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‘Back-Burner Relationships’ Are More Common Than You’d Think

Valentine’s Day tends to make people think about their romantic relationships. Single? Maybe there’s someone you’ve been texting regularly whom you realize you want to ask out on a date. In a relationship? You might start thinking that your current flame is your one and only. But no matter what your relationship status is, if...

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Black America’s ‘Bleaching Syndrome

For black Americans, skin color is a complex topic. Whenever a black celebrity lightens his or her skin – whether it’s pop star Michael Jackson, retired baseball player Sammy Sosa or rapper Nicki Minaj – they’re usually greeted with widespread ridicule. Some accuse them of self-loathing, while many in the African-American community view it as...

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Does America Have a Caste System?

In the United States, inequality tends to be framed as an issue of either class, race or both. Consider, for example, criticism that Republicans’ new tax plan is a weapon of “class warfare,” or accusations that the recent U.S. government shutdown was racist. As an India-born novelist and scholar who teaches in the United States,...

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Spanish Use Is Steady or Dropping in U.S. Despite High Latino Immigration

Hidden just beneath the surface of the ongoing heated debate about immigration in the United States lurks an often unspoken concern: language. Specifically, whether immigration from Spanish-speaking countries threatens the English language’s dominance. Language and immigration have long been politically linked in the U.S. When Farmers Branch, Texas, passed an English-only “requirement” in 2006, then-Mayor...

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What a Medieval Love Saga Says About Modern-Day Sexual Harassment

Suddenly, popular media is saturated with stories of powerful men outed by women for behavior in the workplace. These alleged harassers seem to assume that power in the workplace grants them sexual access to anyone.   In medieval Europe, most people assumed the same thing, although they didn’t call it “harassment.” As a historian of...

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Re-Criminalizing Cannabis Is Worse Than 1930s ‘Reefer Madness’

In the 1930s, parents across the U.S. were panicked. A new documentary, “Reefer Madness,” suggested that evil marijuana dealers lurked in public schools, waiting to entice their children into a life of crime and degeneracy. The documentary captured the essence of the anti-marijuana campaign started by Harry Anslinger, a government employee eager to make a...

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Star Wars Is a Religion That Primes Us for War and Violence

$1 That’s what it cost 14-year-old me to get into the 1977 Star Wars premiere. $10 That’s how much I eventually stole from my mom so I could see it again and again. I’m not ashamed to admit, as a 14-year-old boy, I was hooked. Standing along side Luke and Obi-Wan, I left this world....

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How the Death of the Hip-Hop DJ Spawned the Superstar Rapper

Since the inception of hip-hop culture, the DJ has been its cornerstone. The culture’s starting point is widely accepted as the birthday party Kool DJ Herc threw for his sister at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, The Bronx on August 11, 1973. Kool Herc’s selection spanned the funk genre, and using two copies of the same record,...

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The 1960s Jazz Tribute to Malcolm X That Profoundly Expressed the Black Condition

By the late 1950s foremost musicians like Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus and John Coltrane explicitly introduced politics in their jazz, as the civil rights movement started gaining momentum in the US. Musician and author Gilad Atzmon explained it in a 2005 essay: Black Americans were calling for freedom, and jazz expressed it better than mere...

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What About Young Men Who Are Having Unwanted Sex?

Time Magazine recently featured “The Silence Breakers” as its 2017 “Person of the Year,” a nod to the countless women who have come forward with stories of unwanted sexual advances and sexual assaults. But missing from the conversation are men. For example, a number of surveys have found that about 8 percent of men are...