by Lisa Respers France, CNN
(CNN) - "Today is a big day for hip hop."
When music impresario Russell Simmons penned those words and posted them Wednesday, he was not referring to a new album dropping or the debut of an exciting artist. He was talking about a male artist's admission that his first love was a man.
"I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean," Simmons wrote on the site Global Grind. "Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear."
Ocean, an up-and-coming R&B singer, recently posted on his Tumblr that the summer he was 19 years old he fell in love with a man.
"We spent that summer, and the summer after, together," Ocean wrote. "Every day almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I'd see him, and his smile.
"Sleep I would often share with him," Ocean continued. "By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with."
The revelation is significant given that it is unheard of in hip hop for male performers to admit to anything other than hardcore heterosexuality and all of the bravado that comes along with many female conquests.
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Editor's note: Charles Garcia, who has served in the administrations of four presidents, of both parties, is the CEO of Garcia Trujillo, a business focused on the Hispanic market. He was named in the book "Hispanics in the USA: Making History" as one of 14 Hispanic role models for the nation. Follow him on Twitter: @charlespgarcia. Lea este artículo en español/Read this article in Spanish.
By Charles Garcia, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Last month's Supreme Court decision in the landmark Arizona immigration case was groundbreaking for what it omitted: the words "illegal immigrants" and "illegal aliens," except when quoting other sources. The court's nonjudgmental language established a humanistic approach to our current restructuring of immigration policy.
When you label someone an "illegal alien" or "illegal immigrant" or just plain "illegal," you are effectively saying the individual, as opposed to the actions the person has taken, is unlawful. The terms imply the very existence of an unauthorized migrant in America is criminal.
In this country, there is still a presumption of innocence that requires a jury to convict someone of a crime. If you don't pay your taxes, are you an illegal? What if you get a speeding ticket? A murder conviction? No. You're still not an illegal. Even alleged terrorists and child molesters aren't labeled illegals.
By becoming judge, jury and executioner, you dehumanize the individual and generate animosity toward them. New York Times editorial writer Lawrence Downes says "illegal" is often "a code word for racial and ethnic hatred."
The term "illegal immigrant" was first used in 1939 as a slur by the British toward Jews who were fleeing the Nazis and entering Palestine without authorization. Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel aptly said that "no human being is illegal."
Migrant workers residing unlawfully in the U.S. are not - and never have been - criminals. They are subject to deportation, through a civil administrative procedure that differs from criminal prosecution, and where judges have wide discretion to allow certain foreign nationals to remain here.
Read Charles Garcia's full column
By Emanuella Grinberg and Hannah Weinberger, CNN
(CNN) - Artists Isabel and Ruben Toledo share a romantic magnetism that binds together their personal and professional lives. They finish each other's sentences; they encourage each other's fantastical whims. It's the kind of chemistry that creative types covet.
The Cuban-born Toledos met in high school in West Jersey, New York, and married in 1975. Since then, they have achieved success in their respective worlds: Isabel, as a fashion designer who counts Michelle Obama among her clients; and Ruben, as a cartoonist whose drawings have appeared in The New Yorker. They live and work together in a loft that takes up several floors in Midtown, New York, and offers a view of the Empire State Building.
Neither considers their ascent to fame conventional and, in many ways, they still regard themselves as outsiders in the fashion world. So, when Isabel was approached about writing a book of fashion advice for women, she seized it as an opportunity to tell the world that there is no straightforward path to success, especially as a designer.
Naturally, Ruben provided the drawings for "Roots of Style," which was published this year. And, of course, he was wearing a black jacket and pants designed by his wife when they visited Atlanta in May for a student auction at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
They spoke with CNN about love, life and labor.
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by Tomika Anderson, CNN
(CNN) - R&B singer and hip-hop artist Frank Ocean is the latest celebrity to open up about his sexuality, revealing to fans in a post on his Tumblr that his first love was a man.
The 24-year-old singer, who is also a member of the rap collective Odd Future, indicated that he'd originally intended to tell fans in the liner notes of his upcoming album, “Channel Orange,” but as rumors began to swirl he put a post on his Tumblr page instead.
“4 summers ago, I met somebody,” the singer wrote, referencing chatter that some of the love songs on his new album are about a man. “I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Every day almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile."
Read the full post on CNN's Marquee blog
Editor's note: Michael Barnett is a professor of international affairs and political science at George Washington University. He is the author, most recently, of "The Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism."
(CNN) - Independence Day is a celebration not just of America's independence, but also of the values that are important to our nation, like liberty, democracy and human rights.
Recently, former President Jimmy Carter suggested that America should be a little less self-congratulatory and a little more self-critical. He was concerned that America is abandoning its role as a leading advocate for human rights. It is hard to disagree with some of his observations. But, America has not fallen behind in providing moral leadership in the world. The current period is no different from earlier decades. It is not, as Carter said, either "cruel" or "unusual."
There is no doubt that both the Bush and Obama administrations have trampled on fundamental human rights norms on the grounds that certain sacrifices must be made in order to protect American national interests. The question naturally arises: Couldn't the United States have found ways to fight terrorism without turning human rights into collateral damage?
Read Michael Barnett'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 email@example.com.
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