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Melanie Coffee
Melanie Coffee is an award-winning journalist in Portland, Ore. She was an editor in Chicago for The Associated Press, assigning and editing in-depth stories for 14 states. Besides reporting in Chicago, she’s also worked as a reporter in the AP’s bureaus in St. Louis and Kansas City, covering social issues, education, business, health and politics. She has led several editing, media-pitching and diversity workshops, and blogs about life and its colorful peculiarities at You can also find her on Twitter.

Entries by Melanie Coffee

With Each Killing I Ask: Are You My Emmett Till?

(1) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 3:21 PM

Do you remember that children's book, Are You My Mother? It's where a bird goes around asking a kitten, a cow, a dog and others if they are its mother.

I feel like I'm that little bird when it comes to the spate of black men being killed. With each...

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You're Not Alone: Women, Writing and Online Networking

(1) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 3:12 PM

Writing is lonely, especially that first draft. You kinda know what you want to say, but aren't sure how to get there and there's always a surprise blip along the way that throws you off your game.

Then you begin to wonder, is this piece even any good? You need...

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How Can I Protect My Son From Becoming Another Trayvon Martin?

(95) Comments | Posted July 16, 2013 | 10:23 PM

Trayvon Martin. A name forever etched in the annals of America's complex relationship with race.

We all know the story. A 17-year-old armed with only a bag of Skittles, a hoodie and mocha skin is followed by a neighborhood watch man. At this moment, neither are breaking the law. Then...

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The Jackie Robinson Movie and a Case of American Déjà Vu

(8) Comments | Posted May 2, 2013 | 9:26 AM

Sitting there with fingers buttery from the popcorn, I watched the Jackie Robinson movie, 42, and it struck me how many parallels his rise to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers mirrored Barack Obama's rise to the White House.

We all know their stories: A black man works hard, fights the...

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Telling My Story for One Billion Rising's Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls

(2) Comments | Posted February 14, 2013 | 12:50 PM

I remember the moment he slapped me. If I listen hard enough, I can still hear the ringing in my ears. We both just stared at each other, shocked that he'd actually hit me.

I'd never been hit before. I was never in any teenage cat fights, nor school yard...

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Talking About Martin Luther King Jr. and Race With My Biracial 5-Year-Old

(71) Comments | Posted January 21, 2013 | 11:52 AM

It's interesting being a parent of biracial children in that like with most things with motherhood, I'm fumbling around in the dark.

Digging through my five-year-old's backpack, I ran across a worksheet on Martin Luther King, Jr. Curious, I asked him what he learned about King in school.

He told...

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Culture Contrasts: Norway's Support of Working Families

(3) Comments | Posted May 15, 2012 | 4:50 PM

I think we Americans could take a few pages from the Norwegian playbook, especially when it comes to families.

When we went to visit my husband's family in Norway months ago, we got a good sense of what our life could be like if we lived there. We've long known...

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Will Trayvon Martin Be A Watershed Moment in Race Relations? That Depends On You

(2) Comments | Posted April 16, 2012 | 4:32 PM

Now that George Zimmerman has been charged in Trayvon Martin's death, I am wondering what's next. I'm not talking about the next steps in the judicial process, I want to know what's next when it comes to America's relationship with race.

The hoodied 17-year-old's killing galvanized hundreds of thousands to...

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Being Brown in the 'Burbs: No Burnt Crosses, but a Few Cross Looks

(12) Comments | Posted April 13, 2012 | 12:25 PM

I should have known by the look in his eyes. The middle-aged white man looked at my chocolate self, then to my light-skinned baby and back to me. "Excuse me," he said walking closer. "But is his father white or Asian?"

I paused. Did he just ask me that? Here?...

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A Massacre in Syria, Don't Close Your Eyes

(8) Comments | Posted March 20, 2012 | 11:22 AM

I'm a suburban U.S. mom of two boys with a (admittedly) gas-guzzling SUV. We make an OK living and my stresses amount to whether my house is clean enough for visitors, if my kids are meeting their milestones, there's also the lamenting over my muffin top, my career or whether...

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A Hope that Don Cornelius' Apparent Suicide Opens Door on Taboo Topic

(6) Comments | Posted February 7, 2012 | 3:54 PM

When the news broke of the death of cultural icon Don Cornelius, shock and condolences permeated the Twittersphere and beyond.

Alongside all the praise and accolades of the history maker, many suicide prevention advocates were hoping that his apparent suicide would give people an avenue for talking...

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Kentucky Church Flap Shows Interracial Couples Still Have Hurdles

(28) Comments | Posted December 5, 2011 | 3:35 PM

All she did was perform a song in the church she loved with the man she loved. Apparently not everyone liked that.

Stella Harville is white and her fiancee, Ticha Chikuni, is black and late last month, the Kentucky church Harville attended since she was a child voted...

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Stroke Survivor Aims to Take the Stairs: All 2,109 of Them

(3) Comments | Posted November 4, 2011 | 7:05 PM

Kathy Pacholski did everything right. The 49-year-old mother of three exercised regularly, didn't smoke, didn't do drugs and never, ever drank.

One day, while sitting in her car in a parking lot, she realized something wasn't right. She was lightheaded, it was hard to move, and then -- blank.

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I'm Black Enough

(35) Comments | Posted October 6, 2011 | 2:34 PM

"You're one of the clean black people, so my grandma says it's OK if I play with you," my childhood friend said to me.

What did that mean, "clean black people?" Are some of us dirty? I knew her comment was an insult, but my 7-year-old mind tied itself into...

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My On-Again-Off-Again Relationship With White People

(402) Comments | Posted August 25, 2011 | 12:41 PM

I have an on-again-off-again relationship with white people. I've always been that way.

I grew up in a college town in Kansas in a house on the side of the tracks where I was often the only brown person in my grade at elementary school. If there...

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