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My first Thanksgiving with white people
"When I began to meet black people who didn't cook soul food and whites that did..."
November 16th, 2011
11:22 PM ET

My first Thanksgiving with white people

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com and the 2009 winner of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for online journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @locs_n_laughs
By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor

I was told the substance in the glass casserole dish in front of me was potato salad – but I wasn’t buying it.

Why was it white?

Why was it smooth?

And where was the red stuff that goes on top?

It was 1998, and I was having my first Thanksgiving dinner with white people.

Now on the one hand going to his parents house for the holiday was a very good thing. I was in an interracial relationship and we had progressed to the point in which he felt comfortable doing so. But on other hand, I was a bit troubled when I walked through the door and didn’t smell greens cooking. Were we too early? Were they in the fridge?

As I was being introduced, I took a nice deep breath and...nope. Not a whiff of collards, or turnips or even the Tito Jackson of greens—mustard. For a moment I thought I had wandered into an episode of the Twilight Zone or maybe my mother had hired a witch doctor to put a hex on me because she was mad I wasn’t coming home.

I mean, it was Thanksgiving.

Read LZ Granderson's full column on CNN's Eatocracy blog


Filed under: Race
November 16th, 2011
01:42 PM ET

Opinion: Red Chair Interview: Why Yul Kwon ditched law for TV

Editor’s note: Yul Kwon is the host of the PBS series "America Revealed" and winner of the reality TV show “Survivor: Cook Islands.” He has worked in law, government, business and technology, is the vice chair of the Council of Korean American Leaders and sits on the advisory boards of the Asian American Justice Center, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and NetKAL. 

By Yul Kwon, Special to CNN

People often ask me why I decided to leave a safe, respectable career as a lawyer to go on television. (If you’re my parents, this is something you wonder on a daily basis.) I sometimes joke that I stopped being a lawyer because I wanted more friends.

The real story is more complex.

As a child, I grew up deeply introverted. I was so shy and timid that if you had told me then that I would one day win a reality show and host a television series, I would have thought you were nuts. However improbable it might be that I would end up in front of a camera, the underlying roots of my insecurities help to explain how I got here.

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Engage: Russell Simmons defends Jay-Z's 99% problem
Hip-hop producer Russell Simmons visited Occupy Wall Street's Zuccotti Park camp last month.
November 16th, 2011
01:13 PM ET

Engage: Russell Simmons defends Jay-Z's 99% problem

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported, untold stories from undercovered communities.

99% problems: Russell Simmons defends Jay-Z after criticism of 'Occupy All Streets' shirts
Russell Simmons defended Jay-Z after Rocawear, the fashion company he founded, was criticized for trying to capitalize off the Occupy Wall Street movement, with shirts branded “Occupy All Streets."  - Salon

13 arrested in protest against Alabama immigration law
Thirteen undocumented protesters, ages 17 to 57 and from different parts of the country, were arrested for disorderly conduct after protesting a controversial Alabama immigration law .  - Montgomery Advertiser

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Filed under: Engage
Opinion: Ambassador: Being gay is not a choice
Family and friends applaud after James Hormel, the first openly gay U.S. ambassador, is sworn in as envoy to Luxembourg.
November 16th, 2011
10:57 AM ET

Opinion: Ambassador: Being gay is not a choice

Editor's note: James C. Hormel served as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg from 1999 to 2000. He recently wrote a memoir entitled "Fit to Serve: Reflections on a Secret Life, Private Struggle and Public Battle to Become the First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador." He is chairman of the family-run investment firm Equidex.

By James Hormel, Special to CNN

When Shorter University in northwest Georgia recently informed its 200 employees that they had to sign a "personal lifestyle pledge" requiring them to reject homosexuality or lose their jobs, school administrators underscored a staggering injustice: In 29 U.S. states, people can still be fired for being gay.

While same-sex marriage and other equality debates soak up political and media attention, the Employment Non-discrimination Act, a 37-year-old bill, languishes in the U.S. Congress.

Without that federal law, a majority of our states condone job, housing and other discrimination based on sexual orientation. An even larger number - 35 - have no protections for transgender people.

Read James Hormel's full column

What's wrong with TV's 'All-American Muslim'
TLC's new show "All-American Muslim" showcases families in Dearborn, Michigan.
November 16th, 2011
08:41 AM ET

What's wrong with TV's 'All-American Muslim'

Editor’s note: Aman Ali is a New York-based writer, stand-up comedian and the co-creator of 30 Mosques in 30 Days, a Ramadan road trip across America.

By Aman Ali, Special to CNN

Anytime I hear about a TV show coming out that features Muslims, my initial reaction is almost always “Oh man, please don’t suck. Please don’t suck.”

Unfortunately with TLC’s new reality show, it does.

“All-American Muslim” is the network’s new series about a group of Muslim families living in the Arab-rich city of Dearborn, Michigan.

Brilliant! What better way to show the mainstream public an insight into how multicultural and intellectually diverse Islam’s followers are… with a show focusing on just Arabs (20% of the world’s Muslim population) who follow the Shia sect of Islam (about 10 percent of the world’s Muslim population).

The show, which premiered over the weekend, presents itself as a glimpse into the American Muslim community but ignores an overwhelming majority of the cultures that comprise it. South Asians like my parents, who came from India, make up one of the largest group of Muslim immigrants in the United States.

That doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that the show makes no reference to African-American Muslims, another huge American Muslim group. Many of the black slaves that built the foundation of this country with blood, sweat and tears were Muslim.

Read the full post on CNN's Belief blog

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Filed under: Pop culture • Race • Religion • Who we are