Gene Demby

Gene Demby is the lead blogger for NPR's Code Switch team.

Before coming to NPR, he served as the managing editor for Huffington Post's BlackVoices following its launch. He later covered politics.

Prior to that role he spent six years in various positions at The New York Times. While working for the Times in 2007, he started a blog about race, culture, politics and media called PostBourgie, which won the 2009 Black Weblog Award for Best News/Politics Site.

Demby is an avid runner, mainly because he wants to stay alive long enough to finally see the Sixers and Eagles win championships in their respective sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @GeeDee215.

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Code Switch
12:07 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

How To Tell Who Hasn't Read The New 'Atlantic' Cover Story

Ta-Nehisi Coates' cover story is kicking up a lot of dust in the same way several other recent much discussed Atlantic think pieces and cover stories have.
The Atlantic

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 9:34 pm

The Atlantic does this a lot: use the magazine's covers to launch large, provocative conversations that you later hear endlessly dissected on cable news, in the blogosphere, and on Twitter. It is a think piece factory.

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Code Switch
3:16 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

How Donald Sterling Violated The NBA's Unspoken Social Contract

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends the NBA playoff game between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors on April 21.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

We play for each other, for our fans, and for our families — not Donald Sterling.

That was the general message that players for the Los Angeles Clippers reiterated, off-mic, when the Sterling fiasco blew up over the weekend. They were being buffeted by questions about how, exactly, they might respond to allegations that Sterling, the team owner, had been recorded saying that he did not want black people to attend his team's games. Would they boycott? Would they be focused enough to be able to play?

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Fri April 25, 2014

What Exactly Qualifies As 'Racist,' Anyway?

Cliven Bundy, who has been locked in a dispute with the federal government for decades over grazing rights on public lands, has strong opinions on things. Things like black people.
David Becker Getty Images

Originally published on Sat April 26, 2014 9:05 am

Meet Cliven Bundy, a 67-year-old Nevada rancher and the latest person in public life recorded making pretty racist comments, only to later insist that they lack racist bones.

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Code Switch
2:15 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Two Justices Debate The Doctrine Of Colorblindness

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Michigan voters' 2006 decision to ban affirmative action in the state's higher education system passed constitutional muster.

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Code Switch
8:32 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Revisiting Pulitzer Nominees That Touch On Issues Of Race

Washington Post writer Eli Saslow won a Pulitzer Prize for his series on the prevalence of food stamps in post-recession America.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 11:56 am

This week, Columbia University handed out the Pulitzer Prizes, which are widely considered among the highest honors in journalism. The occasion gives us a good excuse to shout-out some of the finalists and winning entries that touch on issues of race and culture. (Fair warning: These stories are very good journalism done in the service of illuminating some deeply dispiriting realities.)

Speak No Evil

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Code Switch
9:22 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Step Behind Closed Doors And Into The LBJ Library's Time Machine

LBJ meets with Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall just before announcing his nomination to the Supreme Court.
Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 5:04 pm

This week, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, Texas, is holding a major conference on civil rights. It's a big deal. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Johnson's signing of the Civil Rights Act. The legacy of the landmark legislation is as significant and complicated as that of the late president himself, who cajoled, cornered and courted lawmakers to approve the bill.

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Code Switch
10:02 am
Tue April 8, 2014

How Stereotypes Explain Everything And Nothing At All

The City College of New York basketball team in 1932.
New York Daily News Archive New York Daily News via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 9:17 am

A few days ago, I wrote a post in which I was mulling just why so few Asian-Americans played Division I basketball. The numbers were striking: of the 5,380 men's players in the top tier of college basketball during the 2012-2013 season, only 15 were Asian-American. Asian-American ballers weren't just underrepresented. They were practically invisible.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Why Aren't Asian-Americans Getting Their 'One Shining Moment'?

Jeremy Lin cast a long shadow in this conversation, in part because there are so few Asian-American players to cast them.
Fred Beckham AP

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 8:33 am

While we were looking at some NCAA stats on student athletes for a story last week, we came across a couple of numbers that made our eyes bulge: of the 5,380 men's basketball players in Division I basketball last season, only 15 were Asian-American. Fifteen.

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Code Switch
1:23 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Poll Finds Big Racial Gap On Compensating College Athletes

Northwestern University quarterback Kain Colter has been leading a push to start a union for college athletes.
Paul Beaty AP

Originally published on Fri March 28, 2014 4:23 pm

A decision yesterday by the National Labor Relations Board found that football players at Northwestern University were, in effect, employees of their school. That means that Northwestern players can move forward with plans to form a union — a move that sent shock waves through the world of college athletics, even though it's too early to know just what it will mean.

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Code Switch
12:51 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Redskins' Team Owner Launches Program For Natives, Flotilla Of Side-Eyes

Daniel Snyder, the Washington Redskins' owner, pointed to support from Native officials: "They have genuine issues they truly are worried about, and our team's name is not one of them."
Mel Evans AP

On Monday, Daniel Snyder, the Washington Redskins' polarizing owner, doubled down.

Snyder sent a letter to the team's fans in which he announced that he was starting a philanthropic project to aid Native American communities. He said he'd spent months traveling through Indian country, getting to know tribal leaders and becoming more cognizant of the challenges faced by many Native communities. (You can read the whole letter here.)

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Code Switch
8:55 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Our Conversation On Race In 'World of Warcraft,' Unabridged

The Pandaren are a fairly new race in WoW — "giant pandas that belong to clans with Chinese-sounding names and lands filled with 'Asian' architecture," as one person told us — and they show how real-world racial notions creep into the game's universe.
Battle.net

World of Warcraft is trying to reduce racial inequality. Don't worry, this isn't about racial disparities between black, Latino and Asian players — we're talking about gnomes and trolls and orcs here.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Remembering Buddy Esquire, The King Of Hip-Hop Flyers

Buddy Esquire was a prolific handbill artist in hip-hop's early days in the South Bronx. He taught himself how to draw and different styles of lettering by checking out books from the local library — and his flyers are some of the only surviving documents from hip-hop's birth.
Courtesy of Cornell University Hip Hop Collection

Originally published on Sat February 22, 2014 4:12 pm

Forty years after its birth, hip-hop is everywhere, a global signifier of youthfulness and subversion and opulence and Americanness and blackness and menace, sometimes all at once.

But for all the glorification of hip-hop's early days in the South Bronx — the brilliant improvisation, the block parties — there isn't a whole lot of supporting documentation. A lot of what we know is from the fading memories of aging b-girls and b-boys who were present at the creation.

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Race
3:58 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Another Murder Case In Florida Sparks National Outrage

Bobby Worthy, President of The Justice League, leads a chant outside of the Duval County Courthouse during the trial of Michael Dunn in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday.
Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 7:50 pm

The Michael Dunn case is of a type that we see with harrowing regularity. An unarmed black man is shot and killed by a police officer or a white person. The shooter says he felt threatened.

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Race
4:27 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Coke Ad Sparks Cries On Social Media To 'Speak English'

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 10:26 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

At some point during tonight's opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, NBC will run a much-talked about television ad for Coca-Cola.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: (Singing) Oh, beautiful, for spacious skies...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: (Singing in foreign language)

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Code Switch
4:25 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Who Gets To Be A Superhero? Race And Identity In Comics

Orion Martin reimagined several iconic X-Men covers, recasting the superheroes as people of color. The move sparked a discussion on race in comics, both on the page and in the writers' rooms.
Orion Martin

Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 6:20 pm

The X-Men comic franchise has proven remarkably sturdy in the half-century since its launch. They've spawned dozens of animated series and four major Hollywood films with a fifth due out this summer. A big part of that is due to its central premise — a minority of superpowered humans called mutants are discriminated against by their government and fellow citizens — which has functioned as a sci-fi allegory for everything from the civil rights movement to the AIDS crisis.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Wed December 25, 2013

The Best Of Code Switch In 2013

Like many Japanese-Americans, Yuri Kochiyama was place in an internment camp during World War II. She became an outspoken civil rights activist, and began an unlikely friendship with Malcolm X.
Courtesy of the Kochiyama family/UCLA Asian American Studies Center

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 6:19 pm

Everyone else is doing their year-end lists, and we didn't want to be left out. The Code Switch crew compiled our favorite and best-received coverage from the past year: a novel revisiting of a pivotal year a half century ago; attending homecoming at a historically black college that is now nearly all-white; and rounding up some alternately hilarious and excruciating stories our readers told us about race.

When Our Kids Own America

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Code Switch
2:50 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Is A 'Pathway To Citizenship' The Right Concern?

Immigrants hold miniature U.S. flags as they listen to a video broadcast from President Obama during a naturalization ceremony in New York City.
Bebeto Matthews AP

Much of the debate over whether and how to overhaul the country's immigration policy has hinged on whether and how to create a pathway to citizenship. But a majority of Latinos now say that's less important for unauthorized immigrants than giving them relief from the threat of deportation.

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Code Switch
8:35 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Immigrants Are Sending More Money Back To Less Poor Countries

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 1:54 pm

More and more people are sending money from places like the United States to places like the Dominican Republic, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Taking A Magnifying Glass To The Brown Faces In Medieval Art

It became an artistic convention during the Middle Ages to depict Balthazar, one of the fabled Magi who come to greet the newborn Christ, as a dark-skinned man. This painting, Adoration of the Magi, is by Bartolome Esteban Murillo.
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 4:10 pm

The Tumblr sounds a bit like a college course: People of Color in European Art History.

And its goal is pretty ambitious. The blog's author, Malisha Dewalt, says that her goal is to challenge the common perception that pre-Enlightenment Europe was all white, which she argues is a much more recent and deliberate invention.

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Code Switch
11:08 am
Wed November 20, 2013

'Go Shorty, It's Your Birthday' And Other Black Bons Mots

A quote from Bartlett's Familiar Black Quotations.
NPR

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 2:26 pm

A press copy of a 3-pound book recently came over the wholly metaphorical Code Switch transom. It's called Bartlett's Familiar Black Quotations, and it's kind of amazing.

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Code Switch
12:09 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Code Switch Roundup: Status Symbols, Sriracha And Soul Food

The maker of the popular Thai hot sauce Sriracha hot sauce is under fire — get it? — for allegedly fouling the air around its Southern California production site.
Nick Ut ASSOCIATED PRESS

Here are some things we've been musing on over the last few days. Share yours on Twitter or shout us out in the comments below.

"We shine because they hate us/floss 'cuz they degrade us." After two young, black customers accused the high-end retailer Barneys of racially profiling them after they made expensive purchases there, those customers themselves came in for criticism. Just why were these kids who probably aren't rich spending their money so recklessly?

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Code Switch
1:22 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

When Will We Stop Side-Eyeing Relatives Who Don't 'Match'?

The children of the Ruseva family — at the heart of a story about a Roma child suspected of being kidnapped because she had blond hair and blue eyes — might not read to many as relatives. But they are.
BGNES AP

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 7:00 am

Last week, folks told us that that they found odd resonances in their lives with the stories of several Roma children in Europe who'd separated from their families. Like those blond, blue-eyed Roma children in darker-skinned, dark-haired families, people said that their own familial bonds had occasionally come under suspicion from strangers, who thought there was a "racial mismatch" between parent and child.

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Code Switch
1:23 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Ask Me Anything: On Bluefield State, America's Whitest Black College

Conley Hall is the home of the library and administrative offices of Bluefield State College.
Jon C. Hancock AP

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 2:56 pm

On Monday, the folks over at Reddit were kind enough to have my colleague Shereen Marisol Meraji and me on to do an Ask Me Anything on our recent reporting on Bluefield State College in West Virginia. Bluefield State is a historically black college, but today it's nearly 90 percent white.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Recent Findings Question State Support Of Black Colleges

Morgan State University in Baltimore is one of the state's four historically black institutions.
Marylandstater Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 10:49 am

This week, a federal judge found that historically black colleges in Maryland were harmed when better-funded traditionally white institutions offered up the same degree programs in the state.

Tricia Bishop of The Baltimore Sun summed up the judge's ruling this way:

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Code Switch
3:50 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Howard's President Steps Down Amid Tumult And Uncertainty

Sidney Ribeau's tenure saw the university's endowment recover from the 2008 downturn and its alumni giving rate quadruple. But a trustee said the school was in "serious trouble" and called for a no-confidence vote against him.
The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 6:55 pm

Is Howard University facing an existential crisis?

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Code Switch
11:10 am
Thu September 26, 2013

What Parents Tell Their Kids About Race

"Nice job on the model car, son. But remember it has to be twice as good. Start over."
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 2:59 pm

Like so much of the advice that parents give their children, conversations about race often say a great deal about the values parents hold most dear. And like so much other parental advice, kids are often keen to reject it outright — or remix it for themselves. (In July, when news broke that George Zimmerman was acquitted of manslaughter, we asked parents to share what they told their kids after the verdict was announced.)

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Code Switch
3:26 pm
Sun September 15, 2013

Who's Really Left Out Of The CrossFit Circle

CrossFitters exercise at a gym in Travis, N.Y. A blog posted to CrossFit's Facebook page has opened up a discussion about diversity in the CrossFit community.
Anthony DePrimo Staten Island Advance /Landov

Last week, the headquarters for CrossFit, the popular — and polarizing — workout genre, shared an item on its Facebook page from a blog called Stuff Black People Don't Like.

And according to an entry from February on the Stuff Black People Don't Like blog, CrossFit is anti-black:

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Code Switch
2:36 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

New York Man Killed By Attacker In Possible Hate Crime

Jeffrey Babbitt was struck by a disturbed man as he walked through Manhattan's Union Square Park, above.
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 10:01 am

Jeffrey Babbitt was walking through Union Square last Wednesday, near the Manhattan comic book store that he'd been going to for years, when he had a fatal chance encounter with a stranger.

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Code Switch
10:29 am
Tue August 20, 2013

The Dream 9 Pushes The Envelope (And Their Allies' Buttons)

The immigration activists known as the Dream 9 were arrested after attempting to re-enter the United States.
Samantha Sais AP

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 3:11 pm

The national conversation around immigration has shifted dramatically over the past decade. That's in large part because of activists who have pushed to change the narrative around the undocumented.

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Race
3:11 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Read The Most Important Bits From NYC's Stop-And-Frisk Ruling

U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled New York City's stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional, and said the practice, as applied, unfairly targeted blacks and Latinos.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 4:33 pm

Judge Shira Scheindlin has earned a reputation as an outspoken defender of civil liberties and a recurring foil for the New York City police. In her ruling in the closely watched stop-and-frisk case, Scheindlin criticized the police, and said the department discriminated against blacks and Latinos. She also said the police force has long ignored complaints about the way the tactic has been carried out.

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