CNN Photos: Erosion of a way of life
Jacob Walker shows his tattoo of Louisiana and the phrase "Bottom of the Boot" to describe his home on Isle de Jean Charles.
May 16th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

CNN Photos: Erosion of a way of life

Editor’s note:  After being hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and again by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, coastal communities in Louisiana are dealing with massive erosion. Photographer Kael Alford spent five years exploring the issue and reconnecting with a portion of her heritage. 

By Cody McCloy, CNN

(CNN) - Given an assignment to document the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the Louisiana coastline, photographer Kael Alford turned it into a five-year endeavor to reconnect with a portion of her heritage.

With the assistance of a commission from the High Museum in Atlanta, Alford explored the birthplace of her maternal grandmother that is still home of the Native American families from which Alford descended.

Hit hard by Katrina and again by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the marshlands of Louisiana are in trouble. The coastline is eroding, threatening the ecosystem as well as a way of life.

Through her work, Alford strives to show the human side of the problem. Bill Boling, the publisher of her upcoming book from the project, “Bottom of 'da Boot,” says Alford has “this unflinching eye that is also a loving eye and able to see the beauty and dignity of the people that are facing these challenges.”

Read the full post on CNN's Photo blog

Opinion: African-American women and fat? Consider context, choices
A recent article about black women's health spurred discussion about environmental factors that contribute to obesity.
May 16th, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Opinion: African-American women and fat? Consider context, choices

Editor's note: Maya Rockeymoore, Ph.D., is the director of Leadership for Healthy Communities, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and president of Global Policy Solutions, a policy consulting firm in Washington, DC. This piece was written in association with The Op-Ed Project.

By Maya Rockeymoore, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Talking about being overweight is always an uncomfortable topic, no matter what color you are.

But when the New York Times ran an editorial, “Black women and fat”, it opened a wound most of us would like to ignore.

After all, aren't there more important things to talk about when it comes to African-American women and our lives?

Why talk about the “sugar down below’’as the author Alice Randall put it, when black women are facing high rates of unemployment, poverty and HIV/AIDS?

Since the publication, I have been discussing obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Weight of the Nation Conference and at screenings for the HBO documentary, Weight of the Nation.

Plus, I have been in more personal conversations with my friends who have confirmed how embarrassing and deeply personal the issue is in their lives.

But obesity is worth talking about for a single reason: it places our lives and those of our children at risk.


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Filed under: Black in America • Health • What we think • Women
Engage: U.S. Senate sued over DREAM Act
Activists protest earlier this year in opposition to the DREAM Act. Now, some supporters of the Act are suing the Senate.
May 16th, 2012
12:57 PM ET

Engage: U.S. Senate sued over DREAM Act

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

DREAM Act activists, supporters sue Senate - The Washington Times

The murder of an innocent Texan, Carlos DeLuna - The Daily Beast

Young Latinas bring back "fajas", or girdles, to achieve hourglass figures - The New York Times

Asian-American masculinity celebrated in "Manhood" project - Colorlines


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Arranged marriage, American-style
After meeting the man her parents wanted her to marry, the author didn't think an arranged marriage was in the cards for the two.
May 16th, 2012
11:26 AM ET

Arranged marriage, American-style

Editor's note: The author does not wish to include her name on the story out of concern for her family's anonymity.

(CNN) - It was like any blind date. I had dressed in my Saturday best and walked to my favorite brunch restaurant in West Los Angeles to meet a guy - let's call him Raj - for the first time.

I recognized him from the pictures I'd seen, and we greeted each other with smiles and a firm handshake. We had e-mailed a few times and spoken on the phone to confirm our plans. He was polite; he didn't sit down in his chair until I did, and he paid the bill. Our conversation was casual to begin with: favorite movies, music, plans for the summer. No one would have guessed this setup was to be the start of an arranged marriage.

Most Westerners may think the concept of arranged marriage is backward or antiquated - and if you watch the old Indian movies, it can come across that way: two people meet once, or not at all, before their wedding day and then are forced to make a marriage work without even being consulted about their partner. In my family, at least, that was rarely the case. My parents met and spoke before their wedding day in India and were asked whether they each saw a future with the other.

It's easy for me to rebel against this tradition my family has maintained and say, "That was then, this is now." But despite having been born and raised in America, where arrangements like this are far from a cultural norm, I understand their perspective. All they want for me is security.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Relationships • Religion • Who we are
Jewish rapper Y-Love comes out publicly as gay
Yitz “Y-Love” Jordan, considered "the first black Jewish MC," has come out publicly.
May 16th, 2012
07:59 AM ET

Jewish rapper Y-Love comes out publicly as gay

In a move that he admits could cost him some fans, New York rapper Yitz “Y-Love” Jordan, considered "the first black Jewish MC," has come out publicly as a gay man of color.

"I feel like I have wasted years of my life worrying that my ‘public reputation’ will be negatively impacted by my identity," Jordan said in a statement. "Now that I'm over 30, I simply can't care as much about what people think, despite the prospect of alienating the community I dedicated my life to as an artist and a man. My hope is it will open their eyes – and hearts."

Although he's now publicly talking about it, Jordan tells Out magazine in an interview that he's "never been conflicted about my sexuality ... Any conflicts that have come up in my life have come up because of other people's homophobia. I've always known when to be in the closet and when not to."

Read the full post on CNN's Marquee blog