March 19th, 2012
06:24 PM ET

Mother says teacher told son to read 'blacker'

Nicole Cober Page, the mother of Jordan Shumate, a ninth-grade student at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Virginia, lists up to four occasions when her son was "singled out because of his race to educate the class about black issues."

According to his mother, this included most recently being asked to read aloud the Langston Hughes poem “Ballad of the Landlord” in a "blacker" voice. Page says that when her son did not comply, the teacher read the poem herself in what classmates described as a "slave-like" manner.

Page says that Jordan was also once asked to rap the lyrics of a Tupac Shakur hip-hop song and on another occasion he was asked to explain why black people like grape soda.

In spite of these instances, "Jordan is proud to go to Marshall. It's a wonderful school, but even in the best places some bad things happen," Page explains.

Jon Torre, a Fairfax public school spokesperson, provided CNN with a statement saying that "Marshall High School administrators are taking these allegations seriously and school officials are vigorously pursuing an investigation of these incidents. The school launched the investigation on Wednesday immediately after the student's mother made them aware of her concerns."

March 19th, 2012
03:56 PM ET

Opinion: Trayvon Martin, not George Zimmerman, was engaged in self-defense

Editor’s note: Carolyn Edgar is a lawyer and writer in New York City. She writes about social issues, parenting and relationships on her blog, Carolyn Edgar.  You can follow her on Twitter @carolynedgar.

By Carolyn Edgar, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Imagine the following scenario:

You are a 17-year-old boy in Sanford, Florida. You are visiting your father and his fiancée at your soon-to-be stepmother’s home in a gated community. You decide to make a late-night candy run to your local 7-Eleven. It’s nighttime and drizzling, so you are wearing a hooded sweatshirt. At the store, you buy a package of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea, then head back home.

As you are walking home, you notice a man in an SUV following you. The man gets out of the car. He’s a big guy who outweighs you by 100 pounds. He doesn’t identify himself as a police officer – in fact, you don’t know who he is. What should you do next?


Opinion: What the tragedy of Tyler Clementi teaches about teen sexting
Dharun Ravi was found guilty Friday of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.
March 19th, 2012
02:23 PM ET

Opinion: What the tragedy of Tyler Clementi teaches about teen sexting

Editors Note: David M. Hall, Ph.D., is he author of the book “Allies at Work: Creating a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Inclusive Work Environment.” He is also the author of “BullyShield,” an iPhone and Droid app. Hall teaches high school students as well as graduate courses on LGBT issues and bullying prevention. His website is www.davidmhall.com and he is on twitter @drdavidmhall.

By David M. Hall, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Dharun Ravi made videos of his college roommate, Tyler Clementi, sexually involved with another man. Tyler was unaware that he was being recorded and broadcast. Confronted with this violation of his privacy, Tyler committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington bridge.

In 2008, Jessica Logan, a high school senior in Ohio, sent naked pictures of herself to her boyfriend. When they broke up, he forwarded those photos to others. Logan was called a slut and a whore, according to numerous news reports. She eventually committed suicide – just weeks  after graduation- by hanging herself in her bedroom closet.

Clementi’s privacy was clearly violated. There is debate about whether Logan waived her privacy. However, both were victims of people inflicting harm by attempting to hold them up for ridicule. Each of their stories has the same tragic ending. Clementi and Logan found that their expectation of privacy was violated.


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Filed under: Age • Bullying • Discrimination • How we live • Sexual orientation • What we think
March 19th, 2012
12:45 PM ET

Engage: Romney eyes Latino voters following Puerto Rico victory

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

Encouraged by Puerto Rico win, Romney chases Latino support – Los Angeles Times

NBA lacks women in top coaching positions- Forbes

Report:   Nation-wide high school graduation rates are 'modest' – Chicago Sun-Times

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Filed under: Engage
Opinion: Racial inequality is a shared burden for whites as well as blacks
Browne-Marshall says: 'Ending affirmative action after only thirty years ignores the vestiges of the last 300 years.'
March 19th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Opinion: Racial inequality is a shared burden for whites as well as blacks

Editor's note: Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, an Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at John Jay College (CUNY), is the author of "Race, Law, and American Society: 1607 to Present" and the "U.S. Constitution: An African-American Context." The Founder/Director of The Law and Policy Group, Inc., she is a former civil rights attorney, and a freelance correspondent covering the U.S. Supreme Court.

By Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, Special to CNN

(CNN) –I was born into a country with immense opportunity and a deep history of racism.

Jennifer Gratz, the plaintiff in Michigan’s “reverse discrimination” case, and other opponents of affirmative action inherited this conflicted state of affairs as well. Yet, they want the great weight of America’s racial legacy to fall only on the shoulders of people of color. This inheritance belongs to all of us.

In the fall, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas. Then, the Court may deem affirmative action in higher education as unconstitutional, thus locking generations of people of color into an inherited inequality. In its present eviscerated state, affirmative action may be a mere bandage on the festering wound of American racism. It is neither a panacea nor a cure-all. However, for now, it is quite necessary.

Challengers of affirmative action focus on the last thirty years of alleged inequality. Unfortunately, for all of us, the seeds of racial injustice were planted centuries ago. Africans were part of the Jamestown Colony before the landing of the Mayflower. Anthony and Mary Johnson, a married African couple, with servants and land, resided in that Virginia colony in the 1600s. Before the century ended, laws were enacted to take their land and create chattel slavery. This is American history. For nearly 300 years, legal inequality subjugated people of color who lived, loved, hoped, and died praying for justice.

When slavery ended due to the efforts of Black and White abolitionists, the 14th Amendment was ratified. The 14th Amendment gave citizenship and equal protection to African-Americans whom the U.S. Supreme Court had previously designated under the Dred Scott decision as non-persons, outside the protection of American laws. The backlash was immediate. African-Americans became the object of terrorism unprecedented in American history. This malevolence by law and tradition would continue for 100 years, assuring every inch of progress would be hard fought and uncertain. Despite Black Codes designed to re-enslave African-Americans and Jim Crow segregation, the quest for equality under law remained the battle cry of people of color.

For one shining moment, equality under law appeared to be more than an American dream. Decades of protest, during which lives and livelihoods were lost, resulted in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat from Texas. Johnson, who knew well the depths of racism in America, signed Executive Order 11246, creating a policy referred to as “affirmative action,” in September of 1965. However, it was a Republican, Richard Nixon, from California, who in 1969, began the Philadelphia Plan, an affirmative action initiative in employment. FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • Education • History • Race • What we think