By Stephanie Siek, CNN
(CNN) –The Arizona state legislature is considering a bill that would allow any employer to deny health insurance coverage for birth control pills, if the employer has a religious or moral objection to them. Arizona HB 2625, introduced by Republican State Representative Debbie Lasko, has passed the statehouse and is now making it way through the state senate.
Religious institutions are already exempted from having to cover contraceptives under existing state law, but Lasko said non-religious employers should also have the option.
The bill would also remove a provision in current state law that prohibits religious employers from discriminating against an employee who chooses to use contraceptives and pay for them out of pocket.
The Arizona ACLU says the bill would be an invasion of women's privacy.
By Nick Valencia, CNN
New Orleans (CNN)- Humberto Guzman drove big rigs in Alabama for two months. As an undocumented immigrant from Honduras, he feared being deported everyday.
“The police would come after us a lot,” Guzman said. “Where we parked was the problem because they always asked us for our papers.”
Last week, two more parts of Alabama’s tough immigration law, which makes it more difficult for illegal immigrants to live and work in the state, were blocked by a federal appeals court. Another piece, requiring schools to check the immigration status of students, was put on hold last year. The entire law is being challenged by the federal government and activist groups.
Anticipating the worst, around the beginning of the year, Guzman packed his belongings and headed for Louisiana. He was familiar with the state. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, illegal immigrants like Guzman flocked to the city. They came in droves, drawn by the high paying jobs.
(CNN) – The story of Richard Theodore Greener is a book with many blank pages. The first African-American to graduate from Harvard University in 1870, he was one of the foremost black thinkers of his time, rising to prominence between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois and praised by both. Greener was the dean of Howard University's law school, a diplomat and also the University of South Carolina’s first black professor and head librarian.
The recent discovery of some of Greener’s papers in Chicago could fill in some of those pages. But the ironies of his life remain.
One daughter of this book-loving man and advocate for racial equality would go on to become the most respected librarian of her era and an expert on medieval illuminated manuscripts – but not as a woman of color. Belle Marian Greener, who was born to Greener and his first wife, Genevieve Ida Fleet, passed for white. Even lighter-skinned than her two light-skinned African-American parents, she changed her name to Belle da Costa Greene to reflect a fabricated Portuguese ancestry that would explain her complexion.
After separating from Fleet, Greener accepted consular appointments in Bombay (now Mumbai), India and Vladivostok, Siberia, but neither Fleet nor their children joined him. Da Costa Greene burned most of her personal papers before her death in 1950, and except for a possible visit with her father after his retirement in Chicago, the degree to which she and Greener kept in contact is a mystery.
While working as an American consular official in Vladivostok in 1898, Greener began a relationship with a Japanese woman, Mishi Kawashima, with whom he had a daughter and two sons. He then had to leave them behind in Vladivostok in 1906, when he was the victim of a rumor campaign that resulted in his retirement.
It’s possible that racism played a role in his reasons for leaving the post, said Michael Mounter, a historian and research librarian at the University of South Carolina who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Greener. Among the rumors flying at the time, Mounter said, were that he “was drinking too much and had a Japanese mistress.”
Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.
New immigration detention facility aims to be "less like prison" - National Public Radio
Justice Department rejects Texas voter ID law; DC Federal Court to decide on enforcement - Houston Chronicle
Female athletes in NCAA tournament have higher graduation rates than male counterparts - Bloomberg
Spanish-language station makes history with 'social' programming - The Miami Herald
iVillage unveils best and worst states for American women to live - iVillage.com
Editor's note: Marsha Sampson Johnson advocates for full inclusion of women and people of color in all work environments in her work as a writer and speaker. She is a retired senior executive from a Fortune 500 company and has held a variety of executive positions, including in talent management, human resources and corporate diversity.
By Marsha Johnson, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Kudos to the Department of Education for a new study documenting that black students, especially boys, receive much harsher discipline than other students in public schools. Many black people would tell you they knew this already, but it generally takes data for institutional change to occur.
The coverage of the study in The New York Times last week got me thinking about what needs to be done. While we must attack the problem on multiple fronts, one part of the solution will not be found in scholarly journals or five-point plans. It is sleeping deep in our histories and needs to be awakened and put to work.
It is the communal love of our children. Not just one or two of us doing it, and not just when it is convenient or our children are behaving and excelling. Children in trouble need caring and confidence-building now - right now.
Read Marsha Sampson's full column
Editor's note: Sandra Fluke is a third-year law student at Georgetown University Law Center and has served as president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice.
By Sandra Fluke, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Last month, students from several Catholic universities gathered to send a message to the nation that contraception is basic health care. I was among them, and I was proud to share the stories of my friends at Georgetown Law who have suffered dire medical consequences because our student insurance does not cover contraception for the purpose of preventing pregnancy.
I joined these students in speaking at a media event because I believe that stories of how real women are affected are the most powerful argument for access to affordable, quality reproductive health care services.
I also joined these students because now is a critical time to raise this issue in our public consciousness.
Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, preventive care services, including contraception, will be covered by private insurance plans without co-pays or deductibles. If appropriately implemented, this important law will finally guarantee women access to contraception, regardless of the religious affiliation of their workplace or school.
By now, many have heard the stories I wanted to share thanks to the congressional leaders and members of the media who have supported me and millions of women in speaking out.
Read Sandra Fluke's full column
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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