(CNN) - Zoe Saldana is one of Hollywood's leading actresses, and she's making headlines as Uhura in "Star Trek Into Darkness." She crossed barriers as the lead in "Avatar," the highest grossing movie of all time. But how does being a woman of color impact her career choices and options? The actress, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, spoke about it in an interview with Ebony magazine's Kelley L. Carter:
EBONY: Speaking of color, it doesn’t seem to limit you. And it almost appears seamless. Is that true? Or have there been bumps along the way because you’re a woman of color?
Zoe Saldana: Nothing in life is just one layer. It’s one-layered (but) it’s multifaceted, and there are various factors that take place into making a decision or something happening. So the one thing I will say is, what has not changed is what I feel and think of myself and how I interact with the world, how I handle myself. I feel like I’m very confident. I’m going to have my moments of weakness, but I like who I am and I don’t want to be anybody else. I don’t want anybody to tell me to change when I don’t want to change.
So that’s just who I am. And when I approach something—whether I’m fighting for a role or I’m being offered a role—I’m not thinking whether or not anybody is doing me a favor or if I’m doing somebody else a favor. I’m just thinking, as an artist and as a woman, “is this something that best represents the craft that I want to be known for?” Or is this an accurate representation of what a woman is supposed to be?
And do I like this story? Do I like this director? Do I think the studio is going to manage and sell it properly. That’s where my head is at. I’m not thinking, “Oh, I’m a woman of color, are they gonna want me?” I don’t give too much energy to that, because my time is very valuable, and something that exists to others is not going to exist in my world. That’s how I think I get by, by not giving it any validation by wasting more time investing into thinking about it. FULL POST
By Alex Castellanos, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - The images still inspire. Children sitting on their parents' shoulders amid a sea of American flags, fluttering on a cool Chicago night. A young black woman running to get as close as possible to the stage.
On November 4, 2008, Grant Park absorbed the world's focus: Barack Obama was elected president of the United States.
His victory speech stopped the Earth from spinning, if only for an evening, and drew the world's attention to an America where anything was again possible. Obama's victory energized a pulsing crowd of a hundred-thousand, their dream deferred no longer. Journalist Lois Wille called it "a great big huge happy evening" that would perhaps "wipe the memory" of a more divided America away.
Still, the podium was wrapped in bulletproof glass. Chicago charged all its 13,500 police officers with protecting America's great hope. It sent firefighters home wearing their uniforms so they would be ready to respond. We were not sure the promise and possibility of that moment was shared by every American. Yet that clear night, we celebrated the peaceful transition of power and the dawn of a different day.
This is a good country, full of good and great people, dedicated to an extraordinary American promise, our commitment to equal opportunity for everyone. That evening, even the most hardened partisan hearts could feel it. Our country had taken a step forward in racial relations, a big step, something that spoke of what our nation might yet become. A good nation had become an even better one, where the scars of some old wounds had healed and the pain of intense divisions, though not forgotten, had receded farther into memory.
Now the world is stopped no longer. How did we get from that America to this?FULL STORY
By Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley, CNN
New York (CNN) - Columbia University is seeking to alter the 1920 charter of one of its graduate school fellowships which is still limited "to persons of the Caucasian race," though the fellowship has not been granted in years.
The Lydia C. Roberts Graduate Fellowship is, at least on paper, available to white students "of either sex, born in the state of Iowa," according to a Columbia University charter from 1920.
The university filed an affidavit in Manhattan Supreme Court last week to support a petition from JPMorgan Chase, the fellowship's designated trustee, to change the whites-only provision, according to Robert Hornsby, assistant vice president for media relations at Columbia.
Other restrictions for the fellowship stipulate that a recipient may not concentrate their studies in "law, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, or theology." Recipients must also agree to return to Iowa for two years after completing their studies at Columbia.
The fellowship was established in 1920 by Lydia C. Roberts, an Iowa native, with a $500,000 donation to the university upon her death. However, the school stopped awarding the fellowship in 1997 for several reasonsFULL STORY
Editor’s Note: Occasionally, In America looks at global incidents to examine how other countries are grappling with identity and what America can learn. With taunts of the first black Cabinet member in Italy, followed by the disruption of a soccer game after another racist incident, Italy is in the news lately. James Walston is chair of Department of International Relations at the American University of Rome. He founded AUR’s Center for the Study of Migration and Racism in Italy in 2008 and blogs at Italian Politics with Walston.
by James Walston, special to CNN
(CNN) - Recently, Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first black cabinet minister, was insulted by the xenophobic Northern League within hours of her appointment.
On Sunday, Roma soccer fans shouted racist insults at Milan’s Mario Balotelli, who is black, and also one of Italy's national squad’s top strikers.
One of Italy’s old self-images was italiani brava gente – Italians are decent folk. But that ingrained idea is being challenged by recent events and history. FULL POST
(CNN) - A leading Italian soccer coach has called for stronger action against racism after a top-level match between AC Milan and Roma was suspended Sunday due to abusive chants by supporters.
Milan striker Mario Balotelli was targeted by visiting fans throughout the match, and referee Gianluca Rocchi called the game to a halt in the second half to warn the crowd via the public address system.
After several minutes' delay, the match continued and ended in a 0-0 draw.
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri later said the official's decision was not strong enough.
"In my opinion, there's only one solution to racism in stadium and that's suspend the match," Allegri said on Milan's website.
"To get rid of this stuff in our stadiums, you have to make big decisions. It could penalize some people but in the long run it would help us to grow as a nation and become more civilized."
He told reporters at the post-match conference: "There's no point in interrupting the game. It's a middle ground decision and it serves no purpose. Either the game should be suspended or you keep playing.
"Mario gave all he had this evening, but he's 22 years old and always subject to these racist boos and that's not good. People go to the stadium to watch the two teams but there's always these uncivilized people."
Roma was fined €50,000 ($65,000) by the Italian league on Monday, its fans having been accused of abusing three Milan players - though none were named in the Lega Calcio's notification of the punishment.
The club issued a statement saying it "condemns any form of racial abuse."FULL STORY
(CNN) – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the high court's only African American jurist, opened up recently about his thoughts on race and the White House.
Asked if he ever expected to see an African American president in his lifetime, the conservative justice said he always knew "it would have to be a black president who was approved by the elites and the media, because anybody that they didn't agree with, they would take apart."
"And that will happen with virtually – you pick your person, any black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a black person will be picked apart," he said in an April interview at Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh, which aired on C-SPAN.FULL STORY
Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.
By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - I went online this morning to see the Mountain Dew ad - the one some are calling the most racist in history - expecting to see some really offensive stuff. Instead, I saw some really silly stuff.
The goat's funny.
The names of some of the black men in the lineup are hilarious.
The premise: ridiculous.
And I would think that's the point of a commercial with a talking goat. It's meant to be ridiculous and not taken seriously. It's comedy of the absurd, along the lines of Del Shores' "Sordid Lives," Jerry Seinfeld's parents on "Seinfeld" or "Dude, Where's My Car?"
Does it play on stereotypical imagery?
Yes, and because of that, I can see how some could be a bit put off by a police lineup featuring all black men before a frightened white woman. But come on, one of the suspects' names is "Beyonte."
The circumstances surrounding the scene in the commercial are so outrageously over the top, I found myself snickering more than anything. Similar to the way I snickered during a skit featuring Dave Chappelle, who was making fun of racism with the creation of his character Clayton Bigsby, a blind white supremacist in the South.
And he's black.FULL STORY
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – David Grosso, 42, was born and raised in the metropolitan Washington area so it's not tough to see why he's a diehard Washington Redskins fan. Been going to games since he was a boy. Season ticket holder.
But Grosso, like so many others, objects to the name and mascot of his favorite team.
"The term Redskins is a racist and derogatory term," he says.
These days, Grosso has the power to do something more than air his opinion. He was elected to the D.C. Council in November, and he plans to introduce a resolution Wednesday to rename the team to the Washington Redtails. That's a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, though, Grosso says, there are plenty of redtail hawks in the area.
He's open to other suggestions. He just wants the current name gone. FULL POST
By Moni Basu, CNN
Cairo, Georgia (CNN) – Aniyah Peters wishes her white teachers would talk about Jackie Robinson as much as her black teachers do. After all, Aniyah, 13, goes to school in Cairo, the small southwest Georgia city where Robinson was born in 1919.
The man who broke modern-day baseball's color barrier could serve as inspiration for all children, Aniyah says. Just as he has inspired her.
This year, Aniyah came in second in a local essay contest on "How has the life of Jackie Robinson changed my life?"
"He showed the world that African-Americans can be just as good as Caucasians during the time of racial discrimination," Aniyah wrote. "Since I really love softball, he has shown me I can make it to the major leagues and become famous one day."
Aniyah has no shortage of ambition coursing through her veins. She wants to be a lawyer, an archaeologist and a fashion designer all at once.
She and her friends Destiny Tice, 14, and D.J. Donaldson, 14, hang out every day after school at the Grady County Boys and Girls Club, which was recently renamed to honor Robinson. On this warm afternoon, Aniyah says she is excited about going to see "42," the new Hollywood biopic about Robinson. Maybe over the weekend.
Editor’s Note: World-renowned chef, author and Emmy winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Los Angeles' Koreatown in "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” with self-described "bad Korean" Roy Choi and David Choe. Grace Lee is a Los Angeles-based independent filmmaker of fiction and documentary films that have explored identity. Her new film is “American Revolutionary" about Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs.
(CNN) - Over the years, I’ve envied the achievements of the “good Koreans”: their Ivy League credentials, their fluency in the Korean language and their dedication to their golf game and families - no matter what.
Even into my 30s, I regularly pondered whether it was too late to go to medical or law school so I could provide for my parents in their twilight years, or at least give them something to brag about to other Korean parents.
I went to graduate film school instead and made films on topics such as zombies, street food and electoral politics. My latest documentary, "American Revolutionary," is about a 98-year-old Chinese-American woman in Detroit who devoted her life to the civil rights and black power movement.
My career may sound exciting to the average reader. But these pursuits do not come with job stability or a 401(k). Bad Korean.
At the same time, I know many “good Koreans” who confide to me that they wish they could have chosen a different path. They tell me about their dreams of making movies. I tell them I wish I had their benefits and health insurance.
They are incredulous when I tell them my parents never pressured me to make a ton of money, that they instead encouraged my sister and me to be independent and seek happiness on our own terms. I tell them that I wished they had meddled a little more – maybe then I could have gone to an Ivy League school!
Perhaps one of the hallmarks of being Korean-American is that we always think we could be better. No matter how good we are, we are not good enough. FULL POST