July 21st, 2012
08:35 AM ET

Opinion: Sylvia's, like soul food, feels like home

Editor's Note: Byron Hurt is a documentary filmmaker whose latest film, Soul Food Junkies, is scheduled to broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens in January 2013.

By Byron Hurt, Special to CNN

(CNN) – A friend of mine called me Thursday evening and asked, “Did you hear the news about Sylvia?”

Sylvia Woods, queen of soul food, dies at 86 

I knew right away which Sylvia my friend was referring to. Something must have happened to Ms. Sylvia Woods, the pioneering restaurateur whose soul food gave so many people comfort.

As I thought about the social and historical significance of Sylvia, what struck me is that my friend didn’t refer to Sylvia as "Ms. Woods" or "Sylvia Woods."

Sylvia Woods – beyond the label, a legacy of dignity and inspiration

She simply said "Sylvia."  It was as if she were calling to inform me that a family member or a close personal friend had just passed.

Though Sylvia Woods was not a blood relative, she felt like one to me, and to anyone who frequented her world famous Harlem restaurant. It was a place where you were home. You could let your guard down, relax and dig in. FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • Health • History • What we think
Opinion: Meritocracy in Silicon Valley a worthy goal but not a reality
Marissa Mayer, who is pregnant with her first child, created a buzz this week when she became Yahoo's new CEO.
July 20th, 2012
03:13 PM ET

Opinion: Meritocracy in Silicon Valley a worthy goal but not a reality

Editor's note: Freada Kapor Klein is a venture partner at Kapor Capital , the founder of the Level Playing Field Institute and author of "Giving Notice: Why the Best and the Brightest Leave the Workplace and How You Can Help Them Stay."  She says her career has been devoted to helping create fair workplaces, beginning with co-founding the first group on sexual harassment in the United States in 1976.

By Freada Kapor Klein, Special to CNN

(CNN) - I look forward to the day when a pregnant engineer becoming CEO of a major tech company isn’t news.

Wouldn’t it be great if the hottest deals were done in the nursing mothers’ lounge as often as they were done on the golf course?

If this possibility strikes us as odd, perhaps it’s a sign that Silicon Valley has not yet achieved the perfect meritocracy it claims to be.

Opinion: Silicon Valley is no meritocracy for minorities

Despite the best intentions, Silicon Valley bears little resemblance to the America it depends on for talent and customers.

This gap between aspiration and achievement is worth serious exploration.

Recently, I was part of a panel with Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo, and Angela Benton, the founder of NewMe Accelerator who was profiled on CNN’s Black in America 4: "Silicon Valley, the New Promised Land."

If Mayer can have it all, can you?

Their stories reflected two different paths to success. FULL POST

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Filed under: Ethnicity • Gender • Race • Technology • What we think
Opinion: Latino voices necessary in mobile internet debates
CNN Contributor Maria Cardona says Latinos should be more involved in shaping the policies of the technology industry.
July 14th, 2012
01:23 PM ET

Opinion: Latino voices necessary in mobile internet debates

Editor's note: Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

By Maria Cardona, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - There has been a lot of talk about how Latinos need to come out and vote to have their voices heard.

But what we haven’t heard enough of is the importance of Latinos becoming active participants in shaping the policies of the technology industry.

I have been interested and involved in helping to ensure Latinos are better versed in telecom and technology issues since I worked for the late Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown. He understood minorities had a big stake in our digital future. His work with one of the department’s agencies, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, underscored the early benefits of the internet to minority communities.

Currently, I work with Dewey Square, a public affairs firm that has advocated for telecom policies that will make broadband access more accessible and universal.

Now, a report underscores why this is so important.


July 12th, 2012
04:06 PM ET

'There is nothing exciting about me or any other black Republican'

By Alicia W. Stewart, CNN

(CNN) - Don Harwell has not spoken to his twin brother in 10 years.

"As I remember it, the discussion was (that) the Book of Mormon was a lie, " Harwell says.

His brother, a born-again Baptist, was speaking about his faith. Harwell finally got tired of trying to defend his own faith to his brother, and they have not spoken since that call. "It hurts, you know," Harwell shares.

But, he adds: "I have real short patience with people who don't have the knowledge of a book they have never read."

He has become accustomed to being misunderstood at times.

He is black. He is conservative. He is Mormon.

And he plans to vote for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

Romney said he "expected boos"

In an election year where one poll currently puts African-American support for Romney at just 5%,  and after a NAACP speech that brought boos to the Republican, conservative blacks have again become a focus.

Is Obama taking the Black vote for granted?

In America spoke to Don Harwell, Jennifer Carroll and James White to learn more.


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Filed under: 2012 Election • Black in America • Politics • Race • Who we are
June 27th, 2012
04:46 PM ET

Female writers to Nora Ephron: 'I'll have what she's having'

by Alicia W. Stewart, CNN.com Identity editor

(CNN) - The romantic comedy is not a movie category necessarily known for churning out Oscar nominees, but in the capable hands of Nora Ephron, the "rom-com,"  a genre that elicits as many rolled eyes as clutched hearts, was a smart and lovely thing.

In the oft quoted scene from "When Harry Met Sally," for which Ephron earned a screenwriting Oscar nomination, Sally, played by Meg Ryan, imitates a moment of pleasure with great exaggeration, before promptly stopping and having a bite to eat.  A neighboring diner looks at Ryan, then at her waiter, and deadpans:

"I'll have what she's having."

Nora Ephron, prolific writer and filmmaker, dies at age 71

Ephron was a writer's writer: journalist, book author, playwright, blogger, editor, director. In the process, she became a symbol to a generation, similar to what  Dorothy Parker, the journalist known for her wit, was to her: an example of an intelligent, witty writer of a generation.

"I’m not going to lie: since I first learned of Nora, when I understood the body of her work, I wanted to be like her," Forbes contributor Liza Donnelly wrote.


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Filed under: Gender • Pop culture • Who we are • Women
June 27th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Opinion: No one at the top gets to have it all

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. Follow her on Twitter @carolynedgar.

By Carolyn Edgar, Special to CNN

(CNN) -Anne-Marie Slaughter’s much-discussed article in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,”  contains an inconsistency: after describing all the reasons why she had to give up her “dream job,” Slaughter writes: “Only when women wield power in sufficient numbers will we create a society that genuinely works for all women. That will be a society that works for everyone.”

It’s hard to imagine how well the utopian society Slaughter describes will work for female leaders. Those women will still be forced to struggle with the challenges Slaughter describes of trying to hold a position at the top of one’s field while maintaining one’s commitments to family and community.

The truth is, no one – male or female – who wants to work at the top gets to “have it all.” No one gets to be CEO of a Fortune 100 corporation, or managing partner at an international law firm, or United States senator – or President–without making significant personal sacrifices.

Opinion: Why is 'having it all' a women's issue?

I experienced this first hand. FULL POST

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Filed under: Family • Relationships • What we think • Women
June 25th, 2012
07:36 PM ET

Opinion: High court's immigration ruling will affect Latino vote

Editor's Note: Matt A. Barreto is an associate professor of political science and an adjunct professor of law at the University of Washington. He is co-founder of the polling and research firm Latino Decisions and author of the book "Ethnic Cues: The Role of Shared Ethnicity in Latino Political Participation."

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 anti-immigration law that some observers are calling a “split decision” or even a victory for the federal government over Arizona.

Supreme Court mostly rejects Arizona immigration law; gov says 'heart' remains

Though the decision did leave open the possibility of someone challenging how law enforcement officers implement the provision that the court upheld, for the Latino community, today is not “split” or a “victory” but rather a very serious blow to civil and human rights.

For immigrants and opponents, court's ruling hits their real lives

In May 2010, after the Arizona law was signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, a Latino Decisions poll found that 85% of Latino registered voters in Arizona believed that it would result in U.S. citizen Latinos being racially profiled and stopped by the police.

Today, the court has created an opening that could allow those fears to come true.

This is all happening in an election year, in which many pundits have called Latino voters a crucial bloc that could influence who wins the presidential election.

So, what are the political implications of the court’s ruling?


How a mother changed the world for her daughter
President Lyndon B. Johnson and Patsy Mink in 1966. Mink was an author of Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in schools.
June 23rd, 2012
02:51 PM ET

How a mother changed the world for her daughter

by Alicia W. Stewart , CNN

(CNN) - Wendy Mink was 7 years old when she decided to run for president.

But her dream was denied before she began.

"I was asked to remove my name from the ballot," Mink said. "A teacher told me that it was more appropriate for a boy to be president."

She could be a helper and run for vice president, the teacher offered.

Ten years later, Mink received a rejection letter from Stanford.  They had "reached their quota" of women for that year.

Today, the independent scholar who taught for 30 years in higher education sees how Title IX - the education act that prohibited gender discrimination in federally funded institutions - has influenced her life.

"I directly witnessed the struggle to win and implement Title IX and have been directly involved in its enforcement at the university level," she said.

A woman who went to graduate school and worked in academia, she has a professional connection to the legislation that was signed 40 years ago.

But there also is a more personal one.

The co-author of the law was her mother.


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Opinion: Can we all get along?
After riots in Los Angeles in 1992, Rodney King made an emotional plea: "People, I just want to say, can we all get along?"
June 20th, 2012
06:24 PM ET

Opinion: Can we all get along?

Editor's Note: Jeff Yang writes the column Tao Jones for the Wall Street Journal Online. He is a regular contributor to WNYC radio, blogging for "The Brian Lehrer Show," and appears weekly on "The Takeaway." He previously wrote the Asian Pop column for the San Francisco Chronicle and was founder and publisher of A magazine. He tweets @originalspin.

by Jeff Yang, Special to CNN

He was an unlikely symbol in an uncertain time, a victim who found himself transformed into an accidental icon of institutionalized racism, a private and wary individual who was reluctantly dragged into the world's biggest spotlight. But Rodney King's untimely death Sunday at the age of 47 — 20 years after his case sparked a conflagration that enveloped Los Angeles and shook its institutions to the core — has prompted many to muse on his most famous quote, given at a news conference called three days after the announcement that the officers who beat him mercilessly on camera had been found not guilty: “People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along?"

King’s statement was a desperate plea for an end to the unrest and destruction whose toll would include 55 deaths, as many as 2,000 injuries and nearly a billion dollars in property damage; it was a rhetorical question that no more required an answer than a muttered “What’s your problem?” requires an answer.

Timeline: Rodney King from 1991 to 2012

And yet, two decades later, it’s a question that deserves to be asked in truth: Can we all get along? Can we? FULL POST

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Filed under: Asian in America • Black in America • History • Race • Who we are
June 12th, 2012
08:41 PM ET

A kinder, gentler Ku Klux Klan? 'We do not hate anyone,' imperial wizard says

by Alicia W. Stewart, CNN

(CNN) –“All we wanna do is adopt a highway,” said April Chambers, secretary of the  North Georgia chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. “We're not doing it for publicity. We're doing it to keep the mountains beautiful. People throwing trash out on the side of the road ... that ain't right."

For many Americans, the Ku Klux Klan has been a symbol for terrorism, racism and evil in America, synonymous with burning crosses, lynchings and hooded men.

Even today, the name evokes vociferous discussion about the rights of a local group to adopt a highway in North Georgia, which was recently denied.

Overheard on CNN.com: Reader 'feeling a bit dirty' for agreeing with KKK on litter pickup

But is the latest effort to adopt a highway an introduction of a new era of a kinder, gentler Klan or merely an effort to gain attention? After more than a century and a half, what is the Ku Klux Klan today?


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Filed under: History • Race • Who we are
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