Opinion: Just say no to ‘playing Indian’
After an outcry, Victoria's Secret apologized for its use of a Native American headdress.
November 23rd, 2012
11:43 AM ET

Opinion: Just say no to ‘playing Indian’

Editor's Note: Jenni Monet is a journalist and documentary filmmaker who writes and makes films about Native and indigenous issues.  She is a frequent contributor to Indian Country Today Media Network  and a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna.  She tweets @jennimonet.

By Jenni Monet, Special to CNN

(CNN) - As another Native American Heritage Month comes to an end, I have to stop and ask, did anybody other than Native folks even know it was taking place?

Since 1990, the federal government has declared the month of November a time to pay tribute to the achievements of the nation’s estimated 2.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (PDF).

The national observance is not unlike America’s commitment to African-American history month or Hispanic heritage month, a time of year that major brands have come to commercialize in recent years.

Thanksgiving is some Native Americans' 'Day of Mourning'

But little recognition has been paid to the original inhabitants who represent 1% of the U.S. population. Instead, this November, there has been a series of cultural gaffes made by celebrities, journalists and large companies during a time set aside to acknowledge and honor Native people. FULL POST

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Filed under: History • How we look • Native Americans • What we think • Women
Opinion: A gay son and his dad give thanks
Paul Begala says one family's struggle to help their son accept his sexuality is a story of love, support that resonates at Thanksgiving.
November 23rd, 2012
08:10 AM ET

Opinion: A gay son and his dad give thanks

Editor's note: Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House.

By Paul Begala, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - Every parent loves his or her child; it's the prime directive of the species. Twenty years ago, when my wife was pregnant with our first baby, Hillary Clinton told me that having a child is like taking your heart out of your body and letting it walk around.

For some parents, however, their beloved child takes their heart on a long, wild ride that careers from joyous and generous to dark and dangerous. So it was with John Schwartz and Jeanne Mixon. Joseph, their third child, was a precocious reader, a super-sensitive old soul, fiercely defiant when he believed the teacher was too autocratic, hyper-quick on the trigger. Or, as his father put it, a squirrelly kid.

He's also gay. Fabulously gay. From early childhood he preferred feather boas to football; pink shoes to playing soccer. No problem; his parents are enlightened, intelligent, educated, urbane and progressive. Their community in suburban New Jersey was welcoming and inclusive. Their rabbi is gay.

And yet shortly after he came out of the closet at age 13, Joe attempted suicide.

Read Paul Begala's full column