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December 20th, 2011
05:59 PM ET

After layoff, finding new meaning in a lower paying job

By Michelle Rozsa, CNN In America

Plainsboro, New Jersey (CNN) - It is just before noon on a Sunday and Carl Fields is rushing through narrow aisles in a busy kitchen at a rehabilitation center. He dodges between tall metal serving carts and workers ladling steaming mashed potatoes. Plates of roast beef are coming off the food line to be capped with white plastic domes, set on trays and loaded onto carts.

“You said 'coleslaw,' Reg?” Fields yells to another man in the kitchen, as they dash around to find the missing slaw and get meals out to 125 residents.

“Cart up,” he yells each time a stack of trays heads toward the dining halls.

For 10 to 12 hours a day, often more than five days per week, Fields manages a kitchen staff. His duties include everything from checking that the correct items are on the food trays to helping to plate missing salads.

This is a place he never expected to be. “Never crossed my mind quite frankly,” he says.

In 2009, Fields was more than 25 years into a career with a large insurance brokerage firm, donning suit and tie five days a week to manage large commercial accounts.

“Four days short of my 58th birthday," he says, “I received notice I was being laid off. It came as a total shock, honestly.”

The company was reorganizing and his position was being eliminated.

Fields and his wife, Lynette Clark Fields, appeared in CNN’s 2010 documentary “Black in America: Almighty Debt."  At the time, he had been unemployed about a year and a half, and was tirelessly hunting for a job.

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Filed under: Black in America • Documentaries • Economy • How we live • Race • Religion
December 20th, 2011
01:48 PM ET

Rareview: Black Latinos balance two worlds

Rareviews go inside the lives of those in America whose stories we don't always hear.

Imagine growing up and to have your family, friends, neighbors, community look at you as the other - maybe because of the color of your skin or the texture of your hair - even though you saw yourself as one of them.

What if you then tried to identify with someone who looked like you - someone who shared your ancestry - but they said you didn't belong to their community either? FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • Ethnicity • Latino in America • Race • Rareviews
Justice Department: East Haven, Connecticut, police targeted Latinos
The U.S. Department of Justice accused the East Haven police in Connecticut discrimination against Latinos.
December 20th, 2011
12:10 PM ET

Justice Department: East Haven, Connecticut, police targeted Latinos

By Kiran Khalid, CNN

New York (CNN) – In a scathing report, the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday accused the East Haven Police Department  in Connecticut of engaging in a pattern of widespread discrimination against Latinos in violation of the Constitution and federal law.

"We find that EHPD engages in discriminatory policing against Latinos, including but not limited to targeting Latinos for discriminatory traffic enforcement, treating Latino drivers more harshly than non-Latino drivers after a traffic stop, and intentionally and woefully failing to design and implement internal systems of control that would identify, track, and prevent such misconduct," Assistant Attorney General Thomas J. Perez wrote in a 23-page letter to the East Haven mayor, detailing the results of a two-year investigation.

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December 20th, 2011
10:28 AM ET

Engage: Last fallen U.S. soldier the face of a costly war

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

Opinion: Black community mourns last U.S. soldier killed in Iraq - BET

Adoptive parents face racial identity challenges - Scripps Howard News Service

Study: Immigrants don’t receive adequate legal representation - The New York Times

Asian-American actors scoring meatier roles in Hollywood - Voice of America

'Just the two of us' songwriter Ralph MacDonald dies - The Root

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December 20th, 2011
05:00 AM ET

Times are changing in the early 'all-alike' suburb Levittown

Editor's note: This is part of a series of stories about the changing American suburbs.

By John D. Sutter, CNN

Levittown, New York (CNN) - As Polly Dwyer drove from Queens, New York, to "the boondocks" of central Long Island, she felt like she'd fallen off the face of civilization.

"My God!" she thought. "Where are we going?!"

She stared out the windows of her husband's 1940s Chevy, aghast at the potato farms and cabbage fields. How were they going to live all the way out there, 45 minutes from the city? She was a college student, after all, not a farmer. And what would this new-era community be like, anyway?

The word "suburb" didn't even exist back then, in the late '40s and early '50s. It was a concept they would help create in a new community called Levittown.

More than 60 years later, Dwyer - an 83-year-old who wears a short, Janet Napolitano-style haircut and a gold necklace that says "Polly" in cursive - is firmly rooted in Levittown, New York, the place heralded as the first true example of an American suburb.

The suburban, auto-based ideal Levittown created in 1947 has plowed its way across the United States, reproducing "like a strange, unnatural new life form," Esquire magazine wrote in the '80s, in copycat communities from Florida to Alaska.

These days, however, times are changing. It's not that the suburb is dead, but in an era of home foreclosures, environmental concerns and urban revival, some Americans are starting to turn their backs on the Levittown mold. These changes are beginning to show in Levittown, too, a place that still longs for the sense of community and purpose that it had at its inception six decades ago.

Dwyer and other Levittown pioneers say they'll stay here until they die. But here's the uncomfortable truth:

The Levittown they knew may fizzle out with them.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • Census • Community • Ethnicity • History • How we live • Race • Where we live • Who we are