Hansi Lo Wang

Hansi Lo Wang is a reporter covering race, ethnicity and culture for NPR's Code Switch team. In early 2015, he will move to NPR's New York bureau to cover the Northeast as a National Desk reporter.

After joining NPR in 2010 as a Kroc Fellow, Wang reported on topics ranging from immigration and demographics to movies and graphic novels. In 2014, he won the National Journalism Award for General Excellence in Radio from the Asian American Journalists Association for his profile of a white member of a Boston Chinatown gang. His report on a former slave jail near Washington, D.C., was chosen as a finalist for a Salute to Excellence National Media Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Wang contributed to NPR's breaking news coverage of the 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla., the trial of George Zimmerman in Florida, the Washington Navy Yard shooting and the chemical spill in West Virginia's Elk River. He has also reported for Seattle public radio station KUOW and worked behind the scenes of NPR's Weekend Edition as a production assistant.

Currently based in Washington, D.C., Wang was born in Philadelphia, where his first job was to find and furnish apartments for newly-arrived refugees. He graduated from Swarthmore College with a bachelor's degree in political science. As a student, he hosted, produced, and reported for a weekly radio program on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wang speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese dialects of Chinese.

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History
5:23 pm
Sat May 10, 2014

Descendants Of Chinese Laborers Reclaim Railroad's History

A group of Asian-Americans, including descendants of Chinese railroad workers, recreated an iconic photo on the 145th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad's completion at Promontory Summit, Utah.
Courtesy of Corky Lee

Originally published on Sat May 10, 2014 9:55 pm

East finally met West 145 years ago on America's first transcontinental railroad.

The symbolic hammering of a golden spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, completed the connection between the country's two coasts and shortened a cross-country trip of more than six months down to a week.

Much of the building was done by thousands of laborers brought in from China, but their faces were left out of photographs taken on that momentous day.

Over the years, one photograph in particular from May 10, 1869, has taken root in U.S. history.

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Code Switch
5:03 am
Mon April 21, 2014

In Asian-Majority District, House Race Divides Calif. Voters

Rep. Mike Honda (left) walks down the House steps with Rep. Raul Ruiz after a vote at the Capitol on March 20, 2013.
Bill Clark CQ-Roll Call

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 1:52 pm

In the heated race for a congressional seat in northern California, Mai Xuan Nguyen fought for her candidate with another cold call.

"Yes, that's K, H, A, N, N, A," she patiently explained in Vietnamese to a potential voter, spelling out her choice for Congress, Democrat Ro Khanna, as she marked her call list one recent evening at a coffeehouse in San Jose, Calif.

It was all part of Nguyen's role in an only-in-America scene: a Vietnamese-language phone bank for an Indian-American lawyer, who's challenging a Japanese-American congressman.

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Code Switch
8:12 am
Sat April 19, 2014

In Silicon Valley, Immigrants Toast Their Way To The Top

Engineer Mit Shah gives a speech at a meeting of the "ArtICCulators" Toastmasters Club in Milpitas, Calif.
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 12:18 pm

Public speaking can be nerve-wracking whatever your native tongue. It can be especially difficult for immigrants who speak English as a second language.

In California's Silicon Valley, some immigrant tech workers strengthen their voices by joining public speaking support groups like Toastmasters clubs.

Members usually meet once a week to practice giving speeches, which are timed to the second and judged for grammar and presentation. There's even a designated counter of ums and ahs.

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Code Switch
7:58 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

The Harlem Hellfighters: Fighting Racism In The Trenches Of WWI

The Harlem Hellfighters, a new graphic novel by Max Brooks, retells the story of the first African-American unit to fight in World War I.
Caanan White Courtesy of Broadway Books

The 369th Infantry Regiment served 191 days under enemy fire in Europe. They returned home one of the most decorated American units of World War I.

"The French called them the 'Men of Bronze' out of respect, and the Germans called them the 'Harlem Hellfighters' out of fear," explains Max Brooks, author of The Harlem Hellfighters, a new graphic novel about the first African-American infantry unit to fight in World War I.

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Code Switch
7:04 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Latinos Live Longer But Struggle To Save Enough For Retirement

Isaias Hernandez (left) counsels Paul Garcia on his finances at the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation in Montebello, Calif.
Courtesy of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation

Originally published on Fri March 28, 2014 3:26 pm

Many American workers find themselves financially unprepared for retirement. Among racial and ethnic groups, Latinos are the least prepared.

They're one of the fastest-growing racial or ethnic groups, and they have a longer life expectancy than whites and blacks — at about 81 years old.

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Code Switch
8:22 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Changing Demographics A Factor In Rhode Island's Gubernatorial Race

Two supporters of gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo walk past protesting union members outside a rally at which Raimondo announced her run for the Democratic nomination in Rhode Island in January.
Michael Dwyer AP

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 12:06 pm

Parades, social clubs and awards dinners are part of the routine of political campaigns everywhere. But if you're running to be Rhode Island's next governor, then there's one more stop you just can't miss.

Namely, the makeshift studios of Latino Public Radio, which is housed in a two-story, single-family home complete with a living room, dog and cat.

This local Spanish-language radio station based in Cranston, R.I., was co-founded almost a decade ago by Pablo Rodriguez.

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Code Switch
6:40 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

To Play The Part, Actors Must Talk The Talk — In Chinese

Chinese billionaire Xander Feng, played by Terry Chen, shakes hands with Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, in Netflix's House of Cards.
Nathaniel E. Bell Courtesy of Netflix

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

The success of the Netflix series House of Cards lies in the details.

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Code Switch
7:53 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Asian-American Contestant, 'Villain' Of 'Jeopardy,' Set To Return

Game show contestant Arthur Chu with host Alex Trebek on the set of Jeopardy!
Courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 2:55 pm

If there are any unwritten rules to playing Jeopardy! Arthur Chu may have broken them all.

During his four-day winning streak in late January, he sometimes interrupted host Alex Trebek and cut in before the host could finish a sentence. He often jumped to the hardest clues on the board first and furiously tapped his buzzer whenever he knew the answer.

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Code Switch
8:07 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

For Abused Native American Women, New Law Provides A 'Ray Of Hope'

Deborah Parker, vice chair of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington state, reacts to President Barack Obama signing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 in Washington.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

This Thursday, three Native American tribes are changing how they administer justice.

For almost four decades, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling has barred tribes from prosecuting non-American Indian defendants. But as part of last year's re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a new program now allows tribes to try some non-Indian defendants in domestic abuse cases.

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Code Switch
12:49 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

After Tour, Medal For WWII Japanese-American Soldiers Returns Home

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, shown here in a 1944 photo taken in France, returned home from World War II as one of the most decorated U.S. military units.
Courtesy of National Archives

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 12:55 pm

More than 70 years ago Wednesday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that led to the internment of more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II.

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Code Switch
11:53 am
Sat February 15, 2014

Walking Down The Widening Aisle Of Interracial Marriages

Kelly Mottershead and Louie Okamoto held a beach party last October for their wedding ceremony in Carmel, Calif.
Dana Barsuhn Courtesy of Louie Okamoto

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 1:13 pm

Editor's Note: Code Switch has been engaged in a month-long exploration of romance across racial and cultural lines. Follow the Twitter conversation via the hashtag #xculturelove.

The numbers are small but growing.

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Code Switch
2:39 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

National Puerto Rican Day Parade Reorganizes After Misuse Of Funds

Parade onlookers cheer marchers in last year's National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York.
Craig Ruttle AP

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 5:32 pm

The National Puerto Rican Day Parade will be marching down New York City's Fifth Avenue under new leadership this year.

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Code Switch
5:18 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

'Still Turning Heads' At Lunar New Year, An All-Female Lion Dance Troupe

Gund Kwok troupe member Heang Ly takes a break next to her lion costume during a rehearsal in Boston's Chinatown.
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 8:14 pm

Lion and dragon dancers are set to parade down Chinatown streets around the country again with the Friday start of another Lunar New Year.

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Around the Nation
5:21 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Even As Ban Lifts, Many Remain Wary Of Tap Water

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 7:44 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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Around the Nation
5:21 am
Wed January 15, 2014

W.Va. Businesses Regroup After Tap Water Is Restored

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 7:30 am

The area around Charleston is slowly coming back to life after last week's chemical spill that contaminated the water supply. The ban on tap water has been lifted in downtown Charleston, which is good news to restaurants and other small businesses. But restaurants and laundromats in neighboring towns unaffected by the ban are serving long lines of customers in areas still without access to drinkable tap water.

Around the Nation
5:31 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

West Virginia Tap Water Ban Awaits A Good Flush

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 8:53 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Faucets in parts of West Virginia are running drinkable water again. This after a chemical spill leaked into the Elk River and tainted the local water supply. After a five-day ban on tap water in and around Charleston, Governor Earl Tomblin today announced the results of days of testing.

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Code Switch
5:59 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

White House Picks Choctaw Nation To Fight Poverty In Oklahoma

Chief Gregory Pyle (left) and Assistant Chief Gary Batton stand in front of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma's Capitol building in Tuskahoma, Okla.
Larissa Copeland Courtesy of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared his "War on Poverty," President Obama issued his own plan to combat poverty Thursday with the nation's first five "Promise Zones."

All "Promise Zones" will receive a competitive advantage when applying for federal grants, on-site support from federal officials, and, pending congressional approval, tax incentives for businesses hiring and investing in the community.

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Race
4:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Chinese-American Descendants Uncover Forged Family Histories

William Wong (standing) poses with his parents and nephew in an old family photo. Wong's mother immigrated to the U.S. from China as his father's "sister" to bypass the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Courtesy of William Wong

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:30 am

What if you discovered the last name you've lived with since birth is fake?

That's what happened in many Chinese-American families who first came to the U.S. before World War II, when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese laborers from legally entering the country.

The law, formally repealed by Congress 70 years ago Tuesday, prompted tens of thousands of Chinese to use forged papers to enter the U.S. illegally.

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Africa
5:26 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Mandela's Death Reverberates Across U.S.

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 10:49 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

We're reporting today on the passing of Nelson Mandela. The Nobel laureate and first black president of South Africa died yesterday at 95. Many here in the United States felt a connection to Mandela, among them former President Bill Clinton. He spoke recently to CBS News about Mandela's legacy.

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Politics
5:03 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Supporters Of Immigration Overhaul Remain Focused

Activists Cristian Avila (left), Dae Joong Yoon and Eliseo Medina ended their fasting for immigration reform after 22 days in Washington, D.C.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:17 pm

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill face a lengthy to-do list before they head home for the holidays. Near the top is an issue deemed a priority after last year's election — immigration reform. So far, only the Senate has passed a bill.

Despite the standstill, supporters of immigration reform are pushing to keep the issue alive on a crowded legislative slate.

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Code Switch
3:07 am
Tue November 19, 2013

A New Life For An Old Slave Jail

Formerly known as the Alexandria Slave Pen, this ashen gray row house in Alexandria, Va., once housed one of the country's largest slave-dealing firms.
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 7:31 pm

President Abraham Lincoln stood on a battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa., 150 years ago and declared "a new birth of freedom" for the nation.

That same year, an African-American man named Lewis Henry Bailey experienced his own rebirth. At age 21, Bailey was freed from slavery in Texas. His journey began in Virginia, where he was sold as a child in a slave jail.

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Code Switch
5:20 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Asian-American Lawyers Act Like '22 Lewd Chinese Women'

Attorney Francis Chin (center) runs through his lines with Yang Chen at a rehearsal for 22 Lewd Chinese Women, the latest trial re-enactment by the Asian American Bar Association of New York.
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Sat November 9, 2013 11:24 am

A cast of New York lawyers and a federal judge debuted a new production on Friday off-off Broadway — all the way in Kansas City, Mo.

Attorneys have gathered there for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association's annual convention. For the past seven years, the meeting has featured dramatic re-enactments of historic trials involving Asian-Americans.

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NPR Story
5:46 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Amid A Rough Patch, Howard University Faces Flagging Morale

Students walk by Founders Library on Howard University campus in Washington, D.C.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 5:12 pm

Howard University, one of the country's most prominent historically black schools, has hit a rough patch in recent months.

The school's Faculty Senate recently voted no confidence in leaders of the school's Board of Trustees. That vote came just weeks after Howard's president announced a surprise early retirement and Moody's Investors Service downgraded the university's credit rating, as my Code Switch teammate Gene Demby has reported.

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Around the Nation
5:12 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Young African-American Shoppers Sue Barneys, NYPD For Profiling

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 6:00 pm

The New York state attorney general's office has opened an investigation on department stores Barneys. The retailers are in hot water after recent claims of racial profiling of African-American shoppers.

Code Switch
6:01 am
Sun October 27, 2013

N.Y. Chinatown Family Finds Roots In Early Chinese Cinema

Harold Lee's son Henry, perched on the roof of a camera truck, helped produce and import Chinese-language films from Hong Kong and China in the late 1940s.
Courtesy of the Lee Family

Douglas Lee thought he knew just about everything about the family business.

Since the late 1930s, the Lee family has sold insurance at 31 Pell Street in New York City's Chinatown. Their entrepreneurial roots in the Chinese-American community stretch back to 1888, when the Lees opened a grocery store at the same location.

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Code Switch
6:15 am
Sat October 5, 2013

'Linsanity': For Asian Fans, It Felt Just Like 'Young Love'

Jeremy Lin fans cheer during a game between the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers in March 2012.
Drew Hallowell Getty Images

Originally published on Sat October 5, 2013 12:44 pm

Twenty months after it first took pop culture by storm, the global sports craze known as "Linsanity" has found a revival on screen.

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Around the Nation
5:06 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Investigators Probe Deadly Capitol Hill Shooting

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 10:36 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Around the Nation
5:12 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

One Police Officer Injured After Capitol Hill Car Chase

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 11:38 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Washington, D.C.'s Capitol Hill was the scene of a car chase today that ended not far from the halls of Congress. A Capitol police officer was injured and is being treated at an area hospital. Police say it was an isolated incident with no links to terrorism. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang was on the scene after the shooting and sent this report.

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Code Switch
7:01 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

After Drop, Number Of Immigrants Illegally In U.S. Levels Off

Young people stand in line in Los Angeles to apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows qualified immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to study or work openly.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

The latest estimate by the Pew Research Center puts the number of immigrants living illegally in the U.S. at 11.7 million.

This new number, based on U.S. government data, can be found in a report released Monday titled "Population Decline of Unauthorized Immigrants Stalls, May Have Reversed." The key word in that headline is "may." As the authors write in the report:

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Around the Nation
6:41 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Victims Of Navy Yard Shooting Are Being Identified

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 9:38 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the shooter is known to have been, as we've just reported, a former Navy reservist. But DC's police chief did say yesterday that no active duty servicemembers were killed, no one in uniform. The dead included contractors and civilians, apparently. And to learn more now about those victims of yesterday's shooting, we turn to NPR's Hansi Lo Wang.

And what are you hearing from the people for whom this is a personal tragedy - that is, those who knew one or more of these victims?

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