The Code-Switcher is Teaching Higher Ed and Corporations the Effects of Code-switching and How to Stop Them

From Personal Experience to Business

It was in 2015 when Milwaukee native George Paasewe started researching code-switching while attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He noticed that he was constantly code-switching, so he wanted to dive into the topic and explore why so many Black, Brown, and P.O.C. communities do it too.

Through his research, Paasewe learned that code-switching is learned. It is the practice of someone adjusting their tone, style, etc. to fit into an environment or group.

Five years later, Paasewe turned his research into a book, “How Black College Students Learn Code-Switching”. This was during the time when COVID hit and George Floyd was murdered.

George Paasewe of The Code-Switcher.
George Paasewe of The Code-Switcher. (Picture by The Code-Switcher)

Along with writing his book, he started his company The Code-Switcher.

“It was the best opportunity to start this company,” said Paasewe.

The Code-Switcher is a diversity, equity, and inclusion company that hosts lectures, roundtables, and workshops about code-switching. The company also has books and resources. Paasewe said his company has taught at 36 institutions around the nation. He’s looking to expand into the corporate sector, especially with DEI being under attack.

Most people think DEI is just about race but Paasewe said it’s also about protecting veterans, the disabled, the LGBTQ+ community, and other ethnic and diverse groups.

“As a DEI company, we recognize the threat on DEI, especially on higher ed…DEI is really a non-negotiable.”

– George Paasewe

The Effects of Code-switching

Now why does all of this matter? Paasewe is doing this work to explain the effects code-switching has on Black, Brown, and P.O.C. communities.

In the simplest terms, Paasewe said code-switching is the root of racism. He said many in the Black community, and other diverse groups, adjust and modify key elements of their identity to make the white population comfortable.

The act of code-switching is exhausting and comes with impacts like Black college students’ low engagement on campus. Instead of exploring the social side of college, they tend to go to class and back to their dorms or homes. Paasewe said code-switching is tolling emotionally, mentally, and physically. This can lead to substance abuse or a student leaving their current school for one that better suits them.

“Recognize the symptoms of code-switching and how to stop them,” he said.

Paasewe also teaches that code-switching is something that all human beings do. He further hones in on his point by providing opportunities for people to see when they’ve code-switched and how draining it can be.

The Code-Switcher exists “to shed light on the importance” of DEI,” said Paasewe.


Learn more about the resources The Code-Switcher has to offer by clicking here.

Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.

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