By Stephanie Siek, CNN
Cleveland (CNN) – It's the Cleveland Indians home opener and the grounds outside Progressive Field are a sea of red and blue jerseys. As the crowds of celebratory fans walk toward the ballpark’s entrance, they pass a small group of protesters holding signs that say that the team’s name and mascot, Chief Wahoo, are racist and offensive.
About 10 people stand in a small park next to the stadium, quietly holding signs that say "People Not Mascots" and "Stop Teaching Your Children Racism." Every once in a while, someone in the stream of baseball fans pauses to shout mockingly, "Chief Wahoo Rules!", "You killed Custer" or just "Shut up!"
Robert Roche, executive director of Cleveland's American Indian Education Center and a Chiricahua Apache tribal member, says it's been like this each of the 30-some years he's been protesting. The shouting gets angrier and more frequent the closer it gets to game time, with many of the hecklers fresh from the nearby bars.
"If you stand here long enough," Roche says, “you'll see that racism is alive and well in Cleveland."
Not long after, a man in dressed in a feather headdress, face paint and a sweatsuit airbrushed with images of Chief Wahoo walks past and makes faces at the protesters. People in the crowd around him break out in war whoops.
(CNN) – Elizabeth Catlett, a leading African-American sculptor, painter and printmaker for much of the last hundred years, died Monday at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She was 96.
"She's had to struggle as a woman, as an artist," said June Kelly, whose New York gallery has represented Catlett’s sculpture since 1993. "But she never wavered. That's what I found so marvelous about her - in knowing who she is, and never faltering about how she looked at the world, and women, and how she saw them forging ahead into society and making a place for themselves."
Born in Washington, D.C., Catlett was 16 when she was accepted with a scholarship to the Carnegie Technical Institute, now Carnegie Mellon University. But when she showed up at the campus in Pittsburgh, they turned her away because she was African-American. Later recognizing its mistake, Carnegie Mellon awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2008.
(CNN) – Lawyers representing five same-gender couples are suing the federal government over the Defense of Marriage Act, which they say unfairly denies same-sex married couples the right to sponsor their noncitizen spouses for permanent residency in the United States.
Immigration Equality, an advocacy group that supports the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and HIV-positive immigrants, filed the suit April 2 in New York district court. It names as defendants Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas and two other immigration officials.
The suit alleges that the federal government is violating the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by denying rights to one set of legally married couples while preserving the rights of another, based on gender and sexual orientation.
(CNN) – The Asian proportion of the United States population grew faster than any other racial group, according to "The Asian Population: 2010," a census brief released Wednesday.
People of Asian descent in America represent a booming and diverse section of the population. "Asian" was defined as any person whose ancestry originates among the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent – including countries such as China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Thailand, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Between the 2000 Census and 2010 Census, the number of people identifying as Asian or Asian plus another race rose 45.6%, yielding a total of 17.3 million people. The U.S. population as a whole grew by 9.7%
All of the U.S. states had increases in Asian population of at least 30%, except for Hawaii (where people of Asian descent make up more than half of the total population), which had growth of 11%.
Nicholas A. Jones, head of the Census' Racial Statistics Branch, told callers in a webinar presenting the results that the major factor in the growth of America's Asian population was fueled by several factors, but the most significant was international migration – people moving to the United States from other countries.
(CNN) – In most of the United States, a woman 17 years or older who needs Plan B, an emergency contraceptive that can prevent pregnancy up to 72 hours after intercourse, can walk up to a pharmacy counter and request it without a prescription. But for Native American women served by the Indian Health Service, obtaining Plan B might require a drive of hundreds of miles, a wait beyond the pill’s window of effectiveness, and a price beyond what the IHS would charge.
According to a recent report by the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center (NAWHERC), Native American women living on reservations can face significant barriers when trying to access emergency contraception.
NAWHERC's executive director and co-author of the report, Charon Asetoyer, said that the Indian Health Service, which is administered under the federal Department of Health and Human Services, is not consistently applying its own rules regarding over-the-counter access to Plan B.
According to the roundtable of 50 community workers, women’s advocates and Native American women from South Dakota, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona surveyed by the report, almost all IHS facilities they dealt with require women to see a doctor or get a prescription in order to get Plan B. The medicine is offered without additional cost at IHS pharmacies, but not all pharmacies stock it.
But if a woman happens to need the medication outside of business hours or on the weekend, she has to wait until the facility reopens – which could be up to several days. If she can't wait, she has to try and get it at a non-IHS pharmacy. And she has to pay the full over-the-counter price – which can be a discouraging factor for a population that experiences higher-than-average rates of poverty and unemployment.
(CNN) - Social media is fueling a rush of publicity and activism around demands for justice in the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager shot last month by a white self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman in Florida. Local police have declined to arrest the watchman, George Zimmerman.
There are more than 50 petitions at Change.org related to Trayvon Martin, according to the activism website's Communications Director, Brianna Cayo-Cotter. She said the cause is shaping up to be one of the most popular ever hosted on the site.
"By far the largest is the one started by Martin's mother, and it is one of the most viral campaigns ever," said Cayo-Cotter. "Our tech team is working round the clock to keep the site from crashing because of the numbers of people coming the site to sign the petition that Trayvon’s mom started."
Much of that traffic is driven by links to the petitions from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, Cayo-Cotter said. The #TrayvonMartin hashtag attracted tens of thousands of mentions on Twitter, peaking Tuesday. News organizations' postings about the contents of 9-1-1 calls from the time of the Feb. 26 shooting have caused interest to pick up further. On Facebook, a group called "Justice For Trayvon Martin" has more than 18,000 "likes."
(CNN) –The Arizona state legislature is considering a bill that would allow any employer to deny health insurance coverage for birth control pills, if the employer has a religious or moral objection to them. Arizona HB 2625, introduced by Republican State Representative Debbie Lasko, has passed the statehouse and is now making it way through the state senate.
Religious institutions are already exempted from having to cover contraceptives under existing state law, but Lasko said non-religious employers should also have the option.
The bill would also remove a provision in current state law that prohibits religious employers from discriminating against an employee who chooses to use contraceptives and pay for them out of pocket.
The Arizona ACLU says the bill would be an invasion of women's privacy.
(CNN) – The story of Richard Theodore Greener is a book with many blank pages. The first African-American to graduate from Harvard University in 1870, he was one of the foremost black thinkers of his time, rising to prominence between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois and praised by both. Greener was the dean of Howard University's law school, a diplomat and also the University of South Carolina’s first black professor and head librarian.
The recent discovery of some of Greener’s papers in Chicago could fill in some of those pages. But the ironies of his life remain.
One daughter of this book-loving man and advocate for racial equality would go on to become the most respected librarian of her era and an expert on medieval illuminated manuscripts – but not as a woman of color. Belle Marian Greener, who was born to Greener and his first wife, Genevieve Ida Fleet, passed for white. Even lighter-skinned than her two light-skinned African-American parents, she changed her name to Belle da Costa Greene to reflect a fabricated Portuguese ancestry that would explain her complexion.
After separating from Fleet, Greener accepted consular appointments in Bombay (now Mumbai), India and Vladivostok, Siberia, but neither Fleet nor their children joined him. Da Costa Greene burned most of her personal papers before her death in 1950, and except for a possible visit with her father after his retirement in Chicago, the degree to which she and Greener kept in contact is a mystery.
While working as an American consular official in Vladivostok in 1898, Greener began a relationship with a Japanese woman, Mishi Kawashima, with whom he had a daughter and two sons. He then had to leave them behind in Vladivostok in 1906, when he was the victim of a rumor campaign that resulted in his retirement.
It’s possible that racism played a role in his reasons for leaving the post, said Michael Mounter, a historian and research librarian at the University of South Carolina who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Greener. Among the rumors flying at the time, Mounter said, were that he “was drinking too much and had a Japanese mistress.”
Editor's Note: The next Latino in America documentary anchored by Soledad O’Brien focuses on Latino voters. Click the Latino in America tag below or follow @cnnlia for more updates on other Latino in America stories. This is the third part of a CNN In America documentary series on American voters. Airing October 2012.
(CNN) – A new report that looks at education, health, civic engagement, economics and social justice indicates that Hispanics and Latinos in America are slightly ahead on the road to equality with whites, relative to their African-American counterparts.
The National Urban League’s 2012 Equality Index of Hispanic America was included as part of the 2012 State of Black America Report released Wednesday. The overall 2012 Equality Index score for Hispanics and Latinos was 76.1%, 0.6% lower than the 2011 score. The 2012 index score for African-Americans was 71.5%.
A score of 100% would indicate a measurement in which Hispanic and Latino people were scoring equally with white people, while a score below 100% indicates categories in which Hispanics and Latinos are scoring less. Scores higher than 100% indicate measurements in which Hispanics and Latinos are scoring above whites.
As with the index for African-American equality, a score above 100% does not necessarily mean that a group is doing “better” than whites in a category. For example, the index score for the percentage of Hispanic/Latino newborns with low birth weight is 104%, indicating that a higher proportion of Hispanic/Latino babies are born with low birth weight than white babies.
Editor's Note: In America is producing a documentary, airing in July, which looks at whether a flurry of new state laws are designed to suppress votes, or protect against voting fraud.
(CNN) – The National Urban League's 2012 State of Black America report said that African-Americans' march toward parity with whites in things like education, health, civic engagement and social justice continues to be a hard, unfinished journey. Released the day after Super Tuesday elections, the report puts special focus on voting rights for African-Americans.
The 2012 Equality Index score put black equality at 71.5%, just 0.1% over that of last year. The report uses a percentage index score that includes hundreds of factors like unemployment rate, median household income, possession of health insurance, high school graduation rates, and proportion of registered voters to the total eligible population, among others. A score of 100% would indicate a measurement in which black people were scoring equally with white people, while a score below 100% indicates categories in which blacks are scoring less. Scores higher than 100% indicate measurements in which blacks are scoring above whites.
Scores for civic engagement dropped the most out of the four categories measured, going from 101.8% in 2011 to 98.3% this year. Civic Engagement measures not only the number of registered voters and percentage of adults who actually voted, but also how many African-Americans participate in volunteer activities, how many are part of a union, how many are employed by the government, and the percentage who sign up for military reserve service.
The league blames the lower civic engagement index score in part on voting laws which it says unfairly restrict voter rights and disproportionately impact African-Americans. In particular it cites laws which mandate the presentation of photo ID or proof of citizenship in order to vote, and others that limit opportunities for early voting and for voter registration drives. The NAACP expressed similar concerns about such laws in a 2011 report.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
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