Obama's nomination of Thomas Perez is a first for Dominican-Americans
Thomas Perez has been nominated to be the secretary of the Labor Department. His roots are Dominican.
March 18th, 2013
07:17 PM ET

Obama's nomination of Thomas Perez is a first for Dominican-Americans

By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN

(CNN) - On Monday, President Barack Obama nominated Thomas E. Perez, an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department of Dominican origin,  to be the next secretary of the Labor Department.  He will replace Hilda Solis, the nation's first Latina Cabinet member, who resigned in January.

Supporters say it is a step in the right direction for the Latino community, and they hope it sets a precedent.

“This move is significant because there has been at least one [Latino or Latina] in the president’s Cabinet since Ronald Reagan’s years,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “What’s even more significant is that it's not somebody who is Mexican-American, Puerto Rican or Cuban-American as in previous years.”

In 2010, there were an estimated 1.5 million Hispanics of Dominican origin residing in the United States, comprising 3.0% of the U.S. Hispanic population.

Perez is the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with French-speaking Haiti. He was the first lawyer in his family. Speaking in English and Spanish, Perez spoke about his upbringing at Monday's announcement.


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Filed under: Latino in America • Politics • Who we are
March 18th, 2013
11:38 AM ET

Sandberg: Speak up, believe in yourself, take risks

Editor's note: Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, is the author of "Lean In." Watch the first part of Soledad O'Brien's interview with Sheryl Sandberg at 8 a.m. ET Monday on CNN.

By Sheryl Sandberg, Special to CNN

(CNN) - My hope in writing "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" was to change the conversation from what women can't do to what we can.

We need a national conversation that examines the barriers that hold women back and prevent us from achieving true equality. Additionally and just as importantly, we need personal conversations among us all - managers and employees, friends, colleagues, partners, parents and children - where issues about gender are discussed openly.

The blunt truth is that men still run the world. Of today's 195 independent countries, only 17 are led by women. In the United States, where our founding creed promises liberty and justice for all, women constitute just 18% of our elected congressional officials.

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Filed under: Gender • History • What we think • Women
March 18th, 2013
07:30 AM ET

Are victims falling through America's hate crime data gap?

By Nicole Krasavage and Scott Bronstein, CNN Special Investigations Unit

Washington (CNN) - Two hit-and-run deaths in rural Mississippi just a few miles apart highlight a disturbing problem about data collection on possible hate crimes.

Last summer, 61-year-old African-American Sunday school teacher Johnny Lee Butts was hit and killed by an 18-year-old white driver. The teen told Panola County Sheriff deputies he thought he hit a deer but the driver's two passengers said he steered straight for Butts. One passenger said he could see that Butts was black. The killing has sparked outrage in the local African-American community. Civil rights groups have demanded that police prosecute Butts' killing as a hate crime.

Nonetheless, prosecutors chose not to.

There was no evidence, authorities said, to suggest a racial motive. The driver was charged with murder. He has not yet pleaded in the case.

Related: Three plead guilty in Mississippi hate crime

In another hit and run, 41-year-old African-American Garrick Burdette was found dead along a Panola County road in November 2009.

His mother, Ruby Burdette, says for three years she had heard nothing about any police investigation into her son's death until CNN began asking about the case.

CNN received no response after calling the Panola County Sheriff's department, but just hours after CNN's call, a sheriff's investigator drove to Ruby Burdette's house.


Filed under: History • How we live • Race • Where we live