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Opinion: GOP primaries loaded with race and class clashes
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich's words and actions have stirred questions of class and race.
January 23rd, 2012
03:03 PM ET

Opinion: GOP primaries loaded with race and class clashes

Editor's note: Farai Chideya is a journalist and the author of four nonfiction and fiction books, and she blogs at Farai.com. She is a spring 2012 fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

By Farai Chideya, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Just days ago, Mitt Romney seemed to be headed towards a win in the third contest of the primary season. Instead, he is still likely smarting from his double-digit loss in South Carolina, his 28% of the vote to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's 40%.

The preceding week was filled with questions about the amount of Romney's wealth, how he got it and where it was stashed. Was Romney's tenure as CEO of Bain Capital about job creation? Or was it about "vulture capital," a zinger thrown by Rick Perry before he dropped out of the race? Was his money parked in offshore accounts in the Caribbean? The former Massachusetts governor's profound unease with the whole subject was clear when moderator John King asked at Thursday's CNN debate whether he'd release his taxes.
Now, perhaps in an attempt to prevent further damage in Florida and beyond, his camp has announced that he will release his 2010 tax returns on Tuesday.

Presidential elections always hinge on defining both the nation - that is, what kind of America we love - and the electorate. South Carolina turned into a battle royale on class and capitalism in the United States. Mitt Romney only won among the economic demographic in South Carolina that earned $200,000 or more per year. That's a lower income threshold than the now infamous "1%", to be sure, but politically unworkable given that the median household income in the state (often earned by more than one person) is less than $43,000 per year.

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Filed under: Black in America • Politics • What we think
Return of the 'Welfare Queen'
President Reagan's "Welfare Queen" is still shaping U.S. politics, but did she exist and why has her story remained so potent?
January 23rd, 2012
01:00 PM ET

Return of the 'Welfare Queen'

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - She's out there, lurking in the 2012 presidential race like a horror movie villain who refuses to die.

She has 12 Social Security cards, mooches on benefits from four fake dead husbands, and collects food stamps while driving a Cadillac. She rakes in about $150,000 a year in welfare benefits and, of course, people assume she must be African-American.

President Ronald Reagan gave America a sunny "Morning in America" optimism, but he also gave it the "Welfare Queen," an infamous character who has re-emerged in this year's presidential race.

Critics have accused the three leading Republican presidential candidates of resurrecting Reagan's Welfare Queen by calling President Obama the "food stamp president," implying that blacks live off other people's money, and by declaring that America is moving toward an "entitlement society."

Yet few people have examined the story behind the birth of the Welfare Queen. Did she really exist? Why do people still talk about her when welfare ended 15 years ago? Can her story still swing voters at a time when the great recession has forced more whites to rely on government assistance?

Read the full story

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Filed under: Black in America • How we live • Politics • Race • Women
January 23rd, 2012
11:34 AM ET

A midair courtship: Tuskegee's historic love story

Editor's note: Read more CNN coverage about the Tuskegee Airmen and "Red Tails," including "Hollywood's irrational allergy to black films," actor David Oyelowo's column about learning Tuskegee's history and more hidden heroes of America's past.

Tuskegee, Alabama (CNN) - Herbert Carter and Mildred Hemmons had no time for dating in the early months of 1942.

He was training to become a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation's first military program for African-American pilots.

She was the bold, daring woman who caught his eye. At 18, she'd become the first black woman in Alabama to earn a pilot's license. She had hopes of becoming a military pilot, too.

Flying was intoxicating. It provided Herbert and Mildred a sense of freedom - to be themselves, to dream big. The in-your-face racism of the segregated South was gone, if only for a while. In the air, the sky was literally the limit.

It takes pioneers to force change. Herbert and Mildred would play their part in the years ahead. But in those early days, they didn't see themselves as trailblazers. They were young and in love.

More than anything, flight provided a rare opportunity to see each other. He'd call her up on Fridays: "Are you gonna be flying this weekend?"

"Of course," she'd say.

Read the full story

Engage: New survey shows black women's view of themselves
A new survey offers an in-depth look at black women's views about themselves.
January 23rd, 2012
11:34 AM ET

Engage: New survey shows black women's view of themselves

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

Survey: Black American women redefine themselves - The Washington Post

In lucky Chinese lunar new year, some couples plan for babies  - The Wall Street Journal

State sterilization victims speak: 'You can't put a price on what I went through' - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

U.S. Spanish language networks expand - The Wall Street Journal

Johnny Otis, R & B pioneer, dies - The Atlantic

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Filed under: Engage
Opinion: Signs of America's racial past
A sign in Jackson, Mississippi, photographed in 1961.
January 23rd, 2012
05:00 AM ET

Opinion: Signs of America's racial past

Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a bestselling author whose books include "Late Edition: A Love Story" and "Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen."

By Bob Greene, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - The good news is that news of the sign was shocking.

Because there was a time, not so very long ago - a time remembered vividly by many living Americans - when the sign would not have raised eyebrows, much less warranted national headlines.
You may have seen the story earlier this month. The Ohio Civil Rights Commission upheld a ruling that a landlord in Cincinnati who had posted a "White Only" sign on the gate to her swimming pool had violated the Ohio Civil Rights Act. The landlord, Jamie Hein, who is white, said the sign was an antique, intended to be a decoration; one of her tenants, Michael Gunn, filed the complaint because he believed the sign was placed to dissuade his daughter, who is African-American, from using the pool.

Each side has its own version of the story. But it received widespread coverage because the idea of such a sign, in 2012, was so startling, and was so abhorrent to many people.

Read Bob Greene's full column