January 30th, 2012
03:01 PM ET

Opinion: Mayor's 'taco' comment the least of East Haven Latinos' troubles

Editor's note: Christopher Lapinig and Katie Chamblee are law students in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School, which represents plaintiffs in the civil rights lawsuit against the East Heaven Police Department.

By Christopher Lapinig and Katie Chamblee, Special to CNN

(CNN) - On Tuesday, following the indictment of four East Haven police officers for violating the civil rights of Latinos, Mayor Joseph Maturo responded to a question about what he planned to do for the Latino community by saying he might have tacos for dinner. He deserved the vehement backlash that followed.

But the mayor’s insensitivity to the seriousness of the problem is only the tip of the iceberg. His comments epitomize a town leadership that has refused to recognize Latinos as full members of the community who are entitled to the full protection of the law.

Police Chief Leonard Gallo’s retirement announcement today is the first step toward dismantling the toxic culture that has sanctioned police misconduct for years. Town police have failed to fulfill their constitutional obligation to protect the rights of all members of the East Haven community. Indeed, they have relegated Latinos to the back of the bus.


City council hopeful: 'My English is good enough'
Alejandrina Cabrera answers questions about her ability to speak English in Yuma County Court.
January 30th, 2012
02:11 PM ET

City council hopeful: 'My English is good enough'

When a judge ruled that Alejandrina Cabrera’s name couldn’t be on the ballot for City Council in San Luis, Arizona, because she couldn’t speak English well enough, it was not only a blow to her, but to her fellow citizens, Cabrera told CNN.

“When he took my right to be on the ballot he took away the right of the people who want to vote for me,” Cabrera said in an interview conducted in Spanish with CNN en Español.

A battle over Cabrera's run for office began when Juan Carlos Escamilla, the mayor of San Luis, said he was concerned that Cabrera might not have the proper grasp of the language for the job. Escamilla filed a lawsuit in December that asked a court to determine whether Cabrera's skills qualified her under state law to run for the council seat.

The fight began as a purely political one, with opponents seeking to block her from running for office after she tried to recall Escamilla from office twice, according to The New York Times. But it has turned into a firestorm in a town where many constituents have the same grasp of English as Cabrera. Those questions, and the political fight they stirred, led to a court hearing to determine whether Cabrera spoke English well enough to be able to run for office. The ruling was that she did not.

Read the full post on CNN's This Just In blog

January 30th, 2012
01:17 PM ET

College class on hip-hop comes with a warning

A course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will cover hip-hop music and was created to have kids think critically about the genre. A disclaimer on the syllabus will be similar to those on CD labels - there will be explicit material including racism, homophobia and misogyny. But, professors said, it's important for students to examine how hip-hop and the culture around it evolve.

Earlier: Hip-hop that helps kids stay out of trouble

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Filed under: Education • How we live • Pop culture
January 30th, 2012
11:38 AM ET

Engage: East Haven police chief resigns amid scandal

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

Len Gallo, East Haven police chief under federal investigation for civil rights abuses, resigns - The Hartford Courant 

Ava DuVernay, first black woman to win best director at Sundance Film Festival - The Huffington Post

Shifting Cuban vote in Miami-Dade County, Florida, but most still vote Republican - The Los Angeles Times

Opinion: 'Working class' should include black blue-collar workers - The Washington Post 

Profile: Veena Sud, executive producer, AMC's 'The Killing' - Written By magazine

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, comedians with new Comedy Central show, bring back 'black nerds' - National Public Radio

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Same-sex marriage debate flares in New Jersey
On Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie said marriage "is too serious to be treated like a political football."
January 30th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

Same-sex marriage debate flares in New Jersey

By David Ariosto, CNN

(CNN) - A political battle is shaping up in the Garden State about whether to give gay and lesbian couples the right to wed - a move that, if approved, would make New Jersey the seventh state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

How the issue plays out was the subject of a series of political thrusts and parries this week between a Democratic-controlled state legislature and a Republican governor, who supports New Jersey's civil unions but opposes same-sex marriage.

Gov. Chris Christie, a conservative favorite once thought of as a potential presidential contender, called Tuesday for a state-wide referendum to settle the issue.

"This issue that our state's exploring, whether or not to redefine hundreds of years of societal and religious traditions, should not be decided by 121 people in the statehouse in Trenton," the governor said during a town hall meeting. "The institution of marriage is too serious to be treated like a political football."

Read the full story

Filed under: How we live • Politics • Relationships • Sexual orientation
January 29th, 2012
05:34 PM ET

Don Lemon: Legacy of 'one drop' rule inspires search for family history

Editor's note: Don Lemon anchors CNN Newsroom during weekend prime-time and serves as a correspondent across CNN's U.S. programming. He is the author of the memoir "Transparent."

This is  final installment of  a three-part series about the 1ne Drop Project. Read Don Lemon's column, "It only takes one drop," and Yaba Blay's column, "What does Blackness look like?"

The video above contains offensive language. Viewer discretion is advised.

By Don Lemon, CNN

You never know from where inspiration will come.

I am often envious of my friends who can recite stories about ancestors that have been handed down through generations. I can’t do that. As a descendant of slavery in America, that hasn't felt possible for me. Truthfully, I didn’t think about it much until a few weeks ago, after I was asked by CNN’s In America team to write about the impact of a mixed racial background on my life, the idea that "one drop" of black blood makes you black.

In that article, I wrote about how my aunt and grandmother in Louisiana often were mistaken for white. I wrote about the extremes they went to in order to protect their husbands, who were black, from beatings by white men, or worse.

As I began to write the article, I sent a text message to my mother asking that she email photos of my aunt and grandmother. She sent me what she had, but asked why I wanted them. I told her I’d call to explain once I got home that evening.

When I finished the draft of the article, I zipped off a copy to her via email. A few minutes later, as I was driving home from work, my phone rang. When my mother began to tell me the stories of my aunt and grandmother, I had to pull over in a parking lot to take it all in. Some of it I knew. Much of it I didn’t.

My mother said, “Don, your aunt and grandmother really are quintessential ‘one drop’ Americans.”

“Why, mom?” I asked.

“I know you overheard some of this as a child, but your aunt’s father was a white man,” she said. “Your grandmother’s father was a white man.”


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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • History • How we look
New York state university officials support financial aid for undocumented students
The SUNY system is the latest to support laws that allow undocumented immigrant students to apply for financial aid.
January 27th, 2012
04:52 PM ET

New York state university officials support financial aid for undocumented students

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) - The trustees of the State University of New York system are the latest to register their support for laws that would allow undocumented immigrant students to apply for financial aid.

The board of trustees’ resolution, passed Wednesday, joins similar gestures of support voiced by the City University of New York, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York State Department of Education and a number of state and federal legislators.

“The current demographic realities of New York State indicate that many of the brightest and hardest working students eligible to enroll at SUNY are of undocumented status, and it is imperative that SUNY remain accessible to these students,” Board Chairman H. Carl McCall said in a press release. “SUNY will work with stakeholders to develop sensible legislation that provides this deserved access and financial support.”


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Filed under: Economy • Education • Immigration • Where we live • Who we are
Opinion: Carole Simpson on the truth about being old and female
Carole Simpson says it is great that Betty White has been embraced, but that is not the reality for most older women.
January 27th, 2012
04:07 PM ET

Opinion: Carole Simpson on the truth about being old and female

Editor's note: Carole Simpson is the leader-in-residence at Emerson College’s School of Communication in Boston, where she teaches journalism and communications classes. She is the first woman or minority to be the sole moderator of a presidential debate, and chronicled her 40 years as a broadcast journalist in her memoir, "Newslady."

By Carole Simpson, Special to CNN

(CNN) - It was suggested to me that older women are finally coming into their own.

Who would have thought that almost 14  million viewers would tune in to NBC’s broadcast special celebrating actress Betty White’s 90th birthday?

The endearing “Golden Girl” was feted by some of the most popular stars of the day, and even the president of the United States.

Actress Cloris Leachman was 82 when she danced the light fantastic on “Dancing With the Stars.”

Barbara Walters, also in her 80s, continues to land the big interviews for her ABC specials and act as a co-host on “The View," a show she co-owns.

Diane Sawyer, ABC’s “World News “ anchor,  is in her late 60s, and Lesley Stahl, long time “60 Minutes” correspondent,  is 70.

This all sounds pretty good considering women in television were once warned - by men of course - that our careers would be over at 40.

Does that mean elder females are gaining acceptance in our society?

Absolutely not.


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Filed under: Age • Gender • What we think • Women
Opinion: How will babies named Jesus save the economy?
Immigrants wave flags after being sworn in as U.S. citizens in naturalization ceremonies in Pomona, California.
January 27th, 2012
02:15 PM ET

Opinion: How will babies named Jesus save the economy?

By Charles Garcia, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Charles Garcia is the CEO of Garcia Trujillo, a business focused on the Hispanic market, and the author of "Leadership Lessons of the White House Fellows." A native of the Republic of Panama, he now lives in Florida. Watch Garcia on Friday in the 9 a.m. hour on CNN Newsroom.

(CNN) - For the last 20 years, what name is always in the top 100 most popular baby names given to boys in the United States? Jesus (pronounced hey-seus). And among 4,500 boys names in England in 2009, what was the No. 1 most popular baby name? Mohammed. In Brussels? Mohammed. Oslo? Mohammed. Amsterdam? Mohammed. And what do babies and their names have to do with the global economy? Everything.

Read Charles Garcia's full column

January 27th, 2012
01:10 PM ET

Did Gingrich refer to Spanish as 'ghetto' language?

By the CNN Wire Staff

Editor's note: This is part of the CNN political fact-checking series.

(CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accused former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney of taking out of context comments he made about bilingual education. The speaker's comments are referenced in a Spanish-language political ad. During Thursday night's CNN Republican candidates debate, moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Romney about it, "You've had an ad running saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish - quote - 'The language of the ghetto.' What do you mean by that?"

Read the full story

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