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July 25th, 2012
08:16 PM ET

Opinion: Sally Ride opens a new frontier for others

Editor's Note: Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D., is the director of the award-winning science lecture series for children called Science Saturdays at Yale, and hosts a video series, "Material Marvels. "Technology Review named her one of the world’s 100 Top Young Innovators for her contributions in transforming technology. Follow her on @blkgrilphd. This piece was written in association with The Op-Ed Project.

By Ainissa G. Ramirez, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Sally Ride was a fantastic physicist and astronaut, and later a science education reformer.

I was surprised to learn of her passing on Monday. I was even more surprised to learn that she was a lesbian.

Sally Ride, first American woman in space, dies

She left us with one last gift — she came out publicly.

In just one line, the obituary issued by her company shared her love with the world: “In addition to Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, Sally is survived by her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country.”

With that, another dimension has been added to her remarkable life, inspiring those who are different, especially gay children.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Gender • Sexual orientation • What we think • Women
The changing color of our neighborhoods
Dwayne Williams has lived in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn for 38 years. He feels gentrification is pushing him out.
July 25th, 2012
12:42 PM ET

The changing color of our neighborhoods

Listen: The changing color of our neighborhoods
By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

(CNN) – The complexion of some of America’s cities is changing. According to the last census, four of the 25 fastest gentrifying zip codes are in Brooklyn, New York. Upwardly mobile families are moving back into urban centers, reversing a trend of the 1970’s commonly called "white flight."

[:57] “To me, gentrification is when a certain group of people move into a neighborhood and they totally take it over. They bring in all their values and their lifestyle,” said Michele Payne, a long time resident of the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, NY.

Middle and upper middle class people are lured by affordable prices and an underutilized housing stock into communities within an easy commute of work centers. They are changing the dynamics of neighborhoods that were once considered unappealing because of high crime rates, low performing schools and a lack of services. According to the last census, four of the 25 fastest gentrifying zip codes are in Brooklyn, New York.

[6:39] “If you own, then you’re property has appreciated. If you rent, your rent has gone sky high. Some people who were here for 20 or 30 years have sour grapes because they rent and they resent the prosperity they see in other people coming in,” said Grant Taylor, a long time home owner in Clinton Hill.

That resentment comes from a belief that poor people are being forced out of neighborhoods by the newcomers. Rising rents and property values make it difficult for some families to stick around according to Valery Jean, Executive Director of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, or FUREE.

[4:31] “It puts families in like this weird space. So not only are families being displaced but it’s also saying in a sense that the city doesn’t value you as a human being based on your color. So in a way it has translated into what we feel is economic segregation,” said Jean.

Read the full post on CNN's Soundwaves blog 

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Filed under: Economy • History • How we live • Where we live
July 25th, 2012
10:51 AM ET

Sherman Hemsley: A tribute to the great George Jefferson, and more

By Ken Tucker, EW.com

(EW.com) – Sherman Hemsley, the man who brought George Jefferson to vivid life, has died at age 74. The accomplished stage actor achieved his widest fame in a role he raised to comic greatness: George Jefferson, the egotistical, strutting centerpiece of The Jeffersons.

Hemsley took a part that could have been clownish and exaggerated — George Jefferson, the braying entrepeneur striving to, as the show’s theme song said, “move on up”  — and made George a vital, three-dimensional character, and an important advance in the depiction of black characters in sitcoms. George’s ego and selfishness were often brought into line by his wife, Isabel Sanford’s Louise Jefferson (George’s beloved “Weezy”), but the force of the character derived from the tremendous ambition, frustration, and anger George felt toward the world.

You can credit producer Norman Lear for helping to conceive the character, first in All in the Family and then as a spin-off in The Jeffersons, but it was clearly Hemsley’s performance that fueled its power. Hemsley had come up through the theater, in straight dramas as well as musicals (he came to George Jefferson initially fresh from a run in the raucous, Ossie Davis-derived Broadway musical Purlie), and Jefferson brought a rhythmic musicality in the way George moved onscreen. His erect posture conveyed George’s pride, his perpetually affronted expression was a mask against the injustices, correctly perceived or imagined, by George; his harsh voice was the sound of a man who would not be denied his place in the world. Watching George Jefferson was to witness a man comfortable in his own skin — and that that skin was black was significant. From Hemsley’s performance, you could build an entire philosophy of the man he played. As a black man of his generation, George was as likely to have taken his civil rights cues from Malcolm X as from Martin Luther King, Jr. And while his business acumen placed him squarely in the capitalist tradition, George was a Black Panther-inspired figure of action, emboldened to make his opinions heard, his actions felt in the world around him. FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • How we look • Pop culture