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Big News, Personal Stories

As I said yesterday - Iran, Afghanistan, whether and how to close the detention facility at Guantanemo Bay - these are all pressing, difficult issues. Not to mention the still depressing economic circumstances, the health care debate. Big stories. But having said all that ... there are still the stories going on in our own houses. Aren't those important too?

Today's menu of stories touch on issues of public concern: what's the best way to fix a troubled urban school system. How should schools deal with anti-gay language? Is the low marriage rate in the black community a matter of personal choice or a matter of public concern with policy implications?

But at the root of it are personal stories. You're 13 and you come out of the closet? What's that like? Your child tells you she is gay and she's 12? How do you react? And even our profile of DC School chancellor Michelle Rhee is at the heart of it a personal story. Who is she really? Why does she do what she does?

Let us know what you think.

And speaking of personal: this is not WHY we choose the stories we do, but I couldn't help but think that sometimes our staff members are living aspects of the issues we cover. Alicia, I understand you have some thoughts about our conversation about black marriages and families. Take it away.

Thanks, Michel.

I was really intrigued, and pleasantly surprised, by today's conversation about Hampton University's new institute to study and promote marriage and happy families. It's a story of great importance to me.

When I decided to become a single mother, I had to confront the doubts of people close to me who believe the best way to raise children is in a loving home with two happily married parents. That was —at times— extremely tough, because I'm one of those people.

I was raised by a single mother, and many of my aunts and cousins are single mothers as well. And while most of them are admirable parents, it never looked easy. I was never under any illusion that sit-com single motherhood —with its miraculously clean, well-appointed homes, contented children, and fashionable, well-rested moms— was real.

And I know that a good father is more than another pair of hands or another income. A father can offer at least one first hand experience of what it takes to be a good man, something I can't. I love men, but if I really understood them, I probably wouldn't be a single mother. So I went into this knowing I'd need help and advice on bringing up my son. And I'm grateful to have so many wonderful guys in my family and among my friends who are willing to offer it.

So I find it refreshing that Hampton University is working not just to figure out why the institution of marriage is struggling in the black community, but is looking for ways to help families rise above that struggle.

Thanks Alicia. More tomorrow.