.
December 13th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

Opinion: Colorism is the new "ism"

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

After offensive photo, Penn State students plan silent march
December 13th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

After offensive photo, Penn State students plan silent march

By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN

(CNN) - Just two weeks after Chi Omega’s controversial party photo surfaced on Facebook, students at Penn State are planning a silent march today, hoping to increase Latino recruitment and retention.

The sorority members celebrated Halloween with a Mexican-themed party wearing sombreros and ponchos and pasted fake mustaches on their faces. They held signs that said: "Will mow lawn for weed + beer." Another sign said: "I don't cut grass. I smoke it."

The university president, the president of the board of trustees and other officials expressed deep disappointment and Chi Omega put its Penn State chapter on probation.

Members of the Latino community were outraged  by the photo with comments like this one from Liz Martinez on Twitter: “So many frats and sororities think it's ok to perpetuate stereotypes. It isn't.”

March organizer Manuel Figueroa said the march is not being organized in response to the Chi Omega photo. The march will be led by the Penn State University For All Student Equality, a student organization whose goal it is denounce all forms of racism, sexism, classism and homophobia and seeks to draw attention to social inequality.

“The incident definitely served as a catalyst for all this but it’s not the reason we are doing it,” said Figueroa. “There are grievances to a larger issue that we believe the university should take up.”

The Mexican American Student Association (MASA) will not be participating in the march and instead plans to work with Penn State President Rodney Erickson and university officials to bring awareness and change to the campus environment.

The organization would rather "not make this issue a larger one,” said Roberto Hernandez, president of the Mexican student group. “We are hoping to expand the Latino Studies program into a department. We are working with faculty on that.”

In a statement, MASA said:  “We ...  urge the university to reassert its commitment to ethnic and racial diversity. We hope that the university exercises its stated commitment to diversity. We look forward to working with the campus community in reaching these goals."

Students who are marching plan to peacefully walk through the campus in a silent, single-line manner.

Hispanic students make up 5% of the 45,351 undergraduate and graduate population on campus, according to the fall 2012 enrollment data.

Figueroa said they expect at least 50 students to participate.

Erickson commended the student movement to combat the issue, reported the The Daily Collegian.

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Filed under: Community • Diversity • Ethnicity • How we look • Immigration • Latino in America
Penn State sorority photo: Insensitive or just fun?
Chi Omega apologized for this photo after some found it offensive.
December 7th, 2012
06:17 PM ET

Penn State sorority photo: Insensitive or just fun?

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - Officials at Penn State published an open letter this week about an incident that has brought the university under scrutiny once more.

Members of the university's Chi Omega sorority chapter celebrated Halloween at a Mexican-themed party. They wore sombreros and ponchos and pasted fake mustaches on their faces. They held signs that said: "Will mow lawn for weed + beer." Another sign said: "I don't cut grass. I smoke it."

Then they took a photo and posted it online. Outrage spread over the insensitive nature of the photo. Some said it perpetrated stereotypes and were culturally insensitive. Latino students on the Penn State campus demanded a direct apology from Chi Omega, which issued a statement of regret to the college newspaper.

The university president, the president of the board of trustees and other officials expressed their own feelings of deep disappointment.

"How any constituent groups or individuals in the university could behave with such insensitivity or unawareness is a question we must both ask and answer," they said in a letter Thursday.

"Our university is a place of learning and discovery, and there certainly are lessons to be relearned, or even discovered for the first time, from these incidents," the letter said. "The simplest of those lessons is that costumes that include blackface, or that parody or imitate a person or groups of people, are always offensive to someone. They convey either a lack of awareness about the human condition and human sensitivities or, worse yet, disdain for the thoughts, feelings, histories and experiences of others. They suggest a failure to empathize or even a failure to think. They make all of us small."

The incident comes in the wake of this year's conviction of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky for sexually abusing 10 boys over a period of 15 years. He was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison. The scandal led to the dismissal of legendary head coach Joe Paterno, who died only weeks later, and severe NCAA penalties against the school's storied football program.

Reaction to the Chi Omega story, however, has not all been of dismay or outrage. FULL POST

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Filed under: Diversity • Ethnicity • Latino in America • What we think
Penn State sorority sisters denigrate Mexicans in party photo
Penn State's Chi Omega chapter apologized for this photo that was posted on Tumblr.
December 5th, 2012
12:37 PM ET

Penn State sorority sisters denigrate Mexicans in party photo

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - Penn State has had its share of controversy for a while, but this week it is getting some more unwanted attention.

The university's Chi Omega sorority chapter is under investigation after a photo with Mexican stereotypes surfaced on a social media site.

It shows a group of sorority members dressed in ponchos and sombreros and wearing fake mustaches. One woman holds a sign that says: "Will mow lawn for weed + beer." Another sign says: "I don't cut grass. I smoke it."

The photograph was taken at a Mexican-themed party around Halloween, according to the independent college blog, Onward State. It was posted last week on Tumblr.

The university's Panhellenic Council said it had received concerns about the photo and that the council does not condone derogatory behavior from members.

"The Penn State Panhellenic Council recognizes the offensive nature of the photo and is therefore taking the matter very seriously," the executive board said in a statement.

"We are addressing the situation immediately with the members of the chapter in conjunction with their national headquarters," it said. "Our council and all its members strive to hold ourselves to a high standard and are disappointed by any failure to meet these expectations."

Jessica Riccardi, president of the Chi Omega chapter at Penn State, released an apology to The Daily Collegian newspaper. FULL POST

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Filed under: Ethnicity • Latino in America • Race • What we think
el Dia de Las Gracias – Thanksgiving with a Latin twist
November 22nd, 2012
08:24 PM ET

el Dia de Las Gracias – Thanksgiving with a Latin twist

Food says so much about where you’ve come from, where you’ve decided to go, and the lessons you’ve learned. It’s geography, politics, tradition, belief and so much more and we invite you to dig in and discover the rich, ever-evolving taste of America. Catch up on past coverage.

In Spanish, it’s known as “Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias” or el “Dia de Las Gracias.” Although it’s not a holiday celebrated in Latin America, Thanksgiving has resonated with Hispanics in the United States because of two vital components in Latino culture: family and food.

Latino households across the country will serve Hispanic dishes alongside Thanksgiving classics like mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, blending their own culture into the “traditional” American holiday.

“Last year, I spent it at my sister’s house and we had ham, pasteles, yam, stuffing and Mexican rice alongside the turkey,” says Baltimore, Maryland resident Elianne Ramos. She works as the Vice-Chair of Marketing and PR for Latinos in Social Media.

FULL STORY
Opinion: In Mexico, racism hides in plain view
Ruben Navarrette says life in Mexico comes with more challenges for darker-skinned people.
November 20th, 2012
11:53 AM ET

Opinion: In Mexico, racism hides in plain view

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.

By Ruben Navarrette, Jr., CNN Contributor

(CNN) - Mexico City, home to 20 million people, represents the paradox of the modern Mexico, the side-by-side juxtaposition - in everything from politics to architecture - of old and new.

Turn a corner, and you'll see a church that is 300 years old. Turn another, and you can get Wi-Fi in a Starbucks.

The Distrito Federal, also known as Mexico City, serves as a constant reminder that Mexicans are about maintaining tradition, except when they're sidestepping it. They're about moving forward, except when they are unable to let go of the past. They're about preserving memory, except when they have amnesia.

For example, when it comes to forgiving the corrupt Institutional Revolutionary Party (also known by its initials, PRI), whose leaders brutalized the Mexican people and plundered the country for much of the 20th century, they have short memories; they recently returned the PRI to power by electing Enrique Pena Nieto to the presidency. He takes office December 1.

But when it comes to the aftermath of the U.S.-Mexican war, which lasted from 1846 to 1848 and resulted in the United States seizing half of Mexico's territory - the modern-day U.S. Southwest - Mexicans' memories are long, and forgiveness isn't easy to find. Even after all these years, in diplomatic circles, you still hear talk of the "sovereignty" issue - which, loosely defined, means the constant effort by Mexico to keep the United States from meddling in its domestic affairs and the need for the U.S. to tread lightly.

Read Ruben Navarrette's full column
Appeals court strikes down Michigan's affirmative action ban
November 16th, 2012
08:24 AM ET

Appeals court strikes down Michigan's affirmative action ban

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A federal appeals court on Thursday narrowly struck down Michigan's 6-year-old ban on considering race and gender in college admissions, a ruling that the state intends to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 8-7 that the affirmative action ban, which Michigan voters passed in a 2006 referendum, violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection laws.

5 things to know about affirmative action

The ruling is the latest step in a years-long legal battle over whether the state's colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing which students to admit. The ban's opponents say the case could help strike down anti-affirmative-action policies in other states if it goes to the Supreme Court.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Education • Ethnicity • How we live • Race • Where we live
November 14th, 2012
09:09 AM ET

New U.S. House: Women and minorities to the left; white men to the right

By Halimah Abdullah, CNN

Washington (CNN) - When the incoming U.S. House freshmen of the 113th Congress take their class photo, the image will reflect two very different visions of the nation.

On the Democratic side: Women and minorities - a coalition that, along with young voters, largely helped re-elect President Barack Obama - collectively will for the first time in the nation's history outnumber white male Democrats.

On the Republican side: The majority of the House seats will be held by white men - a group which far outnumbers the now dwindled numbers of House GOP women and minorities after the losses of two minority members and about a half dozen women from that caucus.

"They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well the picture that you see before you is worth millions of votes, millions of aspirations and dreams of the American people for problem-solvers to come to Washington to get to the job done, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in welcoming the incoming freshman class to the Capitol for orientation.

"Today we officially welcome our Democratic freshmen to Washington. They are extraordinary leaders who will make our House Democratic caucus the first caucus in history, in the history of civilized government, to have a majority of women and minorities in the caucus."

It also symbolizes something else that is more troubling politically.

"It's basically a sign that both parties are distilling to their core, and they are living in parallel universes," said David Wasserman, House editor for the Cook Political Report.

FULL STORY
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Victoria's Secret sorry for headdress faux pas
November 13th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Victoria's Secret sorry for headdress faux pas

By HLNtv.com Staff

(HLN) - Victoria's Secret has apologized for its use of a Native American headdress during its annual fashion show after the company was roundly criticized for the outfit's poor taste and willful cultural ignorance.

Supermodel Karlie Kloss strutted down the runway for the 17th annual fashion show, wearing a skimpy cheetah-print bikini with an enormous feathered Native American-style headdress and turquoise jewelry. The fashion show was taped in New York on November 8.

Navajo Nation sues Urban Outfitters for alleged trademark infringement

Critics immediately seized on the footage of the show, citing the company's lack of cultural sensitivity and ignorance of tribal customs and traditions.

FULL STORY
You're 'not a racist, but...' you're getting called out on Twitter
November 2nd, 2012
01:00 PM ET

You're 'not a racist, but...' you're getting called out on Twitter

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - Every now and then, Logan Smith likes to search Twitter for things he thinks people would never say. Just for his entertainment.

Like when astronaut Neil Armstrong died, Smith typed in: "Who is Neil Armstrong?" Who in America doesn't know about the man to who took a giant leap for mankind? Sure enough, he found, there were a bunch of folks who had no idea.

In the midst of all his searches, Smith made a startling discovery: a lot of people like to start tweets with this line: "I'm not a racist, but..."

What followed seemed clearly racist to Smith, a 25-year-old white man from Columbia, South Carolina, who writes a politics and policy blog called The Palmetto Public Record.

Smith was shocked. Dismayed by what he read.

"It's ridiculous to think that people don't think they are racist when they say these things," he says. "Some people say we are living in a post-racial society. Now we have a black president, somehow that made everything OK. But that is completely not the case."

So Smith decided to call some tweeps out.

About a month ago, he started a Twitter handle called @YesYoureRacist.

FULL POST

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