By Tom Cohen, CNN
Washington (CNN) - When Derrick Bell was a young lawyer in the Department of Justice's new Civil Rights Division in the late 1950s, his supervisor told him to drop his membership in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Bell refused, and soon saw his caseload reduced and desk moved into the hallway. Eventually he resigned.
It would not be the last time Bell gave up a prized position for a principle. Years later, he left Harvard Law School - where he had been the first tenured African-American professor - over the lack of any black women on the faculty.
Bell was a legal scholar who broke racial barriers in a career that influenced students, including a young Barack Obama at Harvard. He died last October.
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By Claudia Morales, CNN
(CNN) – Her black, female, co-workers pressured her to re-consider, but Ivy Grant, an associate partner in a marketing consulting firm decided to make the transition from her processed straight hair, to her naturally textured hair twelve years ago, and has no regrets.
“Everyone has this fear that you’re not going to be accepted in the work place with this kind of hair,” Grant said referring to her curly afro.
On the other hand, financial executive Michele Chowtai is only eight months into the transition process, and says she is still not sure if she will go “fully natural.” She fears there is a negative stigma she can’t avoid and wonders, “How am I going to be perceived in the work place after I go completely natural?”
More and more black women are grappling with these decisions. The percentage that say they do not use chemical products to straighten or relax their hair increased to 36% in 2011, up from 26% in 2010, according to a report by Mintel, a market intelligence firm.
The desire for healthy hair and an escape from damaging chemical products are two of the reasons why women are choosing to go natural. After years of torturous treatments, scalp burns and high costs, Grant walked into a salon, cut all her hair off and decided she would never go back to chemical relaxers.
By Rose Arce, CNN
(CNN) - A U.S. district judge ordered New York City to pay $128 million in to firefighters who allege the city used an entrance exam that deliberately sought to keep African-Americans and Latino Americans off the force. The judge also ordered the FDNY to hire 293 black and Latino applicants.
"It has been in the city's power to prevent or remedy the need for damages proceedings for a decade, and it has not done so," U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garufis said in his ruling on the class action lawsuit. He called it the "consequences of the city's decision to ignore clear violations of federal law."
The federal government had sued the city (United States of America and Vulcan Society Inc. vs. City of New York) alleging the city violated the U.S. Constitution and local civil rights laws by using an entrance exam intentionally designed to discriminate based on race.
Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.
Miami becomes new production destination for telenovelas–The New York Times
Federal court temporarily blocks two parts of HB 56, Alabama's controversial immigration law - Al.com
Pew Study: Global immigration study shows America is destination for Christians, Buddhists - The Wall Street Journal
10 American cities with the largest pay gaps for women –AOL/Daily Finance
Police departments struggle to recruit, retain Asian-American officers– Voice of America
By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney
(CNN) – When you think of income inequality, don't picture a luxury condo in Manhattan or a Beverly Hills mansion. Instead, imagine a Southern plantation.
The South had the highest share of counties with the greatest income inequality, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Some 32% of Southern counties ranked in the top fifth in terms of inequality, versus 12% in the Northeast and West each.
The Midwest, meanwhile, has the lowest level in income inequality, with only 8% of counties ranking in the top fifth. It also has the largest share of counties with the lowest inequality.
Read the full story on CNNMoney
Editor's note: Baratunde Thurston is a comedian, writer, co-founder of the black political blog, Jack and Jill Politics and director of digital for The Onion. His first book, “How To Be Black,” was published this month by Harper Collins.
Christian Lander is the creator of the popular blog, Stuff White People Like and the author of two best-selling books, "Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions" and "Whiter Shade of Pale."
By Sarah Edwards, CNN
(CNN) – Though the title might fool you, Baratunde Thurston’s new book “How To Be Black” is not a do-it-yourself guide. It is instead a memoir which illustrates Thurston's sometimes funny and sometimes tragic life story. Through a mix of personal narrative, humor and satire, Thurston allows the reader to think about–and laugh about–race in a safe, non-judgmental space.
Christian Lander, Baratunde's friend, is a Canadian-born writer and satirist whose experience and upbringing may not parallel Thurston’s, the inner-city D.C. kid who graduated from Harvard; but it is clear that their brands of irreverent humor and frank discourse are what they share. When Lander, who was interviewed in Thurston’s book, got together with Thurston for CNN In America to chat about “How To Be Black,” the result was a freewheeling discussion on race fatigue, Norbit and 21st Century Blackness. 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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