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NPR’s Code Switch Comes to NOVA

Gene Demby“Who is not in the room?”

That was the question asked, and pivotal concern raised, by Gene Demby, co-host of NPR’s award-winning podcast Code Switch and the October Spotlight Guest for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Mr. Demby spoke virtually from his home in Philadelphia to a packed room in the Manassas Campus, the Office of DEI’s partner in this event, as well as to viewers joining online.

Mr. Demby started off the event with the story of how he got his start in journalism. He grew up poor, raised with his twin sister by a single mother in New York City. He enrolled in college as a Journalism major but dropped out and never completed his degree. Instead, he credits his start in journalism to a girlfriend who worked for the New York Times and urged him to apply for a job with the newspaper.

While working for the Times, Demby noticed that the reporters tended to fit the same demographic concentration – white, upper-middle class, college-educated. And he found that, when it came to coverage of the police and, in particular, the controversial “stop and frisk” method, these reporters weren’t aware of how that tactic was affecting people of color, particularly in the neighborhoods Demby had grown up in.

And this homogenized viewpoint became of central concern to Demby, the notion that so many important stories weren’t being told simply because those in power couldn’t, or refused to, relate to them.

After his remarks, Demby took questions from the assembled students and staff, and those questions ranged from finding communities to making academics relevant to today’s students.

One of the last questions asked of Mr. Demby was from a student, who wanted to know how to make your story relate to people who don’t look like you, or share your experiences.

“Every one of you,” Demby answered, “has your own story to tell. Every one of you.

“And if you don’t tell it, no one will.”

To view a recording of Gene Demby’s discussion (NOTE: this recording is only available for enrolled students and faculty), visit https://online.nvcc.edu/videoservices/. Click Academic Resources, log-in, and scroll down to DEI-Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

This program was funded by a grant from Micron Technology, Inc.

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