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
2:12 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

'Community' Actor Ken Jeong Might Be Getting His Own Show

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.

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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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Games + Leisure
12:12 pm
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 Thu March 26, 2015 8:21 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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Code Switch
1:21 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Barbie Has Some Royal Competition In Nigeria

Taofick Okoya sells between 6,000 and 9,000 of his Queens of Africa and Naija Princess dolls a month and reckons he has 10 to 15 percent of a small but fast-growing market.
Akintunde Akinleye Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 9:26 am

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."

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Code Switch
4:24 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

2014 Stories At The Intersection Of Race And Sports

Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, pictured with associate V. Stiviano. Her recordings of his racist remarks about blacks sparked an NBA scandal this spring and cost him his team.
Associated Press

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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
2:22 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
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
8:57 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 12:23 pm

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
2:50 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

Running Late? Nah, Just On 'CPT'

Almost there! Always delayed.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 9:19 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
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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Race
7:42 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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Food
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
12:35 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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