.
March 6th, 2013
12:00 PM ET

As classes resume, Oberlin grapples with hate messages

By CNN Staff

Oberlin, Ohio (CNN) - A day after students at Oberlin College put down their books to focus on how to respond to a spate of hate messages targeting blacks, Jews and gays on campus, classes resumed Tuesday amid tension.

The messages included graffiti with swastikas, posters containing racial slurs and other derogatory statements targeting various student communities and fliers bearing racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic language.

A student's report on Monday that she had seen someone on campus dressed like a member of the Ku Klux Klan led the school to suspend classes for the day.

"I saw someone in what seemed to be KKK paraphernalia walking on a pathway, like, a pathway that leads to South Campus," the student, Sunceray Tavler, told CNN affiliate WJW. "Just seeing that and having that sink in, this is something that's real, that actually happens."

Police said they received a report of a student wearing a blanket on his or her shoulders but could not say whether the incidents were related.

Two students have been identified as being involved in the postings from February and will be subject to college disciplinary procedures, Oberlin police said.

FULL STORY
Posted by
Filed under: Education • History • How we live • Race • Where we live
March 5th, 2013
06:10 PM ET

Chavez leaves a revolutionary legacy

By Mariano Castillo, CNN

(CNN) - Charismatic and combative, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez cultivated a larger-than-life appearance. But even after 13 years in office, his legacy may be more fleeting than his outsize personality suggested.

Chavez, 58, died Tuesday afternoon, according to the country's vice president. Chavez had battled cancer.

Supporters and opponents alike can name ways Venezuela has been transformed while Chavez was in office - poverty is down, crime is up, polarization has become the status quo - but the changes may not be as ingrained as they seem.

The cornerstone of Chavez's presidency was the Bolivarian Revolution, his ambitious plan to turn Venezuela into a socialist state. The most visible symbols of the revolution were the numerous social "missions" aimed at eradicating illiteracy, distributing staple foods and providing health care in all corners of the country.

Social programs were not new to Venezuela, but Chavez elevated them in scope and prominence.

"The most positive legacy that Chavez has is that he put his finger on a legitimate grievance that many Venezuelans have: social injustice," said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a research and policy center in Washington. "Whoever succeeds him is going to have to deal with that question."

iReport: Send your thoughts on the death of the Venezuelan president.

Chavez was elected and re-elected in large part thanks to support from the country's poor, who felt marginalized by previous governments.

FULL STORY
Posted by
Filed under: History • Latino in America • Where we live
March 5th, 2013
12:00 AM ET

Oberlin College cancels classes to address racial incidents

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
Posted by
Filed under: Education • History • How we live • Race • Where we live
March 1st, 2013
02:21 PM ET

Obama urges court to overturn California same-sex marriage ban

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

Washington (CNN) - In a bold political and legal move, the Obama administration formally expressed its support for same-sex marriage in California, setting up a high stakes political and constitutional showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court over a fast-evolving and contentious issue.

In a broadly worded legal brief on Thursday that senior government sources said had President Barack Obama's personal input and blessing, the Justice Department asserted gay and lesbian couples in the nation's most populous state have the same "equal protection" right to wed and that voters there were not empowered to ban it.

"Use of a voter initiative to promote democratic self-governance cannot save a law like Proposition 8 that would otherwise violate equal protection," said the brief. "Prejudice may not however be the basis for differential treatment under the law."

California's 2008 Proposition 8 referendum revoked the right of same-sex couples to wed after lawmakers and the state courts previously allowed it.

FULL STORY
February 28th, 2013
09:58 PM ET

What the "Harlem shake" has to do with Harlem

By Raelyn Johnson and Alicia W. Stewart, CNN

(CNN) - It begins rather innocently.

An infectious track, a conservative, solo dancer and a few oblivious observers.

A mere fifteen seconds of pelvic thrusts, then, a roar of a lion, a drop of a beat...

Then, everyone goes CRAZY.

The “Harlem Shake” is the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 for the second week in a row, a top 10 iTunes download and the meme of the moment. Millions are watching variations on the “Harlem Shake” video theme in which the dance starts with one person thrusting their pelvis or dancing solo for 15 seconds, while the people in the background ignore them. Then when the beat drops, a group joins in bizarre, repetitive movements. The whole dance lasts around 30 seconds.

While this latest trend is built around the “Harlem Shake", it has scant ties with the New York neighborhood, and very little in common with the original dance that shares its name.

So just how did the phenomenon begin? It starts with a dancer in Harlem, a producer from Philadelphia and ends with you.

FULL POST

Justices offer split views on Voting Rights Act enforcement
February 27th, 2013
03:32 PM ET

Justices offer split views on Voting Rights Act enforcement

By

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

Filed under: History • Politics • Race • Where we live
N.Y. state lawmaker apologizes for blackface costume
Dov Hikind, center, is seen in costume with his wife and son. The photo was obtained from what CNN believes to be his son Yoni's Facebook page.
February 26th, 2013
03:44 PM ET

N.Y. state lawmaker apologizes for blackface costume

By Sonia Kennebeck, CNN

New York (CNN) - A New York state lawmaker said Monday he's sorry if he offended anyone by dressing in blackface for a Purim party, but a colleague says his apology doesn't go far enough.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind wore an Afro wig, an orange jersey and had his face painted brown by a professional makeup artist for a weekend party celebrating the Jewish holiday at his home. He told The New York Times that he was supposed to be "a black basketball player."

The Brooklyn Democrat initially tried to dismiss complaints about his costume as "political correctness to the absurd," but reversed himself by Monday afternoon in the face of mounting criticism.

"Anyone who was offended, I am sorry that they were offended," Hikind told reporters at a news conference. "That was not the intention, and that is really all I can say. I just have to reiterate it was Purim. Purim is when people get dressed up."

But Hikind's fellow Brooklyn Democrat, Assemblyman Karim Camara, said the costume was "callous and repugnant."

FULL STORY
Posted by
Filed under: History • How we live • Politics • Where we live
African-Americans in Paris: 'It's always been about freedom for us'
Julia Browne leads an African-American history tour in Paris. Browne launched Walking the Spirit Tours in 1994
February 25th, 2013
11:49 AM ET

African-Americans in Paris: 'It's always been about freedom for us'

By Maureen Jenkins, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Think Paris, and the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées and haute couture come to mind. But the City of Light also is rich in African-American history. Keeping this history alive are tour companies that share it, up close and personal, with visitors to France.

From legendary entertainer Josephine Baker to internationally acclaimed artist Henry Ossawa Tanner to World War I's ragtime-and-jazz-playing "Harlem Hellfighters," Paris has embraced African-American culture like few other places. Because of that legendary embrace - one that black folks in the States had heard about since the 1800s - Paris loomed large in their imaginations. To many who didn't always feel welcome in their native country, the city sounded like a place where they could emotionally exhale.

"It's always been about freedom for us," says Marcus Bruce, the Benjamin E. Mays Professor of Religious Studies at Bates College and author of "Henry Ossawa Tanner: A Spiritual Biography."

Legendary Harlem-born author James Baldwin, who left for Paris in 1948, said "African-Americans discover in Paris the terms by which they can define themselves. It's the freedom to work beyond the assumptions of what we can and can't do as African-Americans. It's a different rhythm and pace. We can imagine ourselves in new ways in that space."

FULL STORY
February 21st, 2013
11:00 AM ET

For Italy's 'ultras,' nothing black and white about soccer and racism

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
Posted by
Filed under: History • Race • Sports • Where we live
February 20th, 2013
04:34 PM ET

Little Senegal in the Big Apple: Harlem's West African heart

By Vladimir Duthiers and Adeline Chen, CNN

Harlem, New York (CNN) - At the heart of West Harlem, West Africa is buzzing.

Nestled inside one of the world's most diverse cities, over the years the thriving neighborhood of Harlem has become the hub of New York's African American community.

At the start of the 20th century, throngs of African Americans migrated from the southern United States into the big city, lured by the jobs and opportunities of urban life.

But in the last 30 years or so, another group of people decided to call Harlem home. Scores of immigrants from several francophone West African countries moved to the borough to start a new life. At the center of it all, a vibrant Senegalese community has created a new home away from home, adding their culture, fashion and tastes to Harlem's diverse mix.

Known as Little Senegal, or Le Petit Senegal, the strip of blocks around West 116th Street is packed with inviting restaurants and colorful shops, powerful reminders of life back in the homeland.

"We're the ones who built Harlem," says El Hadji Fey, vice president of the Senegalese Association of America. "When we got here, all the stores you see over here, it was absolutely nothing. We bought a lot of stores here, a lot of Senegalese businesses right here.

FULL STORY
« older posts
newer posts »