Hansi Lo Wang

Hansi Lo Wang is a reporter covering race, ethnicity, and culture for NPR's new Code Switch team.

Based in Washington, D.C., he previously served as a production assistant for NPR's Weekend Edition and was awarded the NPR Kroc Fellowship, during which he reported for NPR's National Desk and Seattle public radio station KUOW.

A Philadelphia native, Wang founded a radio reporting program for high school students in Philadelphia's Chinatown in 2008. He has also worked as a refugee housing coordinator.

He graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from Swarthmore College. As a student, he hosted, produced, and reported for a weekly, student-run program on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a native Chinese speaker of both Mandarin and Cantonese dialects.

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Code Switch
12:55 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

New Pilot Program Gives Immigrant Detainees Public Defenders

Matthew Diller, dean of Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law, talks with press about the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project in June.
Cardozo School of Law

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 9:34 am

In the American criminal justice system, you have the right to an attorney. And if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

That's not the case if you're a defendant in U.S. immigration court. Immigration proceedings are civil matters, and the Constitution does not extend the right to court-appointed attorneys to immigrant detainees.

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Code Switch
1:07 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 5:31 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
3:20 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 9:24 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
3:46 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 3:12 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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Law
5:11 am
Sun November 3, 2013

N.Y. Stop-And-Frisk Reforms On Hold For New Year, New Mayor

New York police officers walk through a Brooklyn housing development in August.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 1:45 pm

In New York City, the country's largest police force has been involved in a high-profile legal battle over its stop-and-frisk policy.

Few policies of outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have been as controversial as stop-and-frisk, the tactic New York police use to stop people on the streets without a search warrant.

The police department says it's been vital in catching criminals and reducing the city's crime rate.

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Code Switch
4:01 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
4:44 am
Sat October 19, 2013

'12 Years' Is The Story Of A Slave Whose End Is A Mystery

In the new film adaptation of Twelve Years A Slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841.
Jaap Buitendijk Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 9:18 am

There's a true American saga on screens this weekend.

Twelve Years a Slave tells the story of Solomon Northup. He was an African-American musician from New York — a free man, until he was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., and sold into slavery. After an unlikely rescue from a Louisiana cotton plantation, he returned home and wrote a memoir, first published 160 years ago.

But the end of Northup's story is an unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for years.

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Code Switch
4:37 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 10:44 am

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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Code Switch
5:01 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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Economy
2:55 pm
Sat September 21, 2013

Stuck In Poverty Amid Signs Of Recovery

Food distributed by the Manna Food Center is packed in cardboard boxes to be loaded into clients' cars.
Chloe Coleman NPR

Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 3:45 pm

For the third year in a row, the poverty rate has remained stuck at about 15 percent. Nearly one in six Americans was living in poverty in 2012, according to a new report by the Census Bureau. Despite a slow-moving economic recovery, these latest numbers show that for poor Americans, there are few signs of any recovery.

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Code Switch
5:19 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

'Baby Veronica' Custody Battle Continues

Veronica, the child at the center of an adoption dispute, smiles in the bathroom of the Cherokee Nation Jack Brown Center in Oklahoma.
Mike Simons/Tulsa World AP

The U.S. Supreme Court may have decided almost three months ago the case known as Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. But the young Native American girl known as "Baby Veronica," who turns 4 years old on Sunday, is still stuck in legal limbo.

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Code Switch
3:46 am
Sun September 1, 2013

Asians-Only Volleyball Brings Community Together

Sam Li, 52 (center, lime green) has been playing 9-man volleyball for nearly 30 years and keeps up with the younger players.
Kainaz Amaria/NPR

Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 9:23 am

Volleyball games are stopping traffic on one of Washington, D.C.'s landmark streets, Pennsylvania Avenue, this Labor Day weekend.

More than 1,000 players from across the U.S. and Canada have gathered in the nation's capital to bump, set and spike in an annual tournament with unusual rules.

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U.S.
10:33 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Crowd Amped Up For March On Washington Commemoration

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

Fifty years ago today, more than a quarter million Americans stepped out of chartered buses, trains and cars and marched towards the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. This morning, thousands have come again to the nation's capital to retrace those steps and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for jobs and freedom.

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Race
3:07 pm
Sat August 24, 2013

50 Years Later, A March On Washington Among Generations

Demonstrators on Saturday in Washington, D.C., commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Kevin Lamarque Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 1:55 pm

They came by the beat of drums: grandparents with their grandchildren, community organizers and activists, church members and college students.

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Code Switch
1:18 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Renowned Kung Fu Master Inspires Slew Of Action Flicks

Tony Leung (center) fends off challengers as Wing Chun kung fu master Ip Man in Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster.
The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 11:34 am

Forty years after his death, there's a name that's become practically synonymous with Chinese kung fu films.

And no, it's not Bruce Lee.

It's actually his teacher, Ip Man.

The late kung fu master's life story has inspired more movie releases than Spider-Man. The five films so far include Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster, which opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles.

The Filmmakers' Creation

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Code Switch
1:05 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Not Just A 'Black Thing': An Asian-American's Bond With Malcolm X

Kochiyama looks at a memorial for World War II Japanese-American internees at the Rohwer Relocation Center in Rohwer, Ark., in 2004.
Mike Wintroath AP

Originally published on Sun June 1, 2014 11:22 pm

The brief friendship of Malcolm X and Yuri Kochiyama began close to 50 years ago with a handshake.

Diane Fujino, chairwoman of the Asian-American studies department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, details the moment in her biography Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama.

Kochiyama and her eldest son, 16-year-old Billy, were arrested along with hundreds of other people, mainly African-Americans, during a protest in Brooklyn, N.Y., in October 1963.

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Race
3:29 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Chinatown's 'White Devil John' Sentenced To 20 Years

John Willis, also known as "White Devil John" in Cantonese, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for money laundering and drug charges.
Jane Collins for NPR

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 1:29 pm

The conviction this week of mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger put an end to one of Boston's highest-profile crime sagas.

Less well-known, though, is the case of John Willis, a white man from Dorchester, Mass., who was sentenced in federal court on Thursday to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering.

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Code Switch
10:26 am
Wed July 31, 2013

Consumer Groups On The Lookout For Immigration Scams

A line waits outside the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Los Angeles.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 12:54 pm

Talk about immigration reform on Capitol Hill this summer has raised the hopes of many unauthorized immigrants around the country.

It's also raised the fears of consumer advocates worried about scam artists who promise immigrants they can help them secure legal status.

Eduardo Flores, an unauthorized immigrant from Honduras, wasn't promised immigration documents, but he did place his trust and $4,000 with a man who said he was an immigration attorney.

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Code Switch
12:21 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

More Latinos Read All About It In English

Customers browse for English-language magazines and newspapers at a New York newsstand.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 9:33 pm

A growing share of Latinos in the U.S. are getting their news in English.

New survey results released Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center show that 82 percent of Latino adults, up from 78 percent in 2006, use some form of English-language news media.

At the same time, fewer Latino adults — now at 68 percent, down from 78 percent in 2006 — are consuming news from Spanish-language TV, print, radio and online outlets.

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Code Switch
2:45 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

S.C. High Court Moves To End Saga Of 'Baby Veronica'

The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that custody for Baby Veronica, shown here in a October 2011 provided by her adoptive mother, Melanie Capobianco, be transferred from her biological father to the Capobiancos.
Melanie Capobianco AP

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 3:47 pm

UPDATE July 24, 2013: The South Carolina Supreme Court denied a petition for rehearing and ordered Baby Veronica's adoption by the Capobiancos finalized, as reported by NPR's Nina Totenberg.


Less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court sent an unusually messy child custody case back to the lower courts, South Carolina's Supreme Court has ruled to end the long-running saga of Baby Veronica, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.

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Code Switch
2:52 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

New Series 'The Bridge' Seeks An Audience In Two Languages

Mexican homicide detective Marco Ruiz (played by Demián Bichir) must work with his American counterpart, Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger), to solve a murder on the U.S.-Mexico border in FX's new series The Bridge.
FX Network

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 6:53 pm

The U.S.-Mexico border plays a starring role in the new FX series The Bridge.

Characters in the television crime drama, which premieres Wednesday night, regularly cross back and forth through the border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The show's dialogue also frequently switches between English and Spanish, setting a new standard for bilingual drama on American television.

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Around the Nation
3:27 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

How Many Gay Couples Have Tied The Knot? Nobody Knows

Couples kiss at the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, Calif., earlier this month.
Amy Taxin AP

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 10:36 am

Since the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June, many questions have emerged about what the ruling may mean for same-sex couples.

There's one question, though, that would seem easy to answer: How many legal same-sex marriages are there in the U.S.?

The Limitations Of Self-Reporting

It turns out the answer is actually very complicated — so complicated that even experts such as Bob Witeck, president and founder of Witeck Communications, a marketing firm specializing in gay and lesbian consumers, are stumped.

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Code Switch
3:18 am
Sat June 29, 2013

PR Experts On How To Prove You're Not A Racist

Paula Deen dissolved into tears during her appearance Wednesday on NBC's Today show with Matt Lauer. The celebrity chef told Lauer she was not a racist, but image experts say she'll have to work harder to convince the public.
Peter Kramer AP

Originally published on Sat June 29, 2013 1:44 pm

The empire of Paula Deen is crumbling.

Sears and Walgreens are among the latest companies cutting business ties with the celebrity chef, and Ballantine Books has announced that it will no longer publish her cookbooks.

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Code Switch
5:03 am
Sun June 23, 2013

More States Let Unauthorized Immigrants Take The Wheel

Immigrant advocates use an image of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on a mock state driver's license during a 2012 rally in Santa Fe, N.M., to protest her proposal to repeal a state law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.
Russell Contreras AP

Originally published on Sun June 23, 2013 11:01 am

The national debate over immigration may be churning on in Washington, D.C., but there's one policy a growing number of states can agree on: driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Vermont, Connecticut and Colorado passed new laws this month allowing drivers without Social Security numbers to receive licenses or authorization cards. They join Nevada, Maryland and Oregon, whose governors signed similar laws in May. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn started the trend this year when he signed Senate Bill 957 in January.

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Code Switch
3:14 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

11-Year-Old Keeps Singing In Face Of Hate

Sebastien de la Cruz gave an encore performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the NBA Finals game on Thursday.
David J. Phillip AP

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 5:59 pm

It's not often an 11-year-old boy gets to sing the national anthem twice during the NBA Finals.

But, as our friends at The Two-Way reported, it's been a surprising week for Sebastien de la Cruz of San Antonio.

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Code Switch
7:52 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Census Shows Continued Change In America's Racial Makeup

Thursday's data comes from a set of annual population estimates released by the Census Bureau.
iStockPhoto

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 12:21 pm

Asian-Americans were the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in America, now comprising almost 19 million people, according to data released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

And the state with the fastest-growing Asian population? South Dakota. Home to Mount Rushmore, Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little Town on the Prairie," and now Kharka Khapangi — a Bhutanese refugee who moved from the state of Washington to Sioux Falls, S.D., in 2011.

"It's easy to find a job here in South Dakota, so people from other states, they are also moving here," Khapangi said.

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Code Switch
5:22 am
Sat June 8, 2013

Puerto Rican Flags Wave To New York's Parade-Goers

Longtime East Harlem resident Johnny Montanez, 53, says he sells Puerto Rican flags and T-shirts a few doors down from his apartment building to show that Puerto Ricans are "still here."
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Sun June 9, 2013 5:20 am

Marching bands, beauty queens and Chita Rivera are set to make their way down New York City's Fifth Avenue on Sunday for the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade.

With 80,000 marchers and 2 million onlookers, the event is one of the country's biggest ethnic celebrations.

In the run-up to the parade, rows of street vendors have lined up north of the parade route, in New York's East Harlem neighborhood — also known as Spanish Harlem for the wave of Puerto Ricans that settled here after World War II.

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Code Switch
7:10 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Arab-Americans: A 'Growing' Community, But By How Much?

Arab-Americans join in a traditional dance during the sixth annual Arab-American Heritage Festival in Brooklyn in 2011.
Robert Nickelsberg Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 7:53 am

One-and-a-half million Americans today claim Arab ancestry, according to a new Census Bureau report.

That's less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population.

Still, Maryam Asi, a demographer at the Census Bureau who co-wrote the report, says the Arab-American community is "growing," with a 76 percent increase since 1990 and 25 percent increase since 2000.

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Around the Nation
3:01 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Okla. Real Estate: Priced To Sell Includes Storm Shelter

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 5:58 am

After last week's deadly tornado in Moore, Okla,, hundreds of homes were damaged. Maurice Smith is optimistic about the future in Moore. So much so, he is planning to build a new home and sell the old one without an agent. And he expects it will be snapped up quickly. The reason? Displaced residents are looking for homes, and his has a storm shelter.

Code Switch
2:08 pm
Sun May 26, 2013

'Part Of The Community': Latinos Rebuild After Okla. Tornado

Mynor Sanchez, a resident of Moore, Okla., lives a few blocks away and three houses down from major destruction. He is volunteering Friday in the neighborhood with his church, Templo El Alabanza, trying to do any tasks with which residents need help.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Sun May 26, 2013 6:29 pm

Pastor Chano Najera calls out T-shirt sizes in Spanglish to volunteers waiting for their uniforms.

It's easy to spot Najera in this crowd — just look for the cowboy hat. He preaches in Spanish at Templo De Alabanza in Oklahoma City. On this morning, though, he's wrangling a group of young Latino volunteers as they wheel cases of water bottles onto trucks headed for Moore, Okla., where an EF-5 tornado ripped through neighborhoods last week, but spared Najera's home.

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