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
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) – In 2009, Brad Paisley released the song "Welcome to the Future" from his album "American Saturday Night."
In it, he sings about all the cultural changes he's witnessed in his life, including the evolving demographics of the country. He includes glowing references to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. The election of Barack Obama inspired him to write it.
It's important to keep all of that in mind because for some, Paisley's latest song, "Accidental Racist," is making him look like an intentional one. I am reminded of an adage (but with a twist): No good ditty goes unpunished.
"Accidental" attempts to address a subject matter so few artists in country music are willing to do, which makes Paisley a brave man in so many ways.
Country music fans are notorious for excommunicating those whom they perceive as undesirable (see Wright, Chely). Despite Paisley's immense popularity, if he makes one misstep, everything could be snatched away. And attempting to bring a blue state conversation to red state radio could be one of those missteps.
"I'm not proud that people's ancestors were beaten and held in bondage," Paisley told USA Today. "But I am sure as heck proud of the farm I live on and the Confederate soldier buried there."
Infusing such a dichotomy into a song can be powerful. Unfortunately, "Accidental" sucks as a song. The chorus reeks like a '90s boy band ballad.
But its greatest sin is that in Paisley's effort to push for racial harmony, it miscasts the country's racial tension - with emphasis on the Confederate flag and Abraham Lincoln - as a distant thing of the past. A relic.FULL STORY
(CNN) - Brad Paisley and LL Cool J broach sensitive topics in their new collaboration, "Accidental Racist," and it's left some critics hoping the entire song was an accident.
The track is part of Paisley's new album, "Wheelhouse," and was sparked by the reaction the country star said he received after he wore a shirt with the Confederate flag on it to showcase his adoration for the band Alabama.
“I was called a racist on Twitter for that,” Paisley told The Tennessean. “That was the beginning of this song: Me thinking, ‘Am I a racist? Is that all it takes?’"FULL STORY
By Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
(CNN) – As Quanesha Wallace remembers, it was around this time last year when the idea first came up at Wilcox County High School. It was nothing big, just chatter about prom, school, what comes next, what they'd change.
If things were different, someone said, we'd all go to the same prom.
For as long as anyone could remember, students in their South Georgia community went to separate proms, and homecoming dances, too. White students from Wilcox County attend one. Black students, another. They’re private events organized by parents and students, not the school district. Schools have long been desegregated, but in Wilcox County, the dances never changed.FULL STORY
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
Washington (CNN) – The Supreme Court agreed Monday to confront another high-profile challenge to affirmative action in college admissions.
The justices will decide the constitutionality of a voter referendum in Michigan banning race- and sex-based discrimination or preferential treatment in public university admission decisions.
The high court is currently deciding a separate challenge to admissions policies at the University of Texas, which did not involve a voter referendum.
A federal appeals court last year concluded the affirmative action ban, which Michigan voters passed in a 2006 referendum, violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection laws.
It was the latest step in a legal and political 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 classroom diversity remains a necessary government role.FULL STORY
Send us your thoughts and memories of author Chinua Achebe on iReport.
By Laura Smith-Spark and Faith Karimi, CNN
(CNN) - Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, acclaimed in part for his groundbreaking 1958 novel "Things Fall Apart," has died, his British publisher, Penguin Books, said Friday.
He was 82.
An author of more than 20 books, his honors included the 2007 Man Booker International Prize for Fiction.
He was also accorded his country's highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award.
Achebe is a major part of African literature, and is popular all over the continent for his novels, especially "Anthills of the Savannah," which was itself shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1987, and "Things Fall Apart."
The latter was required reading in countless high schools and colleges in the continent, and has been translated into dozens of languages.
Set in precolonial Nigeria, "Things Fall Apart" portrays the story of a farmer, Okonkwo, who struggles to preserve his customs despite pressure from British colonizers. The story resonated in post-independent Africa, and the character became a household name in the continent.
Achebe's stories included proverbs and tackled complex issues of African identity, nationalism and decolonization, adding to his books' popularity.FULL STORY
(CNN) –Today marks the anniversary of the third and decisive civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
Singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte recruited fellow singer Tony Bennett to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965. They shared their moments with CNN's Chris Cuomo on "Starting Point".FULL STORY
(CNN) - Philadelphia Magazine is under fire after publishing a controversial article titled 'Being White in Philly' that discusses bridging the racial gap. Mayor Michael Nutter is considering asking a city panel to formally rebuke the magazine. CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin talks with a panel about the magazine’s choice to publish the article.
By Halimah Abdullah, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Republican K. Carl Smith is African-American and he knows that the GOP's racial reckoning won't come from 100-page reports from party headquarters with carefully worded prescriptions about "outreach" to "demographic partners."
Instead, the type of sea change needed to shake the GOP's image as a party of old, white and culturally-insulated men will require the type of profound grassroots shakeup that might make some in the GOP uneasy.
"You got your establishment Republicans who want to keep things the same," said Smith, an Army veteran who grew up in Alabama during the Civil Rights era. "The status quo needs to go through some, I won't say diversity classes, but I'll say liberty classes and learn about helping people on the bottom of the ladder."
He said the party also has to deal with small but noisy elements that co-opt any message of inclusiveness if it wants to win the "propaganda battle."FULL STORY
By Nicole Krasavage and Scott Bronstein, CNN Special Investigations Unit
Washington (CNN) - Two hit-and-run deaths in rural Mississippi just a few miles apart highlight a disturbing problem about data collection on possible hate crimes.
Last summer, 61-year-old African-American Sunday school teacher Johnny Lee Butts was hit and killed by an 18-year-old white driver. The teen told Panola County Sheriff deputies he thought he hit a deer but the driver's two passengers said he steered straight for Butts. One passenger said he could see that Butts was black. The killing has sparked outrage in the local African-American community. Civil rights groups have demanded that police prosecute Butts' killing as a hate crime.
Nonetheless, prosecutors chose not to.
There was no evidence, authorities said, to suggest a racial motive. The driver was charged with murder. He has not yet pleaded in the case.
In another hit and run, 41-year-old African-American Garrick Burdette was found dead along a Panola County road in November 2009.
His mother, Ruby Burdette, says for three years she had heard nothing about any police investigation into her son's death until CNN began asking about the case.
CNN received no response after calling the Panola County Sheriff's department, but just hours after CNN's call, a sheriff's investigator drove to Ruby Burdette's house.FULL STORY