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Opinion: Contraception denigrates me as a woman
Pokorny: "Should I so easily accept... that I need to alter a part of myself that’s working properly in order to be free or fulfilled?"
February 15th, 2012
04:22 PM ET

Opinion: Contraception denigrates me as a woman

Editor’s Note: Valerie Pokorny is actively involved in marriage preparation programs, natural family planning instruction and chastity education in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas. 

An opposing view can be read here.

By Valerie Pokorny, Special to CNN

(CNN) - In the face of the Health and Human Services mandate to provide contraception coverage, I stand with my fellow Catholics hoping our religious freedom will be respected.

But more importantly, I stand as a woman hoping who I am will be respected.

Four times a year, I walk into a room of Catholic moms and their middle school or high school daughters to help them see why being a woman matters, as part of the Archdiocese of San Antonio’s Mother-Daughter Programs on the Gift of Femininity.

I tell them it’s no accident that they are women, that women are equal to men in personal dignity, and that men and women are different by design. Those differences are meant to work together for the benefit of each individual, but also for the benefit of the world around them. I tell them there’s such a thing as the genius of women - and that the world needs them to cherish this in themselves and strive to live it out to the fullest because it is good. The world would be impoverished without it.

To make it more practical, I pass out a few popular magazines straight from the checkout lane. I ask them to tag several examples of “girl genius.” They eagerly start flipping through the pages. After a few minutes, I ask each group to share the examples they found.

Then I ask if they ran into any obstacles in looking for those examples of girl genius. 'Yes,' they respond. The view of women in these magazines is often focused on appearances and overtly sexualized. They sense the pressure to conform to standards that lower the bar for both men and women alike.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Health • Religion • What we think • Women
Opinion: Why I’m a Catholic for contraception
Karalen Morthole says, "Catholic bishops have taken a stance that violates the basic rights that affect millions of Catholics."
February 15th, 2012
02:58 PM ET

Opinion: Why I’m a Catholic for contraception

Editor's Note: Karalen L. Morthole is a senior majoring in political science at Catholic University of America.

An opposing view can be read here.

By Karalen L. Morthole, Special to CNN

(CNN) - I have been a Catholic my whole life. Baptized as a baby and confirmed in the seventh grade, I attended weekly catechism classes and received a Jesuit education. Never once did the opinion of the church on a person's use of contraceptives surface.

In high school, I was prescribed birth control to balance my hormones. I suffered from terrible mood swings that had negative effects on my relationship with my family and got me into trouble with teachers. I also experienced menstrual cramps so painful as to be debilitating; sometimes, they left me unable to move.

My mother, a devout Catholic, had no problem with my taking birth control, because she recognized the dramatic effects this simple medication had on my life. Birth control gave me a new, healthy and balanced way to live. As a 22-year-old woman, I am able to think more rationally because of birth control.

Read the full post on CNN's Belief blog

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Opinion: Stop encouraging sexual assault of our young Black and Latina girls
Several "hip-hop feminists" voiced their outrage at rapper Too $hort's recent comments.
February 15th, 2012
02:22 PM ET

Opinion: Stop encouraging sexual assault of our young Black and Latina girls

Editor’s Note: Raquel Cepeda is an award-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker and author of the forthcoming book, "i, latina?: My Year of Tripping Through my Ancestral DNA, Running The Fukú Down, and Making Peace with my Dad along the Way" (Atria, Simon & Schuster). She’s currently in production on "Before I Deconstruct", a documentary exploring Latino-American identity through the eyes of teenage girls from a Bronx, NY-based suicide prevention program. Follow her on Twitter @RaquelCepeda.

On February 15, Vanessa Satten, the editor-in chief of XXL Magazine responded again to the growing furor and calls for her resignation. Read her statement here.

By Raquel Cepeda, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Here, some “fatherly advice” for middle school aged boys from one Todd Anthony Shaw: "You push her up against the wall,” and then, “You take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens."

No, the man isn’t a convicted child sex offender or pornographer. He isn’t a New York City teacher’s aide accused of lewd acts with a minor, either.  Shaw is Too $hort, a 45 year-old hip-hop artist who became a household name when he stepped onto the scene in the early 1980s.

So, when my dear friend and colleague, author Joan Morgan—she coined the term “hip-hop feminism” in 1999—tweeted me a link to a story in which the rapper, on XXL magazine’s website, gave boys advice on how to “turn girls out,” I thought it must have been a mistake.

Surely, something like this wouldn’t happen today.  Our aging hip-hop artists have become adults now, businessmen, television executives, stockholders, and excellent, responsible fathers like Eminem, Run-D.M.C.’s Rev. Run, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Master P, and Jay-Z.  I mean, have you heard the man rap about the euphoric rites of passage that is fatherhood on his chart-busting track “Glory”? We know better, now, don’t we?

Apparently, Too $hort and, more predictably, XXL magazine proved that I was sorely wrong.

This week, a barrage of tweets have come in from hip-hop’s literary feminists. The writer and filmmaker Dream Hampton tweeted, “There's a war on Black girls @XXLStaff let us know where they stand by posting this near-criminal @TooShort video.”  Joan Morgan tweeted under her handle, @milfinainteasy, “Really wondering why when it comes to violating the bodies and spirits of black women and children are apologies expected to be enough?”  Veteran journalist Kierna Mayo, co-founder of the multicultural women's magazine, Honey (which went out of business after being bought out by Harris Publishing, also the publisher of XXL Magazine) and current editor-in-chief at Ebony.com tweeted, “So this is why hip hop is STILL conflicting for a sis…” FULL POST

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Filed under: Age • Black in America • Gender • Latino in America • Pop culture • Race • What we think • Women
Engage: Two file to trademark 'Linsanity'
February 15th, 2012
12:54 PM ET

Engage: Two file to trademark 'Linsanity'

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

Patent applications filed to profit from Jeremy Lin phenomenon - Bloomberg/The Washington Post Also see The Colbert Report

Federal government to pay $350, 000 to undocumented men arrested in immigration raid  – Yale Daily News

What happened when an Asian-American author confronted her junior high bully about racism - Salon.com

A mother and family spend a year buying products from black-owned businesses; lessons on economy in black neighborhoods - Mother Jones

 

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With Jeremy Lin, of course race matters
Jeremy Lin holds the ball as the New York Knicks play the Los Angeles Lakers in New York last week.
February 15th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

With Jeremy Lin, of course race matters

Editor's note: Rick Quan is the principal at Rick Quan Productionsand a sports anchor at KGO-TV in San Francisco. He has profiled Jeremy Lin previously on his website.

By Rick Quan, Special to CNN

(CNN) - In the frenzy over the sudden phenomenal success of Jeremy Lin - known as "Linsanity" - there's been some talk of race. Floyd Mayweather Jr., the famed boxer, caused controversy when he said the other day, "Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he's Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don't get the same praise."

Before you get up in arms about Mayweather's comment, first consider the source. Mayweather is known for causing a stir and pushing people's buttons. He's made homophobic and racist comments about sports figures in the past, including champion boxer Manny Pacquiao.

So anything Mayweather says you might want to ignore. But does he have a valid point? Is Lin getting this much attention only because he's Asian? Absolutely not. Does race play into the equation? Absolutely.

Read Rick Quan's full column

February 15th, 2012
10:46 AM ET

Opinion: Terrie Williams: We need to stop masking our pain

Editor's Note: Terrie M. Williams is the author of "Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting" and the co-founder of The Stay Strong Foundation. You can follow her on Twitter @terriewilliams.

By Terrie M. Williams, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Another one of our greats has fallen. It was only a week ago that I was moved to put pen to paper about the suicide of Don Cornelius. Now it’s Whitney Houston. This was a slow suicide, but a suicide nonetheless. We won’t know for weeks whether it was accidental, on purpose or even related to drugs at all.  But it almost doesn't matter, because most of us saw this coming.

Sure, we hoped, prayed, and thought she was going to make it through – that the years of drug and alcohol abuse, the destructive marriage, the waning career, and an increasingly impaired voice weren’t going to break our beloved soul princess. We just knew that our unbelievably gifted church girl from Jersey with the noble music pedigree was going to be alright. She was our gift to the global stage. Our Barbra Streisand. We wanted so desperately to believe her when she said in the 2009 Oprah interview that God, her family, a couple of stints in rehab, and divorcing Bobby had helped her make it through the fire and on to the other side. But in May of last year, after a world tour that garnered poor performances and vicious reviews, she voluntarily entered an outpatient program for drug and alcohol treatment. We knew then that everything was not well.

Now we want someone to blame – the enabling entourage, the music industry, the tabloids, and, indeed, Whitney herself. Why would someone with so many riches – model good looks, a voice from the heavens that made her millions, a beautiful daughter, and a loving family throw it all away just to get high? Was her constitution that weak? Why couldn’t she just snap out it? We’d seen so many other talented entertainers, like Samuel L. Jackson and Mary J. Blige, battle their demons and, seemingly, win.

I asked psychotherapist friend, Mary Pender Greene, her thoughts on Whitney’s inability to overcome her struggles even though she clearly had a strong faith in God, a loving family, and, in fact, she did seek treatment. She said, “It is clear in the end that she could not, had not repaired her damaged self, reconciled her feelings toward her failed relationship, confronted her dependency issues, or accepted that her voice had suffered. It also appears that being involved in an unhealthy relationship helped to cause her to lose her sense of self, her personal power and her footing, all of which helped to further weaken her self-esteem.”

As one who has been there and is still there, I second that emotion. The relationship we have with ourselves is the most important one we will ever have. If it is strong, it can help buffer you from the outside influences and the kind of pressure that caused Whitney to fall. Personal pain obviously caused Whitney to be her own worst enemy. I strongly believe that a consistent relationship with a therapist would have allowed her to have a different ending.

FULL POST

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I Am America: Mexican-American mom Lulis Leal
February 15th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

I Am America: Mexican-American mom Lulis Leal

Lulis Leal lives in New York City and was born in San Antonio, Texas to a Mexican-American mother and Mexican father. She grew up in a Spanish-speaking home and served in the U.S. Army. She was a single mother for 20 years and is now married to a Jewish man from Brooklyn.

What makes you American? Check out Lulis' story and submit your own "I Am America" story on iReport.


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