Shereen Marisol Meraji

Shereen Marisol Meraji tries to find the humor and humanity in reporting on race for the NPR Code Switch team.

Her stories center on the real people affected by the issues, not just experts and academics studying them. Those stories include a look at why a historically black college in West Virginia is 90 percent white, to a profile of the most powerful and most difficult-to-target consumer group in America: Latinas.

Prior to her time with Code Switch, Meraji worked for the national business and economics radio program Marketplace, from American Public Media. There, she covered stories about the growing wealth gap and poverty in the United States.

Meraji's first job in college involved radio journalism and she hasn't been able to shake her passion for story telling since. The best career advice Meraji ever received was from veteran radio journalist Alex Chadwick, who said, "When you see a herd of reporters chasing the same story, run in the opposite direction." She's invested in multiple pairs of running shoes and is wearing them out reporting for Code Switch.

A graduate of San Francisco State with a BA in Raza Studies, Meraji is a native Californian with family roots in Puerto Rico and Iran.

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Code Switch
4:21 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

For These Inner-City Dads, Fatherhood Comes With Homework

Edward Pitchford is a responsible-fatherhood specialist with the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore.
Courtesy of Carde Cornish

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 5:32 pm

About two dozen dads — all African-Americans, ranging in age from their early 20s to late 40s — are standing in a circle participating in a call-and-response exercise:

Call: You done broke them chains.
Response: From my body and my brain!
Call: But you was deaf, dumb and blind.
Response: 'Til I took back my mind!

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Race
4:33 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Honored Puerto Rican Army Unit Made A Name For Itself In Korean War

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 8:31 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

They fought for the U.S. and countered ethnic stereotypes in the process. Today, President Obama honored the Puerto Rican soldiers of the 65th Infantry Regiment. The president signed legislation recognizing the veterans for their military valor. They'll be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal - a distinction given to other segregated military units in the past, such as the Tuskegee Airmen and the Navajo code talkers.

NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji was at the White House as the president signed the bill.

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Code Switch
3:39 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Before 'Brown V. Board,' Mendez Fought California's Segregated Schools

Sylvia Mendez was a young girl in the 1940s when her parents fought for Latinos to have access to white schools in the California court case Mendez v. Westminster. They won in 1947.
Shereen Marisol Meraji NPR

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 10:51 pm

Sylvia Mendez says the only reason she wanted to go to an all-white school in California's Westminster District in the 1940s was because of its beautiful playground. The school that she and other Latino students were forced to attend didn't have monkey bars or swings.

"I was 9 years old," she says. "I just thought my parents wanted us to go to the nice-looking school."

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Code Switch
10:36 am
Mon May 5, 2014

After Decades, A University By And For Latinos Will Shut Its Doors

The National Hispanic University sits in the shadow of the East San Jose foothills in a working-class Latino neighborhood.
Shereen Marisol Meraji

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 10:34 am

The National Hispanic University was created more than 30 years ago to educate first-generation college students from Latino backgrounds. Next year, the only school of its kind west of the Mississippi will close its doors.

NHU sits in the shadow of the East San Jose foothills in California's Silicon Valley. All the classrooms and faculty offices fit in one modern three-story building in the heart of a working-class Latino neighborhood. But the postwar elementary school right next door used to serve as the institution's hallowed halls.

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Code Switch
9:09 am
Tue April 22, 2014

More Art, Less Tequila In Tijuana On Spring Break

El Norteño says this mural tells the story of a grown man haunted by the bullies from his childhood.
Brenda Delgadillo Canett.

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 6:38 pm

For decades, Southern Californians thought Tijuana was Spanish for "spring break." The streets of TJ used to be packed full of spring breakers pounding shots of tequila and taking drunken photos astride donkeys painted like zebras. That is, well, a thing of the past. The rise in drug violence over the years caused tourism in this border city to plummet. But now tourists are trickling back, and I was recently among them.

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Code Switch
3:05 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Lending Circles Help Latinas Pay Bills And Invest

Alicia Villanueva gives change to a customer at Off the Grid, a weekly street-food market in San Francisco.
Sarah Peet Sarah Peet Photography

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 8:50 am

As part of its Changing Lives of Women series, Morning Edition is exploring women and their relationship with money: saving, purchasing and investing for themselves and their families.

Cuban-American Barb Mayo describes a tanda like this: "It's like a no-interest loan with your friends." Mayo had never heard of tandas growing up, and it wasn't until she started working in sales for a cable company in Southern California that she was introduced to the concept.

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Race
4:31 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

LAPD Pays Tribute To Josephine Serrano Collier, A Latina Pioneer

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 9:48 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A moment now to remember a woman who broke new ground on the LAPD. Josephine Serrano Collier(ph) was the first Mexican-American woman on the force. She's now died at age 91. NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji tells us more.

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Code Switch
3:37 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Latin Pride Swells For Mystery Model Behind Oscar Statuette

Hollywood legend has it the Oscar statuette was modeled after Mexican actor and director Emilio Fernandez.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 8:23 pm

The 8-pound, 24-carat-gold-plated statuette that will be handed out at the Academy Awards Sunday night is said to be modeled after a real man.

That man's name is not Oscar.

It might be Emilio, Emilio "El Indio" Fernandez. He was a famous Mexican director and actor who used to live in Hollywood in the 1920s. His nickname, "The Indian," came from the Kickapoo side of his family.

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Race
5:03 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Pop Music Lags In Dealing With Interracial Love Anxieties

They're most likely not listening to a song about cross-cultural love.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun November 16, 2014 3:52 pm

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Code Switch
4:25 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Why Chaucer Said 'Ax' Instead Of 'Ask,' And Why Some Still Do

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele talk Ax vs. Ask with NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji.
Sonari Glinton NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:39 pm

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Code Switch
4:52 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Arturo Sandoval: Free To Blow His Trumpet The Way He Wants

Cuban jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday.
Shereen Marisol Meraji NPR

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 9:43 am

A former president, a media mogul and a Cuban jazz trumpeter are among the 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday. That Cuban jazz trumpeter, Arturo Sandoval, happened to be performing not too far away from NPR West, at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, last Friday. So I went to pay him a visit during rehearsals.

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NPR Story
5:06 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

An East L.A. Football Rivalry, Unchanged For 79 Years

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 6:49 pm

An East Los Angeles rivalry has become the largest high school football game west of the Mississippi. The football teams of Garfield High School and Roosevelt High School will meet on the gridiron Friday night for the 79th year. The game is expected to draw 20,000 fans.

Code Switch
3:08 am
Fri October 18, 2013

The Whitest Historically Black College In America

Deirdre Guyton, the school's director of alumni affairs, is proud of Bluefield State College's history and wants to preserve it. Here, she holds up a photo of the school's football team from 1927 to 1928, when it was the best black college team.
Shereen Marisol Meraji NPR

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 5:13 pm

It opened in the late 19th century as the Bluefield Colored Institute, created to educate the children of black coal miners in segregated West Virginia. Although it still receives the federal funding that comes with its designation as a historically black institution, today Bluefield State College is 90 percent white. The road that separates those realities is as rocky as any story of racial transition in post-World War II America.

We went to the campus of Bluefield State to see what campus life was like at this unusual college.

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Sports
4:47 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Cuban Defector Yasiel Puig Ignites Los Angeles Dodgers

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 9:13 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, in trying to make a comeback, Blackberry might learn something from the Los Angeles Dodgers. A few months ago they were in last place. Now the Dodgers are heading to the playoffs. The team includes a Cuban defector, Yasiel Puig, Dodger number 66. Here's NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: First off, not every ball player has his own theme song.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERAJI: Twenty-two-year-old rookie Yasiel Puig has been in the Majors for less than four months.

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Movies
4:12 am
Mon September 16, 2013

'The Muslims Are Coming!' To Middle America

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 7:09 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

A group of Muslim comics went on tour through parts of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, as well as Arizona. Their mission was to help Americans equate Islam with funny, rather than fundamentalist. And that is the topic of a new documentary called, "The Muslims Are Coming."

NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji met up with the directors.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: Here's a quick taste of what happens when Muslim comics invade Middle America.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE MUSLIMS ARE COMING")

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Around the Nation
5:08 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Calif. Gov. Debates Changing Who's Eligible For Jury Duty

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 6:58 am

The California legislature passed a bill that would allow lawful permanent residents to sit on juries. Governor Jerry Brown has until Oct. 13 to sign the bill into law. If he does, California will be the first state to allow non-citizens to perform jury duty.

Code Switch
2:23 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Summer Of '63: Old Lessons For A New Movement

Participants in the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride sit on a bus that will travel from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2003.
J. Emilio Flores Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 6:38 pm

All this summer, NPR is looking back to civil rights activism of 1963, marking the 50th anniversary of a number of events that changed our society. From the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers in Mississippi to the March on Washington; NPR is remembering the past and examining how our society has changed.

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Code Switch
11:59 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Latinas Drive Hispanic Purchasing Power In The U.S.

Latina pop star Thalía holds a toddler playing a tumbadora during a Pampers promotional event launching Mi Música, Mi Herencia (My Music, My Heritage).
Marc Serota AP

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 1:05 pm

Meet Pamela Maria Wright — the "contemporary Latina consumer." She has two kids — Nico and Rita — whom she hopes will be bilingual, as she is. She's a tech-savvy working professional with a master's degree, but she's also very traditional and family-oriented. (While I was visiting her home, her father showed up for a surprise visit. "How much more Latino can you get?" Wright asked.)

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Business
5:28 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Why Modern Latinas Are A Challenge To Marketers

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 7:59 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Hispanic American are an increasingly important consumer demographic to woo. That's according to a new study from the market research firm Nielsen. The report says that most of today's Latinas are the primary decision makers when it comes to household spending.

But marketing to them is a real challenge, as NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji reports.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: Welcome to the home of the contemporary Latina consumer.

PAMELA MARIA WRIGHT: Hi.

MERAJI: Hi. How are you?

Good. How are you?

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NPR Story
5:34 pm
Sat July 20, 2013

Obama's Remarks On Trayvon Reflect Everyday Struggle

Since the acquittal of George Zimmerman on July 13 for the murder of Trayvon Martin, protesters around the country have been chanting, "No justice no peace," and carrying signs that say, "I am Trayvon Martin." On Friday, the president made a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing room and said Trayvon could have been him 35 years ago.

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