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
10:19 am
Wed July 29, 2015

On Wyatt Cenac, 'Key & Peele,' And Being The Only One In The Room

Onstage at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 30, 2015 10:26 am

Last week, the Internet exploded after an episode of the WTF! Podcast with Marc Maron went online. The guest was the comedian Wyatt Cenac, who talked about being a writer and correspondent on The Daily Show for several years. He recalled getting into a heated argument with Jon Stewart over the host's impression of Herman Cain, which Cenac had found troubling:

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Code Switch
11:44 am
Wed July 22, 2015

A Compromise On Displaying The Confederate Flag

Protesters shout at Ku Klux Klan members at a Klan demonstration at the Statehouse on Saturday in Columbia, S.C.
John Moore AP

Originally published on Thu July 23, 2015 7:03 am

Last week, I wrestled with an idea that admittedly made me very uncomfortable: the possibility that for many defenders of racially loaded symbols like the Confederate battle flag and the Washington Redskins' brand, their affinity for these icons may be more understandable and — crucially — more relatable than many of us might like to admit.

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Code Switch
8:51 am
Tue July 14, 2015

When The 'Heritage' In 'Heritage Not Hate' Is More Skynyrd Than Stonewall Jackson

A man displays a Confederate flag tattoo as he participates in a rally to show support for the American and Confederate flags on July 11 in Loxahatchee, Fla. Organizers of the rally said that after the Confederate flag was removed from South Carolina's Statehouse, it reinforced their need to show support for the Confederate flag, which some feel is under attack.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 14, 2015 5:35 pm

Friday's ceremony to remove the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina's state Capitol grounds was scored by loud cheers and applause from the huge, largely black crowd who came to see it off. The contrast between the cheers and the official pomp — marching soldiers in dress grays funereally handling the furled flag — was yet another example of the wildly divergent orientations people have toward the Confederate flag.

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Code Switch
11:16 am
Fri June 26, 2015

'It's Like Having A Crazy Family Member': On Southern Black Folks And The Rebel Flag

A Confederate flag is reflected in the window of a gift shop that sells them in Seligman, Ariz.
Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 26, 2015 1:30 pm

A few months ago, my girlfriend and I were driving south on Interstate 95 from D.C. to Richmond, Va., where we had tickets for a comedy show. On an otherwise nondescript stretch of highway not long into the drive, we were startled by the sight of an enormous Confederate flag billowing over the trees. It's hard to convey how huge this flag was; its bigness seemed to imply a middle finger.

We both reflexively broke out some blue exclamations, looking at each other like, "Is this for real?"

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Code Switch
9:06 am
Sat June 20, 2015

Dylann Roof And The Stubborn Myth Of The Colorblind Millennial

Dylann Roof, the man who is charged with killing nine people in a mass shooting in Charleston, S.C., is a "millennial." But when that term is used, it's usually describing a very different subset of young people.
AP

Originally published on Sat June 20, 2015 1:15 pm

The young age of Dylann Roof, who's charged with sitting alongside nine black churchgoers for an hour before standing up and shooting them dead, is sure to inspire some head-scratching in the wake of his attack. He's 21, which means he's a millennial, which means he's not supposed to be racist — so the thinking stubbornly (if disingenuously) persists, despite ample research showing that it's just not true.

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Code Switch
1:59 pm
Wed June 17, 2015

Who Gets To Be Black? Honor The Struggle, But Don't Forget The Jokes

Wonder how many pounds of sugar are in that Red KoolAid.
Charles Sykes AP

Originally published on Wed June 17, 2015 6:19 pm

The story of Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who has been living as a black woman, offers a 20-in-1 construction kit of ways to be offended. A popular one is the seemingly unimpeachable complaint that Dolezal hasn't paid her dues: She didn't grow up black, in a black family or a black neighborhood, so she got to sidestep the stressors and razor-thin margins for error that come with all that. The over-policing. The inferior schools. The lack of generational wealth.

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Race
5:07 am
Tue June 16, 2015

Should Rachel Dolezal's Story Change How We Think About Race?

Originally published on Tue June 16, 2015 6:12 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Code Switch
7:03 am
Tue June 9, 2015

Who Gets To Hang Out At The Pool?

When the group of white and black integrationists refused to leave the motel's pool, this man dived in and cleared them out. All were arrested.
Horace Cort AP

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 10:36 am

It was an ugly scene. A fight broke out at a pool party in a McKinney, Texas, subdivision on Friday, allegedly after a white resident told a group of black teenagers to "go back to their Section 8 housing." Local cops show up in force. At some point, a bystander pulls out his cellphone and begins videotaping.

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Code Switch
9:55 am
Fri May 22, 2015

2 Biker Rallies: One White, One Black — One 'Badass,' The Other, Just 'Bad'

A biker leaves a biker bar in Murrells Inlet, S.C., in May 2012 after competing in a slow ride competition inside the bar. It was one of the events held during the annual Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Spring Rally in and around Myrtle Beach.
Randall Hill Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 2:28 pm

In his column this week, Charles Blow of The New York Times broke down the difference between "bikers" and "thugs" in the wake of the deadly biker gang shootout in Waco, Texas:

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Code Switch
8:04 pm
Mon May 18, 2015

Why Have So Many People Never Heard Of The MOVE Bombing?

A policeman stands guard on Pine Street in West Philadelphia near the remains of 61 row houses days after they were destroyed by fire on May 13, 1985, when police dropped explosives into a house occupied by members of the radical group MOVE.
George Widman AP

Originally published on Wed May 20, 2015 3:02 am

After my stories last week on the 30th anniversary of the MOVE siege in West Philadelphia in 1985, in which Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on a residential neighborhood, leaving 11 dead — including five children — we were surprised by how many people told us they'd never heard of the bombing.

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Code Switch
12:06 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

What It's Like Living On The Block That Philadelphia Bombed 30 Years Ago

Connie and Gerald Renfrow outside their Osage Avenue home.
April Saul for NPR

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 1:20 pm

Despite the fiery, complicated past of the 6200 block of Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia, Gerald Renfrow is bullish on its future.

He's one to know; he has lived here forever. His parents bought one of the bigger houses on the corner of 62nd and Osage Avenue and he grew up there. When it was time for him to buy his own home, he landed just up the block and raised his own kids there.

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Code Switch
12:01 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

I'm From Philly. 30 Years Later, I'm Still Trying To Make Sense Of The MOVE Bombing

The neighborhood where the compound of the radical group MOVE was located.
Peter Morgan AP

Originally published on Thu June 4, 2015 10:43 am

Talk to some of the folks who lived through the bombing of 62nd and Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia 30 years ago, and you'll notice that they refer to the event by its full date. May 13, 1985.

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Code Switch
4:49 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Baltimore's Marilyn Mosby Introduces Plot Twist With Surprise Charges Against Cops

Even before the Freddie Gray case, many wondered if Marilyn Mosby —the youngest chief prosecutor of any major American city — was too inexperienced for the challenges of the job.
Adrees Latif Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 11:07 pm

It was a few days after the funeral for Freddie Gray, and the Baltimore streets that had exploded into violence this week had mostly calmed down.

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Code Switch
12:51 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Chris Rock On The Whiteness Of Baseball: 'Baseball Should Be Terrified'

Chris Rock on black disinterest in baseball: "I don't care about this as a black guy — I care about this as a baseball fan."
Charles Sykes AP

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 6:56 pm

On the most recent episode of HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, Chris Rock talked about the loneliness of being a black baseball fan in 2015, at a time when fewer than 10 percent of baseball's players and fans are black.

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Code Switch
6:03 am
Sat April 18, 2015

It Took Two Centuries, But The Native Hawaiian Population May Be Bouncing Back

Originally published on Sun April 19, 2015 10:27 pm

In 1778, the British explorer Capt. James Cook became probably the first European to encounter the Hawaiian Islands. Things got really ugly, really fast: Not too long after their first encounter, Cook died in a skirmish with the Native Hawaiian population in which dozens of Natives were killed.

While no one knows exactly how many Native Hawaiians there were when Cook arrived, scholars agree that that contact with Europeans had disastrous consequences for the islanders.

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Code Switch
1:57 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Some Key Facts We've Learned About Police Shootings Over The Past Year

Makeshift memorials to Walter Scott sprouted up at the scene of his fatal encounter with Michael Slager, the police officer who shot him in the back as he ran away following a routine traffic stop.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 11:25 am

We've done a lot of writing and reporting at Code Switch over the past year on deadly police shootings of unarmed black people, cases that have become such a part of our landscape that they have a tendency to melt into each other. Indeed, sometimes the pattern of facts seems to barely change: Just last fall, we followed the story of an unarmed black man in South Carolina who was shot following a police traffic stop.

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Code Switch
4:23 pm
Fri April 3, 2015

Proposals To Diversify NYC's Top High Schools Would Do Little To Help, Study Finds

Black and Latino students make up around 70 percent of the student population of New York City's public schools, but makeup a tiny percentage at the city's three elite specialized high schools.
New York City Department of Education

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 7:44 pm

New York City's public school system is vast, with more than a million students spread across thousands of schools. And like the city itself, it's remarkably diverse — about 15 percent Asian, just under 30 percent black, about 40 percent Latino, and about 15 percent white, with all sorts of finer shadings of ethnicity, nationality and language in that mix.

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Code Switch
3:16 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

This Isn't The First Time Network TV Discovered Black People

When fledgling networks like Fox, UPN and the WB started wooing black viewers in the 1990s, the prime-time audience began to split. Fox's Living Single was the highest-rated show among black viewers in 1994-95 but didn't crack the top 100 among whites.
The Kobal Collection Warner Bros. Television/The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 3:35 pm

Last week, Nellie Andreeva, the co-editor of the insider-y Hollywood trade Deadline, wondered aloud whether the explosion of diversity this prime-time TV season had gone too far. Might it be putting deserving white actors out of work? Clicks sufficiently baited, the Internet went apoplectic.

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Code Switch
2:30 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Takeaways From The Federal Report On Deadly Force By Philadelphia Cops

Two years ago, Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia's police commissioner, called for a federal review of the city's police practices. Ramsey called for a similar federal inquiry during his tenure as Washington, D.C.'s police chief.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 6:55 pm

Even before the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., or the Eric Garner incident in New York City last summer, Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia's police commissioner, called on the federal government to look into how the officers in his department used force, and how their use of force might contribute to the department's often strained relationship with the city's residents.

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Code Switch
9:15 am
Thu March 19, 2015

From Hot Sauce To Diapers, 'Superconsumers' Of Color Buy More Of, Well, Everything

Fox's soapy hit "Empire" has rocketed to the top of the TV ratings in large part because of its eye-popping performance in black and Latino households.
Chuck Hodes FOX

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 2:29 pm

What do Fox's runaway hit Empire and booming sales of Goya rice and beans have in common? They're examples of the growing clout a segment of hyper-engaged, hyperconnected consumers of color, according to a new report from Nielsen.

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