Editor's note: Erica Williams is a social impact strategist and World Economic Forum Young Global Shaper. She is the CEO of EWS Strategies, a social impact consulting firm that works with high-impact businesses and next generation leaders.
By Erica Williams, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Millennials have gotten a bad rap lately.
Despite much evidence to the contrary, we are seen as selfish and entitled, with little regard for the actual values that we espouse and the socio-economic context in which we live.
But a recent Telefónica-Financial Times Global Millennial Survey - which spoke to more than 12,000 adult millennials, including 1,000 Americans - adds insight to not only what millennials believe, but also what they are doing as a result of their beliefs.
In a world with unrepresentative governments, rising economic gaps in a fluctuating economy, and persistent gender gaps, millennials are blending new ideas about work with their desire to change the world to confidently face harsh societal realities and realize their vision for a brighter future.
As a millennial woman who works to help businesses and young leaders do good and implement innovative social change projects, I have spent the better part of my career working with ambitious, mission-driven millennials.
I know all too well the economic, societal and environmental pressures that this generation faces.
For almost a decade, I worked as an advocate and young nonprofit leader, tackling these and other issues and had begun to achieve professional success
But a year ago, I began to feel an itch. I started to ask myself a series of questions that became louder day by day: Am I fighting these obstacles and pursuing justice as creatively as I know how? Are there new – better and faster – ways to change the world? Am I really making a difference – and doing so in a way that allows me to live a full, financially stable life?
These questions – about money, creativity, work-life balance, and innovation – are often regarded as entitled and self-centered.
But they are far from it. They are a logical and empowered response to a world in which amazing tools are at our fingertips and unprecedented pressures are on our shoulders. FULL POST
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
By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) - Are the days of Latinos in entertainment changing their given names to appeal to a broader audience long gone?
That's what it looks like now that former "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen has dropped his stage name for birth name Carlos Estevez for Robert Rodriguez's Latino-centric new action film "Machete Kills."
The film is second in a series after the 2010 film "Machete" starring Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez. In "Machete Kills," Trejo returns as ex-Federal agent Machete, recruited by the president of the United States, played by Charlie Sheen, asked to go on a mission to take down a madman revolutionary and eccentric billionaire arms dealer, played by Mel Gibson, who has come up with a plan to spread war across the world.
This second installment will star Sofía Vergara, Demián Bichir, Antonio Banderas, Zoe Saldaña, Edward James Olmos, Vanessa Hudgens, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alexa Vega, and Lady Gaga.
According to Sheen's representative, it was his idea to use his birth name for the film. However, there's no confirmation on what spurred the decision or whether Sheen will stick to Estevez from now on.
Some call the change ironic in light of comments last year by Sheen about his heritage. "I don't wake up feeling Latino. I'm a white guy in America, I was born in New York and grew up in Malibu," he said in a 2012 interview with Univision.
(CNN) - With two former winners among the contenders for the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction, this year's shortlist highlights the literary world's top female power players. Formerly known as the Orange prize, the £30,000 ($45,000) award for best female writing in English across the globe will be announced Wednesday.
CNN takes a closer look at the six women going head-to-head for one of the most celebrated literature accolades.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.
By Ruben Navarrette, CNN Contributor
San Diego (CNN) – Former Wyoming Sen. Al Simpson knows a thing or two about passing landmark immigration reform. My friend and former graduate school professor did it in 1986 with the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which he co-authored with former Rep. Romano Mazzoli.
Simpson knows that the endeavor is not for the faint of heart, or the thin-skinned or the easily disillusioned. It means navigating one of the wackiest and wickedest debates in our public discourse. The immigration debate, he likes to say, is filled with "emotion, fear, guilt and racism."
It is no wonder that most lawmakers won't go anywhere near the immigration issue. For those who grab the bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground, things can get frustrating.
So began the education of Marco Rubio. The Florida senator is the de-facto leader of the Gang of Eight, the bipartisan group of senators pushing for immigration reform. Rubio has become the face of immigration reform. He is the most articulate advocate and the game's most valuable player in large part because he is charged with rounding up Republican votes.
Meanwhile, if Rubio were to withdraw support for the bill, it wouldn't just be a game changer. It would be game over.FULL STORY
By Blake Ellis, CNNMoney
(CNNMoney) - Mark Stephanz, a senior investment banker at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, was sure his decision to come out of the closet would end his career.
He had been at the firm for over 20 years, and everyone knew him as a straight, married man with three children. So he knew the news could come as a shock.
"Wall Street has always had that good old boys image, so I was fearful at first that I was risking my career," he said.
But his internal struggle finally became too much to bear. First, Stephanz gradually came out to his family. Then he told his coworkers and managers.
The reaction was surprising. His boss was supportive and said he couldn't believe that Stephanz, who was 47 at the time, had lived his life as he had for so long. His clients, too, were supportive.
That was just a few years ago. If he had come out even earlier, Stephanz doesn't know whether it would have gone so smoothly.FULL STORY
(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:
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?
By Michael Chen, KGTV
(KGTV) – It's a first in the history of the military, as the Pentagon officially recognized a local Navy veteran's change of gender.
Born a male, Autumn Sandeen said as a teen, she identified as a female.
She joined the Navy, lived as male and kept her secret for two decades before retiring.
"If I would have been myself, I would have been kicked out," said Sandeen.
According to military guidelines, gender identity issues are a mental disorder and detrimental to good order and discipline.
In 2011, as the ban on gays and lesbians was lifted, the transgender ban remained.
"The best way to explain it is I felt like a bridesmaid, never a bride," said Sandeen.
Twenty months later, a step down the aisle toward acceptance.
"I felt tremendous, like I accomplished something, not just himself, but for the broader transgender community," said Sandeen. FULL POST