Race

David Martin Davies / Texas Public Radio

Vincent Valdez’s art studio is in an old San Antonio fire station built in 1910. Above the entrance stands a vintage statue of a vigilant fire fighter clutching his ax.

Inside, the art space is taken over by one colossal black and white painting — 43 feet long — broken up into six panels. It’s titled “The City.” It features 14 hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan caught in a candid moment on a bluff overlooking a city at night.

It's the summer of 1998 and I'm at the mall with my mom and my sister Anna, who has just turned 5. I'm 7. Anna and I are cranky from being too hot, then too cold, then too bored. We keep touching things we are not supposed to touch, and by the time Mom drags us to the register, the cashier seems a little on edge.

"They're mixed, aren't they?" she says. "I can tell by the hair."

Mom doesn't smile, and Mom always smiles. "I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about," she says.

Later, in the kitchen, there is a conversation.

From Texas Standard:

Americans use social media for a variety of reasons – to stay connected to family and friends, to share something funny, and increasingly, to get news and express political opinions.

Now, a new study from the Pew Research Center suggests that the way that Americans use and consume social media is closely tied to race. It found that there's a significant difference between the way that black and white adults use social media when it comes to race-based content. Black social media users were about twice as likely as their white counterparts to say that the content they see on social networks is race-related. A similar gap appeared when asked about their own posting habits.

 


At long last — the first episode of the Code Switch podcast! We decided to start off with a question we've been fixated on over the past few months: Why is it so hard to talk about whiteness?

My dad, who came to the U.S. in 1969 from Hong Kong, who speaks English-lilted-with-Taishanese, who has lived in Connecticut for two-thirds of his life — three times the length of his time in Asia — still uses the word "Oriental."

It's always a casual reference. "This place used to be a Oriental restaurant," he'll say, as we drive by a boarded-up storefront that once was a Chinese take-out joint.

He doesn't use it in a derogatory way. It's just his go-to term for anything Asian, whether that's food, a business, a person, an idea. But I keep trying to get him to stop.

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