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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.

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Filed under: How we look • Race
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
June 7th, 2013
09:25 AM ET

Former Navy SEAL comes out as transgender: 'I want some happiness'

By Chuck Hadad, Susan Chuan and Dana Ford, CNN

(CNN) - After years spent fighting in some of the world's worst wars, former U.S. Navy SEAL Kristin Beck says she knows what she wants.

"I want to have my life," she told CNN's "AC360" in an exclusive Thursday night.

"I fought for 20 years for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I want some happiness."

Beck recently came out as transgender.

She wrote about the experience in a book, "Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL's Journey to Coming out Transgender."

Trapped in a man's body

It chronicles her life as a young boy and man, known then as Chris Beck.

Beck deployed 13 times, serving in places such as Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. She earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart along the way.

Though she's felt trapped in the wrong body since grade school, Beck didn't come out until after she left the military in 2011.

Doing so earlier would have been too big a risk.

Transgender men and women are banned from service.

"That's a chance that if I took it, I might be dead today," she said.

"There's a lot of prejudice out there. There's been a lot of transgender people who are killed for prejudice, for hatred. When the book came out - some amazing support and some amazing praises - but also some pretty amazing bigotry and hatred."

Beck says she doesn't need people to love, or even like, her.

"But I don't want you to beat me up and kill me. You don't have to like me, I don't care. But please don't kill me."

FULL STORY

Filed under: Gender • How we look • Military
June 6th, 2013
02:13 PM ET

Judge in hot water: Allegedly said minorities are prone to violence

By Ben Brumfield and Marlei Martinez, CNN

(CNN) - Civil rights groups filed a complaint this week against a federal judge in Houston after she allegedly said during a lecture that some minorities are prone to violence.

Judge Edith Jones, who serves on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and was a Bush-era Supreme Court frontrunner, allegedly made the comment while speaking on the death penalty to The Federalist Society at the University of Pennsylvania in February.

The Federalist Society describes itself on its website as "a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of legal order."

In her remarks, Jones also is alleged to have said race plays no role in the administration of the death penalty, but certain ethnic groups commit certain types of crimes more often than others.

Civil rights groups, including the J.L. Turner Legal Association, say Jones' comments reveal a strong ethnic bias. They are pushing for an investigation that could lead to her removal from the bench.

The J.L. Turner Legal Association is an African-American bar association in Dallas. Its president, Mandy Price, told CNN that some attendees were shocked at what they heard and later complained.

"The reaction in the room when she made these remarks was one of shock, surprise, and offense," according to one account that the legal association collected from some of the attendees.

The Federalist Society itself, however, called the allegations "frivolous accusations."

FULL STORY
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
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
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
'Attractive & Fat'
May 23rd, 2013
01:43 PM ET

'Attractive & Fat' ad spoofs Abercrombie

By Sarah LeTrent, CNN

(CNN) - Jes Baker is cutting retailer Abercrombie & Fitch down to size.

Baker, who blogs under the name "The Militant Baker" and wears a size 22, changed the brand's A&F logo to "Attractive & Fat" in a mock, black-and-white Abercrombie ad to challenge the line's branding efforts.

The photos come as a provocative response to contentious comments Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries made in a 2006 Salon article about the multibillion-dollar brand's target audience.

"In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," Jeffries said. "Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

The divisive remarks resurfaced earlier this month after a series of protests went viral, from Greg Karber's video of himself giving homeless people Abercrombie clothing to a Change.org petition for larger sizes by a teenage eating disorder survivor.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: How we look • What we think • Women
White kids will no longer be a majority in just a few years
By 2018 or 2019, the Census Bureau projects that white children will account for less than half of the under-18 population.
May 15th, 2013
03:40 PM ET

White kids will no longer be a majority in just a few years

By Annalyn Kurtz @AnnalynKurtz

(CNNMoney) - White, non-Hispanic kids will no longer make up the majority of America's youth in just five to six years, according to Census Bureau projections released Wednesday.

Those projections, which include four different scenarios for population growth, estimate that today's minority ethnic groups will soon account for at least half of the under-18 population, either in 2018 or 2019.

"This is going to start from the bottom of the age distribution and move its way up," said William Frey, demographer and senior fellow for the Brooking Institution. "All of these projections show we're moving to greater diversity in the United States."

Already, more than half of American babies being born belong to racial and ethnic groups traditionally thought of as "minorities" - which means it could soon be time to toss that word out completely.

By the time those kids grow up to become adults - sometime between 2036 and 2042 - everyone in the working-age population (ages 18 to 64) will be a member of a group that comes up short of the 50% line.

Demographers call it a "minority-majority." No one single racial or ethnic group will make up more than half of the population.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: Age • Census • Diversity • Education • How we look
May 15th, 2013
09:38 AM ET

Our 'outrageous dream': Bringing diversity to science

Editor's note: Freeman Hrabowski has been president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for 20 years. He was named one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2012 by TIME. He spoke at TED2013 in February. TED is a nonprofit dedicated to "Ideas worth spreading," which it makes available through talks posted on its website.

(CNN) - Fifty years ago this month, I chanced to hear the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. I was a mild-mannered kid with a speech impediment and a love of math. That day, I was focused on solving math problems, not issues of justice and equal rights. But King broke through to me when he said this: If the children of Birmingham march, Americans will see that what they are asking for is a better education. They will see that even the very young know the difference between right and wrong.

I chose to march, and found myself among hundreds of children jailed for five terrifying days. Mind you, I was not a brave child. But even at 12 years old, I believed and hoped that my participation could make a difference.

Twenty-five years later, I had made my way to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. My colleagues and I had an outrageous dream: Perhaps a young research university - just 20 years old - could alter the course of minority performance in higher education, particularly in the sciences. Baltimore philanthropists Robert and Jane Meyerhoff shared our vision.

And now people ask: What magic have we hit upon that has enabled us to become a national model for educating students of all races in a wide range of disciplines? How did we - as a predominantly white university with a strong liberal arts curriculum - become one of the top producers of minority scientists in the country?

Rather than magic, there are a number of educational principles at work. And what my colleagues and I have found is that they all grow out of one key truth: The world does not always have to be as it is today.

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