Show cover of Code Switch

Code Switch

What's CODE SWITCH? It's the fearless conversations about race that you've been waiting for. Hosted by journalists of color, our podcast tackles the subject of race with empathy and humor. We explore how race affects every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, food and everything in between. This podcast makes all of us part of the conversation — because we're all part of the story. Code Switch was named Apple Podcasts' first-ever Show of the Year in 2020.Want to level up your Code Switch game? Try Code Switch Plus. Your subscription supports the show and unlocks a sponsor-free feed. Learn more at


The history of trans misogyny is the history of segregation
As anti-trans legislation has ramped up, historian Jules Gill-Peterson turns the lens to the past in her book, A Short History of Trans Misogyny. This week, we talk about how panics around trans femininity are shaped by wider forces of colonialism, segregation and class interests.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
36:27 6/19/24
Should we stop using the word "felon"?
This week, we're turning our sights on the word "felon", and looking into what it tells us (and can't tell us) about the 19 million people in the U.S. — like Donald Trump and Hunter Biden — carrying that designation around.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
33:58 6/12/24
100 years of immigration policies working to keep out immigrants
President Biden just issued an executive order that can temporarily shut down the U.S.-Mexico border to asylum seekers once a daily threshold of crossings is exceeded. On this episode, we dig into how the political panic surrounding what many are calling an immigration "crisis" at the border, isn't new. And in's a problem of our own creation.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
42:32 6/5/24
White evangelical Christians are some of Israel's biggest supporters. Why?
As war continues to rage in the Middle East, attention has been turned to how American Jews, Muslims, and Palestinians relate to the state of Israel. But when we talk about the region, American Christians, particularly evangelical Christians, are often not part of that story. But their political support for Israel is a major driver for U.S. policy — in part because Evangelicals make up an organized, dedicated constituency with the numbers to exert major influence on U.S. politics.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
38:17 5/29/24
Falling in love in a time of colonization
This week Code Switch digs into The Ministry of Time, a new book that author Kailene Bradley describes as a "romance about imperialism." It focuses on real-life Victorian explorer Graham Gore, who died on a doomed Arctic expedition in 1847. But in this novel, time travel is possible and Gore is brought to the 21st century where he's confronted with the fact that everyone he's ever known is dead, that the British Empire has collapsed, and that perhaps he was a colonizer.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
31:12 5/22/24
Why the trope of the 'outside agitator' persists
As protests continue to rock the campuses of colleges and universities, a familiar set of questions is being raised: Are these protests really being led by students? Or are the real drivers of the civil disobedience outsiders, seizing on an opportunity to wreak chaos and stir up trouble?Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
31:01 5/15/24
In 'Chicano Frankenstein,' the undead are the new underpaid labor force
Daniel Olivas's novel puts a new spin on the age-old Frankenstein story. In this retelling, 12 million "reanimated" people provide a cheap workforce for the United States...and face a very familiar type of bigotry.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
33:59 5/8/24
Exclusion, resilience and the Chinese American experience on 'Mott Street'
This week on the podcast, we're revisiting a conversation we had with Ava Chin about her book, Mott Street. Through decades of painstaking research, the fifth-generation New Yorker discovered the stories of how her ancestors bore and resisted the weight of the Chinese Exclusion laws in the U.S. – and how the legacy of that history still affects her family today.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
31:02 5/1/24
How Jewish Communities Are Divided Over Support of Israel
In the wake of October 7, and the bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli government, many American Jews have found themselves questioning something that had long felt like a given: that if you were Jewish, you would support Israel, and that was that. But as more Jews speak out against Israel's actions in Gaza, it's exposing deep rifts within Jewish communities – including ones that are threatening to break apart friendships, families, and institutions.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
41:02 4/24/24
The Rise and Fall of the Panama Canal
The Panama Canal has been dubbed the greatest engineering feat in human history. It's also (perhaps less favorably) been called the greatest liberty mankind has ever taken with Mother Nature. But due to climate change, the Canal is drying up and fewer than half of the ships that used to pass through are now able to do so. So how did we get here? Today on the show, we're talking to Cristina Henriquez, the author of a new novel that explores the making of the Canal. It took 50,000 people from 90 different countries to carve the land in two — and the consequences of that extraordinary, nature-defying act are still echoing through our present.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
32:06 4/17/24
Reflecting on the legacy of O.J. Simpson
With the news of O.J. Simpson's death on Thursday, we're revisiting our reporting from 2016, where we took a look into how Simpson went from being "too famous to be Black," to becoming a stand-in for the way Black people writ-large were mistreated by the U.S. carceral system.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
17:03 4/12/24
How Frederick Douglass launched generations of Black and Irish solidarity
What's a portrait of Frederick Douglass doing hanging in an Irish-themed pub in Washington, D.C.? To get to the answer, Parker and Gene dive deep into the long history of solidarity and exchange between Black civil rights leaders and Irish republican activists, starting with Frederick Douglass' visit to Ireland in 1845.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
31:57 4/10/24
WTF does race have to do with taxes?
It's that time of year again: time to file your taxes. And this week on the pod, we're revisiting our conversation with Dorothy A. Brown, a tax expert and author of The Whiteness Of Wealth: How The Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans And How To Fix It. She talks through the racial landmines in our tax code and how your race plays a big role in whether you get audited, how much you might owe the IRS, which tax breaks you can get, and even which benefits you can claim.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
30:14 4/3/24
Who does language belong to? A fight over the Lakota Language
Many Lakota people agree: It's imperative to revitalize the Lakota language. But how exactly to do that is a matter of broader debate. Should Lakota be codified and standardized to make learning it easier? Or should the language stay as it always has been, defined by many different ways of writing and speaking? We explore this complex, multi-generational fight that's been unfolding in the Lakota Nation, from Standing Rock to Pine Ridge.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
39:13 3/27/24
Getting let down by the 'Great Expectations' of electoral politics
This episode is brought to you by our play cousins over at NPR's It's Been A Minute. Brittany Luse chops it up with New Yorker writer and podcast host Vinson Cunningham to discuss his debut novel Great Expectations. It's a period piece that follows the story of a young man working on an election campaign that echoes Obama's 2008 run. Brittany and Vinson discuss American politics as a sort of religion - and why belief in politics has changed so much in the last decade.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
17:43 3/20/24
In the world of medicine, race-based diagnoses are more than skin deep
We've probably said it a hundred times on Code Switch — biological race is not a real thing. So why is race still used to help diagnose certain conditions, like keloids or cystic fibrosis? On this episode, Dr. Andrea Deyrup breaks it down for us, and unpacks the problems she sees with practicing race-based medicine.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
33:32 3/13/24
This conspiracy theory about eating bugs is also about race
Gene Demby and NPR's Huo Jingnan dive into a conspiracy theory about how "global elites" are forcing people to eat bugs. And no huge surprise — the theory's popularity is largely about its loudest proponents' racist fear-mongering.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
32:50 3/6/24
The musical legacy of Japanese American incarceration
In February of 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government issued an executive order to incarcerate people of Japanese descent. That legacy has become a defining story of Japanese American identity. In this episode, B.A. Parker and producer Jess Kung explore how Japanese American musicians across generations turn to that story as a way to explore and express identity. Featuring Kishi Bashi, Erin Aoyama and Mary Nomura.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
30:21 2/28/24
Why menthol cigarettes have a chokehold on Black smokers
In the U.S., flavored cigarettes have been banned since 2009, with one glaring exception: menthols. That exception was supposed to go away in 2023, but the Biden administration quietly delayed the ban on menthols. Why? Well, an estimated 85 percent of Black smokers smoke menthols — and some (potentially suspect) polls have indicated that a ban on menthols would chill Biden's support among Black people. Of course, it's more complicated than that. The story of menthol cigarettes is tied up in policing, advertising, influencer-culture, and the weaponization of race and gender studies. Oh, and a real-life Black superhero named Mandrake the Magician.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
35:29 2/21/24
Before the apps, people used newspapers to find love
To celebrate the history of Black romance, Gene and Parker are joined by reporter Nichole Hill to explore the 1937 equivalent of dating apps — the personals section of one of D.C.'s Black newspapers. Parker attempts to match with a Depression-era bachelor, and along the way we learn about what love meant two generations removed from slavery.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
37:48 2/14/24
How college footballers led the fight against racism in 1969
It's 1969 at the University of Wyoming, where college football is treated like a second religion. But after racist treatment at an away game, 14 Black players decide to take a stand, and are hit with life-changing consequences. From our play cousins across the pond, our own B.A. Parker hosts the BBC World Service's Amazing Sport Stories: The Black 14. Listen to the rest of the series wherever you get your podcasts.*This episode contains lived experiences which involve the use of strong racist language.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
32:30 2/9/24
What it's like to be a Black woman with bipolar disorder
"Three springs ago, I lost the better part of my mind," Naomi Jackson wrote in an essay for Harper's Magazine. On this episode, Jackson shares her experience with biopolar disorder. She talks about how she's had to decipher what fears stem from her illness and which are backed by the history of racism.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
29:18 2/7/24
Taylor Swift and the unbearable whiteness of girlhood
Taylor Swift has become an American icon, (and she's got the awards, sales, and accolades to prove it.) With that status, she's often been celebrated as someone whose music is authentically representing the interior lives of young women and adolescent girls. On this episode, we're asking: Why? What is it about Swift's persona — and her fandom — that feels so deeply connected to girlhood? And, because this is Code Switch, what does all of that have to do with race?Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
35:22 1/31/24
A former church girl's search for a new spiritual home
After leaving the Pentecostal Church, reporter Jess Alvarenga has been searching for a new spiritual home. They take us on their journey to find spirituality that includes the dining room dungeon of a dominatrix, Buddhist monks taking magic mushrooms and the pulpit of a Pentecostal church. This episode is a collaboration with our friends at LAist Studios. Special thanks to the Ferriss, UC Berkeley's Psychedelic Journalism program for their support.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
49:01 1/29/24
What happens when public housing goes private?
The New York City Housing Authority is the biggest public housing program in the country. But with limited funding to address billions of dollars of outstanding repairs, NYCHA is turning to a controversial plan to change how public housing operates. Fanta Kaba of WNYC's Radio Rookies brings the story of how this will affect residents and the future of housing, as a resident of a NYCHA complex in the Bronx herself.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
40:21 1/24/24
The women who masterminded the Montgomery Bus Boycott
When people think back to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, they often remember just the bullet points: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and voila. But on this episode, we're hearing directly from the many women who organized for months about what exactly it took to make the boycott happen.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
36:50 1/17/24
Everyone wants a piece of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy
Martin Luther King Jr. was relatively unpopular when he was assassinated. But the way Americans of all political stripes invoke his memory today, you'd think he was held up as a hero. In this episode, we talk about the cooptation of King's legacy with Hajar Yazdiha, author of The Struggle for the People's King: How Politics Transforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
30:45 1/10/24
67 years after desegregation, Arkansas schools are in the spotlight again
Classrooms in Arkansas were at the center of school desegregation in the 1950s. Now, with the LEARNS Act, they're in the spotlight again. Code Switch comes to you live from Little Rock, Arkansas this week to unpack the latest education bill and how it echoes themes from decades past.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
35:41 1/3/24
Women of color have always shaped the way Americans eat
For decades, the ingredients, dishes and chefs that are popularized have been filtered through the narrow lens of a food and publishing world dominated by mostly white, mostly male decision-makers. But with more food authors of color taking center stage, is that changing? In this episode, we dive deep into food publishing, past and present.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
33:48 12/27/23
Here are our favorite Code Switch episodes from 2023
It's that time of year again, fam, when we look back at the past 12 months and think, "WHOA, HOW'D THAT GO BY SO FAST?" So we're taking a beat: for this week's episode, each one of us who makes Code Switch is getting on the mic to reflect on — and recommend — an episode we loved from 2023.Learn more about sponsor message choices: Privacy Policy
30:47 12/20/23

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