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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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Ask Luis Garza how the La Raza exhibition came to be at The Autry Museum of the American West, and he raises his palms, eyes heavenward:

"Karma," he says. "Fate. Serendipity. The gods have chosen to align us at this moment in time."

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

When high-priced LA lawyers get together for lunch, it's as likely as not they'll be someplace with white tablecloths, silver flatware and a wine list.

But today, attorneys from the big global firm Nixon Peabody are having chicken, rice and beans from a Mexican fast-food chain.

No ties or heels either, as the lawyers fill their paper plates and chow down while they listen to some instructions from Michele Seyler.

Since its inception nearly a decade ago, Airbnb has faced questions from people of color as to whether the company's worldwide "vacancy" sign really applied to them.

The company has been plagued by allegations and several lawsuits, predominantly but not exclusively from African-Americans, claiming discrimination.

Ebony magazine has been the magazine of black America since it was first published in November 1945. Its stories of success and achievement were a welcome antidote to how its readers normally saw themselves portrayed in mainstream newspapers and magazines. (If they were featured at all, it was usually for something that reinforced the mainstream stereotype of who and what black Americans were.) Until a decade ago, Ebony regularly sold out on newsstands and had a large and loyal subscriber base.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Octavia Butler used to say she remembers exactly when she decided to become a science fiction writer. She was 9 years old and saw a 1954 B-movie called Devil Girl from Mars, and two things struck her. First: "Geez, I can write a better story than that!" And second: "Somebody got paid for writing that story!" If they could, she decided, then she could, too.

This week in race: Bill Maher crosses a line; Kevin Hart takes a pass on President Trump; a Cosby Kid stands up for Dr. Huxtable. Let's get to it.

Can white artists understand the racial traumas people of color undergo in America enough to apply them to their work? Creating art about cultures other than your own — especially of populations that have been marginalized or oppressed — has once again come under fire.

In 1950, Gwendolyn Brooks became the first African-American to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Hers was a Pulitzer in poetry, specifically for a volume titled Annie Allen that chronicled the life of an ordinary black girl growing up in the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago's famous South Side.

Brooks was in her living room when she learned she had won, she recalled in a Library of Congress interview, and it was growing dark. She didn't turn on the lights, because she knew what would happen. Money was tight, and the bill hadn't been paid.

Tennis queen Serena Williams is serious about trying new things this year. In addition to becoming engaged and being pregnant, La Serena has taken on the challenge of helping to diversify Silicon Valley — a task that might be hardest of all. Williams has joined the board of SurveyMonkey.

Oh, Code Switch fam: Has there ever been such a week? Because of the virtual smorgasbord of unfortunate news, you may have skipped putting these on your plate. Dig in. Keep a chaser of Pepto handy.

A lot of things in this country rely on information gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau every 10 years. Congressional districts. Federally funded public works (bridges, tunnels) and emergency services. Decisions based on population estimates affect everyone in ways large and small, so an accurate count of who lives where is critical. That's why it was big news when the current Census director, John Thompson, announced he's stepping down. The abrupt departure left Census-watchers worried.

Fox News has been under fire in the past year for sexual harassment. First Fox chair Roger Ailes, then the network's favorite pundit, Bill O'Reilly, were forced to leave after multiple women complained of unwanted advances—and the blocked advancement they experienced when they didn't put out.

Be honest: You're looking at this story thinking what else is there to add to reports on the 1992 riots that rocked LA, right? NPR has done anniversary retrospectives before, including a huge look-back on the 20th. But in the past five years, the issue of policing — how it's done, whether it's equitable, what happens when deadly confrontations occur — has become more urgent than ever. And what happened in Los Angeles that April night 25 years ago is a critical part of the current national conversation on policing and race. For the LAPD, there have been huge changes.

Twenty-five years ago this week, four Los Angeles policemen — three of them white — were acquitted of the savage beating of Rodney King, an African-American man. Caught on camera by a bystander, graphic video of the attack was broadcast into homes across the nation and worldwide.

Fury over the acquittal — stoked by years of racial and economic inequality in the city — spilled over into the streets, resulting in five days of rioting in Los Angeles. It ignited a national conversation about racial and economic disparity and police use of force that continues today.

The New England Patriots returned to the White House for the now-traditional visit to the president and presentation of a game helmet, jersey and other team-related swag. Correction, some of the Patriots visited the White House. Several, including most famously tight end Martellus Bennett, defensive back Devin McCourty and running back LeGarrette Blount, bowed out early on. (Blount was blunt: "I will NOT be going to the White House. I don't feel welcome in that house. I'll leave it at that," he told the Rich Eisen Show on Feb.

A new study from Stanford University's Immigration Policy Lab says giving driver's licenses to people who have entered the country illegally is actually contributing to public safety: licensed drivers are less likely to have hit-and-run accidents.

Busy week, per always: resistance to deportations, Spicy being salty at the White House, and Muslim Latinas. Yeah, really.

Give up. You will never, ever catch up with every new TV show that's out there. There's a reason for that, says Melanie McFarland, television critic for Salon: "There were more than 450 new shows that premiered last year across broadcast, cable and streaming."

Designers are rolling out their spring lines and the runways are looking more diverse than ever. But the comparative abundance of models who are people of color didn't happen overnight.

There was the occasional — very occasional — model who wasn't white in the 50s and early 60s on runways. But African-American models put American couture on the map in 1973 when they walked the runway in France in what's become known as The Battle of Versailles.

It was quite a week: The new GOP health plan was released to a decidedly tepid response. It's predicted to negatively affect millions of black, brown and low-income people. The president accused former president Barack Obama of having his Trump Tower home wiretapped, but he has not, as they say, brought the receipts. And here are a few other things...

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Let's start with Sunday night, because, how could we not? You already know about the Moonlight cock-up (leave it to the British to give us a perfect word for what that was), but did you know this: although Moonlight's Mahershala Ali was described as the first Muslim to win an Academy Award, Pakistan isn't having it. Apparently, the sect to which Ali belongs is outlawed in Pakistan. The Atlantic broke it down for us.

Harvard historian Caroline Light grew up with guns. Her family lived in Southwestern Virginia, and her parents regularly enjoyed hunting and shooting skeet (clay targets). They used guns on a recreational basis, not for what Light calls "do-it-yourself self-defense."

Stories about black women whose employers asked them to cut their dreadlocks or to trim their big afros have surfaced with more frequency in the last few years. Now a new study confirms that many people — including black ones — have a bias against the types and styles of natural hair worn by black people.

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