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Immigration may be America's primary population growth driver by 2027
America is on its way to becoming a minority-majority nation.
May 17th, 2013
04:42 PM ET

Immigration may be America's primary population growth driver by 2027

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - Here's something to consider as Congress debates overhauling America's immigration system: For the first time since at least 1850, immigrants will be the primary driver of U.S. population.

Births have been the leading cause of population growth since the U.S. Census Bureau began collecting data in 1850. That may change within the next 14 years.

The population growth shifts could happen as early as 2027 or as late as 2038, depending, of course, on the numbers of international arrivals over the next few years.

Not that immigration levels are at their highest, cautioned Thomas Mesenbourg, the Census Bureau's senior adviser. The rates were much higher during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

But Americans are having fewer babies.

"This projected milestone reflects the mix of our nation's declining fertility rates, the aging of the baby boomer population and continued immigration," Mesenbourg said.

The Census Bureau issued three projections of population growth shifts based on different immigration levels. A high immigration projection showed that the nation's non-white population would jump from 37% in 2012 to 58.8% in 2060. Hispanics would make up 29.9% of the population, compared with 17% in 2012, and Asians would climb from 5.1% to 9%.

Non-Latino whites are projected to no longer be a majority by 2046, even if immigration levels stay the same.

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Champions of change: White House recognizes 15 Asian, Pacific women
Aparna Bhattacharya is one of 15 Asian-American and Pacific Islander women being recognized by the White House.
May 6th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Champions of change: White House recognizes 15 Asian, Pacific women

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – Aparna Bhattacharyya opened her e-mail on April 16 and there it was: a note from the White House informing her she was a Champion of Change.

The 41-year-old Atlanta woman was surprised. But those who know her say she shouldn't have been.

She's been working for almost two decades with Raksha, an Atlanta-based organization that addresses a host of issues in the South Asian community. Over the years, Raksha has done the simplest of things, like helping someone set up online banking. But mainly, they've done a whole lot of heavy hitting by supporting victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

She is one of 15 Asian-American and Pacific Islander women who will be honored Monday at the White House for "doing extraordinary things to create a more equal, safe, and prosperous future for their communities and the country." The event is part of the White House's observance of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. FULL POST

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D.C. council member pushes name change for Washington Redskins
A member of the D.C. Council wants Washington's football team name changed from the Redskins, a term he calls derogatory.
April 30th, 2013
02:30 PM ET

D.C. council member pushes name change for Washington Redskins

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

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In Jackie Robinson's birthplace, a new generation draws inspiration
Aniyah Peters, 13, belongs to a Boys and Girls Club that was recently renamed to honor Jackie Robinson.
April 27th, 2013
09:00 AM ET

In Jackie Robinson's birthplace, a new generation draws inspiration

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.

Jackie Robinson

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.

On the previous Friday, when the movie opened, the kids formed the number 42 on the baseball field and released red and blue balloons into the spring air. FULL POST

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Biracial, lesbian contestant a trailblazer in Miss South Carolina pageant
April 11th, 2013
09:42 AM ET

Biracial, lesbian contestant a trailblazer in Miss South Carolina pageant

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – At 7, Analouisa Valencia was crowned Palmetto Princess in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She relished it - and like a lot of little girls, she dreamed of becoming Miss America  one day.

In a few months, Valencia, now 19, will take the stage for the Miss South Carolina contest, hoping for victory and a chance to compete for the coveted national title.

But she's no ordinary contestant. She will mark a first in her conservative home state.

Valencia's father is from Mexico; her mother, an African-American. Valencia came out as a lesbian when she was in the ninth grade and took her girlfriend Tamyra Bell to her high school prom.

She was already shredding stereotypes of beauty pageants because she's biracial. But a lesbian beauty pageant contestant from South Carolina?

"I just really wanted to be an advocate for equality for everyone this year," she says on the phone before heading off to classes at Spartanburg Community College. She eventually wants to earn a business degree at the University of South Carolina.

Her participation in the Miss South Carolina contest is in part a human rights campaign: she is promoting rights for people with special needs (she coaches Special Olympics gymnasts), for racial minorities, for gay people.

She has already thought about her answers if the judges question her on this score. She will be perfectly open and honest about who she is, about their opinions.

"I want to show the judges who I really am," she says. "I want to show them how passionate I am about my platform, how passionate I am for being an advocate for equality."

South Carolina ranks low nationally on LGBT rights. It bans same-sex marriage, does not afford employment, housing or hate-crime protections for LGBT people and has unconstitutional sodomy laws still on the books.

For Valencia to make a run for Miss South Carolina is "courageous," says Ryan Wilson, the executive director of the South Carolina Equality Coalition, a statewide LGBT civil rights group.

"I think it takes a lot of courage for any young person to live openly and authentically. We are extremely proud of Analouisa," Wilson says.

He says beauty pageant contestants can be stereotyped, but they can often afford young women a chance to show leadership.

"She can be a role model for LGBT youth," Wilson says.

There hasn't been negative feedback, Valencia says. So far.

But she's prepared to cope with ugliness if it surfaces. For the time being, she's enjoying her title of Miss Lyman, her hometown just a few miles from Spartanburg.

She's been taking voice lessons every Friday. At the Miss South Carolina pageant in July, she will sing Leona Lewis' "Footprints in the Sand." She's confident she will make an impression.

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Native American mascots: Pride or prejudice?
Many Native Americans consider the Washington football team's name racist.
April 4th, 2013
03:36 PM ET

Native American mascots: Pride or prejudice?

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – Suzan Shown Harjo remembers when she walked into a store with her grandfather in El Reno, Oklahoma. She wanted to get something cool to drink on a summer day. It was the early 1950s and the storekeepers told the 6-year-old she had to leave.

“No black redskins in here,” they said.

At that moment, Harjo felt small, unsafe, afraid. Because she was a dark-skinned Native American Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee she was being identified by just her coloring. She wasn’t even a whole human being. Not even her grandpa, whom she saw as all-powerful, could do anything to protect her.

Later in her life, that incident made her angry. Angry enough for Harjo to launch a lifelong mission to protect her people.

Suzan Shown Harjo has been fighting for decades to remove Native American mascots from sports teams.

Part of her work took aim at sporting teams that use Native Americans as mascots. With the start of the baseball season this week, some of those teams have been front and center. The Cleveland Indians, for instance, feature a smiling Indian dubbed Chief Wahoo, criticized by Native Americans as a racist caricature.

The most offensive example of a mascot, says Harjo, is the one used by Washington’s football team. She has been fighting for years to get the Redskins to change their name.

The R-word she can’t even bring herself to say it is the same as the N-word, says Harjo, president of Morning Star Institute, a national Native American rights organization.

She finds it unbelievable that more than half a century after she was told to get out of that El Reno store, after decades of civil rights struggles and progress on race relations, Americans have no problem with rooting for a team called the Redskins.

Fans say the name is an honorific. But the Merriam-Webster dictionary says this: “The word redskin is very offensive and should be avoided.” And to many Native Americans, nothing could be more derogatory than the use of that word.

“The Washington team it’s the king of the mountain,” Harjo says. “When this one goes, others will.” FULL POST

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Census questionnaires go online
No more paper surveys. The Census Bureau is planning on the 2020 census to be online.
April 1st, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Census questionnaires go online

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – Each month, about 300,000 households across America receive a survey in the mail from the U.S. Census Bureau. Until recently, they had to be completed the old-fashioned way: pen on paper. But no more.

The Census Bureau has put its monthly American Community Survey online. Just answer the questions and hit the submit button. It's a secure site that requires a password and pin.

"It’s a convenient option for the public," said Todd Hughes, assistant division chief of the American Community Survey Office.

The first online American Community Survey was done in December. Since then, Hughes said about half the responses to the monthly survey have come in via the Internet.

The statistical survey generates data on age, sex, race and income. It also asks questions on health, where people live, veteran status and disabilities. It's the largest of the Census Bureau's surveys that's available online - 60 other surveys are also available electronically.

The online questionnaires are designed to lower cost and make the process more efficient, Hughes said. They will also enhance accuracy.

On paper forms, people sometimes check multiple answers to a question. Online, they can't do that.

It's hoped that in large part, the next decennial census in 2020 will be conducted online. The Census Bureau is certainly planning on that, Hughes said,

That could be huge considering that in 2010, the government printed 360 million questionnaires. Stacked one on top of another, a pile of the census forms would stand about 29 miles high, more than five times higher than Mount Everest.

Yes, the trees are smiling.

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Bob Teague, trailblazer in TV, dies at 84
Bob Teague was one of the first black television correspondents in New York.
March 29th, 2013
03:12 PM ET

Bob Teague, trailblazer in TV, dies at 84

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – Bob Teague, one of New York's first black television reporters, has died. He was 84.

His former employers WNBC and The New Tork Times reported that Teague died Thursday. His wife, Jan, told the Times that he lost his battle with T-cell lymphoma.

Teague left the Times to join WNBC in 1963. In its April 18 issue that year, Jet magazine noted that with Teague's hiring, all three television networks had pulled even with “negro newswriters." Mal Goode was at ABC and Ben Holman at CBS.

WNBC remembered him Friday as being "smart, competitive and driven."

The Times said Teague "established a reputation for finding smart, topical stories and delivering them in a sophisticated manner."

Teague was often dispatched to minority neighborhoods to cover mounting racial tensions of the '60s, the Times said. In July 1963, he reported on riots for an hourlong program called “Harlem: Test for the North."

He later became a critic of TV news, calling it too superficial. Teague thought the broadcast world had become "too focused on the appearance of reporters and anchors," the Times said.

Teague was born in Milwaukee and attended the University of Wisconsin, where in 1948, he and Cal Vernon became the first African-Americans to play regularly on the varsity football team. He was a star player but gave up offers to play professional football for a reporting job at The Milwaukee Journal, according to the Times.

Teague was considered a pioneer in the broadcast world and served as a role model for journalists of color.

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Observers chime in on same-sex marriage hearings
March 27th, 2013
05:48 PM ET

Observers chime in on same-sex marriage hearings

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – Two days of arguments on gay marriage at the Supreme Court ended Wednesday. The justices heard both sides in two separate cases: California's voter-approved Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage on a federal level as being only between a man and a woman.

It could be months before the court makes a ruling. CNN spoke with a few people who were inside the nation's highest court Wednesday or were monitoring the hearings closely from the outside. Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst: "I think DOMA is in trouble, and I think it's in trouble because Anthony Kennedy was repeatedly concerned that the Defense of Marriage Act violates states rights. Anthony Kennedy, who as we all know is the swing vote on this court, is someone who is concerned about gay rights, although he said very little, I think nothing, about the issue of whether the Defense of Marriage Act violated gay people's constitutional rights. He was clearly very concerned that the Defense of Marriage Act was invading the province of the states to define marriage. That's a state function, usually. And that would certainly be suggesting that he was going to strike down the law. Certainly the other liberals, the four Democratic appointees, looked like they were going to vote it down."

Edith "Edie" Windsor, plaintiff who challenged DOMA: "I am today an out lesbian, OK, who just sued the United States of America, which is kind of overwhelming for me. I think it's gonna be good."

Jonathan Turley, law professor, George Washington University: "You're seeing sort of a sticker shock with the justices, that they were worried about handing down a major ruling either recognizing same-sex marriage or the right of equality, or rejecting it."

Chad Hollowe, supporter of same-sex marriage: "It's pretty clear that some justices like (Antonin) Scalia are going to vote against it no matter what. Scalia was engaged in a long back and forth about how exactly did this become unconstitutional all of a sudden. Was this unconstitutional when the constitution was created - when the 14th amendment was passed? Was it unconstitutional 10 days ago - when did this happen? His line of questioning made it pretty clear he was dead set against it, which shouldn't be surprising, given Scalia's history."

Eric Delk, who attended court arguments Wednesday: "Well, I think that the conservative justices feel that Prop 8 is valid, but I think some of the more liberal justices know it needs to be altered. Because the people decided something different from what the courts decided and opinions have changed since the Prop 8 vote. And I think in California, if they had a vote now, they would probably allow same-sex marriage."

Mary Ann Piet, social worker: "I'm here today because I'm a social worker, and I've seen a lot of people suffer over the years. And I'm concerned about not getting people their human rights, their dignity as people. And this will give dignity and human rights to people. I have members of my family that are gay, and I see them suffer internally."

Also on this blog: A time line of gay rights in America

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March 20th, 2013
12:00 PM ET

Anti-gay church now has a rainbow view

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – Everyone knows it's location, location, location when it comes to real estate. Perhaps no one knows this better than activist Aaron Jackson.

He didn't even care what the house looked like. He looked up properties on Google Earth and saw a for sale sign across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church, the controversial group in Topeka, Kansas, that's most notorious for its angry anti-gay protests at military funerals.

The house Jackson initially wanted was sold by the time he got around to buying, but luckily for him, there was another one, on the corner of 12th and SW Orleans streets that was perfect. He paid about $83,000 a bargain, he'd say, for what he was trying to accomplish. This week, he and others from his nonprofit Planting Peace painted the house in rainbow colors that represent gay pride. FULL POST

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