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.

Today, ethnic studies is an accepted part of academia. Many if not most college students have taken a course or two. But 50 years ago, studying the history and culture of any people who were not white and Western was considered radical. Then came the longest student strike in U.S. history, at San Francisco State College, which changed everything.

The groundwork was laid for the strike a couple of years before, when black students organized to press for a black studies department and the admission of more black students.

Karla Mosley wants you to know that people with eating disorders look like her too.

"I'm a woman of color and I certainly didn't know that people like me had eating disorders," she says. "I thought it was a white, rich, female, adolescent disorder."

Only one of those identifiers fits Mosley who's black and binged and purged for years. But Mosley, an actor and a regular on the day time soap, The Bold and the Beautiful, is sharing her story of battling bulimia and getting her health back.

President Trump traveled to a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, today, continuing on his campaign to drum up support for a $5.7 billion border wall. The visit came after weeks of Congressional debate about border security that has resulted in a partial government shutdown.

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, " LA BAMBA")

LOS LOBOS: (Singing in Spanish).

NOEL KING, HOST:

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.


Sixty years ago this month, a 17-year-old Mexican-American kid in California released a single that quickly climbed to the Top 40.

In 1987, an East Los Angeles rock band added their own spin, which became the first song in Spanish to hit No. 1 in the United States.

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