Karen Grigsby Bates

Karen Grigsby Bates is the Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News. Bates contributed commentaries to All Things Considered for about 10 years before she joined NPR in 2002 as the first correspondent and alternate host for The Tavis Smiley Show. In addition to general reporting and substitute hosting, she increased the show's coverage of international issues and its cultural coverage, especially in the field of literature and the arts.

In early 2003, Bates joined NPR's former midday news program Day to Day. She has reported on politics (California's precedent-making gubernatorial recall, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election campaign and the high-profile mayoral campaign of Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa), media, and breaking news (the Abu Ghrarib scandal, the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams).

Bates' passion for food and things culinary has served her well: she's spent time with award-winning food critic Alan Richman and chef-entrepreneur Emeril Lagasse.

One of Bates' proudest contributions is making books and authors a high-profile part of NPR's coverage. "NPR listeners read a lot, and many of them share the same passion for books that I do, so this isn't work, it's a pleasure." She's had conversations with such writers as Walter Mosley, Joan Didion and Kazuo Ishiguru. Her bi-annual book lists (which are archived on the web) are listener favorites.

Before coming to NPR, Bates was a news reporter for People magazine. She was a contributing columnist to the Op Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times for ten years. Her work has appeared in Time, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Essence and Vogue. And she's been a guest on several news shows such as ABC's Nightline and the CBS Evening News.

In her non-NPR life, Bates is the author of Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People, mysteries featuring reporter-sleuth Alex Powell. She is co-author, with Karen E. Hudson, of Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times, a best-selling etiquette book now in its second edition. Her work also appears in several writers' anthologies.

Bates holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College. Additionally she studied at the University of Ghana and completed the executive management program at Yale University's School of Organization and Management.

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3:13pm

Wed April 1, 2015
Code Switch

Trevor Noah Is A Quarter Jewish. Does That Make His Anti-Semitic Jokes OK?

Trevor Noah at a Comedy Central event in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2012.
Dominic Barnardt/Gallo Images Getty Images

Editor's note: This post contains words and sentiments you might find deeply offensive.

The glow had barely dimmed on Comedy Central's unveiling of comedian Trevor Noah as the new host of The Daily Show when Noah's Twitter past came under fire. His critics have called some of his old tweets offensive, racist, misogynistic, homophobic and — the charge that seems to be getting the most attention — anti-Semitic.

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7:31pm

Fri March 20, 2015
Code Switch

From Selma To Eisenhower, Trailblazing Black Reporter Was Always Probing

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 9:39 am

Ms. Payne interviewing a soldier from Chesapeake, Va., in Vietnam in 1967.
Courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center/Harper Collins

When Ethel Payne stood to ask President Dwight Eisenhower a question at a White House press conference in July 1954, women and African-Americans were rarities in the press corps. Payne was both, and wrote for The Chicago Defender, the legendary black newspaper that in the 40s and 50s, was read in black American households the way The New York Times was in white ones.

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3:03pm

Fri March 13, 2015
Code Switch

North Carolina Looking Into 'Black Tax' At Charlotte's Ritz-Carlton

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 6:30 pm

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper in 2010.
Jim R. Bounds AP

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has directed his Department of Consumer Affairs to look into reports that some African-American customers at the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte were recently subjected to unwarranted fees.

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5:10am

Thu March 12, 2015
NPR Ed

A Child Of Slavery Who Taught A Generation

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 1:15 pm

Anna Julia Cooper was the fourth African-American woman in the U.S. to earn a doctoral degree.
Scurlock Studios Smithsonian

Some great teachers change the life of a student, maybe several. Anna Julia Cooper changed America.

Cooper was one of the first black women in the country to earn a Ph.D. Before that, she headed the first public high school for black students in the District of Columbia — Washington Colored High School. It later became known as the M Street School and was eventually renamed for poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Dunbar was a citadel of learning in segregated Washington, a center for rigorous study and no-holds-barred achievement. Its graduates over the years include:

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3:08pm

Wed March 11, 2015
Code Switch

Claude Sitton, 'Dean Of The Race Beat,' Dies At 89

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 5:56 pm

It may be that Claude Fox Sitton so outraged the white Southern segregationists he reported on throughout the civil rights movement because, by all appearances, he could have been standing beside them instead of writing about them in the New York Times.

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3:56pm

Thu March 5, 2015
Code Switch

A 'Black Tax' At Charlotte's Ritz-Carlton?

A photo of a table tent at the lobby bar of the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte during CIAA week.
Courtesy Patrice Wright

A Charlotte news station reported on Monday that the Ritz-Carlton, one of prosperous uptown Charlotte's swankiest hotels, added what looks suspiciously like a black tax to the lobby bar tabs of patrons in town last week for the CIAA, the popular mega-tournament for basketball teams at historically black colleges and universities from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.

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3:45am

Thu February 26, 2015
News

In Hollywood, MLK Delivered A Lesser-Known Speech That Resonates Today

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 9:40 am

Rabbi Max Nussbaum (left) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Los Angeles.
Temple Israel of Hollywood

Shortly after winning the Nobel Peace Prize and coming back from Selma, Ala., where residents were protesting discrimination and repeated police brutality, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a lesser-known speech to a full house at the Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles in 1965.

Formally dressed in his dark minister's robes, he told the 1,400 people assembled how much their support meant to those in the thick of the struggle.

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4:52am

Thu December 25, 2014
Book News & Features

Demand For Audio Books Keeps Penguin Random House Recording

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 7:00 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

5:03pm

Sun December 21, 2014
Code Switch

The Whiteness Project: Facing Race In A Changing America

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 2:34 pm

Whiteness Project participants were filmed talking about race. The project doesn't use their names, to encourage frankness.
Feral Films, Inc.

The voices in the Whiteness Project vary by gender, age and income, but they all candidly express what it is like to be white in an increasingly diverse country.

"I don't feel that personally I've benefited from being white. That's because I grew up relatively poor," a participant shared. "My father worked at a factory." These are the kinds of unfiltered comments that filmmaker Whitney Dow was hoping to hear when he started recording a group of white people, and hoped to turn their responses into provocative, interactive videos.

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4:18pm

Sat December 13, 2014
Code Switch

Black Fraternities And Sororities Split On Protest Policy

The home page of the Dallas Morning News on Dec. 6, 2014 showed a protester wearing a Delta Sigma Theta shirt. Soon after, some black sororities banned members from wearing their logos at protests.
PastPages.org

Thousands of Americans gathered in Washington, D.C. Saturday for the 'Justice for All' rally. The demonstration was to protest the police shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, as well as decisions not to indict white police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner on Staten Island, N.Y.

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4:57pm

Sat November 29, 2014
Code Switch

'The Banh Mi Handbook': A Guide To A Viet-French Sandwich

Originally published on Sat November 29, 2014 6:29 pm

Paperboy Kitchen, Melbourne

Some kids know they want to be doctors or pilots or professional sports players— Andrea Nguyen knew by the time she was 10 she wanted to be a sandwich maker. She says she's been making sandwiches and fooling around with the recipes and the ingredients since elementary school.

The sandwich she fell for first and that she still loves the most? Banh mi. (It's pronounced "bun-mee.") Her latest cookbook, The Banh Mi Handbook, is a guide for home cooks who want to make banh mi of their own.

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6:48am

Fri October 24, 2014
Race

A Black Cosmetic Company Sells, Or Sells Out?

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 2:50 pm

Real Housewives of Atlanta star Lisa Wu Hartwell gets a hair treatment at a "Curl Party" hosted by Carol's Daughter and theYBF.com in 2010.
Paras Griffin Landov

Cosmetics giant L'Oréal purchased Carol's Daughter, a beauty company that sells natural hair and skin products for black women, earlier this week. It may seem like an unlikely chapter in the story of a business that began in a Brooklyn kitchen.

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4:23am

Mon October 20, 2014
The Changing Lives Of Women

The Look Of Power: How Women Have Dressed For Success

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 7:22 am

A publicity still from the movie Working Girl, which prominently featured the beloved power suit.
20th Century Fox

Remember power suits? At the same time women were entering the corporate workplace in large numbers, the power suit began to pop up. It was usually a long jacket with the kind of big, padded shoulders Joan Crawford made famous, a straight skirt and, often, a floppy silk bow tie that Little Lord Fauntleroy would have been at home in. The 1980s power suit was designed to ignore a woman's shape so it didn't hinder her mobility as she worked her way up the corporate ladder.

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8:35am

Sat October 11, 2014
Code Switch

Comer Cottrell, Creator Of The People's Jheri Curl, Dies At 82

Comer Cottrell, right, confers with adman Jerry Metcalf in 1977.
Los Angeles Times

5:58pm

Tue October 7, 2014
Code Switch

'A Chosen Exile': Black People Passing In White America

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 2:24 pm

Dr. Albert Johnston passed in order to practice medicine. After living as leading citizens in Keene, N.H., the Johnstons revealed their true racial identity, and became national news.
Historical Society of Cheshire County

Several years ago, Stanford historian Allyson Hobbs was talking with a favorite aunt, who was also the family storyteller. Hobbs learned that she had a distant cousin whom she'd never met nor heard of.

Which is exactly the way the cousin wanted it.

Hobbs' cousin had been living as white, far away in California, since she'd graduated from high school. This was at the insistence of her mother.

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