May 23rd, 2012
09:05 PM ET

Opinion: What to take away from the death of Trayvon Martin

Editor’s note: Susan Bodnar is a clinical psychologist who works with people from diverse backgrounds and teaches at Columbia University’s Teachers College and at The Stephen Mitchell Center for Relational Studies. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, two children and all of their pets.

By Susan Bodnar, Special to CNN

(CNN) - When I learned of the news that a young black male, Trayvon Martin, had been shot and killed, it knocked the tears out of me.

Could this have happened to my child? One of his friends?

Martin was like many of our adolescent children – a little bit confused about his identity, and perhaps acted out as most teenagers do.

But we should stop viewing the release of recent evidence,  and news about George Zimmerman as a spectacle.

Instead let’s discuss how a white Hispanic man came to view an unarmed black teenager as dangerous, and explore racism’s lingering vestiges after the death of Trayvon Martin.


Marvel Comics invites you to a Super Marriage
Northstar pops the question in Astonishing X-men #50.
May 23rd, 2012
03:46 PM ET

Marvel Comics invites you to a Super Marriage

Editor's Note: This post looks at Marvel Comics’ “Astonishing X-Men #50”,  part of the monthly X-Men books.

By Topher Kohan, CNN

Marvel Comics’ mutant character Northstar has not often been a headliner. If all you know about the X-Men is what you've seen in movies starring Hugh Jackman, then you likely don’t know him at all.

That changes with this week's “Astonishing X-Men #50” when Northstar takes center stage and prepares to go from one of the first openly gay superheroes in comics to the first married gay hero at Marvel. That's if his paramour and manager Kyle says yes, of course.

Northstar has had a tumultuous history. He starred in “Alpha Flight,” a long-running and well-remembered series for Marvel in the 80s and 90s, but his star fell not long after he came out as a gay man.

At the time his coming out was a huge development, but since then it has been ignored, played up for positive effect or played almost for laughs, such as a brief period where Northstar was retroactively declared to be an actual fairy. (Seriously, this is a storyline in a comic book you can own.)

“Astonishing X-Men #50” is an easy jumping on point for new readers of the line and has the added bonus of featuring Northstar, an X-Men character that I personally think is great.

He promotes AIDS awareness and mental health, two issues dear to his heart thanks to obstacles faced by his adopted daughter and his sister, respectively.

Earlier this year Archie comics had a same-sex wedding in its books that got a lot of press, but this is the first time a superhero is tying the knot.

Read more on CNN's Geek Out! blog

Opinion: A jury pool's race can deny justice
Even the inclusion of one black person in the jury pool had a large impact on conviction rates of black people, according to the authors' study.
May 23rd, 2012
12:00 PM ET

Opinion: A jury pool's race can deny justice

Editor's note: Shamena Anwar is an assistant professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University; Patrick Bayer is a professor of economics at Duke University; and Randi Hjalmarsson is an associate professor in economics at Queen Mary, University of London.

By Shamena Anwar, Patrick Bayer and Randi Hjalmarsson, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The Sixth Amendment right to a trial by an impartial jury is the bedrock of our criminal justice system. Yet the promise of impartiality is called into question when defendants face juries that include few, if any, members of their race.

The small percentage of black people in the U.S. population, less than 13%, and in some cases, their systematic exclusion from juries, means that black defendants routinely face all-white juries in many states and counties.

Concerns about jury representation go hand-in-hand with the sense that the racial makeup of juries might make a big difference for conviction rates in criminal trials. Surprisingly, we know very little about this.

Read the full column

Filed under: Black in America • Race • Social justice
May 23rd, 2012
07:50 AM ET

Video of North Carolina pastor's plan to 'get rid of' gays goes viral

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – Video of a North Carolina pastor preaching that gays and lesbians should be rounded up inside an electric fence is going viral on the Internet, two weeks after North Carolina passed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and President Barack Obama voiced personal support for legalizing such marriages.

"I figured a way out, a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn't get it past the Congress," Pastor Charles L. Worley can be seen telling his Providence Road Baptist Church congregation in the video, which had more than 250,000 YouTube views by Tuesday.

Read more at CNN's Belief blog