Politics, Moderate



The Real Story of the Pilgrims

CHICAGO -- "America's Founding Myth" might have been a catchier title for Ric Burns' new film "The Pilgrims," which explores the crossing of the Mayflower and settlement in the so-called New World in 1620. But even that would do too little service to the harrowing story of how a band of English separatists came to unite with a Native American ...Read more

Aspirational Cooks Behind Bars

CHICAGO -- In 2008, I was allowed inside a county jail in the Chicago suburbs to report on the living conditions of inmates and immigrant detainees.

Many men told sad and perplexing stories about how their lives came to be on hold. But the detail that has always stayed with me was that several of them described the "cooking" they did to pass ...Read more

The End of Exploitive Work Schedules?

CHICAGO -- "On-call scheduling" is the special kind of misery that low-wage workers have increasingly experienced as employers have sought to wring out every last cent of profit in a challenging economic environment.

But it may be on its way out as top brands such as Starbucks, J. Crew, Bath & Body Works, Urban Outfitters and Gap respond to...Read more

Without Elephants, The Big Top Will Still Amaze

CHICAGO -- Imagine you're an animal sleeping quietly in your crate and suddenly you feel yourself being carted down a long hallway, loud music growing closer. The next thing you know you're yanked out, waved around spasmodically in a cacophony of singing and lights for about a minute and a half, then dropped back into your crate and rolled back ...Read more

Latinos Are a Giving People

CHICAGO -- There is a pervasive belief in the world of philanthropy that Hispanics don't give.

It's not true.

Admittedly, you won't find any Hispanic interspersed with the Rockefellers, Mellons and Gates on The Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual Top 50 list. But that's not the same as not giving.

"When I was young, my family was very poor and...Read more

Hispanics Make Their Way to Hollywood

CHICAGO -- After spending so many years disappointed by the lack of Hispanics in Hollywood, let us take a moment to note: We're getting there.

Part of the reason Hispanic actors sometimes fly under the radar is that they are typically part of an ensemble. Others appear in TV shows that have a significant following but not the mega-ratings of ...Read more

The Best Novel You've Probably Never Heard Of

CHICAGO -- If you've never read it, it's difficult to grasp the excellence of Jack London's "Martin Eden." For many readers, the 1909 novel has had a far greater personal impact than the author's more celebrated works, like "The Call of the Wild," "White Fang" and "The Sea-Wolf."

The title doesn't do it justice.

"Martin Eden" certainly pales ...Read more

The Steep Price of Cheap Chicken

READERS -- Note graphic language about working conditions in 7th paragraph.

CHICAGO -- This week, Oxfam America released a grim profile of working conditions in chicken-processing plants. "Lives on the Line: The Human Cost of Cheap Chicken" describes a harsh and often-dangerous workplace for the industry's 250,000 employees. The harrowing ...Read more

Don't Mix Alcohol and The Little Pink Pill

CHICAGO -- Amid the fanfare over the debut of the "female Viagra," hardly anyone seems to be talking about how its chief contraindication -- alcohol consumption -- is at odds with our society's seemingly insatiable drive to get women drunk.

Flibanserin, the first FDA-approved drug for treating female sexual dysfunction, became available in the ...Read more

Trump's 'SNL' Invitation is an Insult to Latinos

CHICAGO -- In an ideal world, it wouldn't matter that "Saturday Night Live" has decided to give its weekly platform to a tin-eared jerk who fans the flames of hatred toward immigrants, minorities and women.

"SNL," once a vanguard of pop cultural relevance, veered off the tracks years ago and has been struggling with ratings ever since. Lately, ...Read more

The Complexities of Race and Ethnicity

CHICAGO -- Our society gives a lot of lip service to the importance of diversity in fields like science, medicine and technology because multicultural people bring unique viewpoints, varied life experiences and new ideas.

Rarely do we come upon an ideal example of how this plays out in real life.

Karen M. Tabb Dina, an assistant professor at ...Read more

Selling the Day of the Dead

CHICAGO -- When you have traveled over 2,000 miles to visit your mother's homeland and navigated cobblestoned streets into dusty little huts in search of unique, handmade Dia de los Muertos sculptures, it's an odd thing to find a shelf of Day of the Dead-themed tchotchkes at your local Walgreens.

But there they were: an assortment of ...Read more

Student Companions Help Take the Fight to Cancer

CHICAGO -- When David Warren's father, Steve, was diagnosed in 2011 with a very rare form of brain cancer, David did what any well-educated, resource-rich person would do: He became his father's chief advocate.

"Dad had so many different doctors, so many experts on the cancer, the treatment and the related health issues, but I wanted to be the ...Read more

Living in America on $2 a Day

CHICAGO -- Nothing gives insight into the world of the working poor like having your child get his first job.

It's one thing to be a 16-year-old picking up a few shifts with Mom and Dad available to drop him off and pick him up at whatever odd hours the pizza store scheduler deems necessary.

But it's almost unimaginable to consider the plight ...Read more

Spare the Talk of an 'Asian Invasion'

CHICAGO -- Have you heard the news? Asians will displace Hispanics as the largest foreign-born group in the U.S. by 2055. I, for one, am thrilled -- the pressure will be off.

As someone who happily lived in a time back when the "Hispanic community" was not a commodity described almost strictly in terms of its number of immigrants or consumer ...Read more

Ensuring Quality Education for English Learners

CHICAGO -- The U.S. Department of Education recently released an "English Learner Tool Kit" designed to support public schools in meeting their legal obligations to students learning the English language. The purpose: to ensure they have equal access to quality education.

This is no small feat.

I was once a teacher in "bilingual education" ...Read more

To Help Immigrants, Take a Community-Level Approach

CHICAGO -- One of the reasons immigration is such a touchy subject is that our national conversations don't acknowledge regional circumstances.

Some people live in places where immigrants from various different countries and socioeconomic income levels gather and are ultimately united with each other -- and with longtime residents of their new ...Read more

High Tech is No Cure-All for Education

CHICAGO -- It's very rare for me to pick up a book and immediately recoil at its contents. But this is exactly what happened when I began reading "Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era," a new book by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith.

To give you a feel for where this book is coming from, its main concern is that not ...Read more

The Vietnam War Brought Home

CHICAGO -- I've never seen the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. So when The Moving Wall, a traveling half-size replica, came to Illinois this past Labor Day weekend, I had to go take a look.

When I first laid eyes on the stream of names of fallen soldiers, their number was overwhelming and, frankly, a little hard to relate to since...Read more

The Real Story of Detroit

DETROIT -- Say whatever you want about Detroit, just don't say it's "back."

Visit here and longtime residents will be quick to tell you they never went anywhere, so they aren't "back" -- they're simply still here.

I learned this and more during a conference sponsored by UNITY: Journalists for Diversity that was organized to help young ...Read more

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Mike Lester Darrin Bell Lisa Benson Clay Bennett Mike Luckovich Chip Bok