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 plus.npr.org/codeswitch
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Code Switch

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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 plus.npr.org/codeswitch

Most Recent Episodes

Jackie Lay for NPR

Japanese American musicians across generations draw identity from 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 aw ay to explore and express identity. Featuring Kishi Bashi, Erin Aoyama and Mary Nomura.

Japanese American musicians across generations draw identity from incarceration

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Despite being addictive and deadly, menthol cigarettes were long advertised as a healthy alternative to "regular" cigarettes — and heavily advertised to Black folks in cities. Jackie Lay/NPR hide caption

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Jackie Lay/NPR

The minty past and cloudy future of menthol cigarettes

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.

The minty past and cloudy future of menthol cigarettes

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In 1937, the Washington Afro-American featured the "Lonesome Hearts" column, where Black folks looking for love could send letters. Jackie Lay hide caption

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Jackie Lay

The Lonesome Hearts of 1937

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.

The Lonesome Hearts of 1937

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A mural in Laramie, Wyo., that honors the Black 14. AP/Mead Gruver/AP/Mead Gruver hide caption

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AP/Mead Gruver/AP/Mead Gruver

How Black 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.

How Black college footballers led the fight against racism in 1969

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Naomi Jackson talks about 'losing and finding' her mind

Writer Naomi Jackson Lola Flash/Naomi Jackson hide caption

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Lola Flash/Naomi Jackson

Naomi Jackson talks about 'losing and finding' her mind

"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.

Naomi Jackson talks about 'losing and finding' her mind

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Taylor Swift, who has been celebrated for her ability to channel the emotions and perspectives of adolescent girls. Photos: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP, Shirlaine Forrest/Getty Images for TAS/Design: Jackie Lay/NPR hide caption

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Photos: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP, Shirlaine Forrest/Getty Images for TAS/Design: Jackie Lay/NPR

What Taylor Swift's icon status says about who gets to be a 'girl'

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?

What Taylor Swift's icon status says about who gets to be a 'girl'

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After leaving the Pentecostal Church, reporter Jess Alvarenga has been searching for a new spiritual home. Jackie Lay hide caption

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Jackie Lay

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.

A former church girl's search for a new spiritual home

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Fanta Kaba from WNYC's Radio Rookies (left) is also a resident of a New York City Housing Authority facility. She reports on the privatization of NYCHA buildings and what that means for residents. Carolina Hidalgo/Radio Rookies and Spencer Platt/Getty Images/NPR hide caption

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Carolina Hidalgo/Radio Rookies and Spencer Platt/Getty Images/NPR

New York City public housing is getting less public. How does that affect residents?

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.

New York City public housing is getting less public. How does that affect residents?

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NPR

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.

The women who masterminded the Montgomery Bus Boycott

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Author Hajar Yazdiha (left) wrote about Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy in her book, The Struggle for the People's King (right). PR Agency hide caption

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PR Agency

Everyone from the Tea Party to immigrants rights groups want a piece of Dr. King

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.

Everyone from the Tea Party to immigrants rights groups want a piece of Dr. King

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