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.

A sinewy, grayish, vaguely human thing sits on the ice cap somewhere in the Arctic, before plunging into the water below. That's when a very unfortunate whaling vessel arrives and harpoons a whale, setting the thing on a rampage. It won't take long for readers put the pieces together: The creature is the Monster — as in Frankenstein's monster — and his encounter with the whaling ship sets him on a mission to destroy, pitting him against the humanity that rejected him centuries ago.

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Every Friday morning when I was very little, the women who ran the daycare center I went to would gather all the kids into a circle and goodnaturedly quiz us on what happened the night before on The Cosby Show.

I distinctly remember the first time I sat in that circle having no idea what The Cosby Show was, feeling whatever pre-kindergarteners understand as shame. The center's staffers were all black, as were we, the assembled moppets. Watching the Huxtables was quite literally my first homework assignment.

Do black and white children who live in assisted or subsidized housing experience different life outcomes?

That question was at the center of a new study by Sandra Newman and C. Scott Holupka, two researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. They combed through federal data on households in public housing or those that received housing vouchers from the 1970s through the first decade of the 2000s.

Gene and guest host Glen Weldon (our play cousin from Pop Culture Happy Hour) explore how comics are used as spaces for mapping race and identity. Gene visits Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse in Philadelphia and chats with proprietor Ariell Johnson, who is reclaiming the comic book store, which once made her uneasy as a black fan. Meanwhile, C. Spike Trotman, another black woman, has made a name for herself as an online comics publisher of Iron Circus Comics in Chicago.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York attended an event at a Manhattan synagogue in which he sharply criticized the city for not closing Rikers Island, the city's notorious jail.

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Do voter ID laws hurt minority turnout? Study says: Absolutely

It was a bizarre Hollywood kerfuffle.

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.

A few years ago, the Urban Institute undertook a massive experiment to measure discrimination in home rentals and sales. The researchers sent hundreds of people in dozens of cities across the country to act as applicants trying to rent or buy apartments and houses. The "testers" were given similar credit histories and financial qualifications.

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 people who were especially at risk of being touched by it.

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.

It was two years ago this week that a police officer shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in a case that became an inflection point in the way Americans talk about race and policing.

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 forces of race in America.

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?)

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?

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.

There's a strong argument to be made that Chicago's South Side is the cultural capital of black America, a place that a far-reaching who's who of black luminaries have called home — Mahalia Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Ida B. Wells, Barack Obama. But even as the South Side has played a key role in the Great Migration, it was and continues to be shaped by entrenched segregation that has choked it off from resources and development.

On Friday night, I finally got to see Hamilton, the critically acclaimed musical I've been surprisingly obsessed with since Frannie Kelley's glowing write-up of the cast album last fall.

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:

So. Macklemore. I suppose we have to talk about Macklemore.

Over at The Atlantic, Angelica Jade Bastîen has a smart essay pushing back on the supposed benefits of "colorblind casting" in Hollywood — that is, putting actors of color in roles that weren't explicitly written as people of color.

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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.

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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:

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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