Leah Donnella

Leah Donnella is a news assistant on NPR's Code Switch team, where she primarily blogs and assists with the Code Switch podcast production.

Donnella originally came to NPR in September 2015 as an intern for Code Switch. Prior to that, she was a summer intern at WHYY's Public Media Commons, where she helped teach high school students the ins and outs of journalism and film-making. She spent a lot of time out in the hot Philly sun tracking down unsuspecting tourists for man-on-the-street interviews. Donnella also worked at the University of Pennsylvania for two years as the House Coordinator at Gregory College House, which is the University of Pennsylvania's language and cinema-themed dorm.

Donnella graduated from Pomona College with a Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies.

Is it really true that a good (black) man is hard to find? This week, we're taking on some long-lasting stereotypes about black-on-black love.

Natalie asks:

"Racist."

Some people hear that word and picture a hood-wearing, cross-burning bigot. Others think more abstractly — they hear racist and think of policies, institutions, laws and language.

It's tricky to nail down exactly what makes someone feel like a "racial impostor." For one Code Switch follower, it's the feeling she gets from whipping out "broken but strangely colloquial Arabic" in front of other Middle Easterners.

For another — a white-passing, Native American woman — it's being treated like "just another tourist" when she shows up at powwows. And one woman described watching her white, black and Korean-American toddler bump along to the new Kendrick and wondering, "Is this allowed?"

To protest, or not to protest? This week on Ask Code Switch, we're digging into a question from Shawn, an African-American high school student in South Florida, who wonders how best to take a stand against injustice:

Hello Code Switch Crew,

Hey fam —

Code Switch is planning a full year of stories about the complex ways that race, identity and culture play out in peoples' lives, across the country and around the globe. And to make sure our coverage is the best it can be, we want some feedback from you.

So tell us what you loved and hated in our past year of coverage. Tell us which stories left you satisfied, and which left you wanting more. And tell us what you're dying to hear about in 2018.

To share your thoughts, email us at CodeSwitch@npr.org, or fill out this form.

All right, so you could get in the Christmas spirit by telling the same old tale about a jolly old man who slides down the chimneys and rewards well-behaved kids with mountains of toys.

Some people hold fast to their Christmas traditions, and there is nothing wrong with that. But think how magical it can be to revamp Christmas stories to better reflect the time and country that we live in.

Remember the Thanksgiving story you learned in school — how, way back when, Pilgrims and Indians got together at one giant dinner table and ate turkey and stuffing and green beans covered in Campbell's mushroom soup? And then there was peace on Earth?

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:

So, you're at your friend's elaborately decorated Halloween party. There are cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, bloody handprints on the wall, a frothing potion brewing on the stove. It's creepy! And scary! But is it ... spooky?

Never mind ghosts and goblins, zombies and vampires.

Anyone who looks a little — or a lot — different from their parents is used to being asked nosy questions: Whose kid are you? Where did you come from? Where do you belong?

Those questions can be even more pervasive when you don't look like anyone in your community.

So is there anything parents can do to protect their kiddos (and themselves) from those grating interactions? This week, we're exploring these questions on Ask Code Switch — and in the podcast.

They say if you want something done right, do it yourself. But for Ray Halbritter, it was more a case of, "if you want something done at all."

Halbritter, the CEO of Oneida Nation Enterprises, wasn't seeing stories by or about Native Americans in mainstream media outlets, and on the rare occasion those places did try to write about indigenous people, the stories often got distorted.

Last time I worshipped in a synagogue was Sept. 5, 2014. And I won't be going today.

That might surprise my friends, who put up with my bragging ad nauseam about how Jewish I am.

Mélisande Short-Colomb knew her family had been enslaved. But until recently, she didn't know that they were enslaved, and later sold, by Georgetown University.

She found out about that part of her history when she got a message from a genealogist for the Georgetown Memory Project, which is dedicated to finding the descendents of the 272 people sold by the university in 1838.

Remember Katie? She is the woman from Delaware who is thinking about getting married, but her boyfriend doesn't want her to take his last name. "He was strongly against it," she wrote. "He doesn't want an obviously Latino surname (think: Lopez or Garcia) to affect me negatively."

Each week on "Ask Code Switch," we tackle your trickiest questions about race. This time, we're unpacking that old nursery rhyme: First comes love, then comes a heated discussion of unconscious bias, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.

Katie from Wilmington, Del., asks:

This viral video out of Hollywood raises an interesting question: What does racism look like from one Latino to another?

Welcome back to Ask Code Switch, a segment where we dissect your trickiest questions about race. This week, we're tackling one version of a question that we hear all the time: What do you do when people just won't stop making assumptions about you because of how you look?

Franchesca in San Francisco writes:

As the debate rages over what role Confederate monuments do — and should — play in commemorating U.S. history, Jennifer Allen says we can learn a lot from Germany.

Allen is an assistant professor of German history at Yale University, and she specializes in something called memory politics.

Jared Taylor was not in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday. But Taylor, one of the leading voices for white rights in the country, says it was clear what really happened at that rally.

Imagine finding out one day that many of the stories that you told about yourself weren't really true. The way you understood your family history, the way you explained your personality ("I'm Italian, of course I talk loud!"), the way you talked about your hair — what if all of it was just, well, stories?

Or maybe even stranger: What if you found out that you had a whole hidden history that you'd never known about? That generations of your family had lived through events that you had no idea you were connected to?

Would that change who you are?

When social interactions become racially charged, sometimes even the most woke among us are prone to faux pas. What do you do when your dad pretends not to speak English whenever your gringo boyfriend comes around? Why does your coworker scowl at you every time you drink Fanta? Should you automatically cut off contact with someone who doesn't like hip hop, or is there a way to compromise?

One year ago, Barack Obama was winding down his final term and Donald Trump was ... a candidate for president?

Editor's Note: This piece contains language that some may find offensive.

It's Flag Day! On this week's podcast, we explore the ways that communities of color in the United States relate to the Stars and Stripes.

And we thought it worth a few moments to celebrate a flag created nearly a century ago for black Americans.

It's tricky to nail down exactly what makes someone feel like a "racial impostor." For one Code Switch follower, it's the feeling she gets from whipping out "broken but strangely colloquial Arabic" in front of other Middle Easterners.

For another — a white-passing, Native American woman — it's being treated like "just another tourist" when she shows up at powwows. And one woman described watching her white, black and Korean-American toddler bump along to the new Kendrick and wondering, "Is this allowed?"

Ask some actors about their dream role, and they're likely to offer range of answers: a character from Shakespeare, a superhero, the lead in Phantom of the Opera. As for Daniel Dae Kim, a Korean-American actor who has had roles in Lost, Crash and most recently Hawaii Five-0, his dream is to play a romantic lead. Any romantic lead.

In 1624, as Portuguese colonists were making their way through the east coast of Africa, a woman named Nzinga ascended to the throne of Ndongo (now Angola). She spent decades fighting off invaders, both from Portugal and neighboring African kingdoms, and became a legend among her people and around the world.

Lots of people pay traffic fines, but not everyone is affected the same way. According to a new report from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, traffic fines in California have an outsize effect on low-income drivers and people of color. And those consequences are not just monetary. Unpaid tickets can result in additional fines. Failure to pay those fines can lead to suspension or loss of license, and even jail time for some if they continue to drive without a license.

In some ways, Yara Shahidi is a lot like Zoey Johnson, the character she plays on ABC's comedy Black-ish. Shahidi, like Johnson, is a 17 year old high school student with several younger siblings, so the two have hit some of the same social and familial milestones at the same time.

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