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
10:03 am
Sat February 28, 2015

A 'Show Boat' With An Asian-American Cast Hits The Rocks

A heads-up to our readers: This post quotes a racial slur.

When actress Erin Quill saw a casting notice earlier this month for a Show Boat musical revival with a completely Asian-American cast, she raised an eyebrow.

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Code Switch
1:29 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

African Emoji CEO: Apple 'Missed The Whole Point' With Its Diverse Emojis

Here's a set of Afro-centric emoticons that Oju Africa's CEO thinks trumps Apple's new diverse emojis.
OjuAfrica.com

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 7:23 pm

Alpesh Patel, the CEO of African-based emoji company Oju Africa, thinks Apple missed the mark with its new set of iPhone emoji options, which offers more skin-tone options than before.

"Look at their new emoticons — it's all about skin colour," he told Vice's Motherboard. "Diversity is not about skin colour — it's about embracing the multiple cultures out there that have no digital representation."

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Code Switch
4:47 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Here's Where Emoji Skin-Tone Colors Come From

Here are the latest set of emoji.
AP

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 8:14 pm

In emoji news (one of my favorite types of weird news, ever): Apple this week released a beta operating system to its testers that finally includes noticeably browner — and, um, yellower — choices.

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Code Switch
4:20 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Oscars Voter Says 'Selma' Cast's 'I Can't Breathe' Tees Were 'Offensive'

A scene from Selma.
Atsushi Nishijima Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 7:18 pm

The Hollywood Reporter is doing a series of interviews with voting members of the academy, the folks who decide who gets an Oscar. Yesterday's (anonymous) interviewee had this to say about why Selma didn't get a nod:

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Code Switch
4:21 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

After a Racial Attack, A South Philly School Tries to Heal

Duong Nghe Ly, center, at a news conference in 2011, in which Asian and community leaders discussed a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into a series of racial attacks, in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke AP

In December 2009, 30 students at a high school in South Philadelphia, mostly recent Asian immigrants, were beaten up at school by their peers. Several had to be hospitalized.

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Code Switch
3:51 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Some Thoughtful Words — And Many Unanswered Questions — After Chapel Hill

Kheira Benkreira and Hasnia Bekkadja attend a vigil for the slain Chapel Hill victims in Washington, D.C., last week.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 6:49 pm

Since the killing of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, N.C., last week, a grand jury has indicted the victims' neighbor Craig Hicks for the murders of Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Deah Shaddy Barakat and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

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Code Switch
12:10 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

One Of The Chapel Hill Victims Was Raising Funds To Help Syrian Refugees

Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, were shot and killed on Tuesday evening in North Carolina. The couple married last December.
Courtesy of Our Three Winners

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 3:28 pm

On Tuesday night, three young Muslims were shot dead near the University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill campus.

From member station WUNC:

"46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks has been charged with 3 counts of 1st Degree Murder for the murders of Deah Barakat, a second-year student [at UNC] in the School of Dentistry and his wife, Yusor, who had planned to begin her dental studies here in the fall. Her sister, Razan, a student at NC State University, was also killed."

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Code Switch
11:41 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Graphic Novelist Adrian Tomine Takes On The Notorious Long Duk Dong

In 2001, graphic novelist Adrian Tomine (Shortcomings) published a pungent one-page comic describing his own history with the legacy of Long Duk Dong.
Adrian Tomine

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 3:35 pm

On Friday, I explained what's "cringeworthy" about Sixteen Candles' Long Duk Dong, whose broken English and social ineptitude left a painful stamp on many Asian-American children of the '80s.

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Code Switch
4:16 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

What's So 'Cringeworthy' About Long Duk Dong in 'Sixteen Candles'?

Gedde Watanabe as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles.
Universal/The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 11:49 am

In Thursday's post about failed Asian-American TV shows, I called actor Gedde Watanabe's notorious performance as Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles "cringeworthy." Some of you piped up to ask, Hey, what's wrong with Long Duk Dong?

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Code Switch
1:29 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

A Brief, Weird History Of Squashed Asian-American TV Shows

David Carradine played a Shaolin monk and martial arts expert in Kung Fu.
ABC Photo Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 10:54 am

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Monkey See
7:54 am
Thu December 18, 2014

The Many Rabbit Holes (Or Should We Say Labyrinths) Of Serial

Sarah Koenig and producer Dana Chivvis in the studio.
Elise Bergerson Serial

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:01 pm

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Code Switch
3:51 am
Thu November 27, 2014

Stories Of Your First Thanksgiving In The U.S.

We don't endorse using a trident to carve your turkey.
floodllama Flickr

Originally published on Thu November 27, 2014 12:12 pm

This past week, we called for stories about your first Thanksgiving in the United States. Who'd you spend it with? Where were you coming from? What'd you eat? What'd you think of it? we wondered.

And many of the stories we heard from you were about food: You had issues roasting the turkey properly. Your mom found, um, a creative solution to making your bird golden-brown. You ate a lot of different alternative Thanksgiving meals. Your stories were goofy and weird, but most of them made us smile. Here are some of them:

Leticia Ortiz

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Code Switch
7:41 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Ex-Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders, Racial Moderate In A Split South, Dies

Former Georgia Gov. Carl Sanders shakes hands with members of the crowd at a campaign event leading up to a runoff against Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination for Governor in Atlanta.
AP

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 9:26 pm

Carl E. Sanders, who served as governor of Georgia from 1963 to 1967 and is credited with bringing about more racial integration to the state, died in Atlanta on Sunday. He was 89.

Sanders was considered to be a Southern moderate, and fought to create a "New South." His politics set him apart from lawmakers who tried to keep public schools and facilities segregated.

In his inaugural address in January 1963, Sanders said:

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Code Switch
12:50 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

The Many Stories Behind Double-Eyelid Surgery

Double eyelids, single eyelids — ” why do we change our eyes, or keep them the way they are?
Claire O'Neill/NPR

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 1:23 pm

This is the second half of a look at the history and motivations behind the Asian blepharoplasty, popularly known as "double-eyelid surgery." On Monday, we dug into its background and some of its history. Today, we'll explore the "why."

A lot of assumptions are made about why people undergo double-eyelid surgery. Assumptions like: They wanted to look more white, or they wanted to look less Asian.

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Code Switch
5:15 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Is Beauty In The Eye(Lid) Of The Beholder?

A plastic surgeon performs a double-eyelid surgery on a patient at the BK Clinic in Seoul in August 2007.
Han Jae-Ho Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 1:25 pm

This is part one of a two-part series looking at the history and motivations behind the Asian blepharoplasty, popularly known as "double-eyelid surgery." Find part two here.

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Code Switch
8:53 am
Tue October 28, 2014

A Timeline Of Sitcoms Featuring Families Of Color

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the early days — with the original Aunt Viv, too!
AP

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 2:19 pm

We've heard some of the same comments a lot about this fall's television lineup, which includes the shows Black-ish, Cristela, Selfie and Fresh Off the Boat: "Why is diversity all the rage now?" asked Robert Rorke of the New York Post. And Esther Breger called this season the "most diverse in recent TV history."

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Race
6:31 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Jacqueline Woodson On Being A 'Brown Girl' Who Dreams

Author Jacqueline Woodson reads from her newest novel, Sept. 15.
Kat Chow NPR

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 2:37 pm

The first time author Jacqueline Woodson says she really understood poetry — and loved it — was after reading Langston Hughes in elementary school.

"Until then, I thought it was some code that older white people used to speak to each other. I didn't know what was going on with the line breaks and the words," Woodson recalls. "Once the floodgates opened, they opened."

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Code Switch
5:27 am
Sun September 14, 2014

Overthinking It: Using Food As A Racial Metaphor

This is a Twinkie.
Christian Cable Flickr

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 2:02 pm

In February, a state-run media outlet in China mocked Gary Locke, who was signing off as U.S. ambassador to that country. "Gary Locke is a U.S.-born, third-generation Chinese-American, and his being a banana — 'yellow skin and white heart' — became an advantage for Obama's foreign policy,' " the editorial read.

Years ago, a (possibly apocryphal) story circulated about Democratic activists throwing Oreos at Michael Steele, the black former head of the Republican party.

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Code Switch
10:34 am
Thu August 21, 2014

An Officer Shot A Black Teen, And St. Louis Rioted — In 1962

News outlets in 1962 paired this image of injured police officers with a story about the aftermath of a riot in a St. Louis suburb.
Proquest Historical Newspapers Archive

Amid the flurry of coverage about Michael Brown's death and the reaction in Ferguson, Mo., journalists have been unpacking St. Louis' long, tense history of racial unrest. In some of these stories, the parallels between the events of years past and those of the past few weeks are striking.

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Code Switch
1:16 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

While Films And TV Shows Miss Latinos, A YouTube Outlet Grows

On the MiTú network's Guzii Style, Chef Guzii makes bolitas de chocolate.
MiTú

Originally published on Sat August 16, 2014 12:11 am

Over the past few months, there's been a lot of coverage of the paucity of Latino depictions on American movie and television screens, particularly given that Latino audiences are disproportionately driving box-office ticket revenues. The Wrap recently completed a four-part series on the subject.

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Code Switch
12:30 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Roundtable: The Past And Present Of 'Yellowface'

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 2:55 pm

Every few months, there's a renewed discussion about "yellowface" — when people wear makeup or clothes in an attempt to look more Asian. In just the past year, the subject has come up in conversations about How I Met Your Mother, The Mikado, Magic in the Moonlight and a performance by Katy Perry. (And now, HBO's show Jonah from Tonga is sparking a similar discussion on "brownface.")

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All Tech Considered
9:48 am
Fri August 1, 2014

Simmering Online Debate Shows Emoji Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

What is this emoji?
NPR

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 6:22 pm

Images, GIFs and emojis — particularly the latter — have morphed into ways we express our feelings. They've quickly replaced words and sentences in our texts, tweets and emails.

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Code Switch
9:23 am
Mon July 14, 2014

How 'Ching Chong' Became The Go-To Slur For Mocking East Asians

An album cover for Lee S. Roberts and J. Will Callahan's 1917 song "Ching Chong."
The Library Of Congress

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 1:01 pm

When Kwok-Ming Cheng went to a Whole Foods in New York City to pick up some pre-ordered sandwiches over the Fourth of July weekend, he wasn't expecting to get tapped with a new nickname.

"Are you Ching Chong?"

That's the question Cheng said he heard from a customer service representative at the grocery store.

It's a slur I and many other Asian-American folks have heard at some point in our lives. But every time I hear it, I can't help but wonder, "How is this thing still around? And where did it even come from?"

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Code Switch
5:15 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

They Cast Whom?! Actor Choices To Offend Every Racial Sensibility

From a mixed heritage, Adam Jacobs plays Aladdin in the Disney Broadway production of the same name.
Cylla von Tiedemann AP

Originally published on Sun March 23, 2014 12:48 pm

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All Tech Considered
11:27 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Researchers Are Totes Studying How Ppl Shorten Words On Twitter

Some clippings: "Hilar" or "hilars" mean "hilarious." "Alc" is shorthand for "alcohol" in some circles. And "obvi" is pretty straightforward (er, "obvious").
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 1:31 pm

Shortening words, swapping them out, giving them different meanings — that's not new. Remember in Mean Girls when the queen bee character, Regina George, berated one of her underlings for trying to make the word "fetch" catch on?

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Code Switch
8:03 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Comic Artist Yumi Sakugawa On Friend-Love, Identity And Art

Yumi Sakugawa's book I Think I Am In Friend Love With You helps define the joys of modern friendships.
Yumi Sakugawa

About a month ago, I asked my followers on Twitter if they had any recommendations for a comic artist whose work I should check out. Person after person brought up Yumi Sakugawa, a California-based artist. And I was familiar with her work: she's the brains behind the ever-nostalgic strip, "Claudia Kishi: My Asian-American Female Role Model Of The 90s."

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Code Switch
4:30 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Seeking Wonderful Young Adult Novels That Deal With Race

What books about race or culture would you recommend to a not-so-bookish teen?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 4:49 pm

At Code Switch, we receive a whole bunch of emails and messages from readers and listeners. And many times, folks ask questions that get us buzzing during our editorial discussions.

One Code Switch reader sent us a note seeking book recommendations for a multiracial teen. The emailer described the teen as not very "bookish" but still a good reader.

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Code Switch
1:58 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Screening Room: Who Might Be The Next Black Actress On 'SNL'?

Kerry Washington (with Taran Killam) recently appeared on SNL to spoof the show's lack of a black female cast member.
Dana Edelson AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 3:22 pm

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Code Switch
6:14 am
Sun October 20, 2013

Asian-American Band Fights To Trademark Name 'The Slants'

The Slants' band members are all of Asian descent.
Courtesy of The Slants

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 10:08 am

The Slants, a six-member band from Portland, Ore., calls their sound "Chinatown Dance Rock" — a little bit New Order, a little bit Depeche Mode. They describe themselves as one of the first Asian-American rock bands. Their music caters to an Asian-American crowd, they've spoken at various Asian-American events, and they're proud of all of it.

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Code Switch
5:15 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

The Wondrous, Melancholy Worlds Of Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki's film My Neighbor Totoro features the young sisters Mei and Satsuki, seen here sitting next to the whimsical and outsized Totoro.
The Kobal Collection/Tokuma Enterprises

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 3:44 pm

The revered Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, 72, announced this weekend at the Venice Film Festival that he's retiring from making full-length feature films. (He previously went into "semi-retirement" after directing Princess Mononoke in 1997.)

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