By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – David Grosso, 42, was born and raised in the metropolitan Washington area so it's not tough to see why he's a diehard Washington Redskins fan. Been going to games since he was a boy. Season ticket holder.
But Grosso, like so many others, objects to the name and mascot of his favorite team.
"The term Redskins is a racist and derogatory term," he says.
These days, Grosso has the power to do something more than air his opinion. He was elected to the D.C. Council in November, and he plans to introduce a resolution Wednesday to rename the team to the Washington Redtails. That's a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, though, Grosso says, there are plenty of redtail hawks in the area.
He's open to other suggestions. He just wants the current name gone. FULL POST
By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
Wilcox County, Georgia (CNN) - It's a springtime tradition in this stretch of the magnolia midlands for crowds to gather at high school students' proms. They'll cheer for teens in tuxedos and gowns while an announcer reads what the students will do once they leave this pecan grove skyline.
Earlier this month, Wilcox County High School senior Mareshia Rucker rode to a historic theater in the nearby town of Fitzgerald to see her own classmates' prom celebration. She never left the car, even to catch up with her friends. She'd recently helped to invite the critical gaze of the world to her county; few would be happy to see her there, she said. Besides, she's black and wasn't invited to this prom reserved for white students anyway.
For as long as most remember, Wilcox County High School hasn't sponsored a prom for its 400 students. Instead, parents and their children organize their own private, off-site parties, known casually as white prom and black prom - a vestige of racial segregation that still lives on.
Editor’s Note: David M. Hall, Ph.D., is the author of the book “Allies at Work: Creating a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Inclusive Work Environment.” Hall teaches high school students and runs a graduate program in bullying prevention and diversity at bullyingpreventionstudies.com. He is on twitter @drdavidmhall.
By David M. Hall, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Times are changing for being openly gay or lesbian. The president has endorsed same-sex marriage, as are a growing number of politicians. The Boy Scouts are considering allowing Scouts to be out.
Even in the world of sports, Jason Collins, an NBA veteran, has come out of the closet.
But things don’t seem to have changed that much in some high school gymnasiums as it has on the NBA basketball court.
Carla Hale worked as a physical education teacher at a Catholic school in Ohio, but lost her job after being “outed” in her mother’s obituary, when she listed her female partner as her spouse. According to reports, an anonymous letter was sent to the Catholic Diocese of Columbus by a parent.
The next week, Hale was fired.
Sporting events and schools are the very places where people from every corner of our society come together. But in some ways, schools bring a different set of complications than the macho world of professional male athletes.
What is the difference between being out on the court or on the field, and being out in a classroom? FULL POST
Editor’s Note: Michael Lomax, Ph.D, is president and CEO of UNCF, the United Negro College Fund, the largest private provider of scholarships and other educational support to minority and low-income students. Previously, Lomax was president of Dillard University in New Orleans and a literature professor at Morehouse and Spelman colleges.
(CNN) - More than 35,000 students will graduate from college this year because of something that happened 159 years ago Monday.
It was on this day in 1854 that Ashmun Institute, the first college established solely for African-American students, was officially chartered.
Twelve years later, Ashmun was renamed as Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University and became the nation’s first degree-granting institution for African-Americans, or what we now know as a historically black college and university.
Where Lincoln led, others followed, and there are now 105 historically black colleges and universities, enrolling more than 370,000 students and awarding 20% of all undergraduate degrees earned by African-Americans.
“A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” the almost universally recognized motto of UNCF, the United Negro College Fund, has come to represent the aspirations of all historically black colleges and universities to ensure that all Americans can earn the college degrees they need and the 21st century economy demands.
UNCF makes those aspirations real for nearly 60,000 students each year by providing financial support for 38 private historically black colleges and universities and awarding 13,000 scholarships to students at 900 colleges and universities.
Like Lincoln University, these historically black colleges and universities began when African-Americans had few other higher education options. Much has changed since then. Today, a college education is not a “good-to-have” but a “must-have,” the basic requirement for almost every fast-growing and good-paying job and career path.
Today, African-Americans can attend almost all colleges and universities, but more than four times as many students choose historically black colleges and universities than 40 years ago. What’s the secret of their enduring success?
Historically black colleges and universities have endured and thrived because, just as in their early years, they are giving students the education they need and that we, as a community and as a nation, need them to have. FULL POST
By Joe Sterling, CNN
(CNN) - It's the biggest move of his career and it's off the court.
Jason Collins, who played with the NBA's Washington Wizards this season, has disclosed that he is gay, making him the first active openly homosexual athlete in the four major American pro team sports. The center, who is now a free agent, made the disclosure in a column appearing in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated.
"Jason Collins has forever changed the face of sports," said the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights group fighting for gay rights.
It likened the announcement to Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in major league baseball in the modern era.
Wizards Center is NBA's first openly gay player
By Moni Basu, CNN
Cairo, Georgia (CNN) – Aniyah Peters wishes her white teachers would talk about Jackie Robinson as much as her black teachers do. After all, Aniyah, 13, goes to school in Cairo, the small southwest Georgia city where Robinson was born in 1919.
The man who broke modern-day baseball's color barrier could serve as inspiration for all children, Aniyah says. Just as he has inspired her.
This year, Aniyah came in second in a local essay contest on "How has the life of Jackie Robinson changed my life?"
"He showed the world that African-Americans can be just as good as Caucasians during the time of racial discrimination," Aniyah wrote. "Since I really love softball, he has shown me I can make it to the major leagues and become famous one day."
Aniyah has no shortage of ambition coursing through her veins. She wants to be a lawyer, an archaeologist and a fashion designer all at once.
She and her friends Destiny Tice, 14, and D.J. Donaldson, 14, hang out every day after school at the Grady County Boys and Girls Club, which was recently renamed to honor Robinson. On this warm afternoon, Aniyah says she is excited about going to see "42," the new Hollywood biopic about Robinson. Maybe over the weekend.
On the previous Friday, when the movie opened, the kids formed the number 42 on the baseball field and released red and blue balloons into the spring air. FULL POST
By Pauline Kim and Jason Hanna, CNN
(CNN) - A body found Tuesday in Rhode Island's Providence River has been identified as that of Sunil Tripathi, a Brown University student who had been missing since mid-March, police said.
No foul play is suspected, police said, citing the state medical examiner's office.
It might take two months to determine the cause of death of the 22-year-old philosophy major, said Dara Chadwick of the Rhode Island Health Department.
The identification was made through forensic dental examination, Chadwick said.
His relatives' search for Tripathi was detailed on a Facebook page, "Help us find Sunil Tripathi." They had temporarily taken down the page after they were inundated by ugly comments when he was falsely identified on social media as a possible suspect in last week's Boston Marathon bombings.
Tripathi was last reported seen early March 16, on a security video walking south on Brook Street in Providence, near his home. His last recorded computer activity was shortly before that sighting.
Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" and co-host of a new CNN podcast "The Big Three" that looks at the top three stories of the week. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.
By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
(CNN) - I'm an American-Muslim and I despise Islamic terrorists. In fact, despise is not even a strong enough word to convey my true feelings about those who kill innocent people in the name of Islam. I hate them with every fiber of my being.
I'm not going to tell you, "Islam is a religion of peace." Nor will I tell you that Islam is a religion of violence. What I will say is that Islam is a religion that, like Christianity and Judaism, is intended to bring you closer to God. And sadly we have seen people use the name of each of these Abrahamic faiths to wage and justify violence.
The unique problem for Muslims is that our faith is being increasingly defined by the actions of a tiny group of morally bankrupt terrorists. Just to be clear: The people who commit violence in the name of Islam are not Muslims, they are murderers. Their true religion is hatred and inhumanity.
The only people terrorists speak for are themselves and the others involved in their despicable plot. They do not represent me, my family or any other Muslim I know. And believe me, I know a lot of Muslims.
By Tami Luhby, @CNNMoney
(CNNMoney) - The net worth of American households grew by $5 trillion in the first two years of the economic recovery, but not everyone shared in the riches.
The top 7% of American families saw their wealth grow to $25.4 trillion in 2011, up from $19.8 trillion two years earlier. The remaining 93% of Americans experienced a decline in net worth to $14.8 trillion, down from $15.4 trillion, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center.
Editor's Note: Hussein Rashid is a native New York Muslim. He teaches at Hofstra University in the department of religion. He is an associate editor at Religion Dispatches, a term member on the Council on Foreign Relations, and fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
(CNN) - After the tragic Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, a dramatic firefight in Watertown and the final capture of one of the two suspects, there are two names tied to this tragedy: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two brothers believed to be behind the attack.
We are learning quite a bit about them: where they grew up, what the older brother may have believed and how friends and family remember them.
However, whatever we learn about them does not tell us why they did what they did – only parts of who they are. It is easy, in the initial aftermath of the bombings, to make careless associations between identity and motive, similar to post 9/11 reaction.
But this time, there is a change in rhetoric of how potential suspects are identified, particularly if they are Muslim. It is because of this change we are learning to move past paralyzing fear and maturing in how we think of what it means to be American. FULL POST
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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