How young people can help to end child labor

(CNN)I’ve been told it takes a village to raise a child, but in my 24 years as a children’s rights activist, I’ve learned the opposite is true too. “Battled child labor, boy, 12, murdered.” I was stunned. I was sitting at a breakfast table in small town, Ontario, Canada, with enough food to eat, a soccer coach and a comfortable life. Meanwhile, another boy my age had been gunned down in Pakistan for speaking out about the factory owners who bought him for $16 to settle a family debt. How could two lives be so different? I started calling anti-child labor organizations, asking how I could help. They told me a kid couldn’t make any difference, so I decided to …

I lost my mother tongue — and almost my mom

(CNN)It was only fitting that just three days after UNESCO celebrated International Mother Language Day, Spanish was spoken at the 91st Academy Awards. It was empowering for me to hear the unapologetic use of my mother tongue at the Oscars — not only from Luna but also from Javier Bardem and Alfonso Cuarón — and it made me think about my childhood, when instead of pride, I was made to feel shame, when instead of a door being opened, an invisible wall was erected, when instead of being celebrated, my mother tongue was degraded. On my first day at a US school in September 1985, upon realizing that I didn’t speak a word of English, my 5th-grade teacher pointed to …

We can’t ignore Karl Lagerfeld’s complex legacy

(CNN)That Karl Lagerfeld was a brilliant and prolific designer is unquestionable. That his opinions of women’s bodies were damaging, archaic and often misogynistic is equally so. Lagerfeld’s influence extended far beyond the reaches of fashion’s inner sanctum: As creative director not only of the storied French luxury house, but also of Fendi and several eponymous collections, he cultivated an outsize persona in popular culture. Which meant he had a global audience for such comments as “no one wants to see curvy women” on the catwalk and, in reference to Adele, “She is a little too fat.” (He later offered a quasi-apology to Adele.) Sign up for our new newsletter. Join us on Twitter and Facebook To hear him tell it, …

A USC gynecologist shattered my illusions

(CNN)The University of Southern California, a stone’s throw from Hollywood, has mastered the art of illusion. I arrived at USC in 2005, a National Merit finalist on a full-tuition scholarship, fresh from a Central Valley farm town. I dreamed of becoming an opera singer, and I adored the trappings of what the school calls the “Trojan Family,” from Heisman Trophies to TV episodes shot on campus. Sign up for our new newsletter. Join us on Twitter and Facebook When I was a student, Tommy Trojan had no female counterpart, but today, Hecuba of Troy — a queen known in ancient Greek mythology and literature for her strength in adversity — also stands in the University Village. I pray that she …

Trump’s call to end HIV is a worthy mission both at home and abroad

(CNN)In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump brought attention to a disease that has almost disappeared from the headlines: HIV/AIDS. At the time, more than 12 million people were living with HIV in Africa. It drained a community’s health, productivity and hope, leaving uncertainty and despair in their place. And it created unstable nations with broken family units and weakened economies that lacked able-bodied workforces. In 2001, President George W. Bush made the founding US contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and in 2003 as Senate majority leader, I shepherded the legislation creating the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through Congress. Since then, we’ve seen half as many AIDS-related deaths …

Democrats are drowning out Trump’s tweets

(CNN)Democrats finally have a bully pulpit of their own: the House of Representatives. Democrats have used their newfound power in the House to focus on investigations surrounding Trump, while forcing policy discussions on health care, climate change and gun control. As a result, the media and the public are talking about these issues instead of constantly responding to every provocation that comes from the President. Sign up for our new newsletter. Join us on Twitter and Facebook But the challenges do not eclipse the successes Democrats have enjoyed in the past week. The conversation in Washington has shifted to issues that are favorable to Democrats. They have also done so much to drown out Trump’s Twitter feed. If Democrats can …