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Opinion: The bearable whiteness of being gay
February 2nd, 2012
01:29 PM ET

Opinion: The bearable whiteness of being gay

Editor’s note: Rob Smith is a writer, lecturer and openly gay U.S. Army and Iraq War veteran.  His work has appeared in USA Today, The Huffington Post, Metro Weekly and Salon.com among others.  He is also a contributing author to "For Colored Boys ...," an anthology featuring the stories of gay men of color to be released on March 13.  He can be reached at www.robsmithonline.com and on Twitter @robsmithonline.

By Rob Smith, Special to CNN

I’m a typical gay male with a defining feature that is atypical in my community.

When I log onto my computer in the morning I check my favorite gay blogs. There, I will undoubtedly see images of people who don’t look like me attached to stories written by other people who don’t look like me. Above the page and to the right of the text are ads for various products being sold. They are modeled by people who don’t look like me. Maybe they are the underwear models made to be eye candy for the brand being promoted. Perhaps they’re the people used to represent the typical gay couple that would be welcome on that cruise, or in that hotel.

When I see people who do look like me written about and shown on my favorite gay blogs, they will most likely share my skin color but not my sexual orientation.

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Filed under: Black in America • Community • Race • Sexual orientation • What we think
February 2nd, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Opinion: Why Don Cornelius mattered

Editor's note: Gene Seymour has written about movies, music and culture for The New York Times, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

(CNN) - The 1970s were the first full decade after civil rights legislation all but obliterated racial segregation in the United States. And it was in large part because of this great sea change that a bright, bold flowering of African-American popular culture affecting music, movies, fashion, television, sports and literature burst forth, its impact resonating with a breadth and force that had never been witnessed before - or seen since.

Don Cornelius, who was found dead Wednesday, at age 75, in his Los Angeles home, was one of the significant figures of this transformative era.

As the creator and longtime host of the TV music-and-dance show, "Soul Train," Cornelius took an established broadcast genre of dancing teenagers, hit records and live performances by pop stars and infused it with assertively African-American style and attitude so electrifying that its appeal crossed racial, ethnic and even generational lines.

Read Gene Seymour's full column

Engage: How East Haven, Connecticut, investigation became 'major' profiling case
The FBI charged four East Haven, Connecticut, police officers with violating the rights of Latino residents.
February 2nd, 2012
11:46 AM ET

Engage: How East Haven, Connecticut, investigation became 'major' profiling case

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

Turning point of  racial profiling case came when harassed residents spoke out - The New York Times

   Also see: How East Haven, Connecticut, became synonymous with racial profiling – Colorlines

5-year-old of deported, undocumented parent is adopted; case spurs immigration, parental rights debate - ABC News

Urban Institute Report:  African-Americans and Latinos have best opportunities in medium-sized cities in South, West - USA Today

Author's coming of age novel explores growing up as child of immigrant, Muslim parents in Midwest - The Los Angeles Times

'How to Be Black' author Baratunde Thurston shares memories, satire - National Public Radio

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Opinion: Komen's blow to Planned Parenthood and women
Planned Parenthood supporters walk to a rally on Capitol Hill on April 7, 2011.
February 2nd, 2012
10:59 AM ET

Opinion: Komen's blow to Planned Parenthood and women

Editor's note: Laura Sessions Stepp is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, formerly with The Washington Post, who specializes in the coverage of young people. She has written two books: "Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both" and "Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children through Early Adolescence." She is a consultant to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

(CNN) - One of the truly remarkable, and relatively recent, boosts to the health of poor women in this country has been their opportunity to get preventive, reproductive health services, at little or no cost, in one place.

Over the years, one Planned Parenthood clinic after another has been able to offer these women not only affordable contraception, but full exams that include screening for breast cancer, the No. 1 cancer killer of women.

This week, a major financial supporter of breast cancer education and services, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, announced it was ending its funding to Planned Parenthood. While Planned Parenthood believes Komen is caving in to pressure from anti-abortion groups, Komen said its decision was made because the foundation is not allowed to give money to any organization under government investigation.

Read Laura Sessions Stepp's full column

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Filed under: Health • What we think • Women
Women of Tuskegee supported famed black pilots
Irma "Pete" Dryden served as a nurse for the Tuskegee Airmen, and later married one: Charles "A-Train" Dryden.
February 2nd, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Women of Tuskegee supported famed black pilots

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) - As the Tuskegee Airmen fought for their place in the skies during World War II, they were supported by a dedicated and often forgotten cadre of women.

They were nurses, mechanics, supply pilots and secretaries. They nursed injured bodies and souls, packaged and repackaged parachutes, cleared land for runways and base buildings, delivered supplies and did the other work that helped keep the base running.

The Tuskegee Airmen, whose combat service is depicted in the recently released film "Red Tails," earned their place in history by being the first African-American pursuit squadron. They were charged with protecting bombers from enemy fire while flying missions over parts of Europe and North Africa. Their training program, first based at the historically black Tuskegee Institute in 1941, eventually grew to include nearly 1,000 pilots and several air bases.

It isn’t clear exactly how many women were included among the estimated 15,000 people that worked as part of the program. But Ruth Jackson, a research librarian at the Universityof California–Riverside, said her research confirms at least 41 women were nurses. The university houses a large archive of material related to the Tuskegee Airmen, and Jackson has been collecting oral histories from many of the female personnel.

"They believed very strongly, just the way the men did, that it was ridiculous for the barriers to exist, and for the military to have believed that African-Americans were not intelligent enough or brave enough to fly," Jackson said. "They were very much devoted to the cause and the success of the experience. They felt very special to be a part of it, as a matter of fact."

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • Gender • History • Race • Who we are • Women