March 7th, 2012
11:17 PM ET

National Urban League report names voting as No. 1 issue for African Americans

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.

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(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.


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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • Economy • Education • Health • How we live • Race • Social justice
Opinion: Why GOP could prompt women to vote for Obama
Maria Cardona says Repubilcans should cease their assault -- "whether real or perceived doesn’t really matter" --on women.
March 7th, 2012
02:48 PM ET

Opinion: Why GOP could prompt women to vote for Obama

Editor's note: Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

By Maria Cardona, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - Much has been written about the GOP’s huge hole with Latino voters and how that will prevent them from reaching the White House.  In fact, a new poll of just Latino voters has no Republican presidential candidate polling above 14% against President Obama.  Dios mio!  As if that weren’t enough, the GOP is now busy with their shovels digging themselves another hole, this time with another incredibly important demographic – women.

We are talking about 53% of the electorate and an electorate made up of many independents who look at issues and candidates, not necessarily party identification.  President Obama won women in 2008, 56% to McCain’s 42%, a big reason he is in the White House today.  But even as recently as late last year, independent women were not supporting President Obama, a fact that was of great concern to the White House and a reason they kept focusing like a laser on economic issues and fixing policies they could influence like student loans, mortgage relief, and yes, implementing the Affordable Care Act regulation ensuring all women could have equal access to life saving health care services without paying out of pocket expenses.

For that, the Administration found itself in a maelstrom for several days.  The Catholic Church came down hard on the White House for believing their religious freedoms were being infringed upon by mandating they provide birth control to women who work at any of their affiliated facilities like universities or hospitals.  But because the Administration was focused on doing what is right, and not what is politically expedient, they went back to the drawing board and put forth a compromise that would not violate anyone’s religious freedoms while still ensuring all women had access to critical health care services.


U.S. report finds inequalities in courses and discipline for minority students
Education Secretary Arne Duncan appears at Howard University to discuss data on race, educational equity and opportunity.
March 7th, 2012
01:58 PM ET

U.S. report finds inequalities in courses and discipline for minority students

By Sally Holland, CNN

(CNN) - African-American boys and girls have higher suspension rates than their white or Hispanic peers, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights on Tuesday. The report looks at race, educational equity and opportunities of U.S.students.

"Perhaps the most alarming findings involve the topic of discipline," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.  "The sad fact is that minority students across America face much harsher discipline than nonminorities, even within the same school. Some examples – African American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers."

"We cannot suspend, expel and arrest our way out of our nation's education problems," said John Payton of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in response to the report.

"In fact, relying upon exclusionary discipline policies actually fuels academic failure and drives achievement gaps," he added.

According to the report, African American students are more than three and a half times likely to be suspended or expelled than their white counterparts.

Read the full post on CNN's Schools of thought blog

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • Education • Ethnicity • Race • Who we are
Engage: End of 'All-American Muslim'
March 7th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Engage: End of 'All-American Muslim'

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

TLC's "All-American Muslim" won't have a second season - Detroit Free Press

Federal court to debate Michigan's affirmative action ban today - The Detroit News

Opinion: How Asian Americans shape the debate on affirmative action, and the three things missing in the discussion -Time.com

Silicon Valley leaders give financial assistance to undocumented youth -The Wall Street Journal

"The New Jim Crow" prompts debate about "race policy as drug policy" -The New York Times

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Filed under: Engage
March 7th, 2012
11:04 AM ET

Valedictorian facing deportation gets reprieve in Florida

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A Florida high school valedictorian and her sister who were facing deportation will instead meet Wednesday in Washington with Sen. Marco Rubio, after being granted a reprieve.

An immigration judge ruled last week that Daniela Pelaez, 18, and her sister Dayana were to be deported for being in the country illegally.

But Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tuesday gave the sisters a two-year reprieve. The decision was made under the policy of prosecutorial discretion, which is designed to prioritize deportation for illegal crossers with a criminal record, instead of those who pose little or no risk.

"The agency exercises prosecutorial discretion, on a case by case basis, as necessary to focus resources on our stated priorities," ICE spokesman Nestor Yglesias said in a statement Wednesday.


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Filed under: Age • Education • Immigration • Latino in America • Where we live
Opinion: Taking affirmative action personally
Justices Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor, John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy at the 2010 State of the Union.
March 7th, 2012
10:30 AM ET

Opinion: Taking affirmative action personally

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN.com contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist.

By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor

San Diego (CNN) - Now that we have Sonia Sotomayor, a Latina, on the Supreme Court, the esteemed body will soon find itself in the middle of a telenovela.

The storyline involves the contentious issue of affirmative action, which is central to Fisher vs. University of Texas, a case that is scheduled to come before the court this fall. It will cast a spotlight on two of the court's justices: Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito. Affirmative action seems to be intensely personal to both of them, though for very different reasons.

First, let's take a minute to note just how similar Alito and Sotomayor are in terms of their background. Both are baby boomers, born just a few years apart. Alito is 61 years old and Sotomayor is 57. They grew up in neighboring states. Alito is from New Jersey and Sotomayor is from New York. Both came from ethnic, working-class families. Alito's parents were teachers, Sotomayor's father was a tool-and-die worker and her mother was a telephone operator. Finally, both went to Princeton University and Yale Law School, where both served as editors of the Yale Law Journal.

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s full column