Report: Golden years of blacks, Latinos more likely to be tarnished by poverty
Nearly a fifth of black and Latino elders are living in poverty, says a University of California, Berkeley researcher.
February 23rd, 2012
12:47 PM ET

Report: Golden years of blacks, Latinos more likely to be tarnished by poverty

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – Nonwhite older Americans are more likely to suffer from poverty in retirement, according to a study released by the University of California at Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education.

"Black and Latino Retirement (In)Security," released Tuesday, found that the poverty rate for blacks (19.4%) and Latinos (19%) over 65 is more than twice that of the national average and nearly triple that of whites.

The report analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census' American Community Survey.

Another of the report’s findings offers a clue to why such a disparity exists – nonwhites are less likely to work for an employer who offers a retirement plan, and are also less likely to contribute to it when it is offered.


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Filed under: Age • Black in America • Census • Economy • How we live • Latino in America
February 23rd, 2012
12:24 PM ET

Black male teachers becoming extinct

By Allen Huntspon and George Howell, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - Take a moment and think of all the teachers you had between pre-K and twelfth grade.

Now, how many of them were black men?

For most people, this question won’t take too long to answer. That’s because less than two percent of America’s teachers are black men, according to the Department of Education.

That is less than 1 in 50 teachers.

Terris King, 25, a kindergarten teacher at the Bishop John T. Walker School in Washington D.C., believes that for African-American children, having a strong role model in front of them can make a huge difference.

“I fit a void in their lives,” King says, “A lot of them have never felt what it feels like to shake a man’s hand, [have him] look them in the eye, and tell them right from wrong. They need those things. They need someone in their lives who’s strong—they need an African American male in their lives that’s positive.”

This year, King has just over fifty African-American children from low-income households in his classes.

“I look out of my window, and I see gentlemen that are standing on the corner, and I look at my boys, and I can say to myself what I’m going to teach in a day about what’s right and what’s wrong, might turn the path a little bit.”

It’s this kind of impact that Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he is trying to replicate in classrooms around the country. He launched the Teach campaign and is actively trying to recruit more African-American men to go into teaching straight out of college.

“I think all of our students benefit from having a black male in the classroom,” Duncan says, “But particularly our young black males. I think what we haven’t talked about enough is that we’re competing with the gangs, we’re competing with the drug dealers on the corner, and when students fall through the cracks, when young people don’t have that positive mentor, in a school setting, in the church or community, there’s always a guy on the street corner that can say come my way.”

But if you ask most African-American men why they don’t teach, they’ll tell you—-it just doesn’t pay the bills. King says, “Historically in our society there is an expectation that a man provides for their family. This is an added pressure, that warns against men becoming teachers because of the salary.”

“I just want our teaching workforce to reflect the tremendous diversity of our nation’s young people. [But] I think fundamentally we have done a poor job as a country, historically, of making the teaching profession attractive,” Duncan says. FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • Education • Gender • Race • Who we are
February 23rd, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Nat Turner's bible donated to museum

By Sarah Springer, CNN

(CNN) - The bible belonging to Nat Turner, an American slave who led the famous slave rebellion of 1831, will be one of the first artifacts on view at The Smithsonian's National Museum of African-American History and Culture scheduled to open in 2015.

As a result of the rebellion Turner became a wanted man and was hunted throughout Virginia. When he was found he was holding a Holy Bible. A descendant of a white survivor of this slave rebellion has donated this bible to the new museum.

John W. Franklin, director of partnerships and international programs at The National Museum of African American History and Culture Smithsonian Institution, said (the bible) belonged to the Person family who were victims in the Nat Turner rebellion, which shows that African American history is not isolated and that it serves both white and black families, white and black individuals.

“It’s not just a black story, it’s never just a black story” Franklin said.


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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • History • Who we are
February 22nd, 2012
01:47 AM ET

Color lines blur at Mardi Gras: Krewe of Endymion has first African-American king

By Stacey Samuel, CNN

New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) –This year George Lafargue Jr. won the lottery. His prize? He was named the King of Mardi Gras "super-krewe" Endymion.

“There’s members of Endymion been there 40-something years, and they [like me] put their names in that hopper, and they never been selected,” says Lafargue, who has been a member of Endymion, one of the largest Mardi Gras organizations, since 2005.

LaFargue’s name was picked out of 2500 members.

But, just a few decades ago his name may never have been in the running. Endymion began in 1967 and has always been integrated, but old-line krewes, the private organizations responsible for Mardi Gras festivities, were once segregated.

In the more than two centuries since Mardi Gras was introduced by the French, the pre-Lenten tradition has, for most of its existence, been experienced in black and white.

Mardi Gras spirit defines the soul of New Orleans


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Filed under: Black in America • History • Race • Where we live
February 20th, 2012
01:49 PM ET

CNN's Don Lemon talks to descendants of a slave and a slave owner

Through reenactments, archival photographs and interviews with top scholars, living descendants and the author of “Slavery by Another Name,” Douglas Blackmon, a new PBS film examines the “neoslavery” that persisted in the South years after the Civil War. According to Blackmon, thousands of African Americans remained enslaved until the beginning of World War II.”

CNN's Don Lemon interviews two women featured in the film, both connected by a disturbing past. Susan Burnore, the descendant of a slave owner named John Williams, who was believed to be the only white man convicted for murdering 11 slaves; and Tonya Groomes, a descendant of a slave that Williams once owned.

This is the second installment of interviews done by Don Lemon on CNN's News Room.

View here for the interview with Don Lemon and the author of "Slavery by Another Name," Douglas Blackmon.

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • History • Race • Who we are
Opinion: Farai Chideya: Stop attacking public schools for political gain
Farai Chideya says there is still excellence to be found in public schools, despite the current political rhetoric.
February 20th, 2012
09:31 AM ET

Opinion: Farai Chideya: Stop attacking public schools for political gain

Editor's note:  Farai Chideya is a journalist and the author of four nonfiction and fiction books, and she blogs at Farai.com. She is a spring 2012 fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

By Farai Chideya, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Over President’s Day weekend I traveled from the halls of Harvard to my childhood home in Baltimore, a city far better known for The Wire than its education system. On Saturday night, I heard my mother coach a parent by phone on ways to ensure her child was focused and ready to study. My mother retired as a Baltimore City school teacher several years ago, but she still puts in the time to tutor kids through a program run by a local church. She cared about students then, and she cares now. And, although you would not know it from statements like Rick Santorum's attack decrying the "factories called public schools," dedicated teachers like my mother are not an exception. Not all teachers are great; nor all public schools. But the reason I have been at Harvard, twice - once for my undergraduate education, and now again as a teaching fellow at the Institute of Politics - is based on my parents’ efforts and the excellence that was present in public schools.

That's right - excellence. It's there. A couple of years ago, I had the chance to explain how I benefited from just one of the many extraordinary teachers in my life in a public service ad encouraging people to teach.

Now, to say that excellence is embedded in public schools does not mean every school is excellent. My mother had to push and advocate for me to switch schools between first and second grades, because the neighborhood school I started at just was not up to snuff. (In fact, a few years later, it was shut down.) Not every child is lucky enough to have a parent who is a warrior for their child, who makes sure that in a district of mixed educational outcomes, their kid gets the best education he or she can. There is a vast inequality in education not only between school districts, but within them.

But I've had just about enough of the attacks on the integrity of teachers and public schools. Many of them are fighting heroic battles on behalf of America's children. No one with a lick of sense goes into teaching to get rich. Some people do drift into the profession with a lack of vision, training, or both. Yes, America's classrooms can be unforgiving, both to students and teachers. But within the tapestry of American education, with all of its rips and holes, there are also diamonds woven into the fabric - teachers of imagination, skill, and perseverance against all odds.

My mother stayed in the City schools when she could have made more money in the County. She chose lower-income schools, including one that was walking distance from the house I grew up in, when she had the seniority to go to cushier, more well-funded neighborhoods with more classroom resources. She spent her own money on supplies for her sixth grade science class, and once had to buy a heater because in the dead of winter, her classroom was freezing cold. FULL POST

February 19th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Author Douglas Blackmon: 'Slavery didn't end 150 years ago'

Author Douglas Blackmon, who wrote “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” tells CNN's Don Lemon that black men were enslaved in the U.S. into the 20th century.

The book was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and is the basis of a documentary film that recently aired on PBS.

Watch here for Don Lemon's interview with descendants of a slave and a slave owner.


February 17th, 2012
01:17 PM ET

BIA update: The Warren family

In CNN's first "Black in America" documentary, we learned how Butch Warren and his wife Joyce worked hard to give their children a comfortable lifestyle, but their climb to the top came at a cost. Butch, his wife and their two sons had problems fitting in without having to prove that they belong.

The Warrens are still moving forward and making new friends along the way. See what the family is doing now.

Keep the conversation going on Twitter with #BlackinAmerica.

Study: Interracial marriage, acceptance growing
A new study says about 15 percent of new marriages in the U.S. were between spouses of different races or ethnicities.
February 16th, 2012
03:32 PM ET

Study: Interracial marriage, acceptance growing

By Ashley Hayes, CNN

(CNN) - Forty-five years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a ban on interracial marriage, the rate of marriage across racial and ethnic lines in the United States is on the rise, according to a new study released Thursday.

And while such "intermarriages" continue to grow, so too does public acceptance of such unions, according to the study by the Pew Research Center's Social and Demographic Trends project.

The study has left social media sites abuzz with discussion.

"Why do people give inter-racial dating so much lip service?" wrote Tosin Lajuwomi on Twitter. "You like who you like – black, white, blue, orange."

Others were more reserved about what the report reflects.

"I look forward to the day when stories about "inter-racial" marriages are no longer newsworthy," wrote James Burns on the micro-blogging site. "We have far to go."

Read the full story

Opinion: Rapper's video advice could land young boys in jail
Rapper's advice not just offensive, but potentially criminal.
February 16th, 2012
03:03 PM ET

Opinion: Rapper's video advice could land young boys in jail

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.

On February 15, Vanessa Satten, the editor-in chief of XXL Magazine responded again to the growing furor and calls for her resignation.  Read her statement here.

By Carolyn Edgar, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Outrage continues to build over a video that ran on the magazine XXL’s website featuring the rapper Too $hort dispensing advice to middle-school boys on how to “turn girls out.”

As the mother of a teenage girl and a pre-teen boy, I found the video abhorrent because it promotes sexual violence against young women. As a lawyer, I found both the video and XXL’s publication of it irresponsible and reckless.

A boy who took Too $hort’s advice could find himself in real trouble, because the behavior he encourages may, in fact, violate a multitude of state and federal laws.  Pushing a girl against a wall and sticking a finger inside her underwear would likely constitute sexual harassment and/or a criminal charge of sexual assault.

Sexual harassment in schools is a violation of Title IX, the federal statute that prohibits discrimination in schools on the basis of sex. Schools that receive federal funding are required under Title IX to take action against sexual harassment. Most school districts have enacted policies prohibiting sexual harassment as part of their Title IX enforcement obligations. For example, in the New York City Department of Education Discipline Code, punishment for sexual harassment ranges from a parent conference to suspension, and even expulsion in some cases. The victim may also have other avenues for legal recourse, including filing a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, or filing a lawsuit in federal court.

In addition to violating Title IX and school policy, the behavior Too $hort advocates could be criminal. The rapper directed his advice at boys in middle and early high school. Children in these grades generally are legally below the age of consent. The age of consent to sexual contact in the United States varies by state, but generally ranges from 16 to 18. Consent is a factor in the majority of sex crimes. Depending on the ages of the victim and the perpetrator, the conduct advocated in the video could meet the description of a number of felony and misdemeanor criminal acts under the New York Penal Code, including sexual assault, sexual misconduct, forcible touching, and sexual abuse. FULL POST

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