KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Jonaki Mehta

Jonaki Mehta is a producer for All Things Considered. Before ATC, she worked at Neon Hum Media where she produced a documentary series and talk show. Prior to that, Mehta was a producer at Member station KPCC and director/associate producer at Marketplace Morning Report, where she helped shape the morning's business news.

Mehta's first job in radio was at NPR West as a National Desk intern. Her career really began when she was nine years old and insisted that the local county paper give Mehta her very own column. (She didn't get the job, but her very patient mother did somehow get her a meeting with the editor-in-chief.) Outside of work, she loves making recipes with harvests from her vegetable garden and riding her motorcycle around L.A.

This story is part of an NPR series, We Hold These Truths, on American democracy.

Last summer, DonnaLee Norrington had a dream about owning a home. Not the figurative kind, but a literal dream, as she slept in the rental studio apartment in South Los Angeles that she was sharing with a friend.

At around 2 a.m., Norrington remembers, "God said to me, 'Why don't you get a mortgage that doesn't move?' And in my head I knew that meant a fixed mortgage."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

For Simranjit Singh, spending time in his family's almond and raisin fields is "the most therapeutic thing I could ever ask for." He says it's something he could never give up.

Singh is a 28-year-old farmer in a town 15 miles west of Fresno, Calif., called Kerman.

His extended family gathered on the farm last weekend to celebrate Vaisakhi, a farming holiday celebrated annually on April 13 or 14, and throughout the month.

Fatima Khazi is having a hard time at school — she's in a new country, in a new city, her classmates make fun of how she speaks, they wrinkle their noses at the way her food smells, and on top of all that, she isn't doing well in her classes. But Fatima is thrilled to escape for the weekend and go camping with her family.

Home: It's where a lot of us have been spending our time since March 2020. For Mike Milosh, leader of the R&B music collective Rhye, the word has taken on new meaning — he's gone from life on the road to a more permanent idea of home at his house outside Los Angeles, where he created his latest studio album. But the sound of this record was conceived well before the pandemic: It began with the idea of wanting to include a choir, which led to Milosh inviting the Danish National Girls' Choir to come to the U.S.

Hugs, travel and seeing the smiling faces beneath one another's masks are just a few of life's pleasures many of us have lost during the pandemic. But with vaccines being rolled out, those dreams are a step closer to reality.

The year of large racial justice protests led to an unprecedented number of Confederate symbols being removed around the country.

More than 100 Confederate symbols have been removed from public spaces or renamed since George Floyd was killed, according to a count by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Are you figuring out how to modify that annual cookie-exchange party with your friends this winter? Does caroling around the neighborhood feel unsafe, even at a social distance? Does 2020 have you feeling differently about making a New Year's resolution for next year? Or maybe it's just the tradition of visiting your grandparents that will just have to happen over Zoom this year. As with everything else in 2020, the holidays feel a little different amid a global pandemic.

Photographer Janna Ireland aims to capture intimacy and relationships in her work, which she says focuses primarily on Black life in America.

For the Los Angeles-based photographer, that has included photographing staged scenes as well as self-portraits and portraits of her family — including, most recently, of her two sons during the pandemic.

"In my work, I'm happy when all different kinds of people appreciate it, but I feel as though I'm making it for Black people," she says.

As the presidential election draws closer, NPR wants to hear what kinds of issues matter most to California voters between the ages of 18 and 24. Are you concerned about climate change, racial justice, cost of housing, health care, the economy or student debt? Do you identify as a Democrat or Republican? Or do you think the two-party system doesn't work altogether?

We are interested in hearing from a range of people — conservative, liberal, BIPOC, white people, LGBTQ+, people attending college and those who aren't.

Across the country, students of color have been demanding change from their schools. At one Denver school, the push for a more inclusive and diverse curriculum came last year, from a group of African American high school students at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College.

Pirette McKamey is fighting for anti-racist education.

Over her more than 30 years as an educator, the principal at Mission High School in San Francisco spent a decade leading an anti-racism committee.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. The decision is often framed as a landmark decision that transformed education for Black students, allowing them equal access to integrated classrooms.

June 2020 was a pride month that looked different from past years, and not just because people were socially distancing and wearing masks: Demonstrations for LGBTQ equality overlapped with protests against violence and systemic racism against Black people.

At the intersection of these two fights for equality are Black transgender people.

Imara Jones, an independent journalist and founder of TransLash media, told NPR's All Things Considered, that this moment has been "a crucible."

Between the pandemic, the economic crisis and now protests, 2020 has already been a lot. Yo-Yo Ma has been coping, and trying to help the rest of us cope, with music. The cellist has been posting videos of himself playing what he calls "Songs of Comfort."

"I do believe that everything that we do," he says, "people in every profession — medical workers, the delivery people, the politicians — we all are there to serve. We only exist because someone has a need. I know that music fulfills that kind of need."

In the weeks since police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, people around the U.S. and the world have flooded the streets in rage and protest against police violence toward African Americans.

When Luc Jasmin III took over Parkview Early Learning Center six years ago, he wanted to create a safe space where young children could not only be cared for but also get an educational foundation to prepare them for a lifetime of learning.

During normal times, the center in Spokane, Wash., serves about 100 children who range in age from 4 weeks old to 13 years. The center didn't close down during the coronavirus pandemic, except for a couple of days to retrain staff on social distancing and cleaning guidelines.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night — nor coronavirus — stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

The mail is still coming. And one 11-year-old girl in Sioux Falls, S.D., wanted to show her appreciation.

How else, but by writing a letter.