April 11th, 2012
01:51 PM ET

Program helps vets open franchises

Editor's note: Overseas, they fight for freedom. In America, they fight for jobs. “Voters in America: Vets Wanted?” is the first part of a CNN In America documentary series on American voters. Narrated by J.R. Martinez and re-airing May 19th at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.

The unemployment rate among veterans is 5% higher than last year, but initiatives in hopes of changing that are giving vets an opportunity to own their businesses through the franchising industry.

As more U.S. military members return from overseas deployments, they're trying to decide what's next. Thousands are going to school on the GI Bill and others are looking for new careers.

Some vets are finding opportunities through VetFran, which has helped more than 2,100 vets  since the 1990s. Even some who lack business experience are opening franchises - and taking advantage of programs that reduce the cost to do so.

UPS, for example, waived the near $30,000 franchising fee for 10 veterans. The franchisees still have to finance their own ventures, but UPS is guiding them on how to maintain and operate businesses on their own.

Engage: Is Ozzie Guillen's 5-game suspension fair?
Some didn't accept Ozzie Guillen's apology after a press conference held to retract his comments about Fidel Castro.
April 11th, 2012
01:13 PM ET

Engage: Is Ozzie Guillen's 5-game suspension fair?

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Would Marlins manager's 'I love Fidel' comments matter in a different city? - Christian Science Monitor

Wrestler takes anti-illegal immigration message to the ring  -The Los Angeles Times

Study: Food stamps decreased poverty during recession - The New York Times

Report shows education gap for Latinos - The Los Angeles Times

April 6th, 2012
10:54 PM ET

Can there ever again be an 'all-American' beauty?

Editor's note: This is the final part of a six-week series on the perceptions of beauty. Last week, we looked at self-acceptance and self-confidence. This week, we explore how beauty standards across cultures affect perceptions of beauty in the United States.

Check out what CNN iReporters say beauty means to them.

By Sarah Springer, CNN

(CNN) - As 18-year-old Giovana Frediani and her friends stood in front of the mirror to prep for a night out, one girl turned around and complained that her backside was getting big.

It was that moment when Giovana – popular, fashionable Giovana – felt the knock of self-doubt.

As usual, she dressed to accentuate her curves, a typical style among her Latina family and friends. But these friends were from a predominantly white area in Oakland. In her eyes, there was nothing oversized about them.

“If she was saying that about her own body, then she must have been thinking the same way about mine,” said Giovana, an American high school senior who grew up in Oakland.

“I almost feel out of place because they define beauty in different ways than I do.”

The U.S. population is growing, changing, mixing in new ways - more people are in interracial relationships and more identify as multiracial than ever. Those realities change the way women, especially, look at others, ourselves and the idea of the “all-American beauty,” if there is such a thing.


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Filed under: Black in America • Ethnicity • How we look • Race • Women
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
I Am America: Educator WJ O'Reilly
February 22nd, 2012
06:00 AM ET

I Am America: Educator WJ O'Reilly

WJ O'Reilly was raised in Foxborough, Massachusetts by an Irish father and Belgian mother who both believed in having a good education. WJ says he went to the best schools growing up, but learned that life is what you make of it depending on the path you choose to lead.

What makes you American?

Check out WJ's story and see other "I Am America" posts on iReport.

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Filed under: Education • Who we are
Singer Whitney Houston dies at 48
Whitney Houston sold more than 170 million albums, singles and videos during her career, according to her official website.
February 11th, 2012
10:39 PM ET

Singer Whitney Houston dies at 48

How will you remember Whitney Houston? Did you ever see her perform or meet her in person? Share your photos, memories and tributes and together we'll stitch together a remembrance of the legendary pop singer on iReport.

By the CNN Wire Staff

Los Angeles (CNN) - Legendary pop singer Whitney Houston was found dead Saturday at a Beverly Hills, California, hotel, officials said. She was 48.

The entertainer, whose incredible talent was discovered at an early age, was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. (6:55 p.m. ET) at the Beverly Hilton hotel despite resuscitation efforts, a police spokesman said.

Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mark Rosen said there were "no obvious signs of criminal intent" and that the cause of her death is being investigated.

Houston's bodyguard found her body, said Courtney Barnes, publicist for hip-hop artist Ray J, who was dating the pop diva.

According to her official website, Houston sold more than 170 million albums, singles and videos. But she also struggled with addiction problems over the years.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Black in America • Pop culture
New doll line aims to empower girls of all races
Kimani, Valencia and Dahlia are multicultural dolls created by former Barbie designer Stacey McBride-Irby.
February 10th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

New doll line aims to empower girls of all races

By Sarah Springer, CNN

(CNN) – When Stacey McBride- Irby, a long-time Barbie lover and designer, noticed that her 4-year-old daughter wasn’t playing with dolls, she became concerned.   

“As a little girl my Barbie dolls were all Caucasian. But, that didn’t really bother me because I was looking at her as my fantasy world. She was the actress, she was in soap operas, she was getting dressed up to go to a party,” McBride-Irby said. “But times are changing.”

McBride-Irby realized at age 13 that she had a passion for doll design, and years later, she made it her career.

While working for Mattel, she created designs for Barbie and the iconic doll’s friends, Disney princesses, rock star Barbies and her own innovation, “So In Style” Barbie, a line that features African-American Barbies that that resemble those of black women - different skin tones, fuller lips, one doll with curlier hair.

Her “So In Style” creations will be shown with some unique hairstyles at the Bronner Bros. Hair Show in Atlanta this month, but after 15 years, McBride-Irby is now on to another adventure: Her own doll company.


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Filed under: Age • Black in America • Gender • How we look
TV One's 'Find Our Missing' premiere draws new tips
Pamela Butler, left, and Hasanni Campbell are featured on the first episode of TV One's "Find Our Missing."
January 19th, 2012
04:40 PM ET

TV One's 'Find Our Missing' premiere draws new tips

Editor's note: Dr. Drew and his guests explored the issue of whether the media ignores missing minorities. Watch "Dr. Drew" at 9 p.m. ET and PT weeknights on HLN.

By Sarah Springer, CNN

(CNN) –The series premiere of TV One's “Find Our Missing" on Wednesday has already drawn new tips on some missing persons cases.

"Find Our Missing," hosted by “Law & Order” actress S. Epatha Merkerson, documents unsolved cases of missing black people in the United States. The premiere episode shared the stories of 47-year-old Pamela Butler, who disappeared in 2009 in Washington, D.C., and 5-year-old Hasanni Campbell, who vanished in Oakland, California, that same year. Eight more stories will be shared throughout the season.

The cases come from the files of The Black and Missing Foundation Inc., , which helps publicize cases of missing people of color in the United States.

The organization, founded in 2008 by sisters-in-law Derrica and Natalie Wilson, has seen a huge jump in web traffic and some new tips since the show aired, Natalie Wilson said.

Derrica Wilson, the organization’s president and CEO, said the show provides awareness about missing people whose stories often go under-reported in traditional media. The organization has helped reunite a number of families using a tip line, emergency alerts, social media and other sources. The show's website includes message boards and other platforms to help people share information.

“This show complements the efforts of the foundation," Derrica Wilson said. “Right now there is no platform. We don’t have any platforms such as this series to bring attention to missing persons of color.”

Craig Henry, director of programming and production for TV One, said cases involving missing black people are often overlooked because of stereotypes surrounding the black community.

“I just think that the general belief about black people is that most of us live in impoverished conditions and crime is a regular part of our lives. When you hear about people who happen to be missing, we are a bit desensitized, unfairly so, to black people and crime,” Henry said.


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Filed under: Black in America • Community • How we live • Pop culture • Race • Social justice
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