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.

Over the weekend, a sizable gaggle of the white nationalist "alt-right" convened at a federal building in Washington, D.C., to puff their chests. It was a motley crew, emboldened by the election of Donald Trump, with whom they shared a broad aversion to immigration and contempt for "political correctness." Their views were finally flitting around the mainstream of American politics.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

"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

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.

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.

Why aren't more of my white friends on Facebook talking about this stuff?

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."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

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.

The "monoculture" has supposedly been dead for at least a decade, but it ain't necessarily so. World-devouring pop music phenomena do still exist, but today that universe is made entirely of Beyoncé — a Michael Jackson/Madonna/Prince figure whom everyone who cares about popular culture is supposed to grapple with and have big thoughts about.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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:

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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