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Letting my black-girl-geek flag fly
Growing up, Erika Peterman felt like the only African-American girl geek out there. That's changed.
November 18th, 2011
05:11 PM ET

Letting my black-girl-geek flag fly

Editor's note: Erika Peterman is a writer and editor who lives in Tallahassee, Florida. She blogs at girls-gone-geek.com and is a regular contributor to CNN's Geek Out blog.

So where are the geeks? Watch "Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley" at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET November 24 on CNN.

By Erika Peterman, Special to CNN

It was a long time before I let my nerd flag fly proudly, though in retrospect, my status couldn’t have been more obvious.

When I was a kid, “Star Wars” and comic books were the center of my universe. I loved George Lucas’ original trilogy so much that when I started playing the flute seriously in junior high - yeah, I was a band geek, too - I spent evenings listening to John Williams and the Boston Pops so I could teach myself to play along. I happily built literature-themed dioramas, and wrote short science fiction stories and bad poems in my gifted classes. In my case, pretty much every nerd stereotype applied, right down to the thick glasses.

None of this would have been unusual had I not been a black girl growing up in a small southern Georgia city in the 1970s and ’80s.

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November 18th, 2011
01:22 PM ET

Opinion: After 'Black in America,' silence from tech industry leaders

Editor's note: Hank Williams is a tech entrepreneur and CEO of Kloud.co, an Internet startup that provides centralized tools for searching and managing online information. Previously, Hank was CEO of ClickRadio, a pioneer in Internet music. He is featured in "Black in America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley," which re-airs at 8 p.m., 11 p.m., and 2 a.m. ET on February 11 and February 12 on CNN.

By Hank Williams, Special to CNN

Last Sunday night, CNN aired "Black In America: The New Promised Land - Silicon Valley," the documentary that chronicled nine weeks I and seven other black entrepreneurs spent in the NewMe Accelerator in Silicon Valley. The aftermath has been, in some ways, exciting. I've been incredibly busy doing panels and interviews and the hashtag #BlackInAmerica was a globally trending topic on Twitter on Sunday evening. It felt like a lot of people were paying attention.

But not as many tech leaders as I hoped.

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Engage: Justice Department investigates Miami Police; American hipster evolution
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the Miami Police Department after a string of deadly shootings.
November 18th, 2011
12:49 PM ET

Engage: Justice Department investigates Miami Police; American hipster evolution

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

U.S. Justice Department investigates Miami police after fatal shootings of seven black men
The U.S. Justice Department is launching its 18th civil rights investigation into the Miami police department for alleged "excessive use of deadly force."  This comes one year after the first of seven black men were shot to death in events that outraged the families of victims, and drew the attention of the NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union. - The Miami Herald

At 16, Miriam Hernandez is the breadwinner
She is 16 and a Georgia native who supports her family since her step-father was deported to El Salvador. In "The New Latino South" series the L.A. times explores the growth of the Latino population in the southern region of the United States. – The Los Angeles Times

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Ignored by literary world, Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award
Jesmyn Ward won a 2011 National Book Award for her novel "Salvage the Bones."
November 18th, 2011
12:22 PM ET

Ignored by literary world, Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award

By Ed Lavandera, CNN

Dallas (CNN) – Jesmyn Ward stunned the literary world Wednesday night when her novel “Salvage the Bones” won the National Book Award for fiction. Ward was considered a long shot, at best, to win the prestigious award.

Before the nominees were announced in mid-October, Ward’s novel didn’t generate much publicity. The 34-year-old author was convinced her novel would be “lost in the sea of books.”

Now, people are paying attention. One critic says Ward's novel “has the aura of a classic.”

“Salvage the Bones” tells the story of a poor black Mississippi family struggling through life in August 2005 as Hurricane Katrina is about the strike the Gulf Coast. In one of the few reviews of the book in a major newspaper, The Washington Post praises Ward for her honest depiction of life in her home state of Mississippi.

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Filed under: Black in America • Bullying • Ethnicity • Pop culture • Who we are • Women
Opinion: When wearing a U.S. flag T-shirt is wrong
November 18th, 2011
10:26 AM ET

Opinion: When wearing a U.S. flag T-shirt is wrong

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN.com contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist.

San Diego, California (CNN) – When is wearing a T-shirt with the American flag on it considered provocative?

Answer: When you wear it to a high school with a dress code that explicitly prohibits "any clothing or decoration which detracts from the learning environment." And when the high school, where 20% of the 1,300 students are English-language learners and 18% come from low-income families, has been described by the San Francisco Chronicle as having "an ethnically charged atmosphere."

And when, despite concerns about potential violence, you and some of your friends make your patriotic wardrobe choices on, of all days, Cinco de Mayo.

Read Ruben Navarette Jr.'s full commentary

November 18th, 2011
08:33 AM ET

Opinion: Seeing 'hope' and 'change' among the 99%

Editor’s Note: Erica Williams is a senior strategist at Citizen Engagement Lab, an incubator for projects that use digital media, technology and culture to engage communities in people-powered campaigns. Previously, she  was co-founder of Progress 2050, a project of the Center for American Progress, that develops new ideas for an increasingly diverse America.

By Erica Williams, Special to CNN

I am a millennial who has been working to engage people in civic life and politics for six years.

As part of that work, I have been particularly focused on ensuring that young people are not only active participants and leaders in changing their communities, but that their participation is recognized, respected and impactful.

The year 2008 was dubbed “the year of the youth vote” by mainstream media, and it felt like the first time that this generation’s engagement was heralded by the establishment. Youth participation flew in the face of the dominant narrative of a disengaged, apathetic generation. That engagement contributed to a clear political outcome: the election of President Obama.

Now, as the Obama campaign prepares for the 2012 election, the state of young America is radically different than it was in 2008. Millennials, more than anyone, latched on to the idea that the country could be better, and while we remain optimistic, hope and change seem far away.

The energy of most young people who I know looks far less like the Obama campaign, and more like Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movement.

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Filed under: Age • Politics • What we think