Morning Diversity News and Notes Round Up

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas laughs while talking with other guests at The Federalist Society's 2011 Annual Dinner i
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas laughs while talking with other guests at The Federalist Society's 2011 Annual Dinner in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Marco Rubio's efforts to lead the discussion on immigration reform are in full swing according to The New York Times today. Rubio spoke with the editorial boards at the Times and The Wall Street Journal last week and by Monday was busy trying to round up Republican support for an immigration reform proposal that would provide "some kind of legal status" for undocumented immigrants. Many Republicans, including Rubio, have objected to reforms that include a path to citizenship. Some of my sources inside the immigration reform movement say that after the November election results put on display the political power and influence of Latino voters, women and other minorities, they are prepared to push for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. Anything less, they say, will create a group of second class U.S. residents who are vulnerable to workplace and other abuses.

Clarence Thomas is known for many things. Among them: never saying a word during oral arguments in his seven years on the Supreme Court. Not a single question or comment folks. Yesterday, he appears to have found his voice just long enough to crack a joke. The only problem, no one seems to be sure what he said.

Well America, the country's biggest retailer is about to get a little bigger -- in terms of staff. Wal-Mart, already the largest employer in a number of states around the country, is set to announce plans to hire any honorably-discharged veteran who left the military in the last year and wants a job. The announcement represents one of the largest commitments to hire veterans in U.S. history and will no doubt be welcome news to the many veterans struggling to find work, according to The New York Times. But it also follows several months in which Wal-Mart has been in the news for very different reasons. Stories about the company's willingness to bribe Mexican officials in order to expand it's business operations in that country and troubling tales about what it really means to work at Wal-Mart have proliferated. However, given that unemployment remains elevated in communities of color and the rural sections of the country from which many veterans of recent conflicts hail (one of the many reasons that enlistments from these communities are disproportionately high to begin with) Wal-Mart is not likely to face a shortage of new applicants.

This is one of those studies that I am glad my parents didn't see before I graduated. This morning's New York Times includes the story of a new study that found that students whose parents saved or contributed more toward their college costs tended to earn lower grades. "Parents saving for college costs, take heed: A new national study has found that the more college money parents provide -- whether in absolute terms or as a share of total costs -- the lower their children's college grades." I suspect there may be some parents examining their savings plans and priorities this weekend. For black and Latino families, there is some difficult calculus here. First off, The Loop 21 reminds us today that not all students are spending their time partying like it's 1999 on campus. Some are so poor that they go hungry. One can imagine it's not easy to learn under those circumstances. Then, there's a bigger, broader set of questions. Black and Latino senior citizens often have far less, sometimes no personal savings, for their retirements and therefore rely on social security for a larger portion of their income than their white peers. But, students of color who do graduate from college often leave school with much larger debt burdens than white college graduates. This , in combination with the persistence of racial and gender wage disparities that I told you about this week, helps to contribute to lifetime differences in financial well being.

After a week of second term cabinet news that had a number of people raising questions about just how white and male the group guiding the nation's policies might be, news that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Nopolitano will stay in place bucked the trend. Immigration reform advocates are thrilled, according to ABC Univision. President Barack Obama insists that criticisms of his cabinet's composition are premature.

I am a person who appreciates honesty. So I was pleased to see someone who has benefited from affirmative action offering a direct, full throated testament to efforts to expand opportunity for people of color in the nation's schools and workplaces. Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor's new memoir, "My Beloved World," is said to do just that, according to ABC Univision. Sotomayor is also also set to become the first Latina in U.S. history to administer the oath of office to the President of the United States next week. Somebody is having a good month.

The folks at Colorlines bring us another important question today -- "Where Does Immigration Reform Begin for Same-Sex Couples?" It's worth reading.

Qentin Tarantino continues his campaign to offend as many people as possible/ represent reality as he promotes his new and highly fictional movie, "Django Unchained." The thing about Tarantino and his film is that it will force a lot of us to think carefully about what stories can't be told or truths get loss if certain language or images become truly verboten. Think about it.

If you haven't figured this out by now, you should know that I am really interested in biographies. I love anything that reveals the combination of greatness and weakness/ various and sundry flaws that reside within us all. That interest also extends to obituaries. That's right, I like to read them. This morning's Los Angeles Times brings us news that the youngest of the 1,000 people believed to have been rescued from almost certain death in a Nazi concentration camp by German businessman Oskar Schindler -- the inspiration behind the film "Schindler's List"--has died. Leon Leyson, 83, was in many ways an ordinary man who lived through extraordinary and awful things. Normalcy was a victory. Take a moment to read about him.

Finally if you are as fascinated by the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo as I am, you may enjoy this video tour of her "closet." This was a woman who embraced a pretty distinctive, "ethnic" style.

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