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Racial identity becomes a guessing game - literally
CNN's David Matthews scored six out of 10 on the Guess My Race app. "Really good," the creator said.
December 22nd, 2011
05:54 PM ET

Racial identity becomes a guessing game - literally

By David Matthews, CNN

(CNN) - Though I scoff when I hear the term “post-racial America,” there are occasional glimpses we’re advancing as a culture when thorny subjects such as race can be made into games.

No, not games like “Scrabble: The Spanglish Edition", “Trivial Police Pursuit: Driving While Black,” or “Sorry: White America’s Apology Boardgame.”

But how about a game for your smart phone that lets you guess the race of a real person whose photo appears on the screen before you? This app is “Guess My Race,” and it displays pictures of real-life people who were interviewed about how they racially identify. Its creators say it has been downloaded nearly 30,000 times and is used by teachers to get students involved in discussions about race. (They created  another app, "Who Am I? Race Awareness Game" for younger kids.)

And for those that are fans of the app already, here's some good news: A second edition will be out early next year. It will include new photo examples and expanded educational information culled from the 2010 Census.
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Filed under: Black in America • Ethnicity • How we look • Race • Technology
Bank of America settles unfair lending claims for $335 million
A federal investigation found Bank of America steered minority borrowers into higher-interest-rate subprime loans.
December 22nd, 2011
05:45 PM ET

Bank of America settles unfair lending claims for $335 million

By Chris Isidore, @CNNMoney

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - The Justice Department announced a $335 million settlement with Bank of America Wednesday over discriminatory lending practice at Countrywide Financial.

Attorney General Eric Holder said a federal probe found discrimination against at least 200,000 qualified African American and Latino borrowers from 2004 to 2008, during the height of the housing market boom. He said that minority borrowers who qualified for prime loans were steered into higher-interest-rate subprime loans.

Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for Justice's civil rights division, said most of the victims of the discrimination were not aware that they were improperly steered to the riskier mortgages.

"They were thrilled to have gotten the loan and to have realized the American dream," Perez said. "They had no idea they could have and should have gotten a better deal. This is discrimination with a smile."

Read the full story on CNNMoney

Elizabeth and Hazel: Little Rock women struggled after iconic civil rights image
The key figures in this famous photo are featured in the new book, "Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock."
December 22nd, 2011
01:20 PM ET

Elizabeth and Hazel: Little Rock women struggled after iconic civil rights image

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) - David Margolick’s latest book, “Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock,” explores what happened to two teenagers captured in one of the civil rights movement’s most iconic photos.

Elizabeth Eckford was one of nine black teenagers to integrate Little Rock, Arkansas', Central High School in 1957, and the photo shows her walking a gauntlet of shouting, taunting white students and adults. In the photo, Hazel Bryan, now Hazel Bryan Massery, was the white girl caught in the midst of yelling a racial epithet. The moment depicted in that image continued to reverberate throughout both girls’ lives.

Eckford struggled with depression and anxiety throughout adulthood, once being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to the near-constant bullying she experienced at Central High. She attended two colleges before depressive symptoms forced her to drop out. Bryan Massery transferred to another high school before dropping out to marry at 16. She was the mother of two children when she first called Eckford to apologize for what she'd done. Although the two women eventually reconciled and even became friends, the pain and guilt each experienced because of the events in the photo crushed their friendship, and they no longer speak to each other.

CNN: What motivated you to write this book?

Margolick: I was in Little Rock doing a piece, a [Bill] Clinton-related piece for Vanity Fair that didn’t pan out. While I was there, I went to Central High School, which had always been a legendary building for me. I was well aware of what had happened in Little Rock in 1957 … Central High School was a holy place for me, and I wanted to see it for myself. When I was there, I went to the visitors’ center across the street, which had just opened, and right when you got in you saw the famous picture.

It seeped into my consciousness the way it seeps into the consciousness of every historically curious person.

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Filed under: Black in America • History • How we look • Race • Social justice • Who we are
December 22nd, 2011
11:30 AM ET

Lenny Kravitz: Growing up with racism

Musician Lenny Kravitz grew up in a house with a white father - TV producer Sy Kravitz - and a black mother, actress Roxie Roker, who played half an inter-racial couple on the 1970s show "The Jeffersons."

"Kids used to call me 'zebra' or 'panda' ... my mother was 'Mrs. Night' and my father was 'Mr. Day,'" Lenny Kravitz told Piers Morgan, "but it never bothered me."

But there's no question, Kravitz said, that race relations in the United States have improved.

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Engage: Soccer captain's racism charge spurs a difficult discussion
John Terry, captain of England’s national soccer team, is accused of making racial slurs.
December 22nd, 2011
10:02 AM ET

Engage: Soccer captain's racism charge spurs a difficult discussion

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Charges of racism have soccer world discussing its impact on the sport - The New York Times

Many long-term unemployed rely on family, friends - not their wider community - NPR

Opinion: Race, reproductive rights will play a large role in 2012 elections - ColorLines

Zambian churches disappointed that the United States ties aid to laws on homosexuality - Catholic News Service

Scholarship recipients make vastly different choices, become ambitious social experiment - The Washington Post

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Gay marriage comes to Archie's Riverdale
December 21st, 2011
03:00 PM ET

Wedding bells to ring for Archie Comics' gay character

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) - One of Archie Comics' archetypal all-American teens is getting married – and it isn't to girl-next-door Betty Cooper or scheming sophisticate Veronica Lodge.

A year after introducing Riverdale’s first gay character, Kevin Keller, Archie Comics is showing his marriage to an African-American physical therapist named Clay Walker. The issue with their wedding, "Life with Archie #16," debuts at comic book stores January 4 and newsstands January 10.

It's part of a series that imagines the gang five or six years after graduation, with two alternate timelines - one in which Archie married Betty, another in which he married Veronica. Kevin's wedding appears as part of a story showing Archie and Betty's married life.

Kevin Keller is shown to have followed in his Army father's footsteps - in images released to CNN, readers learn that he served in the military and was injured while serving in Iraq. He meets Dr. Clay Walker while in a hospital’s rehabilitation unit.

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Filed under: Pop culture • Race • Relationships • Sexual orientation • Who we are
December 21st, 2011
01:13 PM ET

Barbie gets a natural hair makeover

By Claudia Morales, CNN

(CNN) - This holiday season, one group of women in Columbus, Georgia, decided to try a new, kinky hairstyle on one of pop culture's most enduring beauty icons: Barbie.

Using simple at-home methods, the Fro-lific meetup group turned the straight, shiny hair on 40 donated Barbies into natural-looking curls.The dolls went to girls living in a housing complex in Columbus - girls who might not have gotten the word that beauty isn't always tied to long, blond hair.

Fro-lific was organized by Layoce Mims and Candace McBride after they attended 'Fro Fashion Week in Atlanta. Their mission: provide support for women - and girls - who wear their hair natural. They plan to remake more Barbie styles in the future, Mims said.

Here's what Mims had to say about the group and its Barbie makeovers.

CNN: What is natural hair?

Mims: Natural hair is no relaxer, no chemical to straighten your hair out. The way it grows out your root, that’s the way you rock it.

CNN: What made you decide to start the Fro-lific meet-up group?

Mims: We thought to start the group after attending the 'Fro Fashion Week in Atlanta. We had such a great experience, so we were thinking of what can we do to bring back it back to Columbus. So, we thought to start a meet-up group to provide encouragement and support for other natural hair women or men. All the support seems to be online or on blogs, we thought, 'If you could really see someone going through it, and wearing their hair natural or transitioning, like being able to touch it, you can really see what they’re doing in person and it can encourage them to follow through with the natural process instead of going back to the relaxer.'

CNN: Why was it important to give the girls Barbie dolls with natural looking hair?

Mims: We have encountered some African-American or biracial children who have natural hair, getting picked on about the texture of their hair, how it wouldn’t lay or didn’t look or feel like the other children’s hair, so they didn’t love their hair and our job is to let them know that their hair is beautiful the way it is.

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Engage: Consider women executives' legacies
A Forbes writer says female executives like former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz are portrayed unfairly.
December 21st, 2011
09:49 AM ET

Engage: Consider women executives' legacies

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Opinion: Don't buy in to negative portrayals of female executives - Forbes

Study: Immigrants behind half of nation’s start-ups - The Wall Street Journal

Opinion: Asian Americans changing the political landscape - Huffington Post

Native American woman will become a Catholic saint - USA Today

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December 21st, 2011
09:08 AM ET

5 ways the suburbs are changing

Editor's note: This is part of a series of stories about the changing American suburbs.

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Manicured lawns, minivans and modest-homes-turned-McMansions: They’re the sorts of symbols that might come to mind when we think modern suburbia.

But peer inside the windows at the people living there and the American suburbs are increasingly complex, the 2010 U.S. Census and other reports show. We’ve come a long way since “Leave It to Beaver.”

The suburbs – or rather suburbanites – represent an evolving America. And what exists today would leave June Cleaver’s perfectly coifed head, and even her strand of pearls, spinning.

Relying on various census reports culled and crunched by seasoned demographers like those at the Brookings Institution, we present a mere taste of what can be learned about the changing face – or faces – of suburbia.

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Filed under: Age • Black in America • Census • Ethnicity • How we live • Immigration • Latino in America • Where we live
December 20th, 2011
05:59 PM ET

After layoff, finding new meaning in a lower paying job

By Michelle Rozsa, CNN In America

Plainsboro, New Jersey (CNN) - It is just before noon on a Sunday and Carl Fields is rushing through narrow aisles in a busy kitchen at a rehabilitation center. He dodges between tall metal serving carts and workers ladling steaming mashed potatoes. Plates of roast beef are coming off the food line to be capped with white plastic domes, set on trays and loaded onto carts.

“You said 'coleslaw,' Reg?” Fields yells to another man in the kitchen, as they dash around to find the missing slaw and get meals out to 125 residents.

“Cart up,” he yells each time a stack of trays heads toward the dining halls.

For 10 to 12 hours a day, often more than five days per week, Fields manages a kitchen staff. His duties include everything from checking that the correct items are on the food trays to helping to plate missing salads.

This is a place he never expected to be. “Never crossed my mind quite frankly,” he says.

In 2009, Fields was more than 25 years into a career with a large insurance brokerage firm, donning suit and tie five days a week to manage large commercial accounts.

“Four days short of my 58th birthday," he says, “I received notice I was being laid off. It came as a total shock, honestly.”

The company was reorganizing and his position was being eliminated.

Fields and his wife, Lynette Clark Fields, appeared in CNN’s 2010 documentary “Black in America: Almighty Debt."  At the time, he had been unemployed about a year and a half, and was tirelessly hunting for a job.

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