Egberto Willies lives in Kingwood, Texas and is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Panama. He is Black, Hispanic and Caribbean. He is also a husband, a father and political activist who says he believes and lives the American dream.
What makes you American?
Check out Egberto's story and see other "I Am America" posts on iReport.
By Madison Park, CNN
Berkeley, California (CNN) - When a boy struts in a tutu or a girl dons boxer shorts, it makes grown-ups nervous. It's one of the first lessons kids who are gender nonconforming learn.
Mich is biologically female, but didn't identify as a girl. As a child, Mich insisted on having boy-cut short hair, shunned all things pink and refused to play with dolls or wear dresses.
At age 3, "I told my mom I wanted to be a boy," said Mich, who requested to be identified by first name only. "And, throughout the years, I learned that saying that was not right ... and so, you hide this part of yourself. But you still know something's up. The problem with kids is that they don't have the language to say it, but they know."
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Through reenactments, archival photographs and interviews with top scholars, living descendants and the author of “Slavery by Another Name,” Douglas Blackmon, a new PBS film examines the “neoslavery” that persisted in the South years after the Civil War. According to Blackmon, thousands of African Americans remained enslaved until the beginning of World War II.”
CNN's Don Lemon interviews two women featured in the film, both connected by a disturbing past. Susan Burnore, the descendant of a slave owner named John Williams, who was believed to be the only white man convicted for murdering 11 slaves; and Tonya Groomes, a descendant of a slave that Williams once owned.
This is the second installment of interviews done by Don Lemon on CNN's News Room.
View here for the interview with Don Lemon and the author of "Slavery by Another Name," Douglas Blackmon.
Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.
Jeremy Lin media mania slips with racial stereotypes, slurs –The New York Times
Oscars: Analysis of 5,765 voting members of the Academy reveal voters are 94% white, 77% male, median age of 62 –The Los Angeles Times
Returning veterans accuse federal agencies of denying them jobs - The Washington Post
Q&A with African-American advertising executives: who they are, and their take on industry - Adage.com
Young girl in famous march on Washington photo revealed - USA Today
By Chuck Conder and Ted Rowlands, CNN
Ulysses, Kansas (CNN) - Out on the broad west Kansas prairie the tiny farm town of Ulysses is undergoing a quiet revolution.
About 15 years ago Ulysses, like many small rural communities, was slowly dying as the town’s youth grew up and left, seeking greater opportunities elsewhere. Then a handful of new residents began arriving in the mostly white town: recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America.
What started as a trickle soon became a flood. “It seems like every year it’s more and more,” says Irene Ramirez. Irene and husband Sefeino operate a Mexican bakery that has been doing a booming business.
“We don’t like big towns,” says Sefeino, who met Irene in Ulysess after arriving here as a migrant worker. “A lot of noise, a lot of traffic,” is how he describes larger places. Sefeino and Irene have flourished in Ulysses, raising their five children here.
Today Ulysses – population about 6,000– is more than 50% Latino.
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) – Over President’s Day weekend I traveled from the halls of Harvard to my childhood home in Baltimore, a city far better known for The Wire than its education system. On Saturday night, I heard my mother coach a parent by phone on ways to ensure her child was focused and ready to study. My mother retired as a Baltimore City school teacher several years ago, but she still puts in the time to tutor kids through a program run by a local church. She cared about students then, and she cares now. And, although you would not know it from statements like Rick Santorum's attack decrying the "factories called public schools," dedicated teachers like my mother are not an exception. Not all teachers are great; nor all public schools. But the reason I have been at Harvard, twice - once for my undergraduate education, and now again as a teaching fellow at the Institute of Politics - is based on my parents’ efforts and the excellence that was present in public schools.
That's right - excellence. It's there. A couple of years ago, I had the chance to explain how I benefited from just one of the many extraordinary teachers in my life in a public service ad encouraging people to teach.
Now, to say that excellence is embedded in public schools does not mean every school is excellent. My mother had to push and advocate for me to switch schools between first and second grades, because the neighborhood school I started at just was not up to snuff. (In fact, a few years later, it was shut down.) Not every child is lucky enough to have a parent who is a warrior for their child, who makes sure that in a district of mixed educational outcomes, their kid gets the best education he or she can. There is a vast inequality in education not only between school districts, but within them.
But I've had just about enough of the attacks on the integrity of teachers and public schools. Many of them are fighting heroic battles on behalf of America's children. No one with a lick of sense goes into teaching to get rich. Some people do drift into the profession with a lack of vision, training, or both. Yes, America's classrooms can be unforgiving, both to students and teachers. But within the tapestry of American education, with all of its rips and holes, there are also diamonds woven into the fabric - teachers of imagination, skill, and perseverance against all odds.
My mother stayed in the City schools when she could have made more money in the County. She chose lower-income schools, including one that was walking distance from the house I grew up in, when she had the seniority to go to cushier, more well-funded neighborhoods with more classroom resources. She spent her own money on supplies for her sixth grade science class, and once had to buy a heater because in the dead of winter, her classroom was freezing cold. FULL POST
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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