YPP Network Description

The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) formed out of recognition that youth are critical to the future of democracy and that the digital age is introducing technological changes that are impacting how youth develop into informed, engaged, and effective actors.

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Cultivating Media and Minds
Updated: 10 hours 38 min ago

Welcome to the new YR.

October 16, 2018 - 8:58am

We are YR, a national network of young journalists and artists creating content for this generation.  We link up with our peers around the country to amplify award-winning stories and creative perspectives that matter.

If you are a student, a young artist or writer, an activist, a parent, a teacher, or someone who believes in the power of this generation, you are in the right place. Hang out and explore our reporting and creative content on politics, identity, and rising artists.

If you like what you see, you can check out ways to join us at our headquarters in Oakland or as a national correspondent.

Looking for Youth Radio? For 25 years, our non-profit production company has invested in future generations to build crucial skills in journalism, arts and media. YR is an evolution of Youth Radio: a new destination for daily news and arts coverage, national features on emerging artists and youth-driven movements, documentary content, a podcast, and much more. More on that transition here.

Categories: Blog

Visual Voices: Accepting my Latina Identity

October 15, 2018 - 8:17pm
Lucia Barnum has always gone by Lucy at school unaware of the story she was re-writing. Now she is unapologetically                  accepting both along with her Latina identity.
Categories: Blog

RYL Presents: Marteen

October 15, 2018 - 8:12pm
YR Media’s Remix Your Life hosts the listening party for up and coming artist Marteen’s latest project.

Categories: Blog

Ready to Vote?

October 15, 2018 - 8:10pm

The midterm election is November 6! This is your chance to make a real impact on the political climate, as this election decides which party – Democrats or Republicans – will control the United States Congress.

Are you ready to hit the polls? For first-time voters, the electoral process isn’t always the easiest to follow.

Take this quiz to see how much you know about the voting process!

Categories: Blog

Extraterrestrial Episode 1: Equinox

October 15, 2018 - 8:08pm
YR Media’s Sonic Sphere Produced by 7sinz & Marcel Cedeno.            Visuals by Julia Tello & Jacob Armenta
Categories: Blog

Discovering RYL Pt. 1

October 15, 2018 - 7:52pm
YR presents Remix Your Life. Here’s a little taste of what’s to come, enjoy the trailer and come back often to check out all our new content
Categories: Blog

Humid Rooftop

October 15, 2018 - 7:34pm

One of the more polarizing experiences I’ve had out here, being on the East Coast as opposed to the West, is the sudden changes in humidity. One day I’ll be hot as all hell sweating up my clothes, and the next I’m swimming through the street because of the heavy-ass rain. Constantly through it all though: the humid air. Whether it’s raining, blazing hot, day or night, you can count on the humidity wrapping you up like an empanada. These songs are some songs I’ve experienced sitting, late night, on my roof, in the humid night. So a lot of dramatic-ass music being listened to… granted, alone on a rooftop in the AM, it’s not like ima be slapping Justin Bieber.

 Yves Tumor is an artist I discovered through the FEELS VI Festival.  His performance scrambled the brains of the thousands in attendance with feedback and distortion. Oddly enough, his recorded music is much more chilled and honestly just really good.

This Blue Foundation trip-hop track was in my life hella long ago and I recently found it again in my spotify library. Nostalgia is tasty.

Beach House is one dramatic-ass duo and they basically make the soundtrack to the moment for sad people. It’s Lit!  

Beach House – Black Car

Sade…. is my god. That’s all I gotta say. Tattoo coming someday soon.

Sade – Cherish the Day

Connan Mockasin is one weird ass person and this song is pretty fire.

Connan Mockasin – Con Conn Was Impatient

Myth Syzer is a French human that produces and sings. Not sure how I came across this but the mood of the whole track creates a dreamy synth-filled vibe that that is perfect for just staring at the lights of the city.

Myth Syzer – Le Code

Kanye West blew my whole life up when i first heard this song. It’s honestly kinda sad to me just like a lot of the songs on Late Registration. One of my favorite tracks ever though honestly.

Kanye West – Addiction

Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad killed the whole game with this track. It’s modern jazz thriving and growing.

Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad – Gate 54

Tyler the Creator used to be like a little silly gremlin but now has evolved into a majestic beast of an artist. It’s great to see his talent expand, and this track is a testament to how his new sound is definitely his own.

Tyler the Creator – Peach Fuzz

Goldlink doesn’t make much serious music but this song definitely stood out to me from his other tracks. I like dramatic music what else can I say.

Goldlink – When I Die

Well these are just some tracks that fit my oddly specific mood and moments, but they’re all tracks that I can listen to and say that they have a place in my memories now. Each one of these songs were played on one of many nights i’ve spent on my roof in the humidity, staring out over the edge into the cit. One of the most beautiful aspects of music is that one song can represent a moment of time for you, bringing you back to that feeling of the time you listened to it. Enjoy!

Categories: Blog

5 Moments in Hispanic American History You Need To Know

October 15, 2018 - 2:40pm

As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, Latinx Americans across the country have taken the time to honor many important figures that have shaped American history. But one month just isn’t enough time to celebrate the many unsung and important individuals and moments that make up America but don’t get nearly enough credit.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, below are some forgotten icons and moments that you probably didn’t learn about in your history class.   

Mexican-American War

Mexico used to be huge. It expanded as far north as modern-day Oregon and included California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. But the United States sort of needed that land in order to fulfill its “manifest destiny.” Something you probably have heard of.

In 1845 the US used a land dispute in Texas to send troops into the west. Eventually, Mexican forces fired on the US, serving as the justification President James Polk needed to wage a two-year war with Mexico.

The Mexican government, which had been established not even 40 years prior, lacked the military strength required to defeat the much larger American forces. In the end, Mexico was forced to sign away more than half of its territory, drastically decreasing the size of Mexico and expanding the US to “from sea to shining sea.”

Zoot Suit Riots of 1943

During the 1940’s, Los Angeles was deeply segregated. White-American communities, with many fighting in WWII, began to see Latino youth, often found wearing the stylish zoot suit, as delinquents and anti-American. Zoot suits took a lot of fabric to look good and a lot of fabric was “unAmerican.”

This growing resentment boiled over in the summer of 1943, a fight broke out between servicemen and some of the young “zoot suiters.” They began viciously attacking anyone who wore the infamous suit, including African-Americans and Filipino-Americans.

These attacks would be carried out throughout the Los Angeles area and would involve several thousand servicemen, police officers, and civilians. They lasted several days, and left hundreds beaten and humiliated, as many of them were forced to strip naked in the middle of the street.

LGBT Activism

Queer history being limited in schools as it is, you probably didn’t learn about the Stonewall Riots or the trans activist thought to have inspired them.

Sylvia Rivera was born in 1951 in the Bronx, her father was Puerto Rican and her mother Venezuelan. Abandoned at an orphanage at a young age, she was forced into sex work to survive at 11.

As a bold, self-identified drag queen, she was outspoken and a no b.s. kind of person. She looked out for her fellow poor, queer and trans friends. It is widely believed that it was her and a fellow transgender activist, Marsha P. Johnson, who threw the first stones during the historic Stonewall Riots in June of 1969.

After the riots, Sylvia Rivera began participating in social movements such as the Gay Liberation Movement and Young Lords, a Puerto Rican community organization. She would eventually form an organization, the Street Transvestite Active Revolutionary, or STAR for short. She would be pushed even more to the margins of society, as the LGBT movement became mainstream and the T in LGBT became forgotten. Sylvia’s story reminds us that when we fight for oppressed people, we must fight for all oppressed people and to remember those who have fought so hard for us now.

Chicano Activism

In the late 1960’s the Brown Berets were formed in East Los Angeles to resolve issues plaguing the Chicano community. A target for ongoing police threats and raids, the Brown Berets sought to uplift their community through social programs like the El Barrio Free Clinic founded in 1968. Members donned the brown beret and other militaristic clothing, an idea borrowed from another revolutionary group: The Black Panther Party.

Both organizations sought an end to police brutality, systemic racism, educational and income inequality, and much more. Still active today, but with a membership that has dramatically declined over the years, the Brown Berets has various chapters across the U.S advocating for and supporting communities of color, especially the undocumented community all over the US.

Immigration Reform

As it turns out, it was not a Democratic president who would give amnesty to 2.7 million undocumented immigrants. It was Republican President Ronald Reagan. Even more surprising, it was a truly bipartisan effort.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 or the IRCA, was introduced by Republican Senator Alan Simpson and Democratic Senator Romano Mazzoli and passed the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate.

However, not everything in this bill was great for immigrants. Although the bill legalized millions of undocumented immigrants, not just Latin American but also Asian, Middle-Eastern, and African, it also leads to more restrictive employee background checks and the militarization of border enforcement.

Categories: Blog

Student At Harvard Defends Affirmative Action

October 15, 2018 - 2:00pm

I’m a current senior at Harvard. When I applied, I was open about being Asian-American and having immigrated to the States in the 4th grade from Vietnam. My SAT scores were below Harvard’s average. My acceptance into Harvard was most likely based on my personal statement, which reflected the diversity I brought to campus. As an Asian-American, I do not believe Harvard’s race conscious admissions policy hurt me. In fact, I requested a copy of the admissions notes on my application and submitted them as part of the federal court case in defense of Harvard’s practices.

When I was eight, I enrolled in a  public school in Los Angeles. I vividly remember sitting in a classroom among strangers my age, tapping my foot on the wooden floor anxiously. I scanned the room and looked at unfamiliar symbols on the wall, forming words that I could neither interpret nor pronounce. When it was my turn to read out loud, I hesitated. I did not want my classmates to think I that I was too foreign to speak English properly.

At first, my classmates made fun of my accent and my foreignness, which pushed me to immerse myself in American culture. I was determined to assimilate. I was convinced that this was how I could achieve success and a piece of the American Dream. I had not realized in my childhood that my assimilation came with a heavy cost–losing my Vietnamese identity. My parents tried to warn me, and they kept reminding me to practice reading and writing Vietnamese. But I was frustrated with them for not understanding that I needed to make sacrifices and they happened to be the Vietnamese language and my Vietnamese identity.

In high school, I enrolled in a humanities magnet program to further improve my English. This meant that I missed out on many family and cultural activities, such as Tết, or Vietnamese New Year while my family celebrated, because I spent days before in-class essay exams memorizing specific sentence structures. My English skills were not at a point where I could write on the spot.

Junior year, I began  I began to question my assumptions. Although I was originally enrolled in the magnet program to improve my English, the course work challenged me to reflect on my own identity and experiences. I learned about the model minority myth and the systematic oppression of immigrants and people of color. I came to understand that success, in America, traditionally was never meant for me or people who look like me. I saw that I had come to look down on other Vietnamese students at my school who seemed to not care about learning English or doing well in school. I had been wondering why they would only speak Vietnamese at school, and I thought, If I can work hard to learn English and be successful academically, why can’t they? Over time, I rejected these thoughts.

When it came time to apply for college. I went against the advice I received from college guidebooks and friends, who told me not to write about the “immigrant experience” in my college essay, because the narrative was overdone. How could I not highlight an experience that contains not only so much trauma, but also so much growth and learning? My “immigrant experience” is not a token narrative, but rather a formative experience that shaped me into the person I am today. I simply was too tired of hiding who I was and buying into a notion of success that continues to leave out communities of color, including the Vietnamese community.

In effort to help combat systems of oppression that I learned about in school, I’ve thrown my support behind affirmative action. As a policy, it allowed colleges to look beyond my below-average SAT score and take into account my experiences as a Vietnamese immigrant and many other identities that make me who I am. It’s made me confront my uncles’ and aunts’ lived experiences as refugees from the Vietnam War. I see how their need to make money and survive confined them to cleaning people’s hands and feet, and prevented them from helping my cousins with homework. I’ve recognized how lucky and privileged I was to have parents who cared about my education and teachers who believed in my potential.

My stance on affirmative action is a gentle reminder to the rest of America, and especially Edward Blum, the man behind the Students for Fair Admissions lawsuit against Harvard, that I, along with so many other Asian-Americans, refuse to be tools that perpetuate white supremacy and that we stand in alliance with the black and brown community. It is also a reminder that I will never let my Vietnamese identity, let alone any other part of myself, be erased again.

Categories: Blog

Coming Out as a Queen: Introducing Poison Oakland

October 15, 2018 - 11:11am

On the surface, I was a shy boy. I played alone with my sisters’ dolls, and spent hours binge watching Clueless. But behind closed doors, I really let my girliness shine.

In the closet, I blasted Britney Spears and dolled myself up in my mom’s flowered hats and high heels and put on a show. While I dreamt of being a performer, I didn’t think boys could have these glittery fantasies, so I kept my passions hidden.

When I was 15 years old, I discovered RuPaul’s Drag Race online, and it was like a firework went off in me. I saw these queens being confident, free, and living out their flowered-hat, high-heeled truths. They oozed confidence the way I wanted to.

They told stories about being weird kids imitating pop stars just like me. I realized then I could take my dress-up games and turn them into art.

Since I started doing drag this summer, I can now rock a skirt suit like Cher and dance my heart out like Britney. Because of them, I could finally let my inner queen out. Her name is Poison Oakland, and she’s still me, but fiercer.

Categories: Blog

What Do Boys Learn About Sex and Emotional Intimacy?

October 15, 2018 - 8:45am

Despite multiple sexual assault allegations, Brett Kavanaugh has been appointed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. His Senate confirmation hearing looked into allegations that he sexually assaulted another student when he was in high school, over 30 years ago.

The conversation sparked by Kavanaugh’s confirmation has brought up many questions about appropriate sexual behavior for teen boys and the language they use around sex. To explore these questions, I interviewed the writer Peggy Orenstein, who has made a career out of examining the emotional and sexual lives of teens. Having focused on girls in her 2016 book, Girls & Sex, she’s now turning her lens towards boys, for a book in progress. Orenstein and I discussed false accusation, drinking and assault, and how to improve education and communication related to teens and sex. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Valencia: I want to know about this book you’re writing about teen boys and emotional intimacy.  What sorts of conversations do boys have around sex?

PO: Boys in general tend to have far fewer conversations about sex, about intimacy, about healthy relationships, about contraception, about protection than girls do. And girls don’t have very many.

One of the boys said, “Nobody ever says like, ‘Hey, did you make her feel really great?’ Nobody ever says that. They say, like, ‘I slammed her. I pounded her. I nailed her. I banged her. I destroyed her. I tore her up.’”

One of the main takeaways from the interviews I’ve done is how much these ideas about male sexuality and masculinity hurt boys themselves. They don’t learn—or feel like they’re not supposed to express—basic emotions of fear, anxiety, sadness, loneliness. They struggle with vulnerability and connection. One boy said to me, “I feel like the only emotions I’m allowed are happiness and anger.”  

Valencia: In conversations with boys, how did they react to high-profile sexual assault cases, such as Brock Turner and Brett Kavanaugh?

PO: The general theme was a distancing. This was not them. They kind of focused on the most extreme detail of the testimony, which was [Kavanaugh] allegedly putting his hand over Christine Blasey Ford’s mouth and holding her down on the bed.

That seemed so over the line to [the boys I interviewed] that it allowed them to kind of disconnect, as opposed to thinking about what kind of garden variety coercive and sometimes non-consensual behavior that they might be engaging in.

Valencia: Do you find that a lot of young men are scared of being falsely accused?

PO: Yes, yes they are.

I guess there’s two different ways that I feel about that. One is, it’s really not that hard to get consent. It’s really not that hard to say, “Are you OK? Are you fine? Does this feel good? Do you want to be doing this?”

But the other piece, I think… For women and girls, we live our whole life [fearing] for our safety in a low level way, and sometimes a high level way. Always, whether you’re walking down the street, whether you’re sitting on a bus, whether you’re in a sexual encounter with somebody. Being a woman comes with risk. We don’t question now why that’s completely appalling and unacceptable.

Most men have not ever had to worry much about the consequences of their actions. They don’t have to think about their behavior. They felt a level of freedom that women have never felt. And now maybe they have to be careful in some small way. And if that makes them feel slightly afraid, I don’t know that I have a problem with that. Like, welcome to the world.

Valencia: Right now there’s also a lot of focus on how Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh drank when he was in high school and in college. How does drinking affect young men and sexual assault?

PO: We talk about girls drinking, right? We say, “How many drinks did she have? Was she drunk? Did she know what she was doing?”

I’m hoping that the conversation will shift to the impact of boys drinking, on them becoming at risk of being assailants or perpetrators. We know drinking loosens inhibitions. It allows boys who might not otherwise have the courage to assault to assault. Boys who are drunk are more aggressive. They are less able to read social cues, they’re less likely to take no for an answer.

Even for bystanders, drinking has a negative effect on their willingness to intervene if they say see something in progress.

Valencia: How do you think we could get parents to educate and to talk to boys more about consent?

PO: There’s a lot of parents who say, “Give me the script. What do I say?” And I always think, I can’t tell you the words to say. You’ve got to do some reading. You’ve got to do some thinking. You’ve got to approach your son. And you can’t just do it once. It’s not a one-time conversation.

It’s hard because we parents don’t have that language right. We didn’t learn it growing up either. It just embarrasses all of us.

When I do see sex education done, it’s really clear to me that boys do want to engage. It’s not like they want their partner to feel really crappy about themselves. That’s not their goal in an encounter.

Most of them feel constricted by the ideas about masculinity that they’re learning. Many boys welcome the opportunity to think about this a different way.

Valencia: Right now, there’s a lot of focus around consent. What do you think of that?

Consent is absolutely critical. Absolutely pivotal. We all need to understand it, we all need to practice it. But it’s a baseline. “I was not raped.” That is not a really great thing to say about a sexual experience.

Part of this is learning to normalize language around sexual needs, wants, desires, limits, [and] that sex in all of its forms is something we do with somebody, not to somebody. [We need to think] more ethically about what our sexual encounters look like, whether they’re lasting for 20 minutes or 20 years.

Categories: Blog

The Youth Vote is Changing American Politics (Opinion)

October 12, 2018 - 2:08pm

In this year’s midterm elections, the most explosive voting demographic will be coming from college campuses across the country. The young people are organizing to vote in full force.

Last weekend we saw the successful execution of the #WeVoteNext Summit put on by actress Yara Shahidi’s Eighteen x 18 initiative to engage the next generation of America’s voters, the young people. This summit brought together young people from all across the country who represented their respective states as “delegates”. Events like this are the proving ground for the next generation of this country’s leaders.

The voter turnout during the 2016 presidential election was undoubtedly a major disappointment. With only 58% of eligible voters turning out to the polls, it was evident that work had to be done to ensure that a number this low would never be seen again. Going back, voter turnout in the 2014 midterms was at 37%, even more strikingly low. It is a firm possibility however that with the work young people are currently doing, that number will double for this year’s midterms.

The March for Our Lives organization is currently working in massive numbers to create what they hope to be is the “largest youth voter turnout in history”. They have now started the “Vote For Our Lives” campaign stressing the importance of the youth vote and the power that this vote has to make a difference. The group has also started a #TurnoutTuesday series in which they implore young folks to join their call to action in getting people registered to vote with the hope of people electing morally sound leaders to our government. They’ve even transitioned their Twitter handle to TurnoutTuesday, shifting the center of their activism.

The question on everyone’s minds is most likely, how effective will this be? At the rate these younger folks are going, they are undoubtedly on pace to change the world. In the past several years we have seen more activism and civic engagement from younger folks than we have seen possibly in decades. The fire that these young people have within them to make a difference and do so within their own demographic is beyond inspiring. Young activists such Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Clifton Kinnie, and Ziad Ahmed are just a few of the many activists around the world who are single handedly leaving the world better than they found it. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past several months at least when it comes to what’s best to spark a difference in the youth vote, it’s to get out of their way and let them take the lead.

Categories: Blog

50 Million Facebook Users Were Hacked Last Week, and Almost Nobody Noticed

October 2, 2018 - 11:14am

While the nation was still focused on an emotionally turbulent Supreme Court hearing last week, Facebook officials revealed Friday that hackers had gained access to almost 50 million users’ profile info, in the site’s largest security breach to date.

However, unlike the many user data controversies that plagued Facebook earlier this year, the hack barely made a dent in the news cycle. What’s more, we still don’t know exactly who was affected, whether or how their data was abused, or even what Facebook is doing to prevent another breach like this from happening again.

“This is a really serious security issue. And we’re taking it really seriously,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a conference call with journalists Friday. “We have a major security effort at the company that hardens all of our surfaces, and investigates issues like this. In this case I’m glad that we found this and that we were able to fix the vulnerability and secure the accounts. But it definitely is an issue that this happened in the first place.”

During the press call, Facebook officials said the hackers exploited a series of bugs related to “access tokens” (the thing that keeps you logged into Facebook on your phone and computer without re-entering your password every time), to view profile data and take control of people’s accounts. This means the hackers would have been able to see basic info like your name, gender, hometown, etc., but (probably) not your secure data, like credit cards or bank info.

However, officials also said they don’t know exactly what this means for the users affected.

“Since we’ve only just started our investigation, we have yet to determine whether these accounts were misused or any information accessed. We also don’t know who’s behind these attacks or where they’re based,” Facebook VP of Product Management Guy Rosen wrote in a blog post Friday.

Even more alarming, reporting published in the days after the announcement showed that the access tokens could also be used to infiltrate third-party accounts that are linked to a user’s Facebook. This means that any victims who use their Facebook account to log in to Spotify, Tinder, or any number of other apps could be at an even greater risk.

As a safety measure, Facebook renewed the access tokens for the 50 million hacked users, and 40 million extra users who may have recently interacted with the bug…”out of an abundance of caution.”

“As a result, around 90 million people will now have to log back in to Facebook, or any of their apps that use Facebook Login. After they have logged back in, people will get a notification at the top of their News Feed explaining what happened,” Rosen wrote.

In other words, if you’ve been asked to re-log in to Facebook on a trusted device in the last few days, or have seen one of the security messages pictured above, your account may have been affected by the breach.

“This is a very strange hack in that it didn’t happen because of errors on the user’s part,” said Nicholas Thompson, the editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, in an appearance on CBS ‘This Morning.’ “In fact, this is the first hack I’ve ever talked about where I can’t say ‘Change your password,’ because they couldn’t see your password.”

When asked what victims of the hack can do to protect themselves now, Thompson said simply, “There’s nothing you can do right now, the horse has left the barn.”

However, he continued, “What you should do in general is you should change your passwords, you should use two-factor authentication, you should have really important information about yourself — like bank information, emails about stuff you care about — in as few places as possible.”

As for Facebook’s plan to prevent this kind of hack from happening again in the future, Zuckerberg and other officials have been strategically ambiguous. The Social Network was reportedly already in the process of hiring at least 10,000 “people working on safety and security” this year, although it’s unclear who these people will be and how they will help solve Facebook’s many security problems.

Much more information is likely to surface this week as Facebook learns more about the breach and the people behind it.

Categories: Blog

Kavanaugh and Cosby Reflections Of The Same Crisis (Opinion)

September 27, 2018 - 2:34pm

This morning, we saw Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University, come forward to testify in the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is being accused of sexually assaulting Ford when the two were in high school. This comes one day after Bill Cosby was sentenced to three-to-10 years in state prison for the sexual assault of Andrea Constand.

As the Kavanaugh hearing has taken a turn and the Cosby sentencing has come full circle, one point remains: the intimidation factors used by celebrities and politicians effectively silence many people who even think about coming forward about with allegations of sexual assault, let alone standing to testify.

“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.” This chilling quote was spoken today by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. It speaks to the sentiments of individuals around the world whose lives are impacted each year due to the pain of sexual assault. Ford expressed that she wanted, for so long, to forget about her assault and because of this did not mention it to her parents, or anybody for that matter.

Many don’t realize the pain involved with recounting sexual assault. A great deal of stress and anxiety is involved with having to recount a horrific period in your life, and this may cause people not to come forward with their experience. Blasey Ford has recounted intimidation factors on numerous levels from different people since her allegations were made public. When a reporter she’d mistaken for a student showed up in her classroom, she said she decided, enough was enough.

The assault of Andrea Constand has a similar narrative.

We see that speaking out against a celebrity or a person in power can bring about an overwhelming backlash. A common rebuttal in these situations when people finally bring issues to light is that they are “just now coming out” or “coming out for money.” The idea that anybody who has poured years and years into proving an extreme violation of their body by another person is doing so to be recognized or wealthy is incredibly asinine. Constand was showered with insults, disrespect, and fallacies against her character. A battle she began in 2005 just ended in 2018 and yet, throughout the past 13 years, there were still individuals who believed that she wasn’t telling the truth and urged her to throw in the towel. In 2017, after a mistrial was declared, Constad’s fight seemed to be over. However, yesterday was a victory not just for her, but for sexual assault victims everywhere.

It would be ignorant to say that the fight for society to believe sexual assault victims is over after Bill Cosby’s guilty sentence and if Kavanaugh is not confirmed.

In the case of those two individuals alone, there could very possibly be numerous other lives affected by their actions. There are countless other victims of sexual assault at the hands of both the powerful and the ordinary  whose stories still need to be told. The small victories we are seeing today point towards a larger victory of more people coming out and speaking out on the horizon. People being afraid to speak out against celebrities and powerful figures is not dying out, by any means.

Although the #MeToo movement has opened the gateway for many women and men to speak out about their sexual assaults, the God-complex given to those in power is still a barrier to people telling their sexual assault stories. Andrew Wyatt, Cosby’s spokesman, said, “They persecuted Jesus and look what happened” when speaking on Cosby’s sentencing.

It is dangerous and frankly morally and ethically wrong to compare anybody to a deity when speaking on their perceived innocence in a case such as this. Nobody is above the law or above allegations that are proven to be true. Our society needs to move towards taking every step possible to ensure that people who speak out on their experience of being sexually assaulted–especially against celebrities or politicians–are given exceptional care when being reviewed. In the cases that are found to be true, the victims must be protected at all costs.

Kavanaugh and Cosby are not gods. Anybody who is a victim of sexual assault should never be intimidated or shut down for telling their story. To everybody out there who happens to be a victim of sexual assault or knows somebody who is: you matter, your story matters, and your life matters.


Categories: Blog

Equal Rights Advocates Blast Senate Judiciary Committee On Ford/Kavanaugh Hearing

September 27, 2018 - 1:04pm

Today’s confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh has the whole nation reckoning with an alleged sexual assault involving high school students more than 30 years ago. The non-profit Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) has called for the Senate to halt the hearing to make time for a thorough investigation of Professor Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations and others that have surfaced since hers were made public. Youth Radio reached out to ERA Staff Attorney Maha Ibrahim for her thoughts to these events and how they relate to the way schools handle allegations of student sexual misconduct today.


Youth Radio: What do you think of how the Senate is handling the proceedings regarding Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh?

Maha Ibrahim: The current leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee has obviously learned nothing since the hearings to confirm Clarence Thomas 27 years ago. It is clear they should suspend this confirmation process or withdraw Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination completely.

Taking sexual violence seriously requires investigating credible allegations such as these — the very notion of rushing through confirming someone for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in a sprint to avoid investigating these very troubling reports is a startling and chilling indication of what Senate leadership thinks about women, girls, and sexual assault in America in general.

If that investigation is circumvented here it devalues the promise of justice for all survivors, especially young women and girls.


YR: What is the Senate doing right, and what are they doing wrong?

MI: It is appalling Senate Republican leadership knew about the allegations early last week and called for the vote to be pushed up, in an effort to get “their guy” on the court…This process should be fair, thorough and non-partisan. For ALL parties involved.

The Senate Judiciary Committee should appoint experts, whose focus on thorough, trauma-informed investigation SUPERSEDES arbitrary deadlines. The investigation should include meaningful interviews and testimony from experts in sexual assault and trauma, and allow sufficient time for the committee to prepare. But they’ve done none of these things. And that’s a disservice to the American people who are affected by the decisions handed down from the Supreme Court.  

And the public statements made by some of these elected leaders — downplaying sexual assault, doubting women, indicating this behavior is common and o.k. — can only be classified as immature, reckless, and dangerous.


What happens if, after these sexual assault allegations have surfaced, Kavanaugh is appointed to the Supreme Court? What signal would that send to school-aged victims and perpetrators of high school sexual assault?

MI: A shocking 23% of female students, 24% of transgender or gender nonconforming students, and 6% of male students will experience sexual assault by the time they graduate college. Many of these young people will not come forward for fear of shame, not being believed, or being revictimized.

It’s important to think about how the harassers and rapists in our school environments become adults who could have a lot of power in different professions.

If we don’t want unsafe offices, workplaces, or people who have serious sexual misconduct in their backgrounds making decisions that affect women and girls in the future, we have to take these allegations seriously today.

When an investigation is circumvented the way it has been here–when a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is at stake–it devalues the promise of justice for all survivors, especially young women and girls.

A lifetime appointment means that girls today will be senior citizens before newly confirmed Supreme Court seats are again vacated for a new appointment — we have to really think about that.  This is the entire span of a girl’s childhood, adolescence, young womanhood, adulthood — the very majority of her school, earning, and family building (if she so chooses) years. What does it mean for all of America if that seat is filled by a person accused of sexual assault yet never properly investigated?


And what would it mean to them if Kavanaugh is turned away from the Supreme Court?


MI: Well, it would mean that we won a battle but the short list of nominees for the Supreme Court is just as problematic.

We are likely to fight a similar fight again.  Fighting on the grounds of the values and decisions of a judge and his political past is a judicial fight to be expected.  But that Senate Leadership is forcing us to fight tooth-and-nail just to get a fair investigation by experts into very serious allegations of sexual misconduct by a prospective Supreme Court Justice — this is simply unconscionable.


Categories: Blog

As Christine Blasey Ford Testifies, Classrooms Tune In and Students Take Note

September 27, 2018 - 12:09pm

Today, students across the country have been sitting at the edge of their seats, anxiously awaiting the outcome of testimony that will have lasting impact on the lives of sexual assault survivors and perpetrators, and on the course of US history.

Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to publicly come forward and accuse Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, stepped up to the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday morning to begin her testimony.

The hearings have spoken volumes in classrooms, including those at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, which took a break from its daily activities to watch the hearing live as “history is being made.”

Journalism professors at @merrillcollege are prioritizing viewing the #KavanaughHearings in class.

When I walked in, one professor noted: “We’re watching history today.” #MerrillMade pic.twitter.com/n7X5WRHucI

— Katie Bemb (@kbemb18) September 27, 2018

As Ford testifies, many students are speaking out in solidarity with Christine Blasey Ford and advocating greater support for sexual assault survivors, some using hashtags like #IBelieveSurvivors.

Why would Dr. Ford lie? Why would Dr. Ford lie? Why would Dr. Ford lie? Why would Dr. Ford lie? Why would Dr. Ford lie? WHY ON EARTH would Dr. Ford lie?

Death threats. Reputation on the line. Emotional trauma. Why would she lie?

She wouldn't. And she's not.#IBelieveSurvivors

— carol stanvers (@erin_graham17) September 27, 2018

Are we gonna talk about the fact that this isn't even a hearing for Dr. Ford to bring her rapist to justice in a court system but her sharing her traumatizing story…in the context of a job interview

— carol stanvers (@erin_graham17) September 27, 2018

While some support Ford’s testimony and stand with her, others–including President Trump and Republicans on the committee–question her credibility. They see a politically-motivated attempt to prevent the nomination based on recollections of events that occurred more than 30 years ago.

Even so, many women have come forth and said they’ve had to live with the impact of sexual assaults for their entire lives, and that there are many reasons why cases don’t get talked about for years after the fact.

the #KavanaughHearings are not something you should ignore, we’re talking about a sexual assaulter being given one of THE MOST powerful positions in the country, pay attention and realize that this will DIRECTLY affect you, it’s not something to turn a blind eye to

— mack! (@troyestruth) September 27, 2018

#WhyIDidntReport denial, shame, and fear. but i will report, becuase i’m sick of carrying the burden for something that’s not my fault. i deserve to be free and he deserves to be held accountable. 3 years is not too late to get my justice. no more silence!!!

— jess (@je551ca_) September 25, 2018

The Senate Judiciary Committee could decide whether to nominate Kavanaugh as early as Friday morning.

Categories: Blog

My Brother’s Autism Changed Me

September 27, 2018 - 8:00am
Valeria Araujo’s younger brother has autism. (Photo credit: Shawn Wen)

When my brother Lorenzo was three, he started falling behind most kids his age. He couldn’t speak, make eye contact, or comprehend yes/ no questions.

I remember watching my parents react in opposite ways. My mom was desperate to find out what was going on with Lorenzo. My dad was in denial.

At that time, I was five years old and so confused. Why were my parents paying less attention to me? Why were they arguing? I dreaded coming home from school everyday. My family lost our sense of a normal routine, because we were trying to accomodate my brother.

After running many tests, Lorenzo was diagnosed with autism. Even though I was only a kid, I started going to his weekly doctor’s visits

My mom says I know my brother better than anyone. I know the foods he hates and the environments that make him uncomfortable. Before he learned how to communicate with words, I knew what he was trying to say through the noises he made.

My brother is now 14. He can speak in full sentences, read and write, and manage his emotions. While I was there to support him, he made all of this progress himself.

But since I entered high school, my brother has noticed that I’m not home as much. I have soccer practice, volunteer work, and an interest in journalism. I can tell he’s worried about losing me.

In two years, I’ll graduate from high school. And I’m not sure about my college plans. I dream of flying 2,000 miles away to Chicago to study journalism. But my brother is always in the back of my mind. A big part of me feels obligated to stick around.

I’m different from most 16-year-olds because of Lorenzo. But I don’t resent him. Having a younger brother with autism has given me a deep sense of responsibility. Watching him grow–even flourish–has been one of my greatest joys.

With a perspective, I’m Valeria Araujo.

Categories: Blog

Schools Are On The Hook For Sexual Misconduct At House Parties, Like The One Allegedly Involving Kavanaugh

September 26, 2018 - 10:00am
Under Title IX, schools are required to investigate sexual misconduct that takes place off-campus. (Photo credit: adifansnet via flickr)

This is the allegation: at a house party full of teenagers, two boys forced a girl into a bedroom. While one boy watched, the other pinned the girl onto a bed. He groped her through her clothing and covered her mouth with his hand to muffle her screams. She escaped before it went farther, first locking herself in the bathroom, and then fleeing the party.

The Senate is currently considering this story about a teen house party, as they weigh the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Christine Blasey Ford, the alleged victim, claims that Kavanaugh was the boy in question who pinned her down and groped her, while his friend watched. Kavanaugh denies this ever happened.

The Senate, inadvertently, finds itself in the position of many high schools–which, as of now, are required to investigate alleged sexual assaults between students–both on and off campus. 

But that requirement might change.

In this case, Ford and Kavanaugh attended separate schools. However, under the current law, schools are required to look into sexual harassment and assault, which both fall under Title IX, a federal statute most commonly associated with women’s access to sports. “Title IX actually covers a surprisingly wide range of activities. So for instance sexual harassment, sexual violence is covered by it. Creating a hostile environment could be covered by Title IX,” said William Koski, who directs the Youth and Education Law Project at Stanford University. We interviewed Koski for our 2017 All Things Considered story about schools’ handling of sexual violence involving students.

Under Title IX, schools needs to create an equitable learning environment, even for victims of off-campus assaults. “So for instance, if there is sexual violence at a party or something like that, it’s entirely possible that the victim of that kind of sexual violence will feel quite uncomfortable at school,” Koski further explains.

However, the Department of Education under Betsy DeVos is preparing a new set of campus sexual assault policies. Although these new rules have yet to be announced, they are expected to limit liability for schools and give more rights to the accused. The policy is also said to only hold schools responsible for looking into assaults that take place on campus, or in a school-related activity.

So off-campus parties, like the one recalled by Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, would no longer be under the jurisdiction of schools.

Categories: Blog

Internet Isolation Over the Summer Can Cause Student Anxiety in the Fall

September 25, 2018 - 11:06am

By Yesenia Pacheco

New classes, earlier alarms set, and more homework. A new school year comes with a lot of problems, but none as bad as the self isolation a lot of teens are experiencing as a new school year begins.

For most kids, summer was spent outside, having fun with friends and family, making the return to school exciting, while other kids felt much differently. As I walked down the crowded hallway, I felt an extreme anxiety all throughout my body. I didn’t want to be there. Seeing all those faces and hearing all those voices was too much to take in when, for the past months, I had gotten so used to being in my room, all alone, only communicating with people through the small box of light that felt glued to my hand.

It was complete culture shock. At first I thought I was being overly dramatic, letting my grandmother’s words get the best of me, “You need to get off that phone and make some friends.” I have friends, but talking to them face to face felt so unusual.  When I opened up about how I was feeling to some of my friends, I learned some of them felt the same way.

I explained this situation to a classmate and she completely understood. She lives under a somewhat strict household, unable to go out, but would prefer to stay home anyway.

“I feel comfortable staying at home…I usually live through my phone, seeing what others do. Sometimes it’s easier talking to others without having to face them…” 17-year-old Liz Rico told me. She went on to explain the benefits of a life online, such as carefully thinking out a response via text before sending to avoid saying the wrong thing. Saying the wrong thing is bound to happen in the real world, which was something Rico wasn’t ready for.

“When returning to school, I was completely thrown off and it felt uncomfortable and overwhelming with all these people,” she said. “Especially since I only talk to a few people and the adjustments to it usually take a while for me.”

At school, people I enjoy spending time with began hugging me and trying to catch up through casual conversation. I couldn’t breathe and got a really bad headache either from all the commotion or feeling the sun on my skin for the first time in forever. During the first week of school I found it very difficult to talk to people and maintain eye contact, which hadn’t been an issue for me in three years. Somehow I backtracked into that same shy girl I was back then, erasing all the confidence and growth I’ve gained.

To be clear, I wasn’t completely isolated for the entirety of summer, I spent a lot of wonderful time with my family, but everyone is someone different when they’re around family. The only social interactions I had were online with people I didn’t really know. When you’re online, you can create a whole different persona and you feel like you’re living a whole other life.

I still think that it may be OK to live that other persona. The internet is a great place to meet people that have the same interests as you. Over the summer I got to be a part of many online communities with people who are excited about the same TV shows and music I love.

Compare that with school, where my peers assume I’m a music snob for not liking what they do. The fact of the matter is, I can’t live my life online, and I really don’t want to. It took a while, but after a few weeks, things were back to normal. I was speaking in front of entire classrooms without feeling the need to pass out, and attending football games, screaming with the crowd. I still don’t fully understand why I had such a serious problem coming back to school, but as odd as this state I was in seems, I’m not the only one who’s experiencing this.

This issue of self isolation is strongly connected to social media, and is a problem only my generation has faced so far. Adults may not be able to relate to our anxiety, but hopefully they can try to understand. I suggest that any student who shares the same feelings of discomfort when offline tell their story, so that we all can figure out what to do to fix it.

As more and more kids get attached to the internet at much younger ages, it’s crucial that parents limit their children’s time online. The dependency and addiction to the online world is a big problem for youth, and if we don’t take action now, it will only get worse.

Originally published by VoiceWaves Long Beach.

Categories: Blog

Youth Radio Raw: Youth Nation Episode 7

September 24, 2018 - 7:00pm

Welcome to the seventh episode of Youth Nation on Youth Radio Raw.

Make sure you tune in every week on Fridays from 6:15 to 7:35 pm!

On this show, you’ll hear the recent news, personal experiences and a diverse selection of music.

For photos of the show, go to Youth Radio’s Flickr page.

Check out live coverage of the show by following @YouthRadioRaw on Twitter and @yr_raw on Instagram.

Categories: Blog