Editor’s note: Rob Smith is a writer, lecturer and openly gay U.S. Army veteran. His work has appeared in USA Today, The Huffington Post, Metro Weekly and Slate.com. He is contributing to "For Colored Boys ...," an anthology to be released this spring. He is also launching the IamTrayvonMartin project on You Tube. He can be reached at www.robsmithonline.com and twitter.com/robsmithonline.
By Rob Smith, Special to CNN
(CNN) - In some ways, I suppose it could be considered a good thing that I wasn’t racially profiled until my sophomore year of college. For some young black men, it happens even sooner. My personal style has always leaned more towards Carlton Banks than 50 Cent, and I’ve never really been a fan of baggy jeans or fitted caps. That night however, I’d taken it upon myself to throw on a hooded sweatshirt as it started to rain. It was early evening and I found myself leaving class and walking in a parking lot behind an older white woman who was heading to her car after what was presumably a long day at work.
Lost in college-kid thoughts of midterms and summer internships, she barely registered to me until she immediately stopped in her tracks, as if I’d shouted her name. She then began to shriek in a near-hysterical tone, admonishing me for having the audacity to walk 10 feet behind her after dark. “Don’t ever do that! Ask your mother! Ask your sister! Don’t do that because it’s scary!” Initially, the episode registered as little more than bizarre to me, but as I finished my walk home, it became more apparent to me that the triple threat of my dark skin, stocky build and dark grey (fraternity!) hoodie was just too much for this woman to bear. Until that point, I’d never really thought of myself as an imposing or physically threatening guy, but to this poor lady I may as well have been the Unabomber.
Being profiled is a black male rite of passage that I was somehow inoculated from until that evening. Although I was vaguely aware of it before, I somehow made the mistake of thinking that my style of dress, “upward mobility,” or college education made me somehow exempt from the social cost of being a black male. It is not a mistake I’ve made since, nor is it one that the New York Police Department or cab drivers in this city will ever allow me to make again. Every black male from the mailroom to the boardroom and everywhere in between seems to have a story about being profiled in this way, and my experiences have been fairly innocuous compared to the horror stories I’ve heard.
Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.
20 black women who became CEOs - The Root
In first, Los Angeles police officer found guilty of racial profiling - The Los Angeles Times
Decline in Latino voters spurs registration drive - The Huffington Post
Largest radio ratings service settles lawsuit; vows to improve tracking of minority listeners - The New York Times
Editor's note: Overseas, they fight for freedom. In America, they fight for jobs. “Voters In America: Vets Wanted?” is the first part of a CNN In America documentary series on American voters. Narrated by J.R. Martinez. Airing May 13th 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on CNN.
By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Unemployment, debt and a troubled housing market are plaguing families across the country, but for those in the armed forces, there is an even bigger burden to bear.
Often young and required to move frequently, many military families struggle to maintain a two-income household, find affordable childcare and save for the future.
Service members and their families have a tougher time because the military isn't a high-paying job and most "are very young and without formal financial literacy training," said Robert Joshua, executive vice president at Navy Federal Credit Union, which serves military and civilian personnel and their families.
The average junior enlisted member with less than four years' experience earns just over $40,000 a year, including housing and food allowances, according to the Defense Department. The salary goes up, however, for service members with families. Those who are married with two kids earn $52,000.
(CNN) - You can't please everyone when adapting a book for the big screen, especially one as beloved as "The Hunger Games," but director Gary Ross and the casting team likely weren't anticipating this.
According to Jezebel, there appears to be a group of fans who are displeased that black actors were cast to portray Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), Rue (Amandla Stenberg) and Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi). While Cinna's complexion isn't described in the novel, author Suzanne Collins does describe the latter two characters as both having dark skin.
As chronicled on the Tumblr "Hunger Games Tweets," it seems some readers either didn't pick up on the description or didn't read the description as depicting two African-American characters, and as a result have been vocal about their disappointment.