You're 'not a racist, but...' you're getting called out on Twitter
November 2nd, 2012
01:00 PM ET

You're 'not a racist, but...' you're getting called out on Twitter

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - Every now and then, Logan Smith likes to search Twitter for things he thinks people would never say. Just for his entertainment.

Like when astronaut Neil Armstrong died, Smith typed in: "Who is Neil Armstrong?" Who in America doesn't know about the man to who took a giant leap for mankind? Sure enough, he found, there were a bunch of folks who had no idea.

In the midst of all his searches, Smith made a startling discovery: a lot of people like to start tweets with this line: "I'm not a racist, but..."

What followed seemed clearly racist to Smith, a 25-year-old white man from Columbia, South Carolina, who writes a politics and policy blog called The Palmetto Public Record.

Smith was shocked. Dismayed by what he read.

"It's ridiculous to think that people don't think they are racist when they say these things," he says. "Some people say we are living in a post-racial society. Now we have a black president, somehow that made everything OK. But that is completely not the case."

So Smith decided to call some tweeps out.

About a month ago, he started a Twitter handle called @YesYoureRacist.


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Filed under: Ethnicity • How we live • Language • Race • Technology
Parallels to country's racist past haunt age of Obama
Some historians say Barack Obama's presidency has sparked a return of racism with echoes of post-Civil War Reconstruction.
November 1st, 2012
09:19 AM ET

Parallels to country's racist past haunt age of Obama

This is the second in an occasional series on issues of race, identity and politics ahead of Election Day, including a look at the optics of politics, a white Southern Democrat fighting for survival and a civil rights icon registering voters.

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - A tall, caramel-complexioned man marched across the steps of the U.S. Capitol to be sworn into office as a jubilant crowd watched history being made.

The man was an African-American of mixed-race heritage, an eloquent speaker whose election was hailed as a reminder of how far America had come.

But the man who placed his hand on the Bible that winter day in Washington wasn't Barack Obama. He was Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate.

His election and that of many other African-Americans to public office triggered a white backlash that helped destroy Reconstruction, America’s first attempt to build an interracial democracy in the wake of the Civil War. FULL POST

Filed under: 2012 Election • Black in America • Discrimination • Economy • Ethnicity • Health • History • Language • Politics • Poverty • Race
Who's a Native American? It's complicated
Claiming Native American ancestry is one thing, but claiming tribal citizenship is another.
May 14th, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Who's a Native American? It's complicated

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – The recent controversy over Massachusetts congressional candidate Elizabeth Warren's Native American ancestry, where the campaign of her opponent for a senate seat called for her to release documents claiming her Cherokee ancestry, has caused some to ask: What makes someone "legitimately" Native American? And who gets to make that determination?

"Fundamentally, it's the tribe’s right to determine who its citizens are and are not. If we don't know (whether someone is American Indian), we can ask the tribe," said Julia Good Fox, professor of American Indian Studies at Haskell Indian Nations University.

Good Fox furthermore points out that citizenship is distinct from ancestry. Tribes have the sovereign right to determine who is and isn't a citizen, just as France and the United States have their own rules about citizenship. Anyone can claim ancestry, but those who do so can't always claim citizenship, Good Fox said.

Determining who is and isn't a member of a tribe can be complicated, and the answers don’t always come in a binary form of "yes" or "no." Part of the reason such determinations can be controversial is because tribes' own rules for establishing membership can vary widely. FULL POST

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Filed under: Community • Language • Native Americans • Race • Who we are
Opinion: Could the term ‘Hispanic-American’ unify America's Latinos?
William Levy was a star before "Dancing," Cutié writes; why doesn't the U.S. understand the depth of its Latino population?
May 7th, 2012
07:17 AM ET

Opinion: Could the term ‘Hispanic-American’ unify America's Latinos?

Editor's note: Fr. Albert Cutié is an Episcopal priest and former Roman Catholic cleric known as Padre Alberto or "Father Oprah." He is the author of the memoir, "Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love" and hosted the talk show "Father Albert." He's on Twitter @padrealberto.

By Fr. Albert Cutié, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Recently, at the end of a long day at work, I watched a reality TV show with my wife. I was stunned when the host referred to a Hispanic and American actor as someone who “became a celebrity overnight.” William Levy regularly appears on prime-time programming seen by millions of Hispanics and Latinos in the United States and throughout Latin America, but only now that he’s on “Dancing with the Stars,” he is a star.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Did this host have any idea just how many of us there are in this country? How much programming, marketing and advertising is produced daily for Spanish-language networks in the United States? To say that a Hispanic-American television personality “became a celebrity” because he appeared on an English-language program is to ignore the great impact of Hispanic and Latino population.

According to the 2010 Census, the Hispanic population surpasses 50 million people and it accounts for about 1 out of 6 Americans. That’s a lot of people, and we didn’t just get here. As someone who has spent several years working in media, I’m often surprised how in the United States, this wonderfully pluralistic nation of ours, we often hear people speak of Latinos and Hispanics as if we were all of the same exact culture, race and ethnicity. It bothers me to hear people say, “but you don’t look Hispanic,” as if there is only one appearance in our big umbrella of races and cultures.

SI model Jessica Perez: Yes, I'm a white Latina

I sometimes want to say, “We have been around here a long time, how many of us have you met?” Yet, being polite and not wanting to turn a casual conversation into a politically incorrect racial-social conflict, I usually let it go.

So what will unite us, whether we look like Levy, Jessica Perez, Marco Rubio?

Perhaps the insistence of one of my Twitter friends, Jorge Ros Sr., is totally right: We should begin to call ourselves “Hispanic-Americans.”


NHL player’s series-winning goal sparks racist tweets
Joyous teammates swarm Capitals right wing Joel Ward after his series-winning goal against the Bruins.
April 26th, 2012
03:27 PM ET

NHL player’s series-winning goal sparks racist tweets

By David Close and Jason Hanna, CNN

(CNN) –– As Joel Ward’s Washington Capitals teammates swarmed their new hero after his playoff series-winning goal against the NHL’s defending champions Wednesday night, more sinister emotions were swirling on social media.

A number of people took to Twitter with racist comments, calling Ward – one of about 20 black men currently on National Hockey League rosters – the N-word.

Perhaps to those tweeters’ surprise, someone collected 40 of those tweets and put them in one place: Chirpstory, a site where one can aggregate other people’s Twitter posts for posterity. (Read the collection – contains offensive language)

To what should be no one’s surprise, the post caught the attention of sports celebrities and media Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

“Despite a black president, things haven't changed,” sports columnist and ESPN “First Take” contributor Rob Parker tweeted Thursday morning.

Read the full post on CNN's This Just In blog

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Filed under: Black in America • Bullying • How we look • Language • Race • Sports
Marlins manager Guillen apologizes for Castro comments, faces 5-game suspension
Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen speaks at a press conference on Tuesday.
April 10th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

Marlins manager Guillen apologizes for Castro comments, faces 5-game suspension

By CNN Staff

(CNN) - The Miami Marlins suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for five games, effective immediately, on Tuesday, just before Guillen apologized for recent comments praising Cuba's Fidel Castro.

Guillen sparked a firestorm when he told Time magazine recently that he respected  Castro for being able to lead Cuba for six decades.

"I respect Fidel Castro," Guillen said in the article. "You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there."

New season, new protests against Cleveland Indians mascots

Guillen apologized during a press conference Tuesday, first speaking in Spanish, saying that he had "betrayed a Latin community" and that he was speaking to "ask for forgiveness with my heart in my hand."

But, he said, he originally spoke of Castro in Spanish and "the translation to English was a bit confusing."

Read the full post on CNN's This Just In blog

Race still a 'hurt line' on comedy club stages
Richad Pryor used the N-word in his standup routine -- then stopped using it after a trip to Africa.
April 10th, 2012
02:56 PM ET

Race still a 'hurt line' on comedy club stages

By Jim Roope, CNN Radio Correspondent

(CNN) - There is one place in America where racism might well be accepted, or at very least tolerated - comedy clubs.

“Race is, like everything, fodder for comedy,” said Dave Reinitz, co-owner of Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, California.

“I think there’s a fine line between racial humor and racism. And some comics cross it. But yes, it is accepted, and it’s funny."

Even he likes a joke based on race at times.

“I can be made to laugh," he said. "Particularly if I know the comic that’s doing it and I know their intent is not to hurt anybody.”


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Filed under: Black in America • Language • Polls • Pop culture
March 30th, 2012
01:31 PM ET

Selena: The Latin superstar more American than Mexican

Editor's Note: Saturday marks the 17th anniversary of the murder of the Latino superstar remembered the world over by one name: Selena. When she was shot and killed by her fan club president, the headlines spoke of a 23-year-old Mexican singer who was about to "cross-over" to American pop super stardom.  The truth was, however, the woman considered the "Queen of  Tejano Music,"  and her husband, Chris Perez, were American kids raised in Texas, speaking English - not Spanish.

"To Selena, with Love," by Chris Perez, Selena's husband, is a new book, published by Celebra. Below is an excerpt that describes how the young couple struggled with mastering Spanish.

“Mexico was the logical place to begin our international publicity blitz. We already had a fan base there, and we could easily drive to the shows from Texas. Of course, none of us fully realized just how nerve- racking it would be to go from playing relatively small venues in the U.S. to playing large amphitheaters and doing interviews in Spanish in Mexico. We were scheduled to play in Monterrey during our first trip, and there was mad press all day. We went from one interview to the next: radio, television, magazine journalists, you name it. Before the trip, Rick had helped me practice saying my name and what instru­ment I played.

I kept repeating this phrase to myself like a mantra: “Mi nombre es Chris Perez y toco la guitarra. Mi nombre es Chris Perez y toco la guitarra.” I knew how absurd the Mexican journalists would think it was if we sang in Spanish but couldn’t even manage to speak in basic textbook phrases. I was determined not to embarrass the band— or myself.


March 18th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

Poll: Should English be the preferred language spoken in Puerto Rico?

In the days leading up to the Puerto Rican Republican primary, English language comments by Rick Santorum created controversy and may be the reason for losing all 20 delegates to Mitt Romney.

In an interview with El Vocero newspaper Santorum said he did not support a state in which English was not the primary language. "As in any other state, (Puerto Rico) should comply with this and every other federal law and that is that English must be the primary language."

The specific federal law that Santorum was referring to is unclear. There are no federal laws, which require English as the primary spoken language for statehood. And the U.S. Constitution does not designate an official language.

In an interview with CNN Santorum defended his position, "obviously Spanish is going to be spoken here on the island, but this needs to be a bilingual country and not just a Spanish speaking country. It's essential for children in America to speak English to fully integrate and have full opportunity."

Santorum is correct that Spanish is by far the most commonly spoken language in Puerto Rico, but English and Spanish are already the official languages.

A referendum on whether to pursue statehood or remain a self-governing U.S. commonwealth will be on the November 6 ballot.

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Filed under: Education • Language • Latino in America • Politics • Polls
Ending the R-word: Ban it or understand it?
Ellen Seidman and her son Max, who has cerebral palsy.
March 8th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

Ending the R-word: Ban it or understand it?

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - Every time Ellen Seidman hears the word "retarded," she worries for her 9-year-old son, Max, who has cerebral palsy.

She wonders if people will ever respect him, or see him as an equal, if they associate that word with people like him, who have intellectual disabilities.

"I'm not saying that anyone who uses the word flippantly has something against people with special needs," said Seidman, a magazine editor and mom blogger. "But it is a demeaning word even if it's meant as a joke, because it spreads the idea that people who are cognitively impaired are either stupid or losers."

Seidman is not alone in her desire to see "the R-word" go the way of racial slurs once considered acceptable. More than 250,000 people have pledged online to take part in the Special Olympics' campaign to "spread the word to end the word." Many of them are expected to participate in Wednesday's annual day of action through pledge drives, fundraisers and individual acts to raise awareness.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Disabilities • Education • Language • Who we are
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