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Undercover “Muslim”: My Hidden Islamic Heritage

June 22, 2017 - 7:59pm


Nabra Hassanen, 17, was killed after exiting a mosque in June, 2017.

When I first read the reports of the death of Nabra Hassanen, the teen girl who was beaten to death while leaving a mosque, I cried. Seventeen years old, bright and alive, she’d been chased, hit over the head with a metal bat, dragged into a car, and then thrown into a pond. Her violent death replayed in my mind’s eye. I didn’t sleep well.  I kept thinking to myself, “That girl could have easily been one of my friends.”

Nabra Hassanen was my same age. We were both raised Muslim. And given a different path, her fate could have been mine.

I may not look like it, but I am half-Turkish. When I was younger, I attended a private Muslim school which doubled as a mosque for the local Muslim population. We wore hijab during prayer time, and had lessons in Arabic. Over the years, I became more and more disconnected to not only Islam but all organized religion. Today, I have only a cultural connection to Islam. I do not currently identify as Muslim or wear hijab. But because of my past, I keep company with the Muslims who attend my school. A large portion of my friends and family members follow Islam. And several of them look just like Nabra.

When people see me today — a light-skinned white teen with no hijab — they assume that I am Christian. I often find myself in a position of feeling as if I am a spy, privy to hearing the racist and Islamophobic things other people say. For instance, there was a moment this past year where a boy in my class made a “joke” in front of me about Muslims being “dirty, dumb terrorists.” He spoke with such a tone of camaraderie, as if that’s how all of us think about Muslims.

When I confronted him — revealing that an entire side of the family is Muslim, that many of my friends are Muslim, and that I still follow aspects of Islam — he panicked. He stuttered out phrases like, “You’re not that kind of Muslim!” and, “I wasn’t talking about you!”

The truth is, when the ignorant are faced with those they speak ill of, they have no valid way of justifying the hurtful things they say. When these people don’t get corrected in their inaccurate understandings of Muslims, it keeps the door open for violence to occur. I suspect that the man arrested for Nabra Hassanen’s murder, Darwin A. Martinez Torres, was much like the boy in my class: misguided and willing to be swayed by the huge amount of anti-Islamic rhetoric that exists in the media today.

The way I handle people, like the boy in my class, is simple. I do my best to argue in a way that is more informative than angry. But I also juggle my own emotional response to that sort of speech by implementing humor.

My friends and I who hold connection to Islam try to make the blow of our current political climate into an self-effacing jokes. My Palestinian friend and I call each other “terrorist” in the hallways, but we also pay attention to every shift in the political net of America. We cry out Allah Hu Ekber as we send in essays we’ve been working on for hours, but we also donate time and energy into helping Syrian Refugees. We joke about “dirty Arabs,” but we also discuss things like Chapel Hill, the pig heads left on the steps of mosques, and the people like Nabra.

The way we joke among ourselves does not give non-Muslims permission to take Islamophobia lightly. It’s a way for people who face stigma and fear to try to take control of our lives. We laugh so that we do not cry.

It’s hard to be so completely defined by society based on one aspect of who we are. In Nabra’s case, it’s like no one wants to think how she was more than a Muslim body. She was a person. She had thoughts and plans. At 17, she would have been thinking about college. As the eldest daughter, her parents were likely beginning to realize that they would have to let her go, not to death, but to adulthood.

Nabra was a representative of so many people in the U.S., not just young Muslims. And yet, even in death, she is seen only as the scarf she wore and not for what lied beneath it: a brain and a life and most of all a future. If you want to remember this, say her name. And not only her name but Deah Barakat’s, Razan Muhammad Abu-Salha’s, and Yusor Muhammad Abu-Salha’s. Say Waqar Hassan’s name and Vasudev Patel’s. Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein’s and Nazma Khanem’s, and the countless others we brush under the rug as to keep the blame off the shoulder of this country.

And though I cry at Nabra’s death, I am not doing so because her loss is a shock. As terrible as it is to say,this loss is just further proof that young Muslim-Americans are not safe in this country. No one wants to to talk about how Nabra’s story is reflected in the experiences of many young Muslim women in America. We need to acknowledge that young Muslim men and women –people in our lives and schools and communities — have been put in a position of always needing to watch their back. And that is simply not okay.

Categories: Blog

“Now They Love Me For Me”: One Teen’s Coming Out Story

June 22, 2017 - 9:51am

I always knew, ever since elementary school, that something was different about me. That was when I got my first crush on another boy. He was one of my best friends at the time. Recently, I found out that he stopped being my friend because he had a “funny feeling” about me. He told one of my other friends that he thought that I was gay.

Well, surprise, he was right.

Ever since I was little, my relatives have seen me as one of the more feminine guys in my family. But growing up, I tried as hard as I could to hide who I was from them.

My attraction to males grew stronger as I got older and I didn’t know what was going on. In seventh grade, I started secretly identifying as bisexual. But everything changed in freshman year, when I realized for sure that I was only attracted to guys, not girls. That summer I had my first boyfriend. The only person in my family that I trusted enough to tell was my sister. My boyfriend and I broke up at the beginning of the school year.

Around the same time, my dad found out about my sexual orientation. He found an old journal of mine where I wrote about liking men. Afterwards, he asked me if he had done something wrong in his parenting — as if my sexual orientation were a choice. To me, his reaction was very heartbreaking. Even though he didn’t kick me out of the house, it was like he was telling me, “I don’t’ love this part of you. I only love you because you’re my son.”

I came out to the rest of my family a few months later. It was my big birthday idea to tell them that I was gay. I was very scared because a lot of people in my family that are close to me don’t support LGBT people at all.

That day, I was very nervous. I didn’t say anything the whole night because I was so anxious. For most of the party, I stayed quiet. Then, when a group of my family members was about to leave, I exclaimed, “I have something I need to tell you guys”.

Everyone turned to look at me. I sat back on the couch and held my sister’s hand so tightly it hurt. In that moment, I was ready to die. Finally, I worked up the courage, and the words escaped my mouth. “I’m gay,” I said. The room filled with silence and surprised looks. And then, my family spoke.

“OK,” they said.

I was shocked. It was no big deal to them! I had worked myself up for nothing.

It was a scary process, but now that I’m out to my family, I feel free knowing they love me for me. Even though we may have our hiccups about the topic I’m still accepted.

Coming out required me to first love myself, and then to believe that someone out there and would love me back. Now I know that being gay or bi or whatever is not a problem, and there is nothing wrong with people like me just because we love the way we do.

Categories: Blog

A Teen Refugee In Oakland: “I Have No More Nightmares, No More Tears”

June 20, 2017 - 11:22am

I am a refugee from Burma. I’ve lived in the United States since 2011. When my family and I arrived here, we didn’t have healthcare. We didn’t have education systems and life was really hard. I saw myself as a victim stuck in a room with no door. Then, after six years the opportunity came for us to fill out immigration papers. That is when everything changed: new place, new world, and new life. Now I thank God that I was brought here.

My parents were born in Burma. They grew up in a place called Karen State. Karen State is a beautiful place. We lived in a forest and in a village. In Karen State you can live free and wild. You can have good a time living in the forest. You can just go hunt animals without permission because it is your place. When you need food to eat you can go hunt. We have a lot of river water that you can just jump into and catch fish or frogs. The country was very calm and nice. Before we lived peacefully as a happy family but now we are running for our lives.

The problem is that my country is too beautiful a place. Burma has been in a state of constant civil war since independence in 1948. Powerful elements within the Burman ethnic group, which is about 60 percent of the population feels that they should control the country’s culture, land, and money. The fighting got really bad in 1995 leading to generations of families fleeing Burma. My family ran away in 2002 because of the war that took place and we wanted to find a better place to live.


We took five airplanes to get to the United States and it was hard because we didn’t know anything about the U.S. We were tired after getting here. I was so surprised because when I looked around everything was shining and so beautiful and now I love living here.

My dad works really hard to support our family because he is the only one who works and he doesn’t have time to go school, but my mom is going to school to learn English. And I think she tries really hard to be successful so she can earn an education and one day she will have a better job than my dad.

Now that my family has immigration papers, I have no more nightmares and no more tears. My life transformed from the worst to the best. I started my new life in Oakland, California with no friends and no money. I got my butt kicked on the first day of school. Not thinking I would succeed, students laughed at me like I was a comedian when I tried to say something they don’t understand. My mom used to tell me, you always have to be humble. No matter who you are, no matter where you go. After working really hard, I’m thankful. I feel big and successful.

I want to tell this story because refugee people live a different life and have different struggles. Life can take you anywhere but you have to believe that everything will be the best for you. There will be no rainbow without rain. My family is poor, but we don’t worry about how poor we are because we’re blessed and we can make it through each day. Thank you, mom and dad, for never giving up.

Categories: Blog

I’m Not Here For Your Microaggressions

June 18, 2017 - 8:00am

I often get praised for my intelligence. Even though that sounds like a compliment, sometimes the implication is: you’re smart…for a black girl.

One day, in the car with my mom, she told me, “It’s not always a compliment if someone says you’re articulate.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“If you were white, people would assume that you’re smart,” she said, keeping her eyes on the road. After that we sat in an uncomfortable silence.

My parents and I are pretty close, but until that conversation, we hadn’t talked about how people might judge me by the color of my skin.

Since then, I’ve started noticing microaggressions everywhere. Like employees following me around a store, or people moving their purses when I sit next to them.

In the 7th grade, a classmate asked me, “Why do you look black, but act white?”

In the moment, I shrugged my shoulders. But on the inside I was embarrassed and aggravated. I realize that, while it’s hard to speak up, that just means people will keep stereotyping people like me.

So the next time someone asks me that, I’ll be sure to have a better comeback.

Categories: Blog

“This Is Not Normal”: Seventh Graders March To End Gun Violence In Brooklyn

June 15, 2017 - 1:02pm
Kayla Attz, holds a sign that reads, “Words don’t hurt, bullets do!” Students designed signs for the march in their Digital Media class as a part of the anti-gun violence curriculum. Image: Sayre Quevedo

Once again gun violence is front and center in America’s political awareness.

While the debate rages on about what–if anything–can or should be done about the waves of mass shootings and other types gun violence, students at Launch Expeditionary Learning Charter School in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, took to the streets last week in a show of their commitment to address the issue.

On Friday, June 9th, seventh graders from Launch marched from their school to a rally at Restoration Plaza amphitheater, where the student body president kicked off a series of speakers from the school and community, in partnership with the Save Our Streets (SOS) Crown Heights organization.

Here are some images from the event:

Thierry Elliot and fellows students march with Dequann Stanley, Violence Interrupter Supervisor at Save Our Streets (SOS), an organization in Brooklyn that has charged itself with “interrupting” gun violence through counseling and mediation. Image: Sayre Quevedo/Youth Radio Viviana Lima, 13, is a student at Launch. For her, the anti-gun violence unit was particularly emotional. “My cousin died last year. They shot him. He was trying to block the bullet and he died.” But, Lima says, it felt good to march with other students to try and end the violence that took her cousin’s life. Image: Sayre Quevedo/Youth Radio David Gaskin, is the Program Manager and Lead Manager at SOS. SOS works hand-in-hand with Launch Charter School on a daily basis, assisting students and making sure they make it home safely. “In the beginning [the students] thought gun violence was normal. They believed it was normal to hear shootings on a nightly basis. They believed it was normal for people to solve conflicts with a gun. They believed it was normal to walk by candles that were lit for someone killed in that location. This was us saying, this is not normal. This is what a community without gun violence looks like.” Image: Sayre Quevedo/Youth Radio Aissatou Diallo (center), flanked by fellow students, Roshawana Sinclair (left) and Courteney St. Hilaire (right), raises her fist in the air as students march down Fulton street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Diallo and Sinclair are both eighth graders who took the anti-gun violence unit last year and participated in this year’s march. Image: Sayre Quevedo/Youth Radio Ashtown Valews, 14, a student at Launch, has also experienced gun violence. He has family members who have been shot–some who lived and others who didn’t. He says he’ll continue to spread the message of the class, even after it’s finished. Image: Sayre Quevedo/Youth Radio Lindsay Herz is a Special Educator at Launch, teaching science and social studies for seventh graders. Along with co-teacher, Shamikah Kenlock, Herz helped with organizing and logistics for the rally. “It was really the students who did the most important planning in preparing for this. Many of them were speakers at the event. They led the march. They were chant leaders. They designed the signs. Every single student at the event today had a role.” Image: Sayre Quevedo/Youth Radio Two students stand on the stage of Restoration Plaza Amphitheater in Crown Heights. One delivers his “call to action,” an essay on how to solve the problem of gun violence. He wrote the essay as a part of his social studies class. Image: Sayre Quevedo/Youth Radio
Categories: Blog

Should San Francisco Pride Be A Party Or A Protest? I Say, Both

June 15, 2017 - 12:02pm

The first and only time aI went to San Francisco Pride, I found it deeply disappointing. I was in high school. it felt like I had stepped into a big outdoor nightclub for drunk teenagers and twenty-somethings. Everywhere I looked, there was another big corporate logo trying to get my money with bright pink and rainbow graphics.

Especially in California, I had expected Pride to be fun, meaningful and welcoming. Instead it felt like a booze-soaked, glitter-covered, outdoor version of the house parties I spent my adolescence trying to avoid (only with more stuff to buy and slightly fewer straight people).

Afterwards, I remember riding the train home with my partner at the time and feeling like something had been missing. I wondered, what was the point of Pride supposed to be?

Pride organizers across the state are struggling with that same question. This year, instead of the usual Pride parade celebration, cities like Los Angeles and San Jose opted to host “resistance marches” to protest President Trump’s policies. These marches aimed to tackle anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, as well as intersectional issues, like racial justice and affordable housing. But other cities, including San Francisco, are taking a more politically neutral approach.

Despite the city’s once-liberal reputation, San Francisco Pride organizers recently announced that they would not host a formal resistance march this year. They’re concerned the shift in messaging would compromise Pride’s positive atmosphere, and that companies who usually sponsor Pride, but aren’t willing to appear partisan, would pull out of the festivities. As a compromise, San Francisco’s parade will be led a “Resistance Contingent.” But many local activists have expressed disappointment, pointing out that sponsors shouldn’t get to dictate Pride’s messaging in the first place.

The whole argument brings me back to my first Pride parade. Should Pride be a party, or a protest? These days, I don’t think we have to choose.

I agree my community needs a joyful celebration that embraces queerness. But Pride has been so far removed from its original historical context that many seem to have forgotten why the celebration is significant.

The truth is, LGBTQ+ identities are (and always have been) politicized, and being out and proud is (and always has been) a political act. There’s no way to avoid that. When so many powerful forces are trying to marginalize us, it’s inherently radical that we combat our internalized oppression with positivity.

The first Pride parade commemorated the anniversary of Stonewall, a 1969 riot against the police and their raids on clubs and bars that were frequented by queer and trans people. At that time, queerness was criminalized. If I had been alive then, I would be risking jail time for public homosexuality or dressing as “another gender”, just by being queer. Only through direct action and political organizing did LGBTQ+ people achieve the legal protections that we enjoy today.

Being able to celebrate rather than mourn, rage, and protest at Pride is a privilege that queer leaders have worked hard to win. If we take it for granted, it will disappear, because the battle for queer liberation isn’t over. Those who can’t accept this fact shouldn’t be celebrating the victories of that fight.

Social progress is not a function of time. Let’s not forget, as one of his first actions upon reaching office, President Trump scoured every reference to LGBTQ+ people from the White House’s website. Trump’s cabinet is full of people who oppose queer rights, and he supports the proposed First Amendment Defense Act, which if signed into law, would give businesses and individuals the right to deny services to LGBTQ+ people based on their religious beliefs. As of this article, the only thing that the president has done to acknowledge Pride month was to speak in support of religious freedom at an event hosted by The Faith And Freedom Coalition, which opposes same-sex marriage.

The threat to queer civil rights is bigger than any administration or political party. Murders of LGBTQ+ people in the United States hit a record high in 2016, not including the shooting at Pulse that killed 49 people a year ago. Trump’s presidency is indicative of a large scale cultural shift at the expense of the marginalized. His words and his policies have only fed that shift. Shouldn’t we pay attention, and do something about it?

Pride is about love and hope. It’s also about liberation and fighting back against subjugation. It cannot and should not be one without the other.

If we all just want to party hard and trust that others will solve our problems, we risk losing everything we’ve accomplished to regressive, reactionary politicians. Remembering our history and empowering ourselves is more important than getting wasted and protecting the business interests of sponsors. We, as queers, as allies, and as the Bay Area, know that when anger and love join hands, mountains move.

Gay Pride provides the perfect opportunity to show this to the world, and San Francisco ought to embrace it.


Categories: Blog

Check Yourself: 3 Ways NOT To React To The Congressional Baseball Shooting

June 14, 2017 - 10:19am
Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) was injured when a gunman opened fire on a baseball practice for Republican Congressmen on June 14, in Alexandria, Virginia. Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Early this morning, a gunman in Alexandria, Virginia, opened fire on a baseball practice for Republican congressmen, injuring several people, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. The suspect, James T. Hodgkinson, was shot by Capitol police and has reportedly died of his injuries.

The story is still developing, which means there’s still a lot of speculation out there as to what happened and why. Also, it’s related to partisan politics, which means there are plenty of excuses for people to say awful things that they might regret later.

Given those considerations, we’ve put together a very short list of suggestions of to remind you of what NOT to do:


  1. Don’t just skim headlines — read the damn articles.
  2. Don’t just use this as an excuse to blame all Republicans/Democrats/etc.
  3. Don’t forget what’s going on in the rest of the nation/world.


For more tips about how to be a responsible consumer of breaking news, we like On The Media’s online handbook.

Categories: Blog

Sweet Home Alabama: My Love-Hate Relationship With My Home State

June 12, 2017 - 10:30am
Photo: C. Audrey Harper

Most people in Alabama lean one of two ways: Alabama is the BEST place to live or Alabama is the WORST place to live and depending on where you’re from, that answer might be different.

My mother came to Madison, a suburb in Alabama (near Huntsville), in 1990 to 1) meet her pen pal (aka my father) and 2) have a better life. My mom is from one of the most populous, but also impoverished, countries in the world: Indonesia. My family has been able to thrive here. I was able to grow up in a good school system surrounded by doctor offices and multiple hospitals, but just two hours away, teens like myself are growing up in a county with one of the lowest life expectancies in the U.S.

How long you live may depend on where you live. According to a recent report that appeared in JAMA, many Southern counties have lower average life expectancy than counties in other parts of the country. Illustration by Dominik Vaughan/Youth Radio, adapted from a map created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Life expectancy depends on where you live. You can see it in this map created by the Institute For Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The map is color coded – blue for a long life, and yellow and orange for a shorter one. While most of the country is a sea of blue, not the same can be said for the South, particularly my state.

Alabama is stuck in a paradox.

When we make the national news it’s often: “Here’s the new racist thing that happened this week in everyone’s favorite Bible Belt state.”

There are counties that are still disproportionately affected by poverty and lack of access to healthcare and education. Recent cuts to healthcare provisions continue to hurt Alabamians.

Yet, there are still a lot of endearing qualities about Alabamian life.

Southern hospitality is always a plus. Every grandma in the state is basically Paula Deen. Whenever I leave the South, I notice the absence of friendly greetings and overall generosity.

A roadside BBQ joint in Harvest, Alabama that references a popular meme. Photo: C. Audrey Harper

Property taxes are extremely low, making it a good place to buy a home and start a family. And everyone knows that “family values” matter deeply to Southerners (unless you’re a governor of course.) Oh, and there’s the beach. Alabama has such picturesque beaches that schools start later in the year so “beach season” lasts longer. What more could anyone ask for from their state?

Well for starters, maybe to live a little longer.

I had always been used to defending our way of life: our lackadaisical hot summers, our slow, drawn out phrases, and our incessant use of the word “y’all,” but my relationship becomes more and more strained with Alabama as I grow older and think about my future.

I know that one day I will have to leave Alabama, just like my mom left Indonesia more than 25 years ago. As an aspiring journalist, the job prospects here are not promising. Local news is wonderful, but there are no real opportunities to branch out with such a small scope of influence. Not only that, pay is minuscule. An Alabamian journalist is destined to be lower income, just like most of the state.

C. Audrey Harper lives outside of Hunstville, Alabama, where her father works as a contractor at NASA. Photo: C. Audrey Harper

And that’s just it. So many jobs here are lower paying and do not have a lot of promise. With so many low-paying jobs, there is a smaller chance for a community to succeed. I don’t want become another low-income resident with a low life expectancy.

In Walker County, the county with the lowest life expectancy in Alabama, the emigration rates are growing and I don’t expect them to stop. I have friends who want to be diplomats and artists and actors and politicians, and unless you’re one of the lucky (and rich) few in Alabama, that feels impossible. In the land of opportunity that my mother immigrated to, there seems to be less and less opportunity here. And until something changes, my home will continue to be just another statistic.

Categories: Blog

One Year Later, Reflections On the Pulse NightClub Shooting

June 11, 2017 - 8:00am

It’s been one year since the Pulse Nightclub shooting where 49 people were shot in a popular gay club. For me, the pain is still fresh.

Immediately after the shooting, I saw this quote on Instagram: “If you can’t wrap your head around a bar or club as a sanctuary, you’ve probably never been afraid to hold someone’s hand in public.” As a queer teen, those words hit me hard.

I relate to the need to find a kind of sanctuary. I have my own safe spaces–though they tend to be virtual.

Social media has been my refuge since middle school. I started out blogging about Britney Spears, One Direction, and Glee. As time went on, my pop culture posts evolved into passionate conversations about feminism, race and queer rights.

Through social media, I found an accepting community. These online friends supported me when I hadn’t come out to my real life friends. I felt safe and free to be myself.

For me and millions of other young queer people, losing our safe spaces would feel like losing our identities. For places where that sanctuary has been desecrated, we must use that identity to rebuild.


Categories: Blog

REDEFINED: Square Pegs

June 9, 2017 - 6:23pm
This story is a part of Lit Mag: The Redefined Issue.

For this musical composition I decided to do a remix of a country song called Square Pegs by Kelsea Ballerini.  Since I was unable to find an acapella available online, I recorded myself singing the lyrics and made a beat to it.  The song is about being yourself and following whatever dreams you want to achieve.

I am a singer. I want to be a professional artist. I can sing, and I can make music. I would like to work on my skills of writing lyrics, and producing my own music. I have written songs before in the past, but I think my lyrics need a little bit of work. Something I would really like to do is to promote my voice as a singer, and as an artist. My goal right now is to make my own album of my music to produce.   

Categories: Blog

REDEFINED: No Fear In My Heart

June 8, 2017 - 6:16pm

My struggles of living in West Oakland after the death of my brother.

I am an aspiring musician, lyricist, and rapper from Oakland, CA. I started to rap at the age of 14 when I was watching MTV videos and I was inspired by them. I recorded a track that is going to be released on my record label Humble Productions. The stories I write are about living in the life of struggle and adversity. I know that with my talents I can make it to the top.

Categories: Blog


June 8, 2017 - 4:22pm
This story is a part of the Lit Mag: The REDEFINED issue.


I was born in the country of Cambodia.  At the age of 4 my family and I moved to America.  We moved around so many times that the scenery and environment I’ve seen always changed.  In a way it helped me learn how to adapt.  Once I was in the 5th grade, my life became much more artistic because I saw a different point of view from myself and others.  This caused me to have a profound love for music and art.  I believe my art expresses how I feel inside.  What encourages me to create art is the feeling I get when I share it to other people. Seeing others cheer up because of my art puts a smile on face.  It means that I’ve made somewhat of a difference in someone else’s life.  When I create art, I try my best to do whatever feels real to me; art that comes from the heart.

Categories: Blog


June 8, 2017 - 4:22pm

This is 21st Century racism. This is Neo-America. this is white supremacy. This is Albany.

I am a creator of art, who enjoys writing, photography and film. With an intense love for film and creating, I am a self-declared, aspiring filmmaker. During my time with Youth Radio, I have rapidly increased her skills regarding multimedia, already kickstarting her “career” in art. I was born and raised in the Bay and you can more often than not find me editing photos, playing guitar, reading, or watching my beloved San Francisco Giants.

Categories: Blog


June 8, 2017 - 4:16pm

A short film profiling different teenagers in the Bay Area.


I am an intelligent, multi-talented photographer and musician. I alway put my full effort into capturing a moment. When I started, I didn’t know much about photography. But I figured out how to develop an eye for art and aesthetic. I have come up with multiple creations within the past few years, for example, I am currently working on a short film about people and their cultural backgrounds. For my music career I have been working on instrumental beats and I have been in the process of working on a new song. My goal is to be a part of the community as a photographer for professional musicians.

Categories: Blog

REDEFINED: Music is Life

June 8, 2017 - 4:13pm
This is apart of Lit Mag, the REDEFINED issue.

On a normal day what does your music playlist look like? What about when you are having a good or bad day? Does your playlist look the same? We can easily see how music and the brain engage in mood and emotion. When a child smiles and begins to dance to a rhythm. They are experiencing an uplifted mood of joy from the music.      

Have you ever been “ In your feelings” and  Bryson Tiller TRAP SOUL album was your go to for music? Well here is why…  Music causes the heartbeat and pulse rate to relax to the beat of the music. As the body becomes relaxed and alert, the mind is able to concentrate more easily. It also decreases blood pressure and enhances the ability to learn. Music affects the frequency of brain waves. It affects breathing rate and electrical resistance of the skin. Information from Lifehacker.com states that even short pieces of happy or sad music can affect us. A study shows that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad, to match the tone of the music they heard. So create your playlist for cooking, taking a walk or even just for your own down time.

I was born in Berkeley, California but was raised in Richmond.  I am heavily influenced by the underground music scene in the Bay Area.  My favorite music genre is hip hop because it’s what I grew up listening to and I feel like I can relate to it.

Categories: Blog

REDEFINED: Head Not The Tail

June 8, 2017 - 4:07pm

Growing up and making hard life decisions… and then finding your way out.

I am 16 year old aspiring computer engineering student. I have studied coding and web design and am interested in developing all types of technology to run our daily lives. When I was a kid, my mom said I used to tear my toys apart and then put them back together. Now that I’m In school I am learning Robotics using computer programs and that inspires me to learn more about this field.

Categories: Blog

REDEFINED: Venom In The Soul

June 8, 2017 - 2:35pm
This Story Is Part Of Lit Mag: The REDEFINED Issue.

The one strangers see in you, the one distant friends see in you and the last one which is the rarest, realest you, only seen by close friends, family, or lovers.

I am a 17-year-old producer/photographer working with Youth Radio. I am looking for jobs that require attention to detail and produce nice looking visuals. I believe that I am a friendly outgoing person who tries his best to produce the best product he can. To get my name out there I will resort to social media to find people in similar fields as me and share my work with them. It may take a while but I strongly believe you can accomplish anything if you’re dedicated to it enough and won’t take failure as an option.

Categories: Blog

REDEFINED: “Game Over”

June 8, 2017 - 2:33pm
This is a part of Lit Mag: The REDEFINED issue.

That painful feeling that every single individual person whose ever played video games can relate to and unfortunately has had to go through. The emotion felt when losing to a video game…and starting your progress all over again (which makes you want to throw your controller across the room). I like many others can definitely relate to this blunder. I’ve decided to creatively express these emotions through song.

I am a 20 year old Nigerian-born American, hailing out of Oakland, California. My goal is to explore different genres, experiment with every single flavor of music and incorporate my own style to it. Striving to be as versatile as ever…… I’m open to anything and everything when creating music.

Categories: Blog

REDEFINED: Consequences From A Dog

June 8, 2017 - 2:30pm
This story is a part of the Lit Mag: The REDEFINED issue.


For my final project I decided to sample a DMX song. I looped parts of the song and threw in a twist of my own.

I am 18 years old. Since the ages of 4-6 I began to like music a lot. Growing up I would always hear my dad playing DMX or Tupac. As I got older, I would start to write and record my own music. Music is my passion and what I see myself doing in the future.

Categories: Blog


June 8, 2017 - 2:28pm
This story is a part of Lit Mag: The REDEFINED Issue.


This is the music my mom would listen too all the time when I was younger so I sampled it, distorted it, and slowed it down, to put my own twist on it.

Cole Anderson 

I am a music producer/ recording artist. I have been drumming ever since I can remember.  I have also attended a music conservatory for 7 years.  There I learned many different types of percussion: Drumline, African Drumming, Afro-Latin Drumming, Classical Drumming, Drumset and more.  I have also performed all of these drums on stage in concert. I have participated in many drumline competitions and have won most of them. Musicianship runs in my family.

Categories: Blog