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Evolving In America
June 27th, 2013
12:00 PM ET

Evolving In America

Dear readers,

The In America blog began in November 2011, focusing on the untold, the nuanced and diverse stories of identity. We are proud and grateful that the blog quickly became a trusted place for news and insights about race, ethnicity, gender and culture.

We did it by covering the demographic changes happening right before our eyes, the ‘gayest’ U.S. city, the social media firestorm over Olympian Gabby Douglas' hair and more.

Now, our award-winning blog is expanding its coverage and audience beyond the confines of this space.

While we are archiving the blog, we will continue to focus on identity as a beat. Look for topical stories that delve into the people, places and perspectives that define us in the Living section, and throughout CNN.com.

We welcome your comments on our website, Facebook and Twitter, so keep the conversation going. We’ll be listening to what you have to say.

All the very best,

Alicia W. Stewart
Editor, In America

Southern TV chef Paula Deen
June 27th, 2013
07:00 AM ET

Opinion: Half-baked apology is recipe for racial indigestion

Editor's note: Tricia Rose is the incoming director of Brown University's Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, where she teaches Africana studies. She is the author of "Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America" and "The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop - And Why It Matters."

By Tricia Rose, Special to CNN

(CNN) - As Paula Deen's apology tour continues, it becomes more and more disturbing to watch.

With each heartfelt tearful statement, Deen seems completely uninterested in the broader contexts of her comments, missing ample opportunities to address the reality of racism today both in the form of cultural and social interactions, but even more powerfully by policies and actions.

I heard her speak very little about the extraordinary injuries and injustices black people face, I have not heard her show alliance with those who fight racism nor show solidarity with or compassion for black people based on the profound impact racism has on their lives.

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Filed under: History • Race • What we think
June 26th, 2013
10:03 AM ET

Justices rule for adoptive couple in Native-American custody dispute

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

Washington (CNN) – The Supreme Court sided on Tuesday with adoptive parents in a divisive custody fight over a Native American child after the biological father asserted his parental rights.

The justices, by a 5-4 margin, said the adoption by a white couple was proper and did not intrude on the federal rights of the father, a registered member of the Cherokee tribe, over where his daughter, Veronica, 3, would live.

The court said the father could not rely on the Indian Child Welfare Act for relief because he never had legal or physical custody at the time of adoption proceedings, which were initiated by the birth mother without his knowledge.

Justice Samuel Alito said when "the adoption of an Indian child is voluntarily and lawfully initiated by a non-Indian parent with sole custodial rights, the (law's) primary goal of preventing unwarranted removal of Indian children and the dissolution of Indian families is not implicated."

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Ethnicity • Family • How we live • Native Americans
June 26th, 2013
09:30 AM ET

In tearful interview, Paula Deen slams 'horrible lies'

By Josh Levs, CNN

(CNN) – Celebrity chef Paula Deen, facing allegations of racism that have caused parts of her empire to crumble, slammed what she called "horrible, horrible lies" about her in an emotional, nationally televised interview Wednesday.

"I believe that every creature on this Earth, every one of God's creatures, was created equal," she told NBC's "Today" show. "... I believe that everyone ought to be treated equal."

Deen was raised to never be unkind to anyone, she said.

"I've had to hold friends in my arms while they've sobbed," Deen said, crying. "Because they know what's being said about me - it's not true. And I'm having to comfort them, and tell them it's going to be all right. If God got us to it, he'll get us through it."

The accusations against Deen stem from a lawsuit filed by a former manager of Deen's restaurants in Savannah, Georgia. Lisa T. Jackson's lawsuit alleges that Deen and her brother, Bubba Hier, committed numerous acts of violence, discrimination and racism that resulted in the end of Jackson's five-year tenure at Deen's Lady & Sons and Uncle Bubba's Oyster House eateries in Savannah.

Deen rejects the allegations.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Discrimination • History • How we live • Race
June 25th, 2013
11:19 AM ET

Supreme Court limits federal oversight of Voting Rights Act

What do you think? Sound off in a video on CNN iReport.

By Bill Mears, CNN

Washington (CNN) - A deeply divided Supreme Court has limited use of a key provision in the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, in effect invalidating federal enforcement over all or parts of 15 states with past history of voter discrimination.

The court said it is now up to congressional lawmakers to revise the law to meet constitutional scrutiny.

"Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to the current conditions," said Chief Justice John Roberts for the 5-4 conservative majority.

Section 4 of the law was struck down, the coverage formula used by the federal government to determine which states and counties are subject to continued oversight. Roberts said that formula from 1972 was outdated and unworkable.

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Filed under: Discrimination • History • How we live • Politics • Race • Where we live
June 25th, 2013
09:30 AM ET

Paula Deen's sons: She's no racist

By Josh Levs, CNN

(CNN) - Celebrity chef Paula Deen's sons staunchly defended their mother Tuesday, saying allegations of racism are false "character assassination."

"Neither one of our parents ever taught us to be bigoted toward any other person for any reason," Bobby Deen told CNN's "New Day" in an exclusive interview with Chris Cuomo.

"Our mother is one of the most compassionate, good-hearted, empathetic people that you'd ever meet," he added. "These accusations are very hurtful to her, and it's very sad."

In a recent lawsuit deposition, Deen admitted having used the "N-word" long ago. The suit alleges discrimination and racism at two of Deen's restaurants.

But the Deen sons - also chefs with TV shows, and part of their family's restaurant businesses - insisted the depictions of their mother are an effort by the plaintiff to get a chunk of the family fortune.

"I'm disgusted by the entire thing, because it began as extortion and it has become character assassination," Bobby Deen said.

High court avoids larger ruling on university's affirmative action admissions policy
The Supreme Court has handed down a decision on affirmative action.
June 24th, 2013
10:46 AM ET

High court avoids larger ruling on university's affirmative action admissions policy

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

Washington (CNN) - The Supreme Court side-stepped a sweeping decision on the use of race-conscious school admission policies, ruling Monday on the criteria at the University of Texas and whether it violates the equal protection rights of some white applicants.

The justices threw the case back to the lower courts for further review.

The court affirmed the use of race in the admissions process, but makes it harder for institutions to use such policies to achieve diversity. The 7-1 decision from the court avoids the larger constitutional issues.

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Filed under: Education • History • How we live • Race
June 24th, 2013
09:13 AM ET

The Zimmerman trial: What you need to know

By HLNTV.com Staff

(CNN) - A neighborhood watch captain accused of killing an unarmed teen goes on trial Monday, in a case that sparked fresh debate about race relations and gun laws.

George Zimmerman is accused of fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida.

Martin was black, and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. He says he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense.

In a CNN poll released Monday morning, 62% of respondents say the charges against Zimmerman are probably or definitely true.

Opening statements begin Monday and are expected to last several hours.

A jury of six women will decide Zimmerman's fate, which has already drawn some scrutiny from the public about whether he will get a fair trial.

Martin's parents will be in the courtroom, and are expected to deliver a statement before the proceedings begin.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: How we look • Race
June 21st, 2013
05:38 PM ET

Paula Deen apologizes, loses Food Network show

By Chelsea J. Carter and Carolyn Sung, CNN

(CNN) - Celebrity chef Paula Deen's contract with The Food Network will not be renewed, the network said Friday, the latest fallout over revelations this week that she admitted to using a racial epithet in the past.

Deen's contract with The Food Network, which airs three shows featuring the chef, expires at the end of the month, the network said.

The Food Network's announcement followed reports earlier this week that Deen acknowledged in a lawsuit deposition to using the "N word," but denied telling racial jokes.

It also came the same day that Deen apologized in video statements posted online for "the wrong that I've done."

"I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I've done," Deen said in the video statement. "I want to learn and grow from this. Inappropriate and hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable. I've made plenty of mistakes along the way but I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness."

What do you think Paula Deen should do now? Are there meaningful ways – words or actions – to recover from racism? How are they different if the person is high-profile, like Deen?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and check the latest updates on the story here.

FULL STORY
June 21st, 2013
10:57 AM ET

'Racial Justice Act' repealed in North Carolina

By Matt Smith, CNN

(CNN) - North Carolina's governor says he agreed to repeal a law that allowed inmates to challenge their death sentences on racial grounds because it effectively banned capital punishment in the state.

North Carolina legislators barred death sentences "sought or obtained on the basis of race" in 2009, when both houses of the state General Assembly were under Democratic control.

The, legislation, known as the Racial Justice Act, allowed condemned convicts to use statistical analysis to argue that race played a role in their sentencing.

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Filed under: Discrimination • Race • Where we live
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