Editor's note: Don Lemon anchors CNN Newsroom during weekend prime-time and serves as a correspondent across CNN's U.S. programming. He is the author of the memoir "Transparent."
By Don Lemon, CNN
(CNN) - I don’t remember exactly when it started for me.
It was before the first grade. I must have been 5 years old, maybe 4. My mother was divorced and worked during the day. My grandmother was my sitter. She watched over my sisters and me as much as she could, but even her watchful eye wasn’t enough to keep me out of the hands of my abuser.
He was an older teen: the son of one of my mom’s friends. He and two older teen boys, almost in their 20s, preyed on me and some of the younger boys in my neighborhood. The "incidents" - as I referred to in therapy for years - happened up until I was 12 or 13 years old. It was easier for me to call it the "incidents" then because calling it molestation was just too hard, even for me, a survivor of child sex abuse.
So, I imagine it’s difficult for people who haven’t dealt with abuse to confront it, face it, or, for that matter, know what to call it. But if the events at Penn State are to teach us anything, it should be that we can no longer turn away from something so ugly just because we struggle to define it or accept it exists.
So, let’s just call it for what it is: rape.
(CNN) - Daniel Cardwell’s obsession consumed three decades of his life and $250,000 of his money, he estimates. His energy has been devoted to answering one basic question: “Who am I?”
Cardwell was a “brown baby” - one of thousands of children born to African-American GIs and white German women in the years after World War II. Inter-racial relationships still weren't common or accepted among most in the United States or Germany, and they weren't supported by the military brass, either.
Couples were often split apart by disapproving military officers. Their children were deemed "mischlingskinder" - a derogatory term for mixed race children. With fathers forced to move way, the single mothers of the African-American babies struggled to find support in a mostly white Germany and were encouraged to give their kids up.
Thousands of the children born from the inter-racial relationships were put up for adoption and placed in homes with African-American military families in the United States or Germany. Images of black, German-speaking toddlers with their adoptive American families were splashed across the pages of Jet and Ebony magazines and African-American newspapers.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
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