery, as well as the mysterious origins of a so-called "Oriental" riff – a word she's also written a personal essay about. Much of her role revolves around finding new ways to build communities and tell stories, like @todayin1963 or #xculturelove.

During her tenure at NPR, Chow has also worked with NPR's show Invisibilia to develop a new digital strategy; reported for KERA in Dallas, Texas, as NPR's 2015 radio reporting fellow; and served on the selection committee for AIR Media's incubator project, Localore. Every now and then, she's a fourth chair on NPR's podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour. And sometimes, people ask her to talk about the work she does — at conferences in Amsterdam or Chicago, or at member stations in St. Paul or Louisville.

While a student at the University of Washington in Seattle, Chow wrote a food column for the Seattle Weekly, interned with the Seattle Times and worked on NBC's Winter Olympics coverage in Vancouver, B.C. You can find her tweeting for Code Switch at @NPRCodeSwitch and sharing her thoughts at @katchow.

It's my first interactive theater experience. I'm standing in a dark, large room with a stage in the middle. Other audience members are huddled around. We're not really sure what we've gotten ourselves into.

Here's the premise: We've been asked to be part of a focus group run by a K-pop label. Its leaders have invited us to tour a Korean pop "factory," where the stars hone their dancing and singing in Korean and English. We, the audience, are supposed to help figure out just why Korean megastars haven't been able to break into the American market.

The front page of The Daily Progress, Charlottesville's local paper, on June 28, 1921, offers a mix of local minutiae folded in with larger news.

"VALUABLE DOG DEAD," shouts one headline.

"WON'T ACCEPT WAGE CUT," says another.

And then, right up near the top, bordered with teeny asterisks, is this headline: "KU KLUX KLAN ORGANIZED HERE."

A rally with white nationalists chanting phrases like "Jews will not replace us" and "end immigration, one people, one nation" was, as many expressed online, disturbing yet not really all that surprising.

Within hours of the tragedy in Charlottesville, journalists, scholars and other leading voices weighed in around the Internet, with analysis and deeper understanding of how this unfolded.

In 1872, 13-year-old Hong Yen Chang came to the U.S. to be groomed as a diplomat. He earned degrees from Yale University and Columbia University's law school, and passed the bar exam.

When Bao Phi's family fled Vietnam in 1975 and settled in Minneapolis with other refugees, he was just a few months old. He was too young to understand the scene at the airport that day: Communist soldiers were firing rockets at planes filled with people trying to escape, incinerating them in the sky. Phi's parent's told him about their family history bit by bit, and he began to form a stronger sense of his own identity.

Jack Shaheen, a researcher and writer who spent his life battling stereotypes of Arab-Americans and Muslims in pop culture, died Sunday in South Carolina. He was 81.

One of Shaheen's notable victories came in 1993, when he helped persuade Disney to change some original song lyrics in the movie Aladdin, on the grounds that they were insensitive.

As soon as Philando Castile's mother Valerie heard last week that a Minnesota jury had acquitted Jeronimo Yanez, she stood up and declared "f*** this!" and left the courtroom. That's according to Minnesota Public Radio reporter Riham Feshir, who was there, and talked to Code Switch about it for this week's episode.

That trial ended Friday after five days of deliberations with a not guilty verdict for Yanez, the officer who fatally shot Castile as he sat in a car on July 6 of last year.

In most American cities these days, it seems like there's a Chinese restaurant on every other street corner.

But in the late 1800s, that ubiquity was exactly what certain white establishment figures feared, according to a new study co-written by Gabriel "Jack" Chin, a law professor at the University of California, Davis.

A Chinese man stands on a pedestal surrounded by a harbor as a cartoon imitation of the Statue of Liberty. His clothes are tattered, his hair is in a long, thin tail, his eyes squint. The words "diseases," "filth," "immorality," and "ruin to white labor" float around his head.

A piece from New York Magazine's Andrew Sullivan over the weekend ended with an old, well-worn trope: Asian-Americans, with their "solid two-parent family structures," are a shining example of how to overcome discrimination. An essay that began by imagining why Democrats feel sorry for Hillary Clinton — and then detoured to President Trump's policies — drifted to this troubling ending:

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Meet the star of one of the biggest movies opening this weekend, a cyborg based off a Japanese manga series called "Ghost In The Shell."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GHOST IN THE SHELL")

We know that in times of heightened stress, human instincts tell us to fight or flee. For some American Muslims, the current political climate has created a need for more Muslims to stand up and fight by seeking political office.

"Muslims didn't ask to be dragged into the spotlight, but now that we're there and we need to push back," said Robert McCaw, director of government affairs at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "Getting into elected offices is one of the best means."

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The day Donald Trump took office, six members of the presidential advisory commission for Asian American Pacific Islanders stepped down. Last week, another 10 resigned.

At a rally in New York City's Times Square on Sunday, protesters filled three city blocks to express solidarity with Muslims. The crowd gathered to speak out against President Trump's executive order — now on hold after a unanimous federal appeals court decision — banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

A lot happened on the race beat the past few days; so much so that it prompted Code Switch's Shereen Marisol Meraji to channel Kendrick Lamar in this week's podcast: Maybe we all need to dive into Lamar's giant pool of liquor. Pour. Drink. Pass out.

Standing on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon, Simon Tam, the bassist and frontman of the Asian-American rock group The Slants, was fired up. He'd just watched as most of the eight justices questioned whether the government should back his right to use his band's name, which is a racial slur.

"If the government really truly cared about fighting racist messages they would have canceled the registrations for numerous white supremacist groups before they even approached our case," he told a crowd of reporters.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Retrospective forecast: The racial weather this week started out stormy, offered a few hopeful rays of sunshine, then ended stormy.

A guilty verdict in Charleston

On Thursday, a jury in Charleston, S.C., found Dylann Roof guilty of the murders of nine churchgoers at the Mother Emanuel church. In June 2015, Roof shot the victims as they prayed during Bible study.

From NPR's Rebecca Hersher:

Rewind to August 2015: Then-candidate Donald Trump is on stage in Cleveland at the first Republican presidential debate.

"I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct," Trump tells the moderator, Fox News' Megyn Kelly. "I've been challenged by so many people and I don't, frankly, have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn't have time, either."

On election night, as it became clear that Donald Trump would be the country's next president, Dorcas Lind was feeling unsettled. With her children tucked in bed, Lind watched as the results trickled in and battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina turned red on the TV map. She thought about work.

Maybe, she thought, this would be good for business. Or, maybe, it was time for a career change.

Lind is a diversity consultant in the health care industry. It's her job to go into companies and help them create inclusive environments for their employees.

A surrogate of President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday invoked Japanese internment camps as precedent for creating a registry for Muslim immigrants. This comes less than a week after the Kansas secretary of state told Reuters that Trump's team might reprise a post-Sept. 11 national registry of immigrants from countries regarded as havens for "extremist activity."

Such conversations in the president-elect's circles have raised new concerns about civil rights among advocates for American Muslims.

On Tuesday, more than 128 million people voted for our next president. Nearly half were elated with the results: a Donald Trump victory.

A girl fights a Pokemon character in a parking lot and gets sucked into a Poke Ball. A mustachioed man, pretending to be El Chapo, runs through a cave, then a fast food restaurant and then a mall in search of Donald Trump, whom viewers see video of making denigrating comments about Mexicans. A young man satirizes the spare dishes presented in fancy restaurants.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush once described Asian-Americans as the "canary in the coal mine" of the Republican Party, saying that if Republicans didn't make more of an effort to court the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, the party would pay a price at the polls.

Now a new report from the National Asian American Survey finds not only that Asian-Americans continue a steady drift away from the GOP, but that the party may be losing one of its most reliable ethnic groups.

It was the first 2016 presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and NBC's Lester Holt was moderating. Holt's topic was how to "heal the divide" between the races, but the conversation had meandered from stop-and-frisk to no-fly lists to the Department of Justice's 1973 racial discrimination suit against Trump.

When Clinton mentioned the discrimination lawsuit, Holt prompted Trump to respond.

It's hard to figure out what to say after the horrific violence of recent days, but Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby are our guides as they walk us through this week's extra episode.

For this week's episode, I sat down with my Code Switch teammate Gene Demby to dig into one of our favorite topics: rep sweats. It's the feeling of anxiety that can come with watching TV shows or movies starring people who look like you, especially when People Who Look Like You tend not to get a lot of screen time.

My dad, who came to the U.S. in 1969 from Hong Kong, who speaks English-lilted-with-Taishanese, who has lived in Connecticut for two-thirds of his life — three times the length of his time in Asia — still uses the word "Oriental."

It's always a casual reference. "This place used to be a Oriental restaurant," he'll say, as we drive by a boarded-up storefront that once was a Chinese take-out joint.

He doesn't use it in a derogatory way. It's just his go-to term for anything Asian, whether that's food, a business, a person, an idea. But I keep trying to get him to stop.

On a recent March morning at his home in a New Jersey suburb, Anthony Mendez was on his living room couch with his 9-year-old daughter. He was watching the previous night's episode of Jane the Virgin, studying his own performance as the show's unseen narrator.

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