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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9:23am

Mon July 14, 2014
Code Switch

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

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

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

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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6:50am

Tue April 29, 2014
Code Switch

Ringleader Of Human Smuggling Ring Dies, Leaving A Complex Legacy

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 9:28 am

Cheng Chui Ping, also known as "Sister Ping," died last Thursday. She portrayed herself as a clothing shop owner, but government investigators said her main business was smuggling Chinese immigrants into the U.S.
Getty Images

For decades, Cheng Chui Ping smuggled thousands of people from China to the United States. She created a lucrative business and a robust network that brought immigrants through treacherous routes. Cheng died of cancer last Thursday in a Texas prison.

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7:06am

Fri April 4, 2014
Code Switch

Who's Boosting Box Office Numbers? Report Says Latinos

Cesar Chavez pulled in $3 million at the box office last weekend and did noticeably better in areas where the farmworkers advocate was most active.
Courtesy of Lionsgate

According to a recent report published by the Motion Picture Association of America, Latinos went to the movies in 2013 way more often than other ethnic groups in the U.S. relative to their population.

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7:03pm

Sun March 23, 2014
Code Switch

When Vanilla Was Brown And How We Came To See It As White

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 9:31 am

Fun fact: The vines that vanilla beans grow on also produce orchids.
Malcolm Manners via Flickr

Say you know someone, maybe a friend of a friend, who's perfectly pleasant but just sort of lacks any sort of oomph. You don't want to be mean (because, you, unkind? Never), but if you had to describe that person in a really, really honest way, how would you do it?

Call the FOF boring? Bland? Dull?

Vanilla?

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5:15pm

Sat March 22, 2014
Code Switch

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

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

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

6:09am

Sat February 22, 2014
Code Switch

Iconoclastic Musician Takes Measure Of His Life: 'I Became A Fighter'

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 3:43 pm

Fred Ho practices his baritone saxophone in a dressing room before a performance.
Joseph Yoon Courtesy of Fred Ho

When I first walked through the door of Fred Ho's apartment in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, I asked, "How are you?" And he said, "Not good. I'm dying."

Ho has always been matter-of-fact and in-your-face. He painted himself green and posed naked for the cover his album, Celestial Green Monster. In the photo, he has a baritone saxophone placed strategically between his legs. He looks strong — like the Hulk.

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2:46pm

Wed February 19, 2014
Parallels

Who's The Momma? Artist Gets Asians Young And Old To Swap Styles

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 5:07 pm

This clothing swap seems perfectly natural to me.
via Qozop

Ever wear your parents' or grandparents' old clothes or have them wear yours? A photographer asked individuals to swap garb with their relatives who are from a different generation.

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11:57am

Fri January 17, 2014
All Tech Considered

Researchers Are Totes Studying How Ppl Shorten Words On Twitter

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

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

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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8:03am

Sat January 4, 2014
Code Switch

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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3:19pm

Tue December 31, 2013
Code Switch

MSNBC Host Apologizes For Comments About Mitt Romney's Grandson

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 4:44 pm

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry asked her guests to comment on this photo of Mitt Romney's family, which included Romney's adopted grandson.
MSNBC

Melissa Harris-Perry, host of an MSNBC weekend show, apologized on Tuesday for comments she and her panelists recently made. On Sunday, Harris-Perry had her guests — a group of comedians — caption a photo of Mitt Romney's family, which included Romney's adopted grandchild.

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11:45am

Tue December 31, 2013
Code Switch

As 2013 Winds To An End, So Do The Tweets Of 1963

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 12:30 pm

The limousine carrying mortally-wounded President John F. Kennedy races toward Parkland Hospital in Dallas just seconds after he was shot.
Justin Newman AP

As 2013 winds down, so does @Todayin1963, Code Switch's historical Twitter account. Since June, I've been "live-tweeting" moments from 50 years ago as if they were happening today, picking slices of that year that might have made their ways into people's Twitter timelines had tweeting been a thing back then.

It's been an obsessive project, to say the least.

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4:49pm

Wed December 18, 2013
Code Switch

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

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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1:58pm

Fri December 13, 2013
Code Switch

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

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

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

6:22pm

Wed December 4, 2013
Code Switch

Telemundo's 'Highly Unusual' Resurrection of 'El Señor'

Rafael Amaya plays drug lord Aurelio Casillas on El Señor de los Cielos.
Billy Coleman Telemundo/NBC Universal

Telemundo recently announced that its telenovela El Señor de los Cielos (Lord of the Skies) will be back for a second season; production began this week in Mexico City. This resurrection sets it apart from almost every other telenovela because, unlike American soap operas, telenovelas have a clear beginning and a definitive ending, airing for a set number of episodes.

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4:19pm

Fri November 15, 2013
Code Switch

Letters From Parents To Their Kids That'll Make You Smile (Or Cry)

This week, we've seen two stories with the theme of how tough parents and tough kids struggle to express their love for one another without, well, saying it aloud.

Many of us have lived these stories. We're the children of immigrant parents, of single moms and dads whose tired sighs at the end of the day we know all too well, of grandparents who stepped in and raised us when their children couldn't, and of parents who just found it hard to share their emotions.

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12:13pm

Wed November 13, 2013
Code Switch

A Windfall For A New Jersey Man And The Dominican Republic

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 4:50 pm

Pedro Quezada, the winner of a $338 million Powerball jackpot, sent $57 million of his winnings to the Dominican Republic, according to his lawyer.
Julio Cortez AP

Pedro Quezada, winner of a $338 million Powerball lottery prize in March 2013, is being sued by his ex-girlfriend for a greater share of the winnings. In the course of the legal proceedings, Quezada's lawyer made public an interesting tidbit: Quezada has sent a whopping $57 million to the Dominican Republic. It's a high-profile and big-ticket example of an everyday phenomenon where immigrants to the U.S. send a total of billions and billions of dollars back to their country of origin.

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2:33pm

Mon November 4, 2013
Code Switch

Author Catherine Chung: 'I Want To Embrace The Things That I Am'

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 4:50 pm

Catherine Chung's first novel, Forgotten Country, was an honorable mention for a PEN/Hemingway Award.
Ayano Hisa Courtesy of Catherine Chung

Catherine Chung went from mathematics to writing, though she says words were always her first love. She was named one of Granta's New Voices in 2010, and her first novel, Forgotten Country, received honorable mention for a PEN/Hemingway Award last year.

In Forgotten Country, Chung writes of a family with a curse that stretches back generations — from their time in Korea to their life in America. Since the Japanese occupation of Korea, each generation of the family has lost a daughter.

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12:02pm

Thu October 31, 2013
Code Switch

Halloween And Blackface: Same Story, Different Year

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 1:26 pm

Halloween: The day people think it's OK to dress in stereotypical garb.
adrigu Flickr

Halloween is — uh, how do you say? — high season for writing about race and culture. The list of celebrities, stores and college freshmen sporting racist costumes — plus the inevitable backlash — means these stories practically write themselves.

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6:14am

Sun October 20, 2013
Code Switch

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

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

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

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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12:39pm

Thu October 17, 2013
Code Switch

A Photographer Turns Her Lens On Men Who Catcall

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 4:20 pm

"Untitled."
Courtesy of Hannah Price

7:03am

Sun September 29, 2013
Code Switch

Studying How The Blind Perceive Race

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 3:55 pm

A biopic about the musician Ray Charles, who became completely blind by age 7, inspired Osagie Obasogie to research how blind people 'see' race.
AP

Law professor Osagie Obasogie walked into a movie theater to see "Ray," a biopic about the musician Ray Charles, and walked out with a question that would drive eight years worth of research.

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12:06pm

Mon September 16, 2013
Code Switch

Why Do We Describe Asian Eyes As 'Almond-Shaped'?

The shape of Asian eyes has been compared to almonds by Westerners for centuries.
iStockphoto.com

Last week, Julie Chen revealed on The Talk that she had double eyelid surgery to make her eyes look "less Chinese" in order to advance her TV career.

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5:15pm

Tue September 3, 2013
Code Switch

The Wondrous, Melancholy Worlds Of Hayao Miyazaki

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

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

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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3:43pm

Fri August 2, 2013
Code Switch

Research Says: Actually, Where You Go To College Matters

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 11:08 pm

There are lots of questions for high school grads: Should you go for an associate degree or a bachelor's? A community college or a four-year university? Does it really matter where you go? If we're comparing top-tier schools with open-access ones, then yes. It matters a whole lot, and it has long-lasting effects.

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1:15pm

Tue July 23, 2013
Code Switch

Your More/Less Ethnic-Sounding Name

Earlier this week, the Code Switch team got a note from a publicist named Hector Andres Silva who said he had some news to share.

Silva was ditching his nickname, "Andy," which he'd been using for two decades. Silva grew up in South America (his parents are Mexican and Colombian) and moved to Alexandria, Va., when he was 7.

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4:55am

Sat July 20, 2013
Code Switch

Do Racing Snails Drive Racial Stereotypes In 'Turbo'?

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 10:03 am

Actor Michael Pena voices Turbo's human friend Tito, an ambitious character whose outlandish dreams don't seem to sync up with his brother's vision for their food truck and stand, Dos Bros Tacos.
DreamWorks Animation

After seeing the animated movie Turbo, Code Switch's Karen Grigsby Bates and Kat Chow reflect on the movie's attempt at showing diversity.

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11:26am

Thu July 11, 2013
Code Switch

Dueling Stereotypes: Bad Asian Drivers, Good At Everything

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 4:09 pm

Asians are bad drivers but can navigate roundabouts like this one in Shanghai, eh?
Tauno Tõhk via Flickr

5:55pm

Tue July 9, 2013
Code Switch

Experience The Legacy Of The Civil Rights Movement In Song

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 8:50 pm

Nina Simone was one of the voices that helped shape the civil rights movement.
AP

9:00am

Thu June 20, 2013
Code Switch

For Black Americans, An Even Split In Financial Perceptions

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 11:07 am

If our survey is any indication, this cash-rich stock photo model probably feels pretty good about life.
Willie B.Thomas iStockphoto.com

NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health recently polled 1,081 African-Americans about their lives. One of the areas respondents were asked about was their perceptions of their financial status.

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7:03am

Wed June 12, 2013
Code Switch

@TodayIn1963 Captures Moments From A Historic Summer

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 4:21 pm

Gov. Wallace promises to block black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama while Nicholas Katzenbach, deputy attorney general of the United States listens.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

You might notice a bit of history peppered throughout your Twitter feed over the next few months.

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