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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Monkey See
5:54 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 3:01 pm

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Code Switch
12:22 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

A Brief History Of Racial Protest In Sports

Members of the St. Louis Rams raise their arms in a "hands up, don't shoot" pose as they walk onto the field before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders.
L.G. Patterson AP

On Sunday, five St. Louis Rams players jogged onto the field with their arms raised by their heads, a stream of fog behind them: hands up, don't shoot.

The players — Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Stedman Bailey — were invoking the gesture that's been widely used in protesting the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. This followed the announcement that a grand jury would not indict Wilson in Brown's death, and the release of a hefty batch of evidence shown to the jury by St. Louis prosecutor Robert McCullough.

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Code Switch
1:51 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 10:12 am

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
6:57 am
Wed November 26, 2014

In Ferguson, A Trove Of Evidence — But No Trial

A photo of officer Darren Wilson released as part of evidence shown before the grand jury.
CBS News

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 10:23 am

On Monday night, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch delivered the news that police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown. And in an unusual move, the announcement was accompanied by the release of an enormous batch of evidence presented to the grand jury — including much-talked-about photos of Wilson, taken after he shot and killed Brown.

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Code Switch
12:50 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

Running Late? Nah, Just On 'CPT'

Almost there! Always delayed.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 7:19 am

In our semi-regular Word Watch feature, we take a look at a word or phrase that has caught our attention, whether for its history, usage, etymology, or just because it has an interesting story.

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Code Switch
5:02 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 7:26 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
10:19 am
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 11:23 am

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
3:15 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 11:25 am

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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Race
4:31 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 12:37 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
3:27 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 12:02 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
8:34 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
11:16 am
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 Fri August 15, 2014 10:11 pm

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
10:22 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Roundtable: The Past And Present Of 'Yellowface'

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 12:55 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
7:48 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 4:22 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
7:23 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 11:01 am

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
4:50 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Ringleader Of Human Smuggling Ring Dies, Leaving A Complex Legacy

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

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 7:28 am

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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Code Switch
5:06 am
Fri April 4, 2014

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

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 6:27 pm

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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Code Switch
5:03 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 7:31 am

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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Code Switch
3:15 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 10:48 am

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Code Switch
3:54 am
Sat February 22, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 1:43 pm

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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Parallels
12:46 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

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

This clothing swap seems perfectly natural to me.
via Qozop

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 3:07 pm

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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All Tech Considered
9:27 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 11:31 am

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
6:03 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
1:19 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

MSNBC Host Apologizes For Comments About Mitt Romney's Grandson

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

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 2:44 pm

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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Code Switch
9:45 am
Tue December 31, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 10:30 am

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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Code Switch
2:28 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 2:49 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
1:10 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 1:22 pm

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Code Switch
3:32 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

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

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:22 pm

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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Code Switch
1:58 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

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

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 2:19 pm

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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Code Switch
10:13 am
Wed November 13, 2013

A Windfall For A New Jersey Man And The Dominican Republic

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

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 2:50 pm

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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