.
October 31st, 2012
03:25 PM ET

German-born soccer stars choose to play for U.S. national team

In October, the U.S. men's national soccer team advanced to the final stage of qualifying for the World Cup, thanks in part to a half-dozen German-born players fathered by African-American soldiers in the U.S. military.

The choice to play for the U.S. men's national soccer team rather than the German team relates not just to their parents' homelands, but to their racial identities. Soccer player Danny Williams told his parents he felt more American than German.

“When people look at me in Germany, they know that I am not 100% German," Williams says.

Soledad O'Brien's documentary "Who is Black in America?"  airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT on December 9 on CNN.

Five female artists with pulling power
October 31st, 2012
12:29 PM ET

From muse to moneymaker: A brighter picture for women in art

By Rose Hoare, CNN

(CNN) - From Warhol's silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe to Picasso's nudes, it has generally been easier for women to be the subject of paintings than to have their own work exhibited.

In 1989, when New York feminist collective Guerrilla Girls began counting how many works in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art were by women, less than 5% of the artists in its Modern section were female.

But the art world looks set to change its stubbly face, and shows increasing signs of recognition for the value and stature of leading female artists.

Half of the nominees for Britain's Turner Prize are women this year, as are three of the four photographers shortlisted for Canada's $50,000 Grange Prize, and at this month's Frieze Art Fair, two of the five artists commissioned to make site-specific works were women.

Online sales bring the decision making to the public ... away from the hands of the male-dominated, traditional art world
Cynthia Rowley, Exhibition A co-founder

The chief curators of MoMA, the Whitney, the Met, the Guggenheim and the Centre Pompidou are all female, as are the directors of Tate Britain and the Uffizi Gallery. The world's biggest buyer of contemporary art, according to Art Newspaperis the Qatari royal family, whose purchases are directed by Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani.

"It is better than it has ever been for women at the emerging level," says one of the founders of Guerrilla Girls, Frida Kahlo. But, she warns, "when one travels up the art world ladder of success, there is a crushing glass ceiling. Women only get so far, especially at the level of economics."

Read the full story

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Filed under: Economy • Who we are • Women
Opinion: Muslims must engage politically, look outside themselves
Muslim Americans must exercise their right to vote and be part of the process, says Khalid Latif.
October 30th, 2012
12:41 PM ET

Opinion: Muslims must engage politically, look outside themselves

Editor's Note: Imam Khalid Latif is a chaplain for New York University and executive director of the school's Islamic Center.

By Khalid Latif, Special to CNN

(CNN) - My wife and I were on our way into Bed, Bath and Beyond in late August when I decided to check my office voicemail from my cell phone. I told her I'd meet her inside. When I did, she asked whether I had any messages.

"Just one,” I told her. “I was asked to deliver an invocation at this year's Republican National Convention." She responded with a smile on her face, "Of course you were," and then showed me the pillows she’d selected.

I didn't get a chance to decide whether I would accept the invitation, as Hurricane Isaac changed the RNC schedule and made the decision for me. But before the impending storm blew me off the schedule, I sought advice from friends and colleagues. What were the implications of my participating at the RNC? Would it make sense?

One conservative, evangelical Republican friend told me that it would have been a great way to start a conversation with members of his party who are fed up with the current platform and, amongst other things, the party’s highly anti-Muslim and Islamophobic rhetoric. Now, it seemed, that conversation wouldn't happen.

But I couldn't understand why it must take a Muslim standing on an RNC stage to get people talking. Is that really the only way a Muslim voice can be heard in the political arena? Realistically, it's not. The other options just require more time, strategy and patience.

Like all other citizens, American Muslims can be heard through our right to vote. We, as a community, can amplify our voice by building coalitions more broadly with other groups. And we can speak the loudest by encouraging our best and brightest to be a part of the system.

Read Latif's full column on CNN's Belief blog

October 29th, 2012
01:34 PM ET

Opinion: Sununu's comment insults black Americans

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - When was the last time you heard someone say it's important to hire a qualified white person for a job? No, seriously, I really want you to think about that question.

Whenever there is a discussion about diversity, inclusion or affirmative action, we always hear folks say, "We do a great job of trying to find qualified minorities."

That always tickles me, because when it comes to hiring whites, the assumption is that all are qualified, so there's no need for the qualifier "qualified."

That was the first thing that came to mind when former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu gave his opinion on "Piers Morgan Tonight" on Thursday regarding Gen. Colin Powell's endorsement of President Barack Obama.

Booker: Sununu's comment was 'unfortunate'

"Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama," Sununu said.

When Morgan asked him what that reason is, Sununu said, "Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him."

Oh, John, you're such a charmer to say you applaud Colin Powell for being a righteous brother and supporting his brother from another mother.

Read Roland Martin's full column

 Culture not a costume posters
October 29th, 2012
09:31 AM ET

In debate over offensive Halloween costumes, where's the line?

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - They're familiar characters in the debate over controversial Halloween costumes: suicide bombers, geishas, gangsta rappers, rednecks and sexy nurses.

Such costumes regularly draw allegations of racism, sexism or insensitivity. But where do fully-clothed folk legends fit in?

American Apparel featured characters on both ends of the spectrum this month in its annual do-it-yourself Halloween costume guide. Below a collection of pin-up girl costumes - including a model donning a breast-baring serape - was "La Llorona," the ghostly weeping woman who kidnaps wandering children, according to folklore in parts of Latin America.

True, she was wearing a lace bustier under a shawl, but the layers upon layers make her appear more like the haunted bag lady than a sexy spirit.

Read: Sexy Little Geisha?' Not so much, say many Asian-Americans

It's the folk legend's cultural significance - and the lack of skin, save an inch of midriff - that, for some, make this costume more acceptable than sexy señoritas or Mexican tequila guy.

"One is mythology, and the other is a stereotype that comes with a lot of baggage," said feminist blogger Veronica Arreola, assistant director of the Center for Research on Women and Gender at University of Illinois at Chicago.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Discrimination • Ethnicity • How we live • Pop culture • Race • Social justice
Mississippi town sued over 'school-to-prison pipeline'
In 2009, the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Facility in Meridian was the target of a federal class-action lawsuit.
October 26th, 2012
11:00 PM ET

Mississippi town sued over 'school-to-prison pipeline'

By Terry Frieden, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Federal civil rights lawyers filed suit Wednesday against Meridian, Mississippi, and other defendants for operating what the government calls a school-to-prison pipeline in which students are denied basic constitutional rights, sent to court and incarcerated for minor school infractions.

The lawsuit says children who talk back to teachers, violate dress codes and commit other minor infractions are handcuffed and sent to a youth court where they are denied their rights.

It's the first time a jurisdiction has been charged under a law designed to protect the due process rights of juveniles in such circumstances.

Also among the defendants were Lauderdale County, judges of the county's Youth Court and the State of Mississippi Division of Youth Services.

About 6,000 mostly African-American students attend grades kindergarten through 12 in a dozen schools in the Lauderdale County School District.

About 86% of the district's students are African-American, but all of those referred to the court for violations were minorities, the government suit said.

The federal action came more than two months after the Justice Department warned local and state officials that they had 60 days to cooperate or face a federal lawsuit.

Read the full story

 

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Filed under: Black in America • Education • How we live
October 26th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

The optics of politics: Seeing campaigns through a multicultural kaleidoscope

This is the first in an occasional series on issues of race, identity and politics ahead of Election Day, including a look at a white Southern Democrat fighting for survival, a civil rights icon registering voters and how parallels to the past haunt the age of Obama.

By Todd Leopold, CNN

(CNN) – The images – on TV, YouTube, our social networks – have become so familiar that we take them for granted.

We're treated to scenes of Barack Obama with a group of middle Americans at a cozy restaurant table, then with an African-American woman in an office. Or we see clips from a rally, the president surrounded by faces of all ages and hues.

It's much the same with Mitt Romney: A quartet of white male engineers pore over plans, then an African-American woman talks with a colleague. We see shots of factory workers, then a burst of flags as the candidate heads for the stage. Or we get farms, children and a colorful audience at a speech.

More than 60 years into the Television Age, campaign messages have become a formula: Uplifting ads are full of inspirational music, flapping flags and stolid candidate portrayals; negative ones feature ominous melodies, dramatic black-and-white images and gloomy narrators. FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Age • Ethnicity • Gender • History • How we look • Politics • Race • Who we are
African-American girl blazing a trail through chess
Rochelle Ballantyne moved closer to her goal of becoming the first African-American chess master in history this week.
October 26th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

African-American girl blazing a trail through chess

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

(CNN) – Rochelle Ballantyne plays chess the same way she walks through the streets of New York, determined to reach her goal without letting any obstacles slow her down.

The 17-year-old student from Brooklyn is just a few wins away from becoming the first female African-American to attain the ranking of chess master.

"I've never been the first anything so having that title next to my name is going to... it's going to feel amazing."

She crushes her opponents in a sport dominated by men.

Ballantyne grew up in a single-parent home in the working class neighborhood of East Flatbush. She first learned to play chess from her grandmother, who didn't want Rochelle's background to limit or prevent her from reaching her fullest potential. Ballantyne did not disappoint.

"When I push myself, then nothing can stop me."

Listen to the story on CNN Radio's Soundwaves blog

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Filed under: Black in America • Education • Girls • Who we are
October 26th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Opinion: Both parties have a huge race problem

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - I would call Sarah Palin's use of "shuck and jive" in a Facebook post criticizing President Barack Obama another one of those dog whistle messages to racists, but it's far too obvious to be covert. The woman who claimed to be an LL Cool J fan in her first book knew exactly what she was doing.

Why she did it is anyone's guess.

Maybe she's still mad Bristol didn't win "Dancing With the Stars," maybe she thought Donald Trump was hogging the dunce cap, or maybe she's so completely tone-deaf she thought she was helping the country.

But she's not. Anything that encourages the decades-long trend of racial division along party lines is not good for the country.

Mitt Romney may very well become the next president. But the polls suggest if he does, he will have little minority support. In a country that is growing browner by the decade, Republicans relying solely on white people to win elections is not a sustainable strategy.

And it's not a strategy that's reflective of the party's long history - from President Abraham Lincoln to a Republican-led Congress passing the Ku Klux Klan Act in an attempt to dismantle the group.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 may have been signed by a Democratic president, but Republicans were the ones who provided the push in Congress necessary to get it to his desk. Remember in those days, Democrats didn't turn a blind eye to racism; they were oftentimes the racists, especially in the South, whose Democratic lawmakers led a 57-day filibustertrying to stop the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

Read LZ Granderson's full column

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Filed under: Politics • Race • What we think
Latino vote may top 12 million in 2012
If Latinos turn out in high numbers for this presidential election, their effect could be decisive.
October 26th, 2012
09:41 AM ET

Latino vote may top 12 million in 2012

By Rose Arce, CNN

(CNN) – The voting population of Latinos has exploded to the point where Latinos will not only be a decisive force in the presidential election, but will likely affect the outcome of political contests from school boards and statehouses to Congress, according a new report by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

"Latino voter enthusiasm is up," said Arturo Vargas, executive director of NALEO. A recent poll by ImpreMedia-Latino Decisions confirms that analysis, counting three quarters of Latino voters as actively engaged in the election with 14% of all Latinos saying they are actively working on getting out the vote.

The number of registered Latinos has increased by 26% in the last four years to 12.2 million or 8.7% of all voters. A new potential Latino voter turns 18 every 30 seconds. Already, one of four U.S. citizens under the age of 18 is Latino, including 48% of the youth population of Texas, Vargas said, but low voter registration among young people and new voter ID laws could dampen turnout.

Clarissa Martinez, who works on civic engagement for the National Council of La Raza, cautioned that Latino voting power is held back by a lack of registration. "Once Latinos register they vote in nearly as high a numbers as anyone," she said. But a third of the entire community is not yet 18, another 23% are ineligible because their immigration status and just 14 million of the 24 million eligible Latino voters have actually registered, she said.

Read the full story on CNN's Political Ticker blog

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Filed under: How we live • Latino in America • Politics
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