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Opinion: Defending ‘All-American Muslim’ against Muslim complaints
TLC's new show "All-American Muslim" showcases families in Dearborn, Michigan, including Samira Amen.
November 29th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Opinion: Defending ‘All-American Muslim’ against Muslim complaints

Editor's Note: Khurram Dara is the author of "The Crescent Directive: An essay on improving the image of Islam in America," coming this winter (Tensile). He tweets @KhurramDara.

By Khurram Dara, Special to CNN

For the last decade, Islam has been under a lot of scrutiny, and understandably so. When you’ve got terrorists all over the world declaring war on America and the West in the name of Islam, it’s only natural that people will have questions.

But this reasonable concern has rapidly turned into irrational suspicion, with anti-Muslim groups seizing on the opportunity to paint all Muslims in America as radical-loving, violence-approving foreigners.

The problem is that the response from American Muslims has been about as effective as Herman Cain’s PR strategy in the face of sexual harassment allegations. Instead of pooling our resources to combat radicalism, or taking a more active role in our communities so that other Americans better understand us, we’ve resorted to defense tactics.

Read Khurram Dara's commentary

 Catching up with boxer Marlen Esparza
November 28th, 2011
05:25 PM ET

Boxer Marlen Esparza's fight for Olympic glory

The 2012 Olympic games in London are still months away but boxer Marlen Esparza is fighting to increase her chances at making the U.S. national team.

Esparza, who was featured in CNN’s documentary “Latino in America: In Her Corner,” won a silver medal at the World Cup of Petroleum Countries held in Surgut, Russia, this weekend.

It wasn't what she was hoping for. “I really thought I had won,” she told her coach, Rudy Silva, over the phone. The judges favored local champion, Svetlana Gnevanova, by 10 points to eight.

The tournament hosted boxers from 15 countries, which gave Esparza the chance to fight some of the women she could face at next year’s world championships or the 2012 Olympics.

Before any of that happens though, Esparza will have to make the national team and defeat her opponents at the U.S. Olympic trials in February.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Documentaries • Latino in America • Who we are • Women
November 28th, 2011
01:17 PM ET

Engage: Legal action against FAMU after death of drum major

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

Family of drum major to sue FAMU after death; Florida A&M band director wants his job back
The family of Robert Champion, the Florida A&M drum major who died in an suspected hazing incident, will sue the school.  Dr. Julian White, FAMU's former band director, was fired after Champion's death. He released a statement hinting at legal action if his job is not reinstated. - MyFoxTampaBay.com

Economy decreases birth rate; decline sharpest among Latinos
All Americans are having fewer children, but the most significant dip is among Hispanics - 17.6 % from 2007 and 2010, according to preliminary 2010 data from the National Center for Health Statistics. - USA Today

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Why Gingrich's immigration plan can't work
This is the U.S. border crossing at Los Elbanos, Texas.
November 28th, 2011
01:12 PM ET

Why Gingrich's immigration plan can't work

By David Frum, CNN Contributor

Editor's note: David Frum, a CNN contributor, was a special assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002. He is the author of six books, including "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again," and is the editor of FrumForum.

(CNN) - Immigration is the only issue where a political candidate can totally do the bidding of the K Street lobbyists and still be hailed as compassionate and humane.

At CNN's Republican National Security Debate this past Tuesday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich reconfirmed his longstanding immigration policy:

- A commitment to enhanced border security

- A guest worker program

- Individual hearings for each of 12 million or so illegal aliens, at which those with long ties to the country will gain residency rights

- No citizenship for illegal entries

Read David Frum's full commentary

Reader react: 'Don't forget where you came from'
Susan Bodnar's story about growing up in McAdoo, Pennsylvania, drew hundreds of reader comments.
November 28th, 2011
12:23 PM ET

Reader react: 'Don't forget where you came from'

Editor's note: Readers have a lot to say about the stories we post, and we're listening.

"I sometimes feel insecure 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," Susan Bodnar recalled in her essay, "Don't forget where you came from."

Bodnar shared with readers the experience of growing up in the impoverished coal mining community of McAdoo, Pennsylvania, and her attempts to fit in while attending a university and now that she lives in Manhattan. Bodnar's essay resonated with hundreds of readers, who commented on their own histories, struggles to belong and desires to honor their family members, even as their paths diverge.

Janet Fiedler said: "My life today is so much more comfortable than it was when I was growing up. I have recently re-started searching my family's roots and discovered that my great-grandmother was widowed at the age of 36, three months before giving birth to her fifth child. To support herself and her family, she became a washerwoman. I sat at my computer and cried for this woman and her hard life, comparing it to my soft one. Thank you for your heart-felt article about staying in touch with one's roots."

BlackYowe said: "We are a nation of immigrants and no one should feel shame about where they came from."

Lynn said: "I'm a city girl now... but remain proud of where I'm from. Despite the miles, I believe it is important to give back to the area which formed us."
FULL POST

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Israel's backers step up efforts to win African-American support
Pastor Michael Stevens at a “Gathering of Solidarity with the State of Israel" event in Brooklyn, New York.
November 28th, 2011
11:48 AM ET

Israel's backers step up efforts to win African-American support

By Heather M. Higgins, CNN

Brooklyn, New York (CNN) – The aroma of allspice wafted through the air as calypso melodies and gospel voices brought more than four dozen people to their feet, a typical community gathering in the heavily West Indian neighborhood of East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

But no one could remember a meeting like this happening before. Inside a former Seventh-day Adventist church, there were the beginnings of what some hope is a budding relationship between American blacks and Jews, with a major assist from some Christian Zionists.

The late October meeting was billed as “A Gathering of Solidarity with the State of Israel,” sponsored by Christians United for Israel, the biggest Christian Zionist group in the country.

Until relatively recently, “there wasn’t a voice for Christian Zionism in the black church,” said Pastor Michael Stevens, the African-American outreach coordinator for Christians United for Israel, speaking to the mostly West Indian crowd in Brooklyn.

Read the full story

Opinion: To help the United States, help Latinos lead
Latino Leadership Initiative participants met with astronaut Jose Hernandez.
November 28th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Opinion: To help the United States, help Latinos lead

Editor’s note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter: @David_Gergen. Michael Zuckerman is David Gergen’s research assistant.

By David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst, and Michael Zuckerman, Special to CNN

(CNN) – One doesn’t have to be Hispanic to recognize the importance of the Latino population to America’s future. With the Hispanic population in America up 43% during the past decade and projected to comprise nearly one-third of the U.S. population by 2050, our nation’s future is increasingly bound up with the fate of Hispanics. If Hispanics go up, we all go up; if they fall, look out below.

Unfortunately, nationwide social conditions are now looking grim. According to a recent report from Pew Hispanic Center, there are now more Latino children living in poverty – 6.1 million – than any other racial or ethnic group. The recession-impacted number is up a whopping 36% from 2007. (Poverty for white and black children was up 17.6% and 11.7%, respectively).

The education gap between whites and Hispanics at grades eight and 12 has persisted at roughly the same level since 1994, while the Hispanic dropout rate - 17.6% - remains nearly twice as large as that 9.3% rate of black students and more than three times the 5.2% rate of white students. Clearly, we are not doing all that we could be, and will reap the whirlwind if we continue to allow such a burgeoning part of our population to grow up impoverished and without a proper education.

How to solve this impending crisis? While there are many valuable ideas out there, one we would highlight is the nurturing of leadership capacity and civic engagement, particularly in the rising generation.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Education • Latino in America • What we think
Drum major's death echoes beyond revered band
Parents and officlas are scrutinizing black college marching bands after the death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion.
November 26th, 2011
07:52 AM ET

Drum major's death echoes beyond revered band

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

(CNN) - Knees fly high. Hips swivel. Trombones sway. Bass drums thump. Tubas bellow. Cymbals crash.

The scene - with its electrifying soundtrack - is a major draw at many historically black colleges and universities, where throngs of students turn out for marching band performances.

"The bands are so entertaining that people attend these games for the halftime show. ... People sit in their seats at halftime. They leave in the third quarter. It's just big," said Christy Walker, 36, who runs a website dedicated to black college marching band culture.

For the past week, the message boards on Walker's website have been buzzing with passionate posts about the situation at Florida A&M University (FAMU). The school fired the band director and stopped all performances of its famous "Marching 100" after authorities said they suspect hazing caused the death of a 26-year-old drum major.

As authorities investigate the student's death, the accusations surrounding the widely revered and imitated band could have an impact far beyond the Florida university's campus.

FULL POST

Engage: Native American Heritage Day celebrated; Black pilgrims?
It's Native American Heritage Day -- iReporter Rachel Cauvin photographed this at a New York Native American festival in May.
November 25th, 2011
12:36 PM ET

Engage: Native American Heritage Day celebrated; Black pilgrims?

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

Friday is Native American Heritage Day
President George W. Bush signed the Native American Heritage Day Act into law in 2008 to acknowledge the contributions of Native Americans to America. - Indian Country Today

Local Occupy group joins with Native Americans
"About 30 Occupy Boston protesters traveled from their encampment in Boston’s Financial District to join the National Day of Mourning here yesterday, lending their support to a Native American demonstration held each Thanksgiving." - The Boston Globe FULL POST

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November 25th, 2011
10:00 AM ET

Born a boy, raised as a girl

"Ever since I could express myself, I always knew I was a girl."

So said Jazz, an 11-year-old boy who was raised as a girl and is now going through puberty as a female. Early on, her mother said, she sought medical help and was devastated that her child's ideas about gender identity were a diagnosed disorder. Indeed, psychological and medical opinions about transgender kids are "all over the place," Dr. Johanna Olson said. In medical schools, the discussions are just starting.

Jazz's story is featured in the documentary "I am Jazz: A Family in Transition," which will appear on OWN on November 27.

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Filed under: Gender • How we look • Who we are
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