By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – Mark Krolikowski has shoulder-length brown hair. He likes to wear multiple earrings and French manicure his nails. Students call him Mr. K.
Krolikowski, 59, taught for 32 years at St. Francis Preparatory School, a 150-year-old Catholic institution in Queens, New York.
Until August. That's when the school laid him off.
He alleges that he was discriminated against because he is transgender and that the school's attitude toward him changed in the eight months after he came out.
He recently filed a lawsuit saying the school and its principal, Leonard Conway, broke the law with his termination and that as a result, Krolikowski has been distressed.
"Teaching - it's my life," Krolikowski said Friday. "I feel that has been taken away from me."
His lawyer Andrew Kimler said Krolikowski's case has "significant ramifications for the LGBT community and is a wakeup call to employers in terms of employment practices."
Conway would not comment but referred questions to his lawyer, Philip C. Semprevivo Jr.
Semprevivo said he could not discuss details of the case since it was in litigation but said Krolikowski was terminated legally.
"We deny all the allegations," he said. FULL POST
By Doug Gross, CNN
(CNN) - Melissa Earll owns stacks of classic comic books, baseball cards that include a young Hank Aaron and Whitey Ford and other collectibles she wants to sell.
But she can't do so on eBay, she says. According to Earll, the popular auction site can't confirm her as a seller because she's deaf.
"eBay keeps me from taking advantage of opportunities that other people have and it's because I couldn't hear," Earll, of Nevada, Missouri, told CNN affiliate WDAF-TV. "Somebody has to have the courage to stand up and say 'this is not right.'"
At issue, according to Earll, is the way the auction site verifies sellers. eBay says it offered Earll alternative ways of verifying her identity. But the dispute casts a light on a bigger question that some experts say may need to go all the way to the Supreme Court: Just how responsive must the Internet be to the Americans With Disabilities Act?FULL STORY
By Sarah Edwards, CNN
(CNN) – The maker of a Google app thinks it's fun to make yourself look Asian by changing the shape of your eyes and wearing a Fu Manchu mustache and rice paddy hat.
Another app - "Make Me Indian" - makes you a Native American with brown skin, war paint and a feather headband.
“This is just a fun app (that) lets you indulge you and your friends," says the description of the "Make Me Asian" app created by user KimberyDeiss and available on Google Play.
"You can for a few seconds to make (yourself) a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or any other Asians," the description says.
Not amusing or cute, say Asian-American organizations that launched a petition to get Google to remove both apps. FULL POST
Editor's note: Historian and author Tiya Miles is a professor at the University of Michigan's Afroamerican and African Studies department and a 2011 MacArthur genius award recipient.
By Tiya Miles, Special to CNN
(CNN) – In the documentary film "Black Indians," a man who appears to be African-American recounts his delight at eliciting shocked looks from strangers when he launches into a conversation with his wife in the Cherokee language.
The man who tells this story is Cherokee as well as black and a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. His is just one among thousands of examples that show diversity has always been a core aspect of African-American identity.
That diversity has been rich - from the moment when Africans from different tribes, cultures and language groups were captured as slaves and transported to North America to the present day, when African-Americans live in various regions and intermarry with members of other ethnic groups.
The evidence of this diversity is so obvious that it may seem at times invisible.
It exists not only in linguistic diversity - in African-American fluency in English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Cantonese, American indigenous languages and so on - but also in the regionalisms of African-American cuisine from coastal rice and seafood dishes to Southern barbecue sauces.
The salad bowl analogy that is often used to describe multifaceted American society applies just as well within African-American life. There is no such thing as a singular black culture or coherent African-American community. Instead there are many black cultures, many black communities. FULL POST
Editor’s Note: Ronald E. Hall, Ph.D. is a professor at Michigan State University and the author of "The Melanin Millennium." He has lectured on skin color both domestically and internationally, and testified as an expert witness in skin color discrimination cases. His forthcoming book is a revised edition of "The Color Complex."
By Ronald E. Hall, Special to CNN
(CNN) - In the early part of this century, there were separate facilities for blacks and whites, the Ku Klux Klan was a popular white supremacist organization and racism was easy to see.
In 1964, civil rights legislation outlawed racial discrimination, and there has been an advance of racial equality, including the election, and re-election of the first black president.
But while overt acts of racism have declined, discrimination continues in another form: colorism.
Colorism is a manifestation of how Western imperialism has exported European ideals, most notably the universal idealization of light skin, to American shores.
Not only have whites discriminated against blacks because of skin color, but people of color have also discriminated against one another. While colorism has existed for some time, it has only been recently acknowledged, as seen in the increase of legal cases and studies examining this “ism.” FULL POST
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – Mia Lillis knew that she was gay when she was 12. She felt lucky to attend a public high school in Austin, Texas, that was highly supportive and had a gay student alliance. Then she arrived at the University of Notre Dame.
She enrolled there because Notre Dame's reputation as a premier Catholic school appealed to her family. But from the very first day, Lillis was scared.
She searched for a gay and lesbian student organization. There was none. She sought out literature for gay students. Again, nothing.
"It gave me the impression that Notre Dame didn't care about queer students," said Lillis, 20. "It was pretty intimidating."
She went back in the closet. She even considered transferring. "I would say a lot of gay students think that way," she said.
But this week, Lillis celebrated after Notre Dame announced that it will create services for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, as in those who are still figuring out their sexual identity.
After a five-month review process, Notre Dame made the recommendations in a comprehensive pastoral plan that the university said is grounded in its Catholic mission.
“As articulated in the university’s ‘Spirit of Inclusion’ statement, Notre Dame’s goal remains to create and sustain a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students, and I am confident that this multi-faceted, pastoral approach represents the next step in advancing our efforts toward this aspiration for our GLBTQ students," said the Rev. John Jenkins, president of the university. FULL POST
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – Military development. Academics. Athletics. Three pillars of Army values that cadets at America's most prestigious military academy live by.
But West Point cadet Blake Page says there is one other unspoken pillar at the United States Military Academy: religion.
That's why, with just five months left before graduation, Page quit.
And he did it in a most public fashion – in a fiery blog post.
"The tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution," wrote Page, 24, in The Huffington Post. FULL POST
Editor's note: Danielle McGuire is the author of "At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance-a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power." She is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Wayne State University, and a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. She lives with her husband and two children in metro Detroit.
By Danielle McGuire, Special to CNN
(CNN) - In 2011, Rosa Parks was in the news, six years after her death. An excerpt from a breathtaking essay she wrote in the 1950s about a “near rape” by a white man in Alabama was released to the public. The handwritten narrative detailed Parks' steely resistance to a white man, “Mr. Charlie," who attempted to assault her in 1931 while she was working as a domestic for a white family.
It was late evening when “Mr. Charlie” pushed his way into the house and tried to have sex with her. Having grown up in the segregated South, she knew all too well the special vulnerabilities black women faced. She recalled, for example, how her great-grandmother, a slave, had been “mistreated and abused” by her white master.
Despite her fear, she refused to let the same thing happen to her. “I knew that no matter what happened,” she wrote, “I would never yield to this white man’s bestiality.” "I was ready to die,” she said, “but give my consent, never. Never, never." Parks was absolutely defiant: “If he wanted to kill me and rape a dead body,” she said, “he was welcome, but he would have to kill me first.”
Does that sound like the Rosa Parks we know?
Some of the guardians of Parks’ legacy have said it is not, and insist the essay was fiction. But by dismissing the writings as fiction, it retains the popular image of Rosa Parks as a simple seamstress whose singular and spontaneous act launched the civil rights movement that brought down the walls of segregation.
This popular presentation of Parks as a quiet but courageous woman, whose humble righteousness shamed America into doing what was right has become a mythic fable present in nearly every high school history textbook, museum exhibit, and memorial.
She has been imprisoned by this tale, frozen in time as a silent and saintly icon whose only real action was to stay seated so that, in the words of her many eulogists, “we could all stand up.”
This overly simplistic story makes it impossible to imagine her essay about Mr. Charlie as anything but fiction.
But what if we knew more about the real Rosa Parks—a militant race woman and sharp detective whose career as a human rights activist spanned seven decades?
It’s time to free Rosa Parks from the bus.
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – Anna worked seven days a week as a nanny for the family of a Fortune 500 company executive. She lived with them in their 5th Avenue apartment in Midtown Manhattan. Her day began at 6 when the children woke up and didn't end until 10 at night when she put them to bed and cleaned the kitchen.
She cooked meals, did laundry and tended to the children's needs. She slept on the floor in between their beds. She did not have a single day off in 15 months.
She was hired because of the child development skills she learned as a teacher in her native Philippines. Yet she earned just $1.27 an hour.
Anna's story, documented in a groundbreaking statistical report on U.S. domestic workers released Tuesday, is not uncommon. It said Anna was part of a system of invisible workers - mostly women, mostly minorities and increasingly immigrant - who enable many Americans to function in their own lives.