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May 31st, 2013
01:53 PM ET

Why is ad featuring multiracial family causing stir?

(CNN) - The leader of the free world is the child of one black parent and one white parent. The number of Americans who identify as "mixed race" is on the rise. And this year marks the 46th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision, which made interracial marriage legal in the United States.

So why is a Cheerios ad featuring a multiracial family causing a stir?

The commercial features a curly-haired brown girl inquiring of her Caucasian mother and African-American father about Cheerios' healthy attributes.

"Mom, Dad told me that Cheerios was good for your heart. Is that true?" she asks in the commercial, titled "Just Checking."

Adweek reports that YouTube comments made "references to Nazis, 'troglodytes' and 'racial genocide' " before they were disabled.

As of Friday, most of the comments were supportive on the Cheerios Facebook page, like this one:

Cheerios,

I just saw your commercial representing a beautiful mixed family, and I am appalled that hateful people are in such a frenzy over what is a modern family structure. I applaud you and your efforts to acknowledge families with an untraditional structure, and there needs to be more mixed race, minority, adoptive & non-heteronormative families represented in media. Thank you again, and even though I do not eat cereal (my brother loves Cheerios BTW) you can be sure that whatever future child I am blessed with, may probably be mixed heritage, and will be enjoying your product.

But earlier in the week, comments were not as thoughtful. The Huffington Post reported on the vile nature of some responses, like this one:

More like single parent in the making. Black dad will dip out soon.

Reddit featured a link to the commercial on its homepage Thursday, also drawing a range of responses.

Granted, the comments section of the Internet is rarely a reliable space for reflective or thoughtful discourse on race in America.

But the range of reactions to an ad that incidentally highlights a multiracial family might be the start of a discussion on how the American family is seen and portrayed.

What do you think: Is the commercial long overdue or much ado about nothing?


Filed under: How we look • Race • Where we live
First transgender veteran has military documents changed
May 30th, 2013
10:19 AM ET

First transgender veteran has military documents changed

By Michael Chen, KGTV

(KGTV) – It's a first in the history of the military, as the Pentagon officially recognized a local Navy veteran's change of gender.

Born a male, Autumn Sandeen said as a teen, she identified as a female.

She joined the Navy, lived as male and kept her secret for two decades before retiring.

"If I would have been myself, I would have been kicked out," said Sandeen.

According to military guidelines, gender identity issues are a mental disorder and detrimental to good order and discipline.

In 2011, as the ban on gays and lesbians was lifted, the transgender ban remained.

"The best way to explain it is I felt like a bridesmaid, never a bride," said Sandeen.

Twenty months later, a step down the aisle toward acceptance.

"I felt tremendous, like I accomplished something, not just himself, but for the broader transgender community," said Sandeen. FULL POST

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Filed under: History • How we live • Military • Sexual orientation • Veterans
2 coaches of Chivas USA allege team fired them for not being Latino
The emblem of the Los Angeles area-based Chivas soccer team is pictured above.
May 30th, 2013
09:15 AM ET

2 coaches of Chivas USA allege team fired them for not being Latino

By Michael Martinez and Jaqueline Hurtado, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) - Two former coaches have sued Major League Soccer team Chivas USA, claiming they were fired this year because they are not Latino.

Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos, who worked in the team's "academy," or player development, program, accused team owner Jorge Vergara Madrigal of Mexico of enacting a Latino-only employment policy, according to a lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles County court.

Calichman and Chronopoulos, who are both white, also accused Vergara of implementing a discriminatory practice that was carried over from Chivas de Guadalajara, a pro team in Mexico owned by Vergara that allegedly has hired only Mexican soccer players since 1908.

The two men, both former pros and members of the U.S. national team, are seeking unspecified damages for discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination, their attorneys said in a statement Wednesday.

The team fired the two coaches "as part of an ethnocentric policy and practice of discriminating against and terminating non-Mexican and non-Latino employees," the suit alleged.

FULL STORY
Moms are breadwinners in record 4 out of 10 households
Moms are the sole or primary breadwinner in four out of 10 households with children, but still 51% of Americans believe children are better off when a mom stays home with the kids.
May 29th, 2013
12:00 PM ET

Moms are breadwinners in record 4 out of 10 households

By Annalyn Kurtz @AnnalynKurtz, CNNMoney

(CNNMoney) - Moms are the sole or primary breadwinner in four out of 10 households with children, a record high according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the Pew Research Center.

But that doesn't mean Americans approve.

Pew researchers surveyed about 1,000 Americans last month and found that 51% believe children are better off when a mom stays home with the kids and doesn't hold a job. Only about 8% say the same about fathers.
Half also said the increase in the number of women working for pay has made it harder for marriages to succeed. On the other hand, two thirds said it has made it easier for families to live more comfortably.

Curiously, 79% rejected the idea that women should return to their "traditional roles."

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Family • Gender • How we live • Women
Opinion: For strong daughters, stop with the sex stereotypes
Decades after the feminist movement, our culture still emphasizes girls' appearances, David M. Perry says.
May 28th, 2013
11:55 AM ET

Opinion: For strong daughters, stop with the sex stereotypes

Editor's note: David M. Perry is an associate professor of history at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. His blog is How Did We Get Into This Mess. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) - When the rocket scientist Yvonne Brill died in March, The New York Times celebrated her as the maker of a "mean beef stroganoff" and "the world's best mother." When my 4-year-old daughter, Ellie, a wildly creative and interesting girl, finished a year of preschool last week, her teachers gave her an award for being the best dressed.

A few years ago at my son's preschool camp award ceremony, I sat silently as well-meaning counselors called each child forward. Girls: best hair, best clothes, best friend, best helper and best artist. Boys: best runner, best climber, best builder and best thrower. My son won best soccer player. In general, girls received awards for their personalities and appearance and boys for their actions and physical attributes.

It was similar at my daughter's ceremony, where the teacher told us that all the children were so excited to see what award they would receive; it had obviously been built up as a big deal. The gender disparity was subtle but present.

Read David M. Perry's full column
100 faces, 100 hours
May 27th, 2013
12:34 PM ET

100 faces, 100 hours

(CNN) - As the U.S. observes Memorial Day, CNN is honoring the fallen by spotlighting a U.S. casualty from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars every hour on the CNN.com homepage through the weekend and the holiday. They're from every state and from every branch of the U.S. military. They're 18 years old and 60; they're sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. And they're just 100 of the more than 8,000 U.S. and coalition troops who have died.

FULL STORY

Filed under: History • Military • Who we are
May 26th, 2013
06:00 PM ET

Federal judge says Arizona sheriff was racially profiling

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

(CNN) - Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio has required prison inmates to wear pink underwear and saved taxpayers money by removing salt and pepper from prisons. He has, at times, forbidden convicted murderer Jodi Arias from speaking to the press.

The stern Maricopa County Sheriff has said the federal government will not stop him from running his office as he sees fit. But on Friday it did.

A judge ruled Friday that Arpaio's routine handling of people of Latino descent is not tough enforcement of immigration laws but instead amounts to racial and ethnic profiling.

Some of those profiled sued Arpaio, and Judge Murray Snow found their complaints to be legitimate.

The federal court in Phoenix ordered "America's Toughest Sheriff" - a moniker Arpaio sports on his website - to stop it immediately and has banned some of his operating procedures.

The sheriff's office has a history of targeting vehicles with occupants with darker skin or Latin heritage, scrutinizing them more strictly and detaining them more often, Snow ruled.

The sheriff's lawyers dispute the judge's conclusion.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Discrimination • Ethnicity • How we look • Race • Where we live
Dr. Q.'s journey to neurosurgery
May 26th, 2013
12:15 PM ET

From migrant worker to neurosurgeon

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

(CNN) - Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa insists, "I just think of myself as a regular guy."

It's an incredible statement from someone who grew up in an impoverished Mexican village, illegally hopped the fence into California, attended Harvard Medical School and now works at Johns Hopkins Medicine as a neurosurgeon.

"I've never been one who declines adventure," he says.

Early life

The oldest of five children, Quinones-Hinojosa as a child had nightmares that he had to save his mother and siblings from fires, floods, avalanches, says his memoir, "Becoming Dr. Q," which he co-authored.

His interest in medicine may have stemmed from this sense of responsibility, along with his baby sister's death from colitis (the memoir is dedicated to her). At 6, though, he wanted to be an astronaut.

His father owned a gas station, and Quinones-Hinojosa worked there at age 5; his family lived in an apartment in the back. But as Mexico's economy took a dive, the business collapsed, along with the family's livelihood. Quinones-Hinojosa's father had to sell it for almost no profit. They later learned that gasoline had been leaking out of holes in the underground tanks.

The family used to eat meat once a week, but that became a luxury of the past. After the station was sold, they had to make do with flour tortillas and homemade salsa, he wrote.

Short visits to California's San Joaquin Valley, where Quinones-Hinojosa's uncle Fausto was a foreman at a ranch, gave Quinones-Hinojosa a glimpse into the United States - and the American dream. At age 14, he spent two months there pulling weeds, making money to bring back to his family.

That hard-earned cash proved that people like me were not helpless or powerless," he wrote.

As a teenager, Quinones-Hinojosa thought he would become an elementary school teacher. Despite his excellent grades at a teacher-training college, however, he was assigned a position in a remote, rural area; only politically-connected, wealthy kids got jobs in cities, he wrote. Quinones-Hinojosa's salary would be paltry.

His uncle agreed to let him work a short stint again at the California ranch to supplement his income, as doubts began to accumulate about his future as a teacher. A plan began to form in his mind.

Life's work: Mom's death inspires doctor's life work

Passage into the United States

Quinones-Hinojosa had $65 in his pocket when, the day before his 19th birthday in 1987, he decided to cross into the United States for a longer stay. He wasn't thinking about laws, he just wanted to escape poverty so that he could go back and feed his family, he says.

Risking arrest, deportation and even death, Quinones-Hinojosa had a plan: He would cross the border in a "Spider-man climb" up an 18-foot-fence, hop over the barbed wire and make a leap into California, he wrote.

Just when he made it across, border agents picked him up and sent him back to Mexico.

FULL STORY
Making moves toward unity
May 24th, 2013
02:45 PM ET

Grads leave lasting legacy: Integrated prom

By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

(CNN) - On Saturday, 68 seniors will graduate from Wilcox County High School in South Georgia, leaving behind a legacy that could last long after they’ve said their goodbyes: Next year, for the first time, their high school will host a prom.

It’s a new tradition in their small rural community, one they hope will eliminate their county’s custom of private, racially segregated proms.

A small group from 2013’s senior class sparked the idea of an integrated prom this year, bucking 40 years of high school tradition.

When their county’s racially segregated schools combined in the early 1970s, the school called off its homecoming dance and prom; it was a volatile time at the newly integrated school, alumni said, and parents and school leaders were wary of black and white students attending the same dance. Like in many other Southern communities, Wilcox County students and parents stepped in to plan private, off-site parties, complete with formal gowns, tuxedos, DJs and décor.

But long after outward racial tension died down, the private, segregated parties in Wilcox County remained – a quiet reminder of racism, students said.

This year, a few white and black seniors organized a prom open to all Wilcox County High School students, whether white, black, Latino or Asian.

Read the full post on CNN's Schools of Thought blog
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Filed under: Education • How we live • Race
In America wins award for race, identity and politics series
May 24th, 2013
10:15 AM ET

In America wins award for race, identity and politics series

by Alicia W. Stewart, CNN In America Editor

(CNN) - It's not often that we toot our own horn, so please allow us a moment.

In America's race, identity and politics series won second place in the Series/Project category from the Society for Features Journalism 25th annual Excellence in Feature Writing Contest.

Moni Basu, John Blake, Jen Christensen and Todd Leopold wrote stories that explored race, identity and politics ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Read their award-winning pieces:

The optics of politics: Seeing campaigns through a multicultural kaleidoscope
Last white House Democratic congressman in the Deep South fights for political survival
Civil rights icon fighting for change one registered voter at a time
Parallels to country's racist past haunt age of Obama

We are honored for the recognition and so grateful to our readers: Thank you.

See the full list of winners here.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Award • Politics • Race
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