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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Code Switch
4:18 pm
Sat December 13, 2014

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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Code Switch
4:57 pm
Sat November 29, 2014

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

Paperboy Kitchen, Melbourne

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

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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Race
6:48 am
Fri October 24, 2014

A Black Cosmetic Company Sells, Or Sells Out?

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

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

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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The Changing Lives Of Women
4:23 am
Mon October 20, 2014

The Look Of Power: How Women Have Dressed For Success

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

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

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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Code Switch
8:35 am
Sat October 11, 2014

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

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Code Switch
5:23 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

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

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

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

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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Television
5:04 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Meet The Johnsons, TV's 'Black-ish' Family

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 1:20 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Race
5:25 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Obama's Reaction To Ferguson Raises Questions About President's Role

Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Ferguson, Mo., residents Angela Whitman (left) and Jill Richards on Wednesday at Drake's Place Restaurant about issues surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown.
J.B. Forbes MCT/Landov

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 9:22 am

Ferguson, Mo., has seen nearly two weeks of protests after an unarmed 18-year-old African-American man was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. This week, a black leader stepped in to help defuse tensions. But it wasn't a civil rights spokesman or the first African-American president. It was Attorney General Eric Holder.

Some political observers are asking why Obama can't seem to speak for himself on race. Many observers argue that Holder often talks frankly about race when the president can't or won't.

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Code Switch
6:40 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Pentagon Does About-Face On Hair Regulations — Black Women Approve

Georgia National Guard Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs uses many hair products to do her daily hair treatment at her home in Atlanta on April 2. Jacobs railed against a military policy that placed heavy restrictions on how women could wear their hair. The policy has been overturned by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Hyosub Shin MCT/Landov

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 9:36 am

When the Army issued updated grooming rules this spring, many black military women were offended and dismayed. The natural hairstyles many of them favored had been declared illegal: Cornrows were okay, but only if they were no larger in diameter than 1/4 inch (about the size of the diameter of a no. 2 pencil — thin). Dreadlocks were forbidden completely. And the twists and double ponytails many women had used to stay neat while out in the field no longer were allowed either.

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Remembrances
5:28 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Versatile Comedian Robin Williams Dies At 63

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 9:49 am

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

Book News & Features
3:31 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Aye, Sassenach — Gabaldon's Appeal Is Timeless

Caitriona Balfe as time-traveling Claire Randall, and Sam Heughan as her Highlander lover Jamie Fraser in the new television adaptation of Outlander.
Sony PicturesTelevision

Originally published on Sat August 9, 2014 12:02 am

Novelist Diana Gabaldon writes books that sell like crazy but are hard to categorize. Her Outlander series, featuring a determined heroine who falls backward through time to the 18th century Scottish Highlands, has made Gabaldon both wealthy and famous.

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Code Switch
4:56 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Crime Writer Creates A Hero For Her Beloved, Much-Maligned South LA

Hall sits in a sunny bay window to write. "My first drafts are always in long hand, on legal pads," she explains. "I love putting pen to paper."
Andre Ellis

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 7:35 am

Rachel Howzell Hall is easing her big, laurel green Mercedes sedan through the streets of Los Angeles. A slim woman with big eyes, Hall says this Benz is her dream car, the thing she'd planned to buy for herself once she'd become a successful writer, probably around age 50.

But something happened to speed up her schedule.

"When I was 33 years old," Hall says, "I was diagnosed with a rare type of breast cancer. And I was pregnant. And it was terrifying."

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Code Switch
1:03 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

The Late Walter Dean Myers Wrote In The Language Of Teens

Author Walter Dean Myers tours his old Harlem neighborhood in New York, Dec. 13, 2010.
Charles Sykes AP

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 3:01 pm

Writer Walter Dean Myers died on Wednesday after a brief illness at age 76, leaving mourners in the adult world and young readers who saw themselves in his books. He expanded the face of publishing so that many children of color saw themselves reflected in his work.

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Law
4:02 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

The Jury Is Still Out On Why O.J. Simpson Was Acquitted

A demonstrator protests the verdict in the trial of four Los Angeles police officers accused of beating motorist Rodney King outside the Los Angeles Police Department.
Mike Nelson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 11:15 am

On June 12, 1994, the butchered bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found on the front walkway of Simpson's condominium in Brentwood, an upscale section of Los Angeles. Within days, Brown's ex-husband, O.J. Simpson, was considered the prime suspect in the murder of both.

The year that followed was legendary in its cast of characters and legal maneuvering. The N-word. "If it does not fit, you must acquit." The dog howling in the night. Then, finally, the verdict.

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Code Switch
8:40 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Former Model B. Smith Reveals Diagnosis Of Alzheimer's Disease

Former model B. Smith operated restaurants in New York City and Washington, D.C.
PR Newswire

Originally published on Sat June 7, 2014 12:02 pm

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million Americans have the memory-robbing disease and African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to develop the late-onset version of the illness.

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Code Switch
8:22 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Honoring An Activist And Fashion Industry Role Model

Bethann Hardison speaks onstage at the 2014 CFDA fashion awards at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on Monday in New York City.
D Dipasupil Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 9:52 pm

The Council of Fashion Designers of America awards (the CFDA) are the fashion industry's equivalent of the Oscars: big, glittery, hugely prestigious. The red carpet before and after the ceremony is avidly watched. Unlike the Chambre Syndicale, which regulates France's couture and related industries, the CFDA is more of a reflector, an influencer — and, perhaps, a bellwether.

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Code Switch
6:08 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Condiment Detente: Sriracha Plant To Stay In California City

Sriracha chili sauce is produced at the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale, Calif.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 6:47 pm

The Sriracha-slurping public no longer has to worry about hoarding bottles and bottles of the spicy stuff: There will be hot sauce tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. Sriracha will continue to be made in the state-of-the-art plant David Tran built in Irwindale, Calif. And residents near the plant who complained about spicy odors when chilies for the famous hot sauce were ground (from roughly August to October, during harvest season) should now be able to breathe more easily.

You get the feeling that this whole thing was a schoolyard spat that got out of control.

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Remembrances
4:06 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

The Life Of Poet Maya Angelou, From Poverty To Presidential Prizes

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 6:18 pm

Poet, performer and political activist Maya Angelou has died after a long illness at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C. She was 86.

Code Switch
1:01 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Remembering Sam Greenlee Through His Most Famous Book

Sam Greenlee during Los Angeles Film Festival - Blaxploitation Misnomer and Misunderstood at Director's Guild of America Atrium in Los Angeles in 2004.
John Heller WireImage/Getty Images

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Code Switch
5:39 am
Sat May 17, 2014

Nostalgia For What's Been Lost Since 'Brown V. Board'

This racially segregated Monroe Elementary School class from March 1953 shows Linda and Terry Lynn Brown, who, with their parents, initiated the Brown v. Board of Education case that helped propel school integration.
Carl Iwasaki Getty Image

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 1:41 pm

Brown v. Board of Education became the law of the land when it struck down de jure segregation in Topeka, Kan., on May 17, 1954, saying, "We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate facilities are inherently unequal."

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