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.

Pages

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

Read more
Code Switch
10:38 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.

Read more
Code Switch
10:58 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 Wed April 9, 2014 4:10 pm

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

Read more
Code Switch
7:40 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.

Read more
Code Switch
3:07 pm
Fri March 28, 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.

Read more
Code Switch
12:35 am
Thu March 27, 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 12:51 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.)

Read more
Code Switch
1:41 pm
Sun March 16, 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.

Read more
Code Switch
11:02 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

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 8:55 am

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.

Read more
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 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.

Read more
Code Switch
12:17 am
Sun January 12, 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.

Read more

Pages