Editor’s note: Dereyck Moore is currently employed by NBA digital and previously worked for CNN Digital. Moore is a graduate of Florida A&M University. He was a member of the FAMU Marching 100 band from 1990 to 1994
By Dereyck Moore, Special to CNN
(CNN) - The tragic death of Robert Champion, drum major for the famed Florida A&M University marching band, weighs on me. I never knew Robert personally. I never shook his hand or carried on a conversation with this young man. But his death has touched me as if I had lost a member of my immediate family - because I have.
I was a member of the FAMU band 20 years ago, and the news of his death traveled among my band mates, through those who marched before me and long after I was gone. It’s sad and shocking to hear his death might be related to hazing by members of the band.
I have always looked upon my beloved FAMU Marching 100 band and many other historically black college and university - HBCU - marching bands with pride. That pride has been shaken to its core by the investigation into the death of a member of our family, my family - a young man just like me.
For many Americans, Thanksgiving means turkey with all the fixings, spending time with family, and being grateful for the blessings of the year. But for many Native Americans , the holiday is a bit more complicated.
The introduction of European settlers to the Americas had a mostly tragic outcome for many indigenous communities. They lost land to people who distrusted and disrespected their way of life. They lost millions of people to territorial conflict, starvation and diseases brought from Europe. Their cultures were misunderstood, devalued and deemed inferior. Some think the traditional Thanksgiving narrative – generous Pilgrims, helpful Indians – implies Native Americans should be grateful about the events that led to their suffering.
Mahtowin Munro is co-leader of United American Indians of New England, which organizes a National Day of Mourning each year on Thanksgiving. The event began in 1970, as a way to memorialize indigenous people who died as a result of colonization and to protest continued discrimination and exploitation.
The goal: Offer an unvarnished view of what the archetypal Thanksgiving celebration meant for those who lived in America when the Pilgrims landed.
Editor’s note: Susan Bodnar is a clinical psychologist who works with people from diverse backgrounds and teaches at Columbia University’s Teachers College. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, two children and all of their pets.
See how readers reacted to Bodnar's piece.
By Susan Bodnar, Special to CNN
(CNN) - When the director of diversity at my son’s new elite Manhattan private school recently asked a few parents in a diversity committee meeting to comment about the personal impact of stereotypes, I paused. As a white American with white children, I could have expressed my deep empathy for the racism experienced by people of color. Instead I knew I had to come out from behind the color of my skin and share how stereotypes affected me. White people, after all, are confronted by bias too.
“I sometimes feel insecure, “ I said, “being around so many wealthy people and I’m having trouble with my extended family who think I’m being uppity by sending the kids to a private school.”
I had just returned from my grandmother’s funeral in McAdoo, the small eastern Pennsylvania town that grew from a coal-mining patch community. For decades, coal was a thriving economic engine that had supported my immigrant family. When the coal ran dry sometime after World War II, the progress train left town, leaving behind slag heaps and blackened cavities in the earth. Some family members continued to work as wildcat miners. Others branched out into trucking, steel mills and manufacturing jobs. One grandfather became a chicken and potato farmer. A great-uncle opened a local grocery, Bodnar’s market. Despite the economic devastation brought on by the end of the region’s mining era, my family was trying to grow.
New York (CNN) - Students gathered as the chef sliced tomatoes with a plastic knife in a Brooklyn public school cafeteria. Their eyes followed as she held up a slender green cylinder before the crowd of parents and kids in plastic aprons and hairnets.
"What's that?" kids shouted.
"It's a scallion. But don't eat it now," warned Leigh Armstrong, a culinary student and volunteer chef. "It doesn't taste like celery."
Armstrong was helping at Cooking Matters, a free, six-week class that teaches parents and kids how to shop for and prepare healthy, inexpensive meals. The program launched 20 years ago through the nonprofit Share our Strength, and it now serves more than 11,000 families across the country.
Most participants use or have used food stamps, free or reduced-price school lunches or food pantries to cover their nutritional needs, and almost all are still looking for ways to stretch a few ingredients into meals. The number of families that struggle to get enough food has increased in recent years.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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