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
10:07 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Pizza Chain That Markets To Mexicans Says New Promotion Isn't Profane

Pizza Patrón hires bilingual employees to serve their core customer base, Mexican immigrants.
Dave Einsel Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 11:05 am

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fair warning - this story is about and includes the use of a Spanish-language word that some consider a profanity.

Pizza Patrón is a Dallas-based chain that's generated a lot of media buzz over the years for advertising aimed at its core customer base, Mexican immigrants. Its newest promotion uses a popular Mexican slang word that to some means "super cool," while others find it super-offensive.

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Code Switch
5:13 pm
Sun March 16, 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 7:23 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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Code Switch
4:19 pm
Sun March 9, 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 Fri February 14, 2014 4:00 pm

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Code Switch
11:41 am
Sun February 2, 2014

English Only? For Mainland Puerto Ricans, The Answer Is Often 'Yes'

Shereen Marisol Meraji NPR

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 7:01 pm

Javier Fossas asked me, "Do you speak Spanish?"

It's complicated. I do, but I'm really insecure about my Spanish.

I grew up in California in a Puerto Rican family where English was the dominant language. Adults used Spanish mostly to share secrets or express frustration. So I hate the Spanish question.

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Code Switch
4:01 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 5:39 pm

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Code Switch
3:27 pm
Fri November 22, 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 8:43 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
3:44 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

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

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 5:49 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
2:08 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 4:13 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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Code Switch
1:46 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 5:38 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
10:59 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 12:05 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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