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
2:29 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 5:23 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
1:46 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

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 1:51 pm

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
9:55 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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Race
4:58 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 8:50 pm

  • The Messy Backdrop of the Michael Dunn Murder Trial

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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Code Switch
5:25 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 7:20 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
7:03 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 7:19 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
3:50 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
9:35 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Immigrants Are Sending More Money Back To Less Poor Countries

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 2:54 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
7:03 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 5:10 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
11:42 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 3:26 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
5:21 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

When Hollywood Movies Get 'Race-Themed' Into The Same Box

The Best Man Holiday is the latest in a long line of movies on which the fate of black cinema has rested.
Universal Pictures

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 6:26 pm

The Best Man Holiday, the much-anticipated follow-up to the 1999 romantic comedy The Best Man, made $30 million and nearly nabbed the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office.

That wouldn't have surprised anyone on social media or who heard the peals of delight that greeted the trailers for Holiday over the summer.

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Code Switch
7:09 am
Tue November 12, 2013

What The New Ms. Marvel Means For Muslims In Comics

The Arabian Knight, an early, ham-fisted attempt at a superhero from Central Asia, wore a turban, wielded a mystical scimitar and rode on an indestructible flying carpet. Seriously.
Marvel.com

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 3:34 pm

Marvel Comics recently said that it is reimagining Ms. Marvel, one of its superheroines, as an American teenager named Kamala Khan. But the news has gotten so much attention because Khan is Muslim.

Some quick background: The old Ms. Marvel was a blond military pilot who could fly, shrug off bullets, and shoot energy blasts from her hands. (Because aliens or something.) But Khan is a teenager from New Jersey who will be able to grow and shrink different parts of her body, and eventually she'll be able to shape-shift.

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Code Switch
1:09 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
2:22 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 8:00 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
2:23 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 3:56 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
7:03 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 11:49 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
4:50 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 7:55 pm

Is Howard University facing an existential crisis?

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Code Switch
12:10 pm
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 3:59 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
4:26 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
1:47 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 11:01 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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