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It's time for another Ask Code Switch. This week, we're getting into the gray area between yellow and brown.

Amy Tran, from Minneapolis, asks:

Claudia Pineda, right, interprets for a woman who suffered domestic abuse from her 13-year-old son.
KUOW photo/Patricia Murphy

Vicky used to hide the knives in her home, but not because of the ex-husband who she says was abusive.

She was being beaten by her 13-year-old son.

November 2, 1972, two days after the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kingdome, Bob Santos led a protest. The rallying cry: HUMBOWS NOT HOT DOGS!
Courtesy Eugene M. Tagawa

The 1960s brought marches, boycotts, and moments of unrest to Seattle as the battle for civil rights played out across the country.

That was also when four local activists — Roberto Maestas, Bob Santos, Bernie Whitebear and Larry Gossett — joined together to give voice to Seattle’s minority communities. Their nickname was the Gang of Four.

The list of racist place names in Washington is long, but the state is slowly getting rid of them.

The latest is a “Squaw Creek” southwest of the town of Methow in Eastern Washington.

Most people can acknowledge that discrimination has an insidious effect on the lives of minorities, even when it's unintentional. Those effects can include being passed over for jobs for which they are qualified or shut out of housing they can afford. And most people are painfully aware of the tensions between African-Americans and police.

What happens when you're faced with a workforce that seems unwelcoming or even hostile? For people like Dennis Jackson, often the answer is to become your own boss.

In Los Angeles, he is making the best of an October heat wave by selling solar panels. Jackson says he has essentially always been an entrepreneur. He started in landscaping and moved toward solar panel installation.

Damon Bomar, owner/operator of That Brown Girl Cooks!
KUOW Photo/Katherine Banwell

We don't need statistics to see that Seattle is growing at an unprecedented rate. One neighborhood where the change is most noticeable is the Central District.


One of the paradoxes of racial discrimination is the way it can remain obscured even to the people to whom it's happening. Here's an example: In an ambitious, novel study conducted by the Urban Institute a few years ago, researchers sent actors with similar financial credentials to the same real estate or rental offices to ask about buying or renting a home or apartment.

Journalist David Neiwert
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

In the late 1970’s, David Neiwert was just getting his journalism career started. He worked at a small daily newspaper in Sand Point, Idaho, about 20 miles outside the Aryan Nations compound.

He had to figure out how the paper was going to cover the hate group.

A majority of whites say discrimination against them exists in America today, according to a poll released Tuesday from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"If you apply for a job, they seem to give the blacks the first crack at it," said 68-year-old Tim Hershman of Akron, Ohio, "and, basically, you know, if you want any help from the government, if you're white, you don't get it. If you're black, you get it."

Turunesh Gura, 78, takes a break from working on Friday, October 13, 2017, at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Turunesh Gura, 78, piled blackberry bushes into a wheelbarrow.

She was a farmer with her husband back in Ethiopia. Now an urban farm in south Seattle is helping her and other East African seniors find community in a new land.


At first glance, Mu Delta Alpha might seem like any Greek organization on UT-Austin’s campus.

It has letters, colors – teal, white and peach – and had rush week last month. While that may be pretty typical for a sorority, Mu Delta Alpha is different. It’s the first Muslim sorority on the University of Texas campus.


Free-agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the NFL and team owners alleging that they colluded to keep him out of the league following his pregame protests during the National Anthem.

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before games last season to protest police treatment of blacks, alleges that the NFL and team owners violated anti-collusion provisions in the league's collective bargaining agreement with its players.

A scene from a simulation by the Washington State Department of Transportation of what could happen if a massive earthquake hits the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
YouTube/WSDOT

Hundreds of old brick buildings in Seattle are at risk of collapsing during a major earthquake – that’s clear.

Also clear: These structures are often in neighborhoods with high risk for displacement – affecting people of color and low-income households.

In the 1990s, Johnny Holmes was head of security at a high school in Blue Island, Ill., when he met Christian Picciolini, a teenage student who was the leader of a local neo-Nazi group.

"I put you through hell," 43-year-old Picciolini said to Holmes during a recent visit to StoryCorps. It was the first time in 18 years the two had sat down with each other to talk. "I mean there were fights, there were words that we had those years that I was there."

Holmes, who is 71 and a school board member now, agreed, describing Picciolini as rough at the time.

Dr. Lois James, Assistant Professor at Washington State University
Courtesy of Washington State University/Cori Medeiros

After a white police officer killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, there were months of protest across the country, including Seattle. New attention focused on how the police interact with black people.

Now, police departments are considering whether special training can help their officers overcome their own biases.

Author Celeste Ng at KUOW in October, 2017.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Celeste Ng’s sophomore novel, "Little Fires Everywhere," is set in her hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio. But she sees more than a few commonalities between her town and ours.

“Seattle, like Shaker Heights, tries to live with its eyes on the world,” Ng said, speaking with Bill Radke on KUOW's The Record

Ijeoma Oluo: 'I am drowning in whiteness'

Oct 1, 2017
Seattle writer Ijeoma Oluo
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Hi, I am Ijeoma Oluo, and I am a mixed race black woman who was raised by a white mother in this very white city.

I have a Ph.D. in whiteness, and I was raised in "Seattle nice." I was steeped in the good intentions of this city and I hate it.

I love this city. I love you guys. Also, I hate it. I really do.


KUOW Illustration/Kara McDermott

Many white Americans believe that black Americans earn close to what their own families make. The truth is far different.

Blacks, on average, earn half of what whites do in this country.

Baltimore native Joe Odoms had been singing the national anthem at Ravens home games since 2014.

On Tuesday, the member of the Maryland National Guard who served tours of duty in Afghanistan resigned.

In an Instagram post, Odoms wrote: "The tone/actions of a large number of NFL fans in the midst of our country's culture crisis, have convinced me that I do not belong there."

Bill Radke talks with sportswriters Percy Allen and Michael-Shawn Dugar about the protests that rippled across the entire NFL schedule after President Trump said he'd love to see owners fire players for disrespecting the national anthem.

Dr. Jonathan Kanter, associate psychology professor at the University of Washington
KUOW/Megan Farmer

Racism takes many forms — it could be a white supremacist rally or a racial slur — but more subtle forms, called microaggressions, happen every day.

Dr. Jonathan Kanter wanted to learn more about microaggressions from a white person's point of view. The associate psychology professor and his research team at the University of Washington found that people who are more likely to make subtle racist statements are also more racist in other ways.

He told KUOW's Emily Fox that the researchers began by asking black students what they thought were microaggressive behavior.


Turns out Siri might be racist

Sep 19, 2017
Siri on an iPhone.
Flickr Photo/Karlis Dambrans (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/njdYn7

We use speech recognition every day, like providing captions on video for the hard of hearing and voice-to-text apps on our smart phones. But when it comes to how well the software understands various accents or dialects, Caucasian speakers are understood much better than people of color. 

Editor's note: Language featured in this piece may be considered offensive to some.

With the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, "Ferguson" became shorthand for racial strife and police shootings of unarmed black men.

But years before the protests and chants of "Hands up, don't shoot," there was something amiss in the Ferguson, Mo., police department.

Before Michael Brown, there was Fred Watson.

Race is again proving to be the sharpest dividing line of the Trump era.

This week, President Trump and conservatives went after ESPN, the cable sports network, for comments made by Jemele Hill, who hosts one of the flagship SportsCenter shows.

It all started on Monday when Hill, who is black, tweeted in reply to someone else: "Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Hill's comment a "fireable offense."

Former Mayor Ed Murray at a press conference in the University District in September 2016.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Let’s be clear. The mess that culminated in the resignation of Seattle’s ex-Mayor Ed Murray should not be celebrated as vindication that “the process works.”

Air pollution can contribute to asthma and heart disease. And it puts children at greater risk of developmental and behavioral problems.

But not everyone is equally likely to be exposed to air pollution.

While regulations and cleaner energy have meant the air’s getting a little cleaner for everyone, a new study by University of Washington researchers shows that, at every income level, people of color are still exposed to more air pollution than white people.

White supremacy is behind America's original sin

Sep 14, 2017
Dr. Jim Wallis, author and social justice advocate
JP Keenan

Katherine Banwell of KUOW's Race and Equity team talks with author and social justice advocate Jim Wallis about white supremacy which features in his latest book, "America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America."

Wallis will speak about racial reconciliation at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16 at Seattle's McCaw Hall. 

Seattle police officers observe marchers moving down 4th Avenue during the Black Lives Matter rally in Seattle on Saturday.
KUOW Photo/Daniel Berman

The Seattle Police Department says bias and hate crime reporting continues to rise in Seattle.


The Department of Justice will not bring civil rights charges against six Baltimore police involved in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, the young black man whose death caused widespread violent protest in that city in 2015.

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