By Laura Ly, CNN
(CNN) - Oberlin College in Ohio suspended classes Monday after a student reported seeing a person resembling a Ku Klux Klan member near the college's Afrikan Heritage House.
The sighting of the person wearing a white hood and robe was reported early Monday morning and follows a string of recent hate incidents on Oberlin's campus that have ignited shock and confusion among the student body.
"Since the beginning, there's been anger, frustration, sadness and fear, but we've been working toward a concentrated effort toward change," said Eliza Diop, 20, a politics and Africana Studies major who serves on the college student senate and is a resident of the Afrikan Heritage House, which offers programs focused on the African diaspora, according to the college's website.
Oberlin College is a small liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, with almost 3,000 students. An emergency meeting among the college's officials was immediately called after the report.
In lieu of classes, college administrators asked students, faculty and staff to "gather for a series of discussions of the challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks," a statement on Oberlin's website said.
"We hope today will allow the entire community — students, faculty, and staff —to make a strong statement about the values that we cherish here at Oberlin: inclusion, respect for others, and a strong and abiding faith in the worth of every individual," the statement said.FULL STORY
(CNN) –– A French magazine apologizes for using a white model in black face for an editorial called "African Queen."
Washington (CNN) – A predictably divided Supreme Court appeared ready to strike down – at least in part – the key enforcement provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, with many conservative justices on Wednesday suggesting it was a constitutionally unnecessary vestige of the civil rights era.
Known as Section 5, it gives the federal government open-ended oversight of states and localities mostly in the South with a history of voter discrimination.
Any changes in voting laws and procedures in all or parts of 16 covered states must be "pre-cleared" with Washington. That could include something as simple as moving a polling place temporarily across the street.
In a tense 80 minutes of oral arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked why the court would rule "in favor of the county that is the epitome" of what caused the law to be passed in the first place.
Her three reliably liberal colleagues appeared to support continued use of the coverage formula run by the federal Justice Department.
But Justice Samuel Alito wondered why some states were subject to oversight and not others.
"Why shouldn't it apply everywhere in the country," he asked. The other four more conservative justices had tough questions for the Obama administration's positions.
This case will be one of the biggest the justices tackle this term, offering a social, political, and legal barometer on the progress of civil rights in the United States and the level of national vigilance still needed to ensure minorities have equal access to the election process.
A ruling in this appeal is expected by June.FULL STORY
Editor’s Note: Eric Deggans serves as TV/media critic for the Tampa Bay Times, and is the author of "Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation," a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media.
By Eric Deggans, Special to CNN
(CNN) - One year after an explosion of press attention made it one of the most-covered news stories in the first half of 2012, the question seems obvious:
Has the news media learned anything about covering race issues in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting?
Considering how little attention the case garners today, it is tough to remember just 12 months ago how much journalists obsessed on this story, when unarmed, African-American teen Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in a Sanford, Florida, subdivision on Feb. 26, 2012.
For a time, it was second in coverage only to the presidential election, as Martin’s family pressed a reluctant Sanford police department and Florida prosecutors to arrest Zimmerman for fatally shooting a teenager armed only with a bag of candy and a bottle of iced tea. As condemnation of Zimmerman grew, a cadre of supporters, often in conservative media outlets, arose to decry a rush to judgment while challenging the family’s depiction of Martin as an innocent child.
Too often, news audiences seemed caught in the middle, ill-served by coverage which often seemed focused on serving the news outlet’s own priorities as much as informing the public.
Twelve months later, it may seem as if little has changed. But there are subtle lessons to be learned about the shape of modern media from the impact of the Trayvon Martin case, some that are shared in "Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation:" FULL POST
Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking with Grease." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000.
By Donna Brazile, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - Politicians and historians love to use the word "crossroads."
It's become as American, and cliched, as "Mom's apple pie." The historian Shelby Foote, wrote, "The Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things. ... It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads."
I have been thinking about the word, because this year's Black History Month theme is "At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington." Two pivotal events that shaped modern American history.
A "crossroads" is literally the intersection of two or more roads - two or more paths to get to the same place. Metaphorically, it refers to the place - the moment - of a critical decision. Shall we go forward together? Shall we separate? Shall we fight?
We mark history's crossroads not by road signs but by the documents that identify them. The Declaration of Independence is certainly one. Who has not memorized the opening of the second paragraph? "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."FULL STORY
By John Sinnott, CNN
(CNN) - Hardcore Italian soccer "ultra" Federico is a Lazio supporter who happily admits directing monkey chants at black players.
It is "a means to distract opposition players" says Federico, a member of the Irriducibili ("The Unbeatables") group which follows the Rome-based team.
"I am against anyone who calls me a Nazi," Federico told academic Alberto Testa, who spent time "embedded" with Lazio and Roma ultras for the book "Football, Fascism and Fandom: The UltraS of Italian Football," co-authored by Gary Armstrong.
"What I do not like is people who come to my country and commit crimes; Albanians and Romanians are destroying Rome with their camps," Federico adds.
"But I'm not a racist. One day, I was waiting in my car at the traffic lights and, as usual, there was a young female gypsy who was trying to clean the car windscreen and was asking for money.
"Suddenly municipal police officers started to mistreat the girl. I jumped out of my car and almost kicked his arse. I hate injustice."
There is nothing black and white about Italian football.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Jesse Williams is an actor/producer who plays Dr. Jackson Avery on the TV series "Grey's Anatomy." He is a Temple University graduate and former public high school teacher. Williams founded the production company, farWord Inc. and is an executive producer of "Question Bridge: Black Males." Follow him on Twitter and Tumblr. Note: This article contains offensive language.
By Jesse Williams, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Films such as "Django Unchained" carry with them an uncommonly high concentration of influence and opportunity. Due to the scarcity of diverse and inspiring representations on screen, Quentin Tarantino's latest movie casts a longer shadow than many are willing to acknowledge.
In a recent interview with UK Channel 4, Tarantino stated his goals and interpretation of the Oscar-nominated film's impact: "I've always wanted to explore slavery ... to give black American males a hero ... and revenge. ... I am responsible for people talking about slavery in America in a way they have not in 30 years."
He went on, "Violence on slaves hasn't been dealt with to the extent that I've dealt with it."
My personal biracial experience growing up on both sides of segregated hoods, suburbs and backcountry taught me a lot about the coded language and arithmetic of racism. I was often invisible when topics of race arose, the racial adoptee that you spoke honestly in front of.
I grew up hearing the candid dirt from both sides, and I studied it. The conversation was almost always influenced by something people read or saw on a screen. Media portrayals greatly affect, if not entirely construct, how we interpret "otherness." People see what they are shown, and little else.Read Jesse Williams' full column
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - Published over the weekend, Emory University President James Wagner's winter message reflected on the importance of compromise in politically divided times.
The example he chose to illustrate his point, however, was rather unfortunate.
And before the weekend was over, he was apologizing for citing the so-called three-fifths compromise in which Northern and Southern states agreed to count three-fifths of the slave population for determining representation.
"A number of people have raised questions regarding part of my essay in the most recent issue of Emory Magazine," Wagner wrote in an apology posted above his original column.
"Certainly, I do not consider slavery anything but heinous, repulsive, repugnant, and inhuman," he said. "I should have stated that fact clearly in my essay. I am sorry for the hurt caused by not communicating more clearly my own beliefs. To those hurt or confused by my clumsiness and insensitivity, please forgive me." FULL POST
By Ben Brumfield, CNN
(CNN) - A nurse is suing a hospital, claiming it agreed to a man's request that no African-Americans care for his baby.
The lawsuit accuses managers at Hurley Medical Center in Flint of reassigning Tonya Battle, who has worked at the facility for 25 years, based on the color of her skin.
The man approached Battle, while she was caring for his child in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, asking to speak to her supervisor, according to the complaint filed in January by Battle's attorney.
She pointed the charge nurse in his direction.
The man, who is not named in the filing, allegedly showed her a tattoo that may have been "a swastika of some kind" and told her that he didn't want African-Americans involved in his baby's care.FULL STORY