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.

In a beautifully illustrated comic over at The Nib, cartoonist Ronald Wimberly relays the story of working with an editor who asked him to lighten the skin tone of a character he was working on, Melita Garner, who has been described as Mexican and African-American, a reporter, and Wolverine's ex-girlfriend.

Starbucks' campaign to get people talking about race has already birthed a very public, very cringeworthy conversation about race. Jay Smooth, a radio DJ and video blogger, was on MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes Tuesday night, discussing the coffee company's "Race Together" campaign with fellow guest Nancy Giles, a contributor to CBS Sunday Morning.

New Orleans is known for its enormous Vietnamese population, one of the largest in the country. But we recently came across a story about a now-lost Chinatown in New Orleans — two of them, in fact — and how they came to be. To understand how these hubs came about, and why they disappeared, we have to rewind the clock 150 years, to the end of the Civil War.

"So-and-so is really, really hard to understand." Or: "His accent is so distracting." I remember hearing off-the-cuff remarks like this a few times in college, complaints by classmates about teaching assistants and instructors, almost all of them of Asian descent and non-native English speakers.

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.

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."

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.

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:

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.

There's more good news in Asian-American TV land.

ABC recently greenlighted a pilot starring Ken Jeong, best known as quirky Spanish language teacher Señor Chang in Community, also The Hangover villain Mr. Chow. Jeong, who worked as a doctor for seven years before turning to acting, will play a frustrated MD who's struggling to keep the rest of his life afloat.

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."

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.

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?

In Nigeria, Barbie has some fierce — some brown — competition: Taofick Okoya, a 43-year-old entrepreneur, has created Queens of Africa dolls and Naija Princess dolls that are outselling Mattel's classics. Okoya tells Reuters that he sells about 6,000 to 9,000 dolls a month and that he has "about 10-15 percent of a small but fast-growing market."

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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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