Voices in Focus: Danny Chen’s Mother Denies Disowning Him

When you’re taking a break from the Olympics this weekend, check out this bumper crop of stories from New York’s ethnic and community press, including the testimony of Army Pvt. Danny Chen’s mother; the occupations least-filled by African-Americans; a showing of Haitian art; a new book on LGBT youth of color; an unsettling study on condom use among black teens; the religious beliefs of Korean-Americans; and a capoeira school in the Bronx.

Army Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, died on October 3, 2011. (U.S. Army via DNAinfo)

* The mother of Pvt. Danny Chen took the stand this week in the first of a series of bullying trials examining her son’s apparent suicide, DNAinfo reported. Su Zhen Chen, who lives in the East Village, denied charges by a lawyer for the defendant, Sgt. Adam M. Holcomb, that Chen took his own life because his parents disowned him for joining the army.

“He was the best son in the world for me,” she said through a translator, according to The New York Times. “We had a very good relationship.”

* In 2011, there were no African-Americans employed as dredge loaders and operators in the United States, Dominion of New York reported. Dredging is an activity, usually involving heavy construction equipment, that removes sediment from river bottoms to make them more navigable. The statistic comes from census data on job diversity from 2011.

The census bureau’s list of the racial, ethnic and gender diversity within each lawful American occupation is a fascinating and surprising study of inequality.

As for the job most filled by African-Americans? “Nursing psychiatric and home health aids.”

* Tobacco leaf vases, metal hearts and cattle horn bracelets were among the artworks by Haitians on show at a recent exhibit hosted by Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C. The Haitian Times was there.

“People used to come in to buy art but it’s not like that any more. Most of the major artists passed away,” said Philippe Dodard, a premiere Haitian artist featured in the exhibit. “Now we have a new generation of artists and a new kind of art coming up.”

* LGBT youth of color face distinct challenges in forming their identities, wrote Jason Cianciotto and Sean Cahill’s in their new book, LGBT Youth in America’s Schools. But in the excerpt below, featured in Women’s eNews, they point out that the close-knit nature of immigrant communities can cut both ways for queer youth.

The tight-knit family structures important to many immigrant communities and communities of color can make the coming-out process more difficult for some LGBT youth. As Trinity Ordona, a cofounder of Asian/Pacific Islander PFLAG in San Francisco notes:

“The families are the core of the culture. When a gay Asian comes out and gets kicked out of the family, it’s like being severed from the heart. But if you get the family on your side they will stand and protect you.”

* During the 1990s, increasing numbers of black teens practiced safe sex thanks to public health efforts, Colorlines reported. But during the aughts, while debates raged over sex education and condom distribution, the trend began to reverse.

According to the CDC study, between 1991 and 2003, the share of high schoolers who reported using condoms the last time they got frisky climbed steadily, from 46 percent to 63 percent. Among black youth, who have reported the highest rates of condom use since at least 1991, the condom-use rate had climbed to 70 percent by 1999.

But in 2003, the trend line started moving in the opposite direction. Among African Americans, the condom-use rate has fallen most sharply, to 65 percent in 2011.

Brandon Taft does an Armada com martelo kick on July 13 during the free Friday Capoeira classes at Van Cortlandt Park.(Photo by Marisol Diaz/The Riverdale Press)

* A new study suggests that seven out of 10 Korean-Americans are Christian, the Korea Daily reported. An excerpt is translated below.

When it comes to ‘reincarnation,’ 76 percent or Korean replied ‘not believe,’ which was the highest rate among Asian Americans. Seventy percent of Korean Americans believe heaven and angels, and 65 percent of Korean Americans believe in an evil spirit. 57 percent of Korean Americans said they believed in hell.

* The Riverdale Press profiled Marcelo Fagundes and his wife, Jennifer Sanchez-Fagundes, who moved to Riverdale two years ago to start a school that teaches the Brazilian dance-martial art capoeira.

“We use capoeira as a tool for social change, to impact the lives of people,” Ms. Sanchez-Fagundes said, explaining that the art she and her husband teach can be used to inspire students to be active physically and socially within their communities, just as capoeira inspired strength within individuals and communities in the past.

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