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.

There is popular wisdom out there that conversations about race are most productive when the people engaged in them are deeply, emotionally vested in the well-being of one another. Family might be a rejoinder to that wisdom. Perhaps there's such a thing as being too vested. On this week's episode of the Code Switch podcast, we heard from people who were expecting to go home to testy Thanksgiving dinners, with families divided over the results of the presidential election. We heard from Kate,...

As you probably have guessed, there has been a lot of conversation about race this week — So. Much. Conversation . — as folks, including us, try to wrap their brains around Donald Trump's election to the presidency. Here are some Code Switch recommendations for things you should hear and read. A Muslim and A Mexican Walk Into A Bar ... Comedian Negin Farsad, the creator of the documentary The Muslims Are Coming! , and journalist Gustavo Aurellano, the syndicated...

It was Nov. 4, 2008. My birthday. Election Day. I made my way uptown to Harlem, where my friend Rakia was going to be watching the election returns with friends. I almost never wanted to go uptown — from Brooklyn, it may as well have been a trip to Guam — but that night I felt that I really, really needed to be in Harlem. There were about eight of us, all brown, posted up in Rakia's living room, eating pizza and tweeting and watching the news coverage. When CNN called the...

So the family lore goes something like this: My mother was getting a checkup and some shots before a trip to Ghana with her boyfriend, who was from Accra. Then her doctor told her she was pregnant. Then more tests and more news: She was pregnant with twins . She would have to cancel her long-anticipated sojourn to the Motherland. I was in my early 20s the first time my mother told me any of this, just a few days before she finally got around to her trip to Ghana. I was in my feelings...

A few years ago, a pair of sociologists named Andrew Papachristos and Christopher Wildeman decided to study gun violence in Chicago. They focused on a specific community on the west side: overwhelmingly black and disproportionately poor, with a murder rate that was five times higher than the rest of the city. Their approach was to look at gun violence the way epidemiologists study disease — examining the way it spread by social connections. And like a virus, they found that there were certain...

"If the system was fair, would I be okay with prison? I'm saying that if the system was fair, there would be no prison." -- Morehouse College Professor Marc Lamont Hill When Marc Lamont Hill, a professor and activist who wants to abolish prisons, said that to me recently, I understood, where he was coming from. Intellectually, at least. America's criminal justice system, with its machine-like orientation to conviction and incarceration, has grown so many tentacles that it tends to...

There was perhaps no movie more buzzed-about coming out of the Sundance Film Festival in January than Nate Parker's directorial debut, The Birth of A Nation , a retelling of Nat Turner's 19th century rebellion of enslaved people in Virginia . By the time the festival was over, Nation had netted an unheard-of $17.5 million distribution deal from Fox Searchlight Pictures. It was considered a frontrunner for a raft of major awards, and Parker, who had carved out a...

One of the most surprising stories of the Olympics, which end on Sunday, was the unseeded Monica Puig's improbable march to the gold medal in women's singles tennis . Puig's win captured Puerto Rico's first-ever gold medal in the Olympics, and set off massive celebrations across the island. It was a big-ass deal. Hold up , you might be thinking. Why does Puerto Rico have its own Olympic delegation? Aren't Puerto Ricans considered American citizens? The answers to those...

Why aren't more of my white friends on Facebook talking about this stuff? We heard that refrain a lot last month after video recordings of the fatal police shootings of two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling , went viral, followed by deadly attacks on police officers in Dallas and in Baton Rouge , inspiring lots of conversation about the central role of race in these killings. New data from the Pew Research Center strongly suggests that folks weren't just imagining...

On the final night of the Republican National Convention last month, as Donald Trump formally accepted his party's nomination for president, my Code Switch co-host Shereen Marisol Meraji fired off a tweet about how unnerved she was watching Trump's address , with its angry denunciations of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. "This speech is difficult to listen to as a Latina and an Iranian," she wrote. "So much fear-mongering." Another NPR colleague — a person of color, and a friend — quickly...

We've spent a lot of time recently thinking about the idea of whiteness — as a political identity , as a foundational dynamic in our politics , and the ways we talk (or don't talk) about it . It was even the first episode of our new podcast . Apparently, we're not alone. Our colleague Eyder Peralta noticed that the number of searches for the term "white people" on Google has started to trend upward in recent months. Take a look at this data from Google Trends: A quick primer on how Google...

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One of the most notorious, oft-watched moments in the O.J. Simpson murder case was his nationally televised slow-speed escape from police on the freeways of Los Angeles in a white Ford Bronco. It's a testament to Ezra Edelman's riveting, unsettling five-part ESPN documentary O.J.: Made In America that the filmmaker finds a new lens through which to view it: the real-time collision of a city's sordid racial history with one black celebrity's seeming lifelong project to sidestep the tidal...

The death of Muhammad Ali — one of the world's greatest boxers — has come with a wave of tributes and memorials. We've been taken back to his most triumphant fights and were reminded of just how handsome he was. (I mean, did we ever really forget ?) But being triumphant was complicated and eventually fatal for Ali, a complex man whose intersecting identities and defiant personality made him that much more fascinating. Gene sat down with Gautham Nagesh , writer and...

At long last — the first episode of the Code Switch podcast! We decided to start off with a question we've been fixated on over the past few months: Why is it so hard to talk about whiteness ? As we were trying to work this stuff out, we asked folks on Twitter if they'd ever taken a critical whiteness studies class in college — and yes, that's a thing — and we got a hundred variations of the same joke: I went to Indiana University — that whole experience was a graduate-level course in...

Ahead of our forthcoming podcast , I've been heads-down in some reading and interviews about the way we talk about, well, white people. Whiteness has always been a central dynamic of American cultural and political life, though we don't tend to talk about it as such. But this election cycle is making it much harder to avoid discussions of white racial grievance and identity politics when, for instance, Donald Trump's only viable pathway to the White House is to essentially win all of the...

It's been only a year and a half since the social protest movement around police violence commonly referred to as Black Lives Matter emerged as a major political force. Much of this movement's momentum-building and organizing happened on Twitter, and a fascinating new study by media scholars Charlton McIlwain, Deen Freelon and Meredith Clark mapped out how it happened and who drove. The researchers combed through Twitter data from June of 2014, just before the police killing of Eric Garner in...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ospx7tXWYbI You may have read something like this over the past few weeks, in the run-up to this year's hotly contested Academy Awards ceremony: "The fact that there is an absence of African-American nominees at the awards this year is something I'm less concerned about than how that reflects on what's happening within the industry," [the film producer Preston Holmes told a reporter]. "We need more opportunities for African-American filmmakers and crafts people....

This summer, football players at Northwestern University came very close to successfully forming a union — not to demand that they be paid, but to demand better scholarships and safety protocols. Had their bid succeeded, it might have changed college athletics — and, indeed, higher education — in some fundamental ways. Those changes are exactly what Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee warned against when discussing the prospect of paying college athletes last year , a conversation that has been...

A few years ago, a good friend and I were walking near downtown Philadelphia, not far from my old elementary school, Thomas C. Durham, on 16th and Lombard. The school was built on the edge of a black neighborhood in South Philly in the early 1900s, and its design earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places when I was in the third grade. I nudged my friend to take a quick detour with me. Standing before the old, brown brick building, I had that vaguely bewildering feeling of...

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 : "[Stewart] got incredibly defensive. I remember he was like, 'What are you trying to say? There's a tone in your voice.' "I...

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: "The words 'outlaw' and 'biker,' while pejorative to some, still evoke a certain romanticism in the American ethos. They conjure an image of individualism, adventure and virility. There's an endless list of motorcycle gang movies. A search for 'motorcycle romance' on Amazon yields thousands of...

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. Then came the fire. On May 13, 1985, the city aggressively tried to remove the radical group MOVE from the...

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. That's how Gerald Renfrow refers to it when we talk about the inferno. His house is about 30 yards from the compound on which the bomb was dropped — practically ground zero. He'd been living there since long before the bombing, and now he's the block captain, trying to hold on to the home where he...

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. The city also boasts nine elite "specialized" public high schools — of which the Bronx High School of Science , Brooklyn Technical High...

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