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
9:29 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Is Corporal Punishment Abuse? Why That's A Loaded Question

Adrian Peterson (right) was ordered to stay away from his team, the Minnesota Vikings, while he addresses child abuse charges in Texas.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Sat September 20, 2014 12:10 pm

Over the past week, Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings' all-world running back and one of the NFL's biggest stars, has become the face of corporal punishment in America. Peterson turned himself in to police over the weekend on charges of child abuse after he allegedly hit his son with a switch that left welts on his body.

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Code Switch
3:09 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Scenes From The Ferguson We Didn't See On TV

Many of the shops on the protest route were temporarily closed. This cross is the third in a series of pictures on this store's wall. Together, they read: "Oh The Blood."
Eric Kayne for NPR

Originally published on Sun September 7, 2014 7:24 pm

Before I went to Ferguson, Mo., to cover the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting, a reported friend who was already joked that he was certain that he was sure that every person in the town had already been interviewed. And sure enough, the media crunch on was intense on West Florissant, the main boulevard that was the site of protests and clashes with the police in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown.

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Code Switch
1:58 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

What Does It Mean To Prevent 'The Next Michael Brown'?

Demonstrators last month chanted on West Florissant, one of the main boulevards in Ferguson, Mo. According to a state report, nearly 9 in 10 people stopped by the police in 2013 were black.
Eric Kayne for NPR

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 4:38 pm

Since the recent unrest in Ferguson, Mo., there have been a host of changes to the way the local police do business that are meant to prevent another incident like the shooting death of Michael Brown. Gov. Jay Nixon has appointed Dan Isom, an African-American, as the state's new public safety director.

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Code Switch
11:23 am
Tue August 19, 2014

In Ferguson, Mo., A City Meets The Spotlight

Demonstrators protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown listen to rapper Nelly speak.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 3:17 pm

Etefia Umana says that Ferguson, Mo., is in some ways a media fiction.

We're sitting in the offices of Better Family Life, an organization that provides social services to people in the area. Umana chairs its board and lives in Ferguson.

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Code Switch
2:40 pm
Sat August 16, 2014

Code Switch Roundup: On Race, Policing And Ferguson

A protester holds up a clenched fist in front of a convenience store that was looted and burned following the shooting death of Michael Brown by police nearly a week ago in Ferguson, Mo.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Sun August 17, 2014 6:33 am

Over the past week, much of the nation's attention has been trained on the town of Ferguson, Mo., following an incident there in which a police officer shot an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown. Like similar stories, the Michael Brown shooting has become a flashpoint for conversations about race and policing, and there have been heated, chaotic showdowns between the police there and protesters.

Here's some of what's been written about the shooting and the reaction to it in the week since.

FERGUSON AT A GLANCE

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Code Switch
12:24 pm
Sat August 9, 2014

'Are You, Like, African-AMERICAN Or AFRICAN-American?'

President Obama spoke to young Africans who were held up as future leaders during this week's Africa Summit.
Charles Dharapak AP

Over at NewsOne, Donovan X. Ramsey contrasted two approaches President Obama has taken with black audiences: 1) the finger-wagging, pull-up-your-pants approach that he often takes with African-Americans, like the graduates at all-male Morehouse College ("We've got no time for excuses ... nobody is going to give you anything you haven't earned"), and 2) the laudatory tone he took with young African leaders who traveled to D.C. this week for the Africa Summit.

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Code Switch
7:03 am
Tue July 29, 2014

What We See In The Eric Garner Video, And What We Don't

Garner was confronted by police trying to arrest him on suspicion of selling untaxed, loose cigarettes on a Staten Island sidewalk, authorities said.
Family Photo via National Action Network/AP AP

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 3:13 pm

The rough grooves of the Eric Garner story probably feel familiar to lots of folks by now: an unarmed black man dies after an encounter with the police, agitating old tensions between residents and the officers who patrol their neighborhoods.

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Code Switch
1:19 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Code Switch Roundup: Big Stories On Race And Criminal Justice

Pedestrians stand beside a memorial for Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while being arrested by New York City police.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 6:59 pm

The past few days have brought a whole lot of important (and pretty sobering) news around race and policing. Here are some of the biggest stories that have landed on our radar.

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Code Switch
1:25 pm
Sat July 19, 2014

Americans Really Like Jews. Muslims And Atheists? Not So Much

Rabbi Aaron Raskin plays the shofar as Jews mark Rosh Hashanah during a traditional Tashlich ceremony in September 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. A new Pew poll asked how warmly Americans felt toward people of varying religious groups.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 7:41 am

Late last week, the Pew Research and Public Life Project dropped a fascinating new survey on Americans' feelings toward different religious groups.

The pollsters used a "thermometer" that went up to 100 for respondents to plot just how warmly they felt toward different communities. They deemed a rating of more than 50 as positive, while a rating of less than 50 was deemed negative.

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Code Switch
8:46 am
Tue July 15, 2014

The George Zimmerman Trial, One Year Later

George Zimmerman's trial became the locus of heated debate about racial profiling, gun laws and the criminal justice system.
AP

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 10:25 am

George Zimmerman's trial for killing Trayvon Martin became a flashpoint for raucous, heated debates — conversations about racial profiling, gun laws and the criminal justice system. Zimmerman's acquittal was seen by many as an outrage, but any outcome would have been unsatisfying for many people, since criminal trials are horrible proxies for the resolutions of big, thorny social issues.

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Code Switch
7:03 am
Sat July 12, 2014

What We Talk About When We Talk About Violence In Chicago

Firefighters in Chicago hose down the scene of a shooting last fall where several people, including a toddler, were shot.
Paul Beaty ASSOCIATED PRESS

Originally published on Sat July 12, 2014 10:28 am

We have a default template for the way we process mass shootings. We scour through every available scrap of the perpetrators' interior lives – Facebook postings, YouTube videos, interviews with former roommates — to try to find out what drove them to kill. The sites of the massacres become a kind of shorthand: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood. We conduct protracted, unsatisfying conversations about gun rights, and about mental illness, and about how we have to make sure that they never happen again.

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Code Switch
1:17 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Dress Codes Are Open To Interpretation — And A Lot Of Contention

This spot forbids "urban wear" — and also orthodontia, apparently.
memestate flickr

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 2:37 pm

A Minneapolis nightspot called Bar Louie landed in the news after some local residents took issue with its new dress code.

No flat-billed hats. No long white T-shirts. No large chains. No sleeveless under shirts. No athletic apparel. No sports jerseys without collars. No excessively baggy clothing.

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Code Switch
10:03 am
Fri June 27, 2014

The Elusive Dave Chappelle Re-Emerges, But For How Long?

Chappelle alluded to his decision to walk away from his hit Comedy Central show only obliquely.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 28, 2014 9:50 am

Just before Dave Chappelle took the stage Monday as part of a sold-out series of shows at Radio City Music Hall, a song featuring a loop of LL Cool J's famous opening line from "Mama Said Knock You Out" blasted over the sound system.

Don't call it a comeback!

You could take it as a suggestion that Chappelle had never really gone anywhere. Or you could read it as a coy reminder that none of us should get too comfortable, because Chappelle might bounce again at any moment.

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Code Switch
12:07 pm
Sat June 21, 2014

Some Of Us Sacrifice More To Stay In Home Sweet Home

Despite the challenges to finding affordable housing, blacks and Latinos still say they feel like home ownership is an excellent investment.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Sat June 21, 2014 3:30 pm

If it seems like we talk about housing a lot on Code Switch, it's because we do. But the fact is it's really hard to talk about all the ways race correlates to different outcomes — in health or education, say— without talking about where people live. Take household wealth, for example: The major reason whites have so much more of it is because of how much likelier they are not just to own homes, but to own homes in places where that property might appreciate in value.

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Code Switch
2:03 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Cute Middle-Schoolers Make A Hit. Cue The Drama

The Y.N. RichKids' ode to Hot Cheetos — that bane of school administrators — became a viral smash.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 2:40 pm

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Code Switch
8:09 am
Mon June 9, 2014

What Is Your Race? For Millions Of Americans, A Shifting Answer

The race question on the census is constantly changing.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 6:22 pm

This post has been updated.

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Code Switch
1:34 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

The Modest Bus Station At The Center Of A World-Changing Confrontation

When the Freedom Riders arrived in Montgomery, they were greeted by an armed, racist mob, while the local police were conspicuously absent.
Anonymous AP

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 2:38 pm

EDITOR'S NOTE: This summer, we'll be regularly spotlighting sites on the National Register of Historic Places that have some significance to issues of race and culture.

The Montgomery Greyhound Station, Montgomery, Ala.

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Code Switch
9:51 am
Fri May 30, 2014

In Historic First, Native American Brothers Win Lacrosse Trophy

Miles Thompson of the SUNY-Albany Great Danes broke the record for goals in a season this year — a season which also saw his younger brother and teammate, Lyle, break the record for overall points.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 2:26 pm

The Tewaaraton Award is college lacrosse's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, given to the best player in the country each year. The award takes its name from the Mohawk word for lacrosse, as a way to honor the sport's Native American origins. The bronze trophy depicts a Mohawk man with a lacrosse stick, surging forward.

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Code Switch
7:11 am
Tue May 27, 2014

The Desire For A Reckoning Meets The Wish For A Reset

Since 1989, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has introduced into each session of Congress a bill called HR 40, Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 10:45 am

The title of Ta-Nehisi Coates' much-discussed cover story at The Atlantic, "The Case for Reparations," might be something of a misnomer.

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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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