- Created on 06 March 2013
NEW YORK — You know the whole thing about a woman's prerogative to change her mind? Venus Williams can't do it — at least not when it comes to her tennis wardrobe.
She already knows that come August at the U.S. Open, she'll be wearing a black floral tennis dress, and for tournaments earlier in the summer, it'll be pink python prints. Williams wears almost exclusively her own line called EleVen, which she has helmed since 2007. Both looks are part of the fall collection, which Williams offered a preview of on Monday at a Manhattan photo studio. The spring collection that goes into stores later this month has some tie-dye prints, nautical stripes and a more painterly watercolor floral.
"When we are designing, I am narrowing down which ones I'm wearing. I have got to plan ahead. ... The retailers want to know right away which ones I'll be wearing," she says. This decisiveness works for her and her busy life, she adds. "I have to be effective with my time."
Last week, she was in South America playing in the Brazil Cup. Williams maintains a full schedule of tennis tournaments and appearances, although she did announce that she was diagnosed in 2011 with an autoimmune disease that slows her down.
Eventually, she'd like to take all of her tennis outfits — including the "grandma floral" skirt her mother made her for her first pro match when she was only 13 years old — and join them with the on-court wardrobe of her sister Serena for some sort of museum exhibit.
Williams, 32, says she absorbs trend reports and keeps her eye on the runways for ideas, but some things just don't translate to athletic clothes: the Victorian boudoir trend, for example. "Yeah, that one, with all the lace, didn't work for sport, and I'm not sure about menswear, either."
Designing EleVen has also made her more aware of what's in her closet, including a lot of white, black, green and floral prints. She steers pretty clear of purple and magenta, and it took her a while to warm up to red, orange and turquoise, but, Williams says, her collection can't be only her favorite colors and styles. "I'm loosening up."
- Created on 05 March 2013
Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
SELMA, Ala. — The vice president and black leaders commemorating a famous civil rights march on Sunday said efforts to diminish the impact of African-Americans' votes haven't stopped in the years since the 1965 Voting Rights Act added millions to Southern voter rolls.
More than 5,000 people followed Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma's annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee.
The event commemorates the "Bloody Sunday" beating of voting rights marchers — including a young Lewis — by state troopers as they began a march to Montgomery in March 1965. The 50-mile march prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act that struck down impediments to voting by African-Americans and ended all-white rule in the South.
Biden, the first sitting vice president to participate in the annual re-enactment, said nothing shaped his consciousness more than watching TV footage of the beatings. "We saw in stark relief the rank hatred, discrimination and violence that still existed in large parts of the nation," he said.
Biden said marchers "broke the back of the forces of evil," but that challenges to voting rights continue today with restrictions on early voting and voter registration drives and enactment of voter ID laws where no voter fraud has been shown.
"We will never give up or give in," Lewis told marchers.
Jesse Jackson said Sunday's event had a sense of urgency because the U.S. Supreme Court heard a request Wednesday by a mostly white Alabama county to strike down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act.
"We've had the right to vote for 48 years, but they've never stopped trying to diminish the impact of the votes," Jackson said.
Referring to the Voting Rights act, the Rev. Al Sharpton said: "We are not here for a commemoration. We are here for a continuation."
The Supreme Court is weighing Shelby County's challenge to a portion of the law that requires states with a history of racial discrimination, mostly in the Deep South, to get approval from the Justice Department before implementing any changes in election laws. That includes everything from new voting districts to voter ID laws.
Attorneys for Shelby County argued that the pre-clearance requirement is outdated in a state where one-fourth of the Legislature is black. But Jackson predicted the South will return to gerrymandering and more at-large elections if the Supreme Court voids part of the law.
Attorney General Eric Holder, the defendant in Shelby County's suit, told marchers that the South is far different than it was in 1965 but is not yet at the point where the most important part of the voting rights act can be dismissed as unnecessary.
Martin Luther King III, whose father led the march when it resumed after Bloody Sunday, said, "We come here not to just celebrate and observe but to recommit."
One of the NAACP attorneys who argued the case, Debo Adegbile, said when Congress renewed the Voting Rights Act in 2006, it understood that the act makes sure minority inclusion is considered up front.
"It reminds us to think consciously about how we can include all our citizens in democracy. That is as important today as it was in 1965," he said.
Adegbile said the continued need for the law was shown in 2011 when undercover recordings from a bribery investigation at the Alabama Legislature included one white legislator referring to blacks as "aborigines" and other white legislators laughing.
"This was 2011. This was not 1965," he said.
- Created on 23 February 2013
By Laura Ly Special to CNN
(CNN) -- A math homework assignment that asked fourth grade students to tally the number of slaves on a ship has sparked outrage among parents and administrators in Manhattan. The assignment was devised by another group of students, after they apparently expressed interest in the transatlantic slave trade. It required fourth graders to calculate the remainder of those not killed by a mutiny aboard the vessel, and to determine the number of times slaves were beaten in one month.
"This is really inappropriate," student teacher Aziza Harding told CNN affiliate NY1 on Friday. "It should not be a homework assignment, and I did not want to make copies of this." Harding was asked to photocopy the assignment by another teacher, but refused because the questions made her uncomfortable and she thought it desensitized students to the horrors of slavery. The first question read: "In a slave ship, there are 3,799 slaves. One day, the slaves took over the ship. 1,897 slaves are dead. How many slaves are alive?" The second question read: "One slave got whipped five times a day. How many times did he get whipped in a month (31 days)? Another slave got whipped nine times a day. How many times did he get whipped in a month? How many times did the two slaves get whipped together in one month?"
The worksheet was created earlier this year by another teacher whose students were studying the history of slavery in their social studies class. During a math lesson, they were asked to create word problems on the same topic. Another teacher borrowed the worksheet before leaving for vacation, according to a statement by New York school officials.
"This is obviously unacceptable and we will take appropriate disciplinary action against these teachers," said Connie Pankratz, a spokesperson for the NYC Department of Education. "The chancellor spoke to the principal, and she has already taken steps to ensure this does not happen again." Adele Schroeter, the school principal, said she was appalled and will be meeting with staff as well as families. "I have already met with the teacher and have arranged for training around this issue for the entire staff at my school," she said in a statement. Harding said that instead of students getting desensitized to this type of violence, she wanted them to "have a general idea that wow, this is a terrible thing that happened to a group of people for over 300 years."
Harding, a graduate student at New York University, contacted her professor about the incident, then reached out to NY1. The professor, Charlton McIlwain, who teaches Media, Culture, and Communication, said, "When she first explained what had happened to me, I was in disbelief. I said, 'I don't believe you, send me a copy.' " He said he understood that teachers were trying to integrate subject matter, but felt the math questions did not provide enough context for the students. "It completely trivializes the historical significance, pain and violence of slavery. By extracting that experience into math problems, students role play being slave traders. It's part of a much larger story and you can't get that in a math assignment," McIlwain said.
This comes after a string of similar incidents in schools across the country last year. In January 2012, a Georgia elementary teacher came under fire after using slavery references in math problems assigned to 8-year olds. In March, a teacher in Washington was fired after she assigned math problem asking students to calculate how many Africans, Americans and Indians to bake in ovens for Thanksgiving. In October, a Wisconsin teacher drew criticism for assigning math homework that used a derogatory Native American term for women.
The math worksheet has drawn reaction from the school and the surrounding community, including a New York state senator calling for the immediate removal of the two teachers who assigned the homework. McIlwain said he does not think firing the teachers is the answer. "It would be better to have these teachers go through some kind of productive discipline where they can talk with parents, with students, with the community, about why this is offensive and why the topic is important," said McIlwain. "I hope the dialogue will continue."
- Created on 04 March 2013
Think of the most personal e-mail you sent this week. Now imagine d eciding to bcc: the folks at Gmail, because in a world as complicated and open as ours, there really is no longer any need for privacy.
Of course that is not true, and none of us would really do that. But the fact of the matter is, for those who have a Gmail account, or for others who exchange emails with Gmail users, they virtually copy Google and their advertisers with every click of the send button.
You may have heard of “Scroogled,” or the campaign designed to expose Gmail’s snoopy tactic to boost advertising revenue. In short, they read your email, pick up on themes and direct targeted ads to you as a result. Ever wonder if it was a coincidence that you emailed your best friend about mice in your basement and the very next day saw an ad about pest control? Not a coincidence at all actually.
Of course most people who know about Gmail’s ad policy are not a fan. Upwards of 90 percent of Americans disapprove of providers scanning emails to target ads to users, according to a GfK Roper poll. More troubling than the “just for you” ads users receive are the implications of privacy and the internet. For those of you who send an email and picture it landing securely in the in box of the intended recipient, this finding is especially troubling. Now that the cat is out of the bag, lawsuits are popping up across the country and more than 100,000 have signed an online petition asking Google to change its ways. You really can’t blame former Gmail enthusiasts for feeling exposed.
But not all providers are so sneaky. Outlook and others prioritize privacy, which means they don’t read your emails to decide where to send ads. While Gmail is busy combing through the content of your messages, Outlook is scanning text simply to protect your privacy, much the same way the postal service scans packages for explosives. While those obvious spam words may trigger the red flag for Outlook, you won’t be targeted with party rental ads simply because you mentioned a surprise party for your soon-to-be over-the-hill husband.
The Scroogled campaign brings to light the importance of knowing what is really going after you hit send. The same GfK study reports that 70 percent of Americans have no idea that any major email service scans message content to target ads. Now that a growing percentage is seeing the underbelly of Gmail, more and more are looking for a safer, more secure alternative. E-mail can still be private, depending on the service you use. Although Gmail is free, the price you pay is in the privacy lost.
- Created on 22 February 2013
Evander Holyfield, the only five-time world heavyweight champion, greeted Jewel-Osco customers and boxing fans during appearances at two of the grocery retailer’s local stores.
Holyfield stopped by the store at 95th Street and Stony Island Avenue Saturday, then made his way to the West Side Sunday where he made an appearance at the store at Ashland Avenue and Roosevelt Road.
He was the special guest at this week’s free food sampling events, as part of Jewel-Osco’s Taste of Black History program. It’s a monthlong initiative that recognizes the retailer’s African American vendor partners.
Holyfield's “Real Deal” BBQ Sauce is sold at select Jewel-Osco stores, and the boxing champion autographed a bottle of his sauce for every six bottles sold. He also posed for pictures with customers. In addition, consumers at both events enjoyed free samples of many of Jewel-Osco's other African American vendor products.