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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.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: History • Race • What we think
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.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Discrimination • History • How we live • Politics • Race • Where we live
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 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
Southern TV chef Paula Deen
June 19th, 2013
07:22 PM ET

Celeb chef Paula Deen admits using 'N' word

By Alan Duke, CNN

(CNN) - Celebrity chef Paula Deen denies she's ever told racial jokes, but she did acknowledge using the "N" word, according to her deposition in a lawsuit.

A former manager at Deen's restaurants in Savannah, Georgia, is suing her and her brother for sexual and racial harassment.

LIsa T. Jackson's lawsuit alleges that Deen and Bubba Hier committed numerous acts of violence, discrimination and racism that resulted in the end of her five-year employment at Deen's Lady & Sons and Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House eateries in Savannah.

Deen's lawyer called the allegations false.

"Contrary to media reports, Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable," her lawyer, Bill Franklin said. "She is looking forward to her day in court."

Deen was questioned by Jackson's lawyers in May and the deposition was just filed with the court.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: History • How we live • Race
Cumberland Island, Georgia
June 19th, 2013
09:00 AM ET

Juneteenth: Where to honor the end of slavery

Editor's note: This story was first published on June 19, 2012.

By Leslie Gilbert Elman, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army announced to the assembled crowd at Ashton Villa in Galveston, Texas, "In accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free."

It was June 19, 1865.

Never mind that President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had been written and read more than two years earlier. Juneteenth, named for the June 19 declaration, started as a celebration of emancipation day in Texas and eventually spread to other states. With celebrations dating back to 1866, Juneteenth now commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

"America cannot understand its own history unless the African-American experience is embraced as a central factor in shaping who we are and what we have become as Americans," writes Lonnie G. Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington.

Set to open in 2015, the museum will be the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African-American life, art and culture.

In honor of Juneteenth, the museum helped CNN.com choose six destinations that will enlighten and educate visitors about a complicated period of American history, the road to emancipation.

FULL STORY
June 17th, 2013
12:40 PM ET

Justices strike down citizenship provision in Arizona voter law

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

Washington (CNN) - The Supreme Court on Monday tossed out a provision in Arizona's voter registration law that required proof of citizenship.

The 7-2 majority said the state's voter-approved Proposition 200 interfered with federal law designed to make voter registration easier.

The state called the provision a "sensible precaution" to prevent voter fraud. Civil rights group countered that it added an unconstitutional and burdensome layer of paperwork for tens of thousands of citizens.

Justice Antonin Scalia said the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 "forbids states to demand an applicant submit additional information beyond that required by the federal form."

But in a nod to state authority, Scalia said the federal law "does not prevent states from denying registration based on any information in their possession establishing the applicant's eligibility."

The appeal was a classic federalism dispute, on the often delicate line between conflict and cooperation between state and federal governments over enforcing voting procedures. During last year's election, there were numerous court challenges to state voter identification laws at the polls. The current fight has produced a range of states, lawmakers and advocacy groups on both sides on the gateway issue of registration. The Obama Justice Department opposed the Arizona law, which went beyond what other states have done to ensure integrity in the registration system.

FULL STORY

Filed under: History • How we look • Where we live
Opinion: The importance of ‘Loving’ in the face of racism
June 12 is the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court decision that struck down all laws against interracial marriage
June 12th, 2013
01:29 PM ET

Opinion: The importance of ‘Loving’ in the face of racism

Editor's note: June 12 is the 46th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia,  which made interracial marriage legal in the United States.  Thousands of people nationwide celebrate that anniversary as “Loving Day'.  Ken Tanabe is the founder and president of Loving Day, an international, annual celebration that aims to build multicultural community and fight racial prejudice through education. He is a speaker on multiracial identity, community organizing and social change through design. 

By Ken Tanabe, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Racism is alive and well in 2013, and what’s striking is the recent notable examples aimed at interracial couples - or one of their children.

Even breakfast cereal commercials aren’t safe. A recent Cheerios ad depicting an interracial couple and their multiracial child got so many racist remarks on YouTube that the company had to disable the comments.

There is nothing out of the ordinary about the commercial, except that the parents happen to be an interracial couple.

But the truth is, racially blended families are becoming more ordinary every day, due to the 1967 Supreme Court decision that declared all laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional.

Opinion: Two different marriage bans, both wrong

Today is the 46th anniversary of that decision, and one in seven new marriages in the United States is interracial or interethnic.  Multiracial Americans are the fastest-growing youth demographic.

Number of interracial couples in U.S. reaches all-time high

While the negative comments about the Cheerios commercial made it newsworthy, there were also many others who showed their support for the Cheerios brand.

Multiracial Americans of Southern California, a multiethnic community group, started a Facebook album for people to post photos of themselves holding a box of Cheerios. And in articles and in social media, supporters expressed gratitude to General Mills for depicting a multiracial family.

The weddings of two multiracial couples from high-profile families also prompted racist comments online. Lindsay Marie Boehner, daughter of House Speaker John Boehner, married Dominic Lakhan, a black Jamaican man. And Jack McCain, son of Sen. John McCain, married Renee Swift, a woman of color.

The reaction to these marriages is reminiscent of the response to the marriage of Peggy Rusk – the daughter of then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk – and Guy Smith, a black man. In 1967, their interracial marriage was a cover story, several months after laws against interracial marriage were struck down.

Things have changed since then, but not enough.

In a 2011 Gallup poll, 86% of Americans approved of “marriage between blacks and whites.” In 1958, the approval rating was 4%. But it makes me wonder: What do the other 14% of Americans think? Apparently, many of them spend a lot of time leaving comments online.

The election of Barack Obama inspired many of us to hope that widespread racism was a relic of the past.

And while he was elected to a second term, we must not be complacent when it comes to racism in our daily lives. We must seek out opportunities to educate others about the history of our civil rights.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wished that his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I wonder what he would think of our collective progress as the 50th anniversary of his "I Have a Dream" speech approaches.

On  June 15, the 10th annual Loving Day Flagship Celebration in New York City will draw an expected 1,500 guests. And while many participants are multiracial, anyone can host a Loving Day Celebration for friends and family, and make it a part of their annual traditions.

We need to work collectively to fight prejudice through education and build a strong sense of multiethnic community. If we do, one day we might live in a nation where the racial identities of politicians’ children's spouses are no longer national news, and cereal commercials are more about cereal than race.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ken Tanabe.

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Filed under: Ethnicity • Family • History • What we think
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