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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Code Switch
6:03 am
Sat June 27, 2015

Grace Lee Boggs, Activist And American Revolutionary, Turns 100

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

Originally published on Sat June 27, 2015 9:47 pm

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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Code Switch
1:12 pm
Thu June 18, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Sat June 20, 2015 7:44 pm

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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Code Switch
9:19 am
Thu May 28, 2015

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

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 12:59 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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Code Switch
12:32 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

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

Here's the band.
Sarah Giffrow The Slants

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 9:38 pm

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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Code Switch
1:45 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Reaction To Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby's Remarks

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

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 4:49 pm

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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Code Switch
3:38 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

Virtual Readings For Baltimore's Freddie Gray

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

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 12:55 pm

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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Code Switch
1:06 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 10:06 am

Note: This piece contains spoilers.

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Code Switch
1:03 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

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

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 10:54 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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Code Switch
8:46 am
Thu April 16, 2015

How The South Korean Government Made K-Pop A Thing

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

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 5:57 am

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Code Switch
3:48 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

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

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 5:12 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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Code Switch
11:00 am
Thu March 26, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 1:02 pm

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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Code Switch
7:03 am
Thu March 26, 2015

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

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

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

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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Code Switch
12:22 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

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

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

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 3:02 pm

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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Code Switch
4:12 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

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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Code Switch
10:58 am
Fri March 6, 2015

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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