A tale of two chefs: Marcus Samuelsson and Roblé Ali
In recent years a growing number black chefs like Roblé Ali and Marcus Samuelsson have entered the culinary industry.
February 28th, 2012
01:16 PM ET

A tale of two chefs: Marcus Samuelsson and Roblé Ali

By Alex Kellogg and Alyse Shorland, CNN

(CNN) - Marcus Samuelsson and Roblé Ali are two different chefs.

Samuelsson, 41, is an established name amongst foodies and the proprietor of Red Rooster, a renown Harlem restaurant.

Ali, 27, is an up and coming chef and animated reality-show star who works full time as an established caterer.

Samuelsson has made a name for himself embracing his identity as both a black chef and a Swedish immigrant to the United States, but younger chefs like Ali find themselves pushing back against being known simply as a “black chef.” Ali, who’s still building his brand, was frustrated when a blog author unexpectedly labeled him a “hip-hop chef.”

“Who takes you serious when you’re the hip hop chef?” said Ali. “And why am I the hip hop chef, because I’m black? I’m not break dancing.”

For decades, many African Americans were reluctant to enter a profession they associated with servitude and slavery. Cooking was reminiscent of second-class citizenship, and antiquated images of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben dominated the nation’s associations of blacks and kitchens.

“George Washington had a slave chef, as did Thomas Jefferson. It ain’t nothing new,” said Jessica Harris, a culinary scholar and the author of books on the foods of the African Diaspora. “I think that has lifted in many families, but I don’t think that it has lifted in all African-American families.”

In recent years, African Americans have begun to trickle into the field in growing numbers. FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • Ethnicity • Race • Who we are
February 28th, 2012
12:59 PM ET

BIA update: Tomorrow's leaders

CNN's documentary, "Black in America 2: Tomorrow's Leaders," followed men and women making a difference in the black community.  When we met Mia Jackson, a young woman with an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering, she said she wanted to further her career. She applied to Management Leadership for Tomorrow, an MBA prep program dedicated to preparing minorities for executive positions in business.

Since then, Mia has graduated from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management with a dual degree: an MBA and a Masters in Engineering Management.  But she says it was all at a great cost.  Hear why in this Black in America update.

CNN Photos: Transgender in a male-or-female world
Photographer, Raymond McCrea Jones: “There’s not always a black and white, there’s not always a male or female."
February 28th, 2012
12:10 PM ET

CNN Photos: Transgender in a male-or-female world

By Brett Roegiers, CNN

(CNN) - Chicago, a struggling New York musician in his mid-30s, was born female but now embraces the trans label. Since he was a teenager, he has been searching for his place in a world that wants people to be strictly male or female.

As part of his gender transition, Chicago started taking testosterone injections in 2009. Around that time, photographer Raymond McCrea Jones began to document his journey.

“Chicago was really on board from the beginning because he sees this as a way to get his story out,” Jones said. “As you can imagine, growing up in Middle America in the Midwest, going to high school and struggling with your gender is not an easy thing.”

View more images on CNN Photos

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Filed under: Gender • Who we are
Engage: Poll: Black women heavier, with higher self-esteem than white women
A recent poll found that black women who are heavier have higher levels of self-esteem than their white counterparts.
February 28th, 2012
11:25 AM ET

Engage: Poll: Black women heavier, with higher self-esteem than white women

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

Black women are heavier and happier with their bodies than white women, poll finds - The Washington Post

Mitt Romney, Mormons at odds on immigration in Arizona - Reuters

UC Berkeley experiment: the wealthy are more likely to cheat - The Los Angeles Times

NYPD Chief defends his departments' surveillance of Muslims beyond New York City– The New York Times

Touré: Jeremy Lin's victory over "stereotype threat" - Time Magazine

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Filed under: Engage
'Mama, would you please speak English!'
Bilingual parents don't always have an easy time leading their kids to be bilingual.
February 28th, 2012
10:22 AM ET

'Mama, would you please speak English!'

Editor's note: Rose Arce is a senior producer at CNN and a contributor to Mamiverse, a website for Latinas and their families.

By Rose Arce, CNN

(CNN) - I am sitting in the North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina ensconced in a piece of pure Americana. A CNN debate between the Republican presidential candidates is unfolding beneath a sea of cardboard red, white and blue stars and stripes.

"I favor English as the official language of government and I think that creates a continuity," Newt Gingrich says, punching away at his opponent before a roaring crowd of Southern Republicans.

There was continuity weeks later at the CNN debate in Jacksonville, Florida, where nearly a quarter of the population is Hispanic. "I also believe that in our schools, we should teach kids in English," Mitt Romney says to thunderous applause.

What American - Latino or not - wouldn't applaud for teaching kids to speak English in U.S. schools? I slouch into my seat and wait for the good part, when the sparks of partisanship flare up over the details of what "English Only" means. But, when these go mano-a-mano in the language wars, these guys got nothing on the 40 inch, 35 pound adversary I fight each day.

"Mama, would you please speak English! We live in America," 6-year-old Luna yells at the breakfast table. You see, while the broad national debate is about English Only, in my 1,000 square feet of America, it's Spanish that's causing all the stir.


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Filed under: Family • Language • Latino in America • Politics • What we think