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Code Switch Roundup: Mascots, Nurses And Yellow Dogs

Yellow Dogs, an indie band from Iran, fled to the United States in 2010 to avoid crackdowns on rock music. This past week, the band met tragedy in a murder/suicide.
Danny Krug
Yellow Dogs, an indie band from Iran, fled to the United States in 2010 to avoid crackdowns on rock music. This past week, the band met tragedy in a murder/suicide.

Here are some stories about race, ethnicity and culture that have been on our radar here at Code Switch. Share what stories have caught your attention. Tell us on Twitter (@nprcodeswitch) or shout us out in the comments below.

Not every Asian knows martial arts, but ...

Jason Chan, owner of a Michelin-recognized sushi restaurant in Chicago, put a would-be iPhone thief in his place. The restaurant owner, who's been practicing Shidokan (a type of karate) for almost two decades, noticed a disheveled man enter the restaurant and act oddly: The man in question set his jacket down at the bar, asked the bartender for pen and paper, swooped up his own jacket and ran out — toting another customer's iPhone 5. Chan tracked down the thief, saw him attempting that same ploy at another dig, and swiftly administered a knockout-inducing kick to the thief's face.

From the Chicago Sun Times:

"He was adversarial, [so I used] hand-to-hand combat techniques to make sure he was unconscious," Chan said.

" 'I put him in a maneuver called an arm bar and told him I would break his arm if he tried to get away,' Chan said. The man kept fighting, so Chan knocked him out with a kick to the face and neutralized him until the police arrived a few minutes later."

Justice in the Windy City. (And once again, before we dip into any eye-roll-worthy stereotypes: Not all Asians know martial arts. Aaand, moving on.)

A California school that chants "A-R-A-B-S" to honor its mascot

The Coachella Valley High School in California is feeling the heat because of its mascot: a hook-nosed Arab man. The American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee wasn't happy with the way the high school's mascot depicts people of Arab descent. The group's complaint made national news. As NPR's Sam Sanders reports, the school district and region's student population is 99 percent Latino. Some of the students feel that they're being unfairly targeted: Other schools nearby also have controversial mascots. Look at the mascot of Indio High School — a team Coachella Valley's football team played last Friday — and you'll see Rajah, an arms-crossed, turbaned Indian prince. Indio, by the way, means "Indian" in Spanish.

Our friends over at NPR Music reminded us that the 12 Years A Slave soundtrack is, yeah, awesome

Ann Powers writes:

"Among the many challenges this film poses to viewers, one is to understand how music has both supported the liberation and self-expression of African-Americans and filled an imaginary space of reconciliation and even joy, where oppressors can lie to themselves about the cruelty they inflict. Music culture in America has often defeated racism and, just as often, perpetuated it. Frequently one gesture can't be separated from the other. In its focused, exacting examination of slavery's details, 12 Years A Slave makes music the opposite of a palliative by paying particular attention to how playing and listening to it could simultaneously form imaginary (and very occasionally, real) escape routes for those in bondage and feel like a chain."

This past week, three members of the Yellow Dogs band died in a murder/suicide

The band, which fled Iran in 2010 to avoid crackdowns on rock music, was poised for success in the U.S. NPR reporter Dan Bobkoff said their sound was a "combination of post-punk psychedelic rock and dance." The AP reports that the gunman, who had been kicked out of another band last year, entered an apartment and shot and killed musicians Ali Eskandarian, Arash Farazmand and Soroush Farazmand.

Bobkoff talked with Ali Salehezadeh, who managed the band and lived with its members at the house where they were killed.

"I can't tell you how hard it is to think this is what we're going to be known for now," Salehezadeh said. He hopes the band will be remembered for its music.

(For a look at the tragic history of Yellow Dogs, read this New York magazine piece.)

Hospitals deal with patient requests that discriminate against employees

Syrenthia Dysart, a Florida-area nurse, was told her patient's family had requested a caregiver who was not black: The woman had once been mugged by a black man. Now Dysart is suing the Palms of Pasadena Hospital in St. Petersburg for discrimination.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

"The request made its way up the chain of command, and according to Dysart and a lawsuit she has filed in the U.S. District Court in Tampa, the request resulted in a 'hospitalwide directive' — meaning everyone from doctors to janitors were made aware.

"This type of request has been called one of medicine's 'open secrets,' and hospitals often acquiesce.

"Until recently, the subject hasn't attracted much attention because hospitals often deal with the requests surreptitiously, rescheduling physicians and nurses without explanation.

"But some recent studies and lawsuits have brought light to the practice and have raised the question: What does a hospital do when a patient demands that a doctor or nurse of a particular ethnicity not treat them?"

Junot Díaz, Mark Kurlansky, Julia Alvarez and Edwidge Danticat penned an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times about Dominicans of Haitian descent losing their citizenship in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic Supreme Court's recent decision revokes the citizenship of Dominicans born after 1929 whose parents aren't Dominican.

"The ruling affects an estimated 250,000 Dominican people of Haitian descent, including many who have had no personal connection with Haiti for several generations.

"These Dominican citizens are suddenly stateless and without rights simply because of their Haitian ancestry. Dominican animosity and racial hatred of Haitians dates back to at least 1822, when the Haitian army invaded the Dominican Republic, liberated the slaves and encouraged free blacks from the United States to settle there to make Dominicans 'blacker.' "

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