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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: 6 hours 52 min ago

Is The New ‘Best Popular Film’ Oscar A Sign Of Getting With The Times? Or The Opposite?

August 8, 2018 - 5:59pm
New changes coming to the Oscars. Photo: Disney/ABC Television Group via Flickr.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (a.k.a the organization behind the Oscars) announced today that they were making a few big changes to the almost century-old award show.

Starting with the 2019 ceremony, the 91st Academy Awards will shorten the telecast to make sure it stays in a three-hour time limit (!!!) and add a now controversial new category for “outstanding achievement in popular film.”

Change is coming to the #Oscars. Here's what you need to know:

– A new category is being designed around achievement in popular film.
– We've set an earlier airdate for 2020: mark your calendars for February 9.
– We're planning a more globally accessible, three-hour telecast. pic.twitter.com/oKTwjV1Qv9

— The Academy (@TheAcademy) August 8, 2018

Film critics are saying this category can be likened to a “best blockbuster” award, honoring the box-office hits of the year like “Mamma Mia 2” or “Mission: Impossible.” Some think this category was created entirely with “Black Panther” in mind — and that might not be a good thing.

Black Panther is such a great movie that they created a new Oscar category for it to win.

— ralphthemoviemaker (@ralphsepe) August 8, 2018

The Oscars have long been hailed as the most prestigious award show for excellence in film — but recently they’ve been steeped in controversy for a lack of representation of marginalized communities and stories as well as the makeup of their membership. Remember #OscarsSoWhite from 2015?

The nods to “Get Out” last year can’t fix their problems. But it seems the Academy is trying to make some changes that could point it toward a more modern direction.

Critics already have more than a few thoughts on the matter. Voices from USA TODAY, Vox and Time to name just a few, have already released think-pieces about how this could cheapen the award show and actually relegate some films made by people of color into lesser categories.  

In fact, one particularly hot take by Vanity Fair dubbed the award “the Black Panther award,” saying it was more of a “separate but equal category for a blockbuster made by almost exclusively black talent.” The article argued that the Marvel movie will be pushed out of the more traditional Best Picture category despite its critical acclaim, success, and massive fan base. But, in an attempt to not lose those viewers (because ratings) it’ll be pushed to its own — much less prestigious — category.

"BLACK PANTHER's unprecedented success is a remarkable achievement for black filmmaking."

THE OSCARS: "Let's make up a new ghetto category so we don't have to give it Best Picture."#Oscars #BestPopularFilm #BlackPanther #Marvel

— Nolan Zugernat (@NolanZugernat) August 8, 2018

This could mean that a movie like “Get Out” could also have probably found itself in this category rather than Best Picture.

Before this new development, the Academy added over 900 new members. The new inductees were 49 percent female and 38 percent people of color. With these new additions, the Academy membership is now 31 percent female, up from 28 percent, and 16 percent people of color, an increase from 13 percent.

But these new changes could mark less of a progressive shift and more of a ratings grab than anything else, which could actually end up harming diversity in film in the long run.

Categories: Blog

You OK With Apple Music Making Playlists With Your Music For Your Friends?

August 8, 2018 - 3:53pm

If you’ve logged onto Apple Music recently, you may have spotted a new playlist, titled Friends Mix.

If you haven’t noticed it, don’t worry, not everyone has access to the new feature yet. This is apparently a beta version and the full release is expected to roll out in September, according to Billboard

Ohhhh I got the new Friends Mix on #AppleMusic pic.twitter.com/OqTBC2Uhls

— Ben (@iB3nji) August 8, 2018

The new Friends Mix feature will allow users to connect and know more about their friends’ music tastes. Basically, Apple Music will create a playlist of 25 songs using music listened to by a users’ friends. While the songs will be chosen from friends’ listening history, the playlists are designed with the target user’s musical tastes in mind. 

In other words: Apple will gather up your friends‘ favorite songs, but choose what they show you based on your tastes.

This is the fourth custom playlist Apple Music has created. When IOS 10 dropped in 2016, Apple Music introduced My New Music Mix and My Favorites Mix, which are custom playlists with different songs for every user. Shortly after that, My Chill Mix came out, which was a custom playlist comprised of music the specific user would find… “chill.”

Like these custom playlists, the new Friends Mix will be updated weekly.

Apple Music’s new Friend Mix is solid. Music here is from artists I already recognize and most likely will enjoy too. pic.twitter.com/APzgs4prUy

— Greg Barbosa (@gregbarbosa) August 8, 2018

The Friends Mix brings Apple Music one step closer into the realm of social media platform rather than being just another music streaming service.

But not everybody is quite on board just yet — because our friends don’t always have the best taste in music. As one Redditor (u/Hangloosebra) put it, “That’s pretty cool. [Too] bad my friends listen to upchurch all day long which is horrible.”

And what about our own personal music taste? There’s something unsettling knowing that all my guilty pleasure music could be put on blast. The fact that Apple Music is currently going through every user’s listening history and sending it to their friends kind of creeps me out. At least, the mix is only shared with friends, so choose your friends wisely.

I got my @AppleMusic Friend's mix today! I love that you can see which friend that each song came from. True story, a ton of songs I love were on the playlist, all from the same friend. Didn't recognize the pic. Went to profile to see who it was. IT WAS MY WIFE. ❤️ #SoupSnakes

— kiggle (@kiggle) August 8, 2018

Friends Mix appears to be the latest response by Apple Music to Spotify’s custom playlists. Those have been in existence for a while now on a much bigger scale than Apple Music. And this social Friends Mix can also help bring more users to Apple Music by offering more than just music. Going toe-to-toe with Spotify is what it’s all about for  Apple Music right now, with some reports saying that the world’s first trillion dollar company has finally surpassed Spotify’s user base in the United States. Not that everyone seems to know that.

Which would be cool if any of my friends actually used it

— Alexandre Leite (@alexandreL) August 7, 2018

Categories: Blog

In Vogue, Beyoncé Shows Us She Feels Free — And Wants Us All to Feel It Too

August 6, 2018 - 3:07pm
Beyonce performing during the Formation World Tour in 2016. Photo by Kristopher Harris from Charlotte, NC, via Wikimedia Commons

In a groundbreaking new issue of Vogue, edited by Beyoncé, the icon not only graces the cover in a stunning photo shoot (more on that in a sec).

It’s here! @Beyonce stars on the cover of our September issue. Read the full story, in her own words: https://t.co/T7E2FbGDPn pic.twitter.com/GcX0ziiJD7

— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) August 6, 2018

She also talks openly about everything from body changes and complications during and after pregnancy to discovering shocking relationships in her ancestry.

But a central focus of the discussion was on opening doors and truly making sure that every voice counts. Here are some of the most eye-opening quotes from her history-making cover story.

On Opening Doors

Beyoncé selected 23-year-old Tyler Mitchell to photograph her cover, making him the first black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover in the magazine’s 126-year history.

“It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists. There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter.”

If someone hadn’t given a chance to Josephine Baker or Nina Simone back in the day, Beyoncé says the door wouldn’t have been open for her either.

“If people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own. They will hire the same models, curate the same art, cast the same actors over and over again, and we will all lose.” On Teaching and Guiding

She goes on to talk about seeing the historical impacts of her accomplishments. When the On the Run II Tour with husband Jay-Z had a show in Berlin at Olympiastadion, the importance was not lost on her. The site once promoted hatred, Nazism, and racism. In 1963, it was the site of the Olympics where Jesse Owens, an African-American athlete who was the son of sharecroppers and the grandson of slaves, won four gold medals. He was praised as the one who “single-handedly crushed Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy.” And now, 55 years later, she and her husband, a black couple, performed to a sold-out crowd, all while the concert-goers were “smiling, holding hands, kissing, and full of love.”

Before her headlining HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) band-themed Coachella performance, the one that shook the nation, she also realized the importance of what she could teach the younger generation about the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” after humming the song to her youngest daughter as a lullaby. (And this month, the singer announced the eight recipients of a $25,000 scholarship, Homecoming Scholars Award from her HBCU Scholarship Program.)

“I know that most of the young people on the stage and in the audience did not know the history of the black national anthem before Coachella, but they understood the feeling it gave them. It was a celebration of all the people who sacrificed more than we could ever imagine, who moved the world forward so that it could welcome a woman of color to headline such a festival.” On Representation

Beyoncé told Vogue’s Clover Hope in an interview for the cover story,

“Everyone’s voice counts, and everyone has a chance to paint the world from their own perspective.” On the Next Generation

The performer we’ve watched from teenage years to adulthood to motherhood says she is in a “place of gratitude,” where she wants “to learn more, teach more, and live in full.” Especially now that a future generation includes her children as well.

“As the mother of two girls, it’s important to me that they see themselves too—in books, films, and on runways. It’s important to me that they see themselves as CEOs, as bosses, and that they know they can write the script for their own lives—that they can speak their minds and they have no ceiling,” she said. “I want the same things for my son. I want him to know that he can be strong and brave but that he can also be sensitive and kind. I want my son to have a high emotional IQ where he is free to be caring, truthful, and honest. It’s everything a woman wants in a man, and yet we don’t teach it to our boys.” On Feeling (And Being) Free

Beyoncé wants them to feel, in a word, free. Free to achieve and free to be and show who they are.

Free is what she strives to be with all that she does as she “doesn’t like too much structure”. And her Vogue cover exemplifies that. She talks about her experience after having a C-section to deliver her twins Rumi and Sir, and how her body is different and fuller. She is accepting her natural body and wants others to do the same.

“I think it’s important for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies. That’s why I stripped away the wigs and hair extensions and used little makeup for this shoot.”
Categories: Blog

Hard-Working Dreamer Jahnae Patterson, 17, Among 4 Killed in Chicago Shootings

August 6, 2018 - 8:55am

Saturday, August 4, was a restless night for 40 Chicago families. In less than seven hours, 40 people were shot on the city’s West and South sides in gang related shootings, 15 of whom were teenagers, according to the Chicago Tribune.

At a block party, a 14-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy were both shot in their legs and are now reportedly stable. But 17-year-old Jahnae Patterson was shot and killed during the same attack, in which every person wounded was 21 or younger.

“My baby just left the house. Twenty minutes later, I get a call saying my baby got shot,” Patterson’s mother, Tanika Humphries, told the Tribune at a Sunday evening vigil held at the family’s home.

Patterson and a friend at the block party were walking to use a bathroom when two young men started a shootout. Patterson was shot in the face and pronounced dead at the scene. According to ABC7, as of Monday morning, no one is in custody yet, and Area Central detectives are still investigating.

Patterson was a senior at Manley Career Academy High School, the first girl born in her family, and the fifth of nine children. She dreamed of becoming a lawyer.

Her mother describes her as a hardworking student who always did what she was supposed to. “My baby did not deserve this,” Humphries said. “My baby wasn’t the type to hang out. She was in school. She worked. She did everything she was supposed to do as a teenager. And then coward (expletive) took it all away from us.”

Born with health problems, Patterson was growing up to be a strong young woman, her family says.

Dozens of her relatives attended the vigil and hung up pictures and posters of Patterson on a fence outside her family’s home.

“I’m trying to be strong, but I can’t,” Humphries said.

Many, including one of Patterson’s friends who was with her in her final moments, posted their condolences on social media.

Alice kisses a picture of her 17-year-old niece, Jahnae Patterson, during a vigil for Patterson who was shot in the face and killed early Sunday morning. In a 7-hour period 40 people were shot and four were killed in #Chicago, including Jahnae. https://t.co/miTdWtWEEV pic.twitter.com/4RjDE9PAEo

— armando l sanchez (@mandophotos) August 6, 2018

Relatives of HS senior Jahnae Patterson say goodbye after a rash of overnight shootings left about more than 30 wounded and at least 4 dead. pic.twitter.com/aZ5bUmCmqx

— Will Lee (@MidnoirCowboy) August 6, 2018

17-year-d Jahnae Patterson among the 5 killed and 34 shot this last this weekend. Her family is gathered for a vigil now. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/lPd1QgKP4E

— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) August 6, 2018

Nearly 60 people were shot — 11 fatally — between Friday night and Monday morning in Chicago, which led to chaos outside of Stroger Hospital as many families waited to find out about their relatives who had been shot, according to NBC 5.

Categories: Blog

Youth Radio Raw: Youth Nation Episode 3

August 3, 2018 - 5:23pm

Welcome to the third 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

Youth Radio Raw: Youth Nation Episode 2

August 3, 2018 - 4:52pm

Welcome to the second 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

Slap It or Trash It: The Internet – “Hive Mind”

August 3, 2018 - 1:30pm

In this episode of Slap It or Trash It Clay Xavier breaks down and reviews The Internet’s highly anticipated new album “Hive Mind”.

Categories: Blog

Teen Separated From His Mom at the Border Shares His Ordeal

August 2, 2018 - 2:58pm

James, a 15-year-old from Brazil, traveled to the United States with his mother seeking asylum. When they arrived they were detained and later separated for nine months. This is his story.

Categories: Blog

The Violent News Stories From El Salvador Are Replacing My Childhood Memories

August 2, 2018 - 8:30am
Andrea Jiménez came to the U.S. from El Salvador when she was 5. (Photo Credit: Shawn Wen)

I was born in El Salvador, the smallest country of Central America. It’s also considered one of the most violent. But I remember my home country differently.

The memories I have of El Salvador are peaceful. I remember going to school, picking fruit off trees, and visiting my dad at his plant nursery. I came to the U.S. when I was 5.

My parents focus on the good rather than the bad: the beautiful landscapes, their own sense of belonging, and wonderful food. However, they don’t avoid the bad memories, like when my mom was assaulted in broad daylight, or when my parents lost their small business after too many robberies.

Since we came to the U.S., our family has not been able to return to El Salvador even for a visit. My dad’s family is mostly in the States. So our move was especially difficult for my mom, who had to leave her entire family behind. I can see the strain on her–more these days–as her parents are aging. As a result, I’ve had to grow up without knowing my mom’s family and not knowing if I ever will.

In recent years, the news stories coming out of El Salvador are bleak. They paint a picture of a violent place where citizens have no choice but to flee. My childhood memories are becoming overshadowed–even getting replaced.

In this climate I can’t help but ask my parents,“Will we ever go back?”

The answer is always, “I don’t know.”

There was a time when my parents held out hope that one day they could return to El Salvador. That hope is disappearing as the violence worsens. Last year an uncle of mine was murdered. Two of my cousins have come to the U.S. after being targeted for recruitment by local gangs.

My parents are nostalgic for times when violence hadn’t overwhelmed the country. But they are growing to accept that the place they left behind isn’t the El Salvador of today. Still, we all dream of a future where we can one day set foot in our home country again.

With a perspective, I’m Andrea Jiménez.

Categories: Blog

If Every School Had a LeBron, Teachers Wouldn’t Need to Buy Supplies

August 2, 2018 - 8:00am

NBA superstar LeBron James just unveiled his I Promise school in Akron, Ohio. The building will serve as a year-round learning center for many at-risk young people living in the area. The school will be one of the first of its kind — offering free tuition, free school uniforms, free bikes, and even guaranteed tuition to the University of Akron for every student that graduates.


— LJ's Fam Foundation (@LJFamFoundation) July 29, 2018

On top of all that, the I Promise school will provide a stipend for teachers to pay for materials needed in the classroom. You’d think every school already does that, but that hasn’t been true for some time. Teachers across the country often pay for class materials themselves, without hope of getting that cash back.

Many teachers in public schools don’t have the income or ability to provide things like school supplies to every student, let alone a bicycle. With school coming right around the corner, teachers are gearing up and prepping their classrooms for their new students.

My mom just spent so much money out of her own pocket for crafts and everything for her students, teachers should not have to pay for their supplies. All she wants is for the kids to be happy☹️

— Liz (@lizbranche) August 1, 2018

Statistics show 94% of teachers have used their own money to provide school supplies. Some school teachers ask for donations from the students, and sometimes that is the only reimbursement teachers get.

But that puts a burden on the students. In some cases it’s not a request from teachers, but a requirement of the school.

This is insane! This is the current list of supplies all ELEMENTARY school kids NEED to have before the school year starts in Vegas! There is also a $25 iPad rental fee. This also doesn’t include the EXTRA out of pocket cost teachers have for the kids too. pic.twitter.com/y694lKYR65

— Jayci (@jaycididit) August 1, 2018

Several new initiatives have popped up to get more teachers equipped and ready for the new school year. Last month Target had a coupon for 15% off select school supplies for teachers. At this time of year it’s possible to see online fundraisers for individual classrooms, with the website DonorsChoose.org serving as a popular crowdfunding site — think GoFundMe, but solely for teachers. On this website, teachers explain their situation to the world, hoping that members of their community and strangers alike will help fund them.

Thank you notes from elementary school students forwarded by Donors Choose. I donated to a teacher's project, and they #sharethanks ! pic.twitter.com/qvYkX0zA7i

— Kristen Richards (@kyrichards) July 27, 2018

While it’s still summer break for many students, teachers across the country are going out right now and buying materials for their classrooms. Anything to make their students’ learning experiences better. There is a tremendous lack of funding for education in our country right now.

And with one famous basketball player who didn’t even go to college managing to create a school that’s better than most of the schools in America, people are speaking out, wondering why the U.S. isn’t doing a better job of providing for kids’ education than a basketball star.

As a teacher, I would rather have Lebron as my Secretary of Education over Betsy Devos.

— Chris Dyal (@DyalItUp) August 1, 2018

Categories: Blog

7 Truths You’ll Understand Only If You Have More Than One Job

July 31, 2018 - 1:13pm

If you’re a funds-challenged student, summer isn’t the season for relaxation. It’s often a time to pick up extra shifts, maybe even a second job. Hustling for some extra cash can be very exciting at first, but get stressful fast.

Yet what you lack in time, you make up for in wisdom. Case in point, here are some truths only you’ll understand only if you have more than one job:

1. You can’t leave the house without packing an extra outfit.

Having two or more jobs often means having different outfits that you’ll need for your day, such as a uniform. More often than not, you will have to pack a bag and travel with your outfits for the day everywhere, and getting into them in the most random places. While it may sound like a cute Sailor Moon-esque transformation, it isn’t always the most fun. It can mean having to get dressed in the restroom at one job in a hurry before going to the next.

2. You’ve got your commute times down to a science.

If you don’t have a car, public transportation will become your new best frenemy. Memorizing bus and train schedules is key to getting wherever you have to be on time. This also means a large part of your commute will be spent waiting at, or rushing to, transport stops. And if you miss your bus or train, Uber will be your last resort, usually at the cost of an hour of work.

3. You don’t really have “free time” in your day.

It’s a given that having two jobs will take up most of your time. However, many people don’t realize that this could really mean having little to no time for the most basic things — like eating. It’s hard to fit in anything else in the short breaks in your day. You may have to choose between grabbing a snack, using the bathroom, or answering your friends’ messages.

4. You’re great at multitasking.

A positive outcome of those short breaks between jobs — you have multitasking superpowers. Need to eat your lunch while running to the bus stop? No problem.

5. You have to plan family/friend hangouts weeks in advance.

This lack of free time makes you realize how little time you’ll have to spend with others. It’s hard to ask for time off to go out when you’re working so much, and days off feel few and far between. When you do have them, you’ll usually spend them catching up on chores, or sleeping.

6. You end up thinking about one job while at the other.

It’s a well-known fact that work can follow you everywhere. When you work two jobs, this means one job’s drama following you to the other. You can even end up complaining about one job to your other coworkers.

7. Payday is twice as nice.

Of course, one of the best parts of working so much is being paid. Sometimes, your paydays sync to where you get a new check every week. This makes you feel like a baller. A very tired baller.

Categories: Blog

Can I Get A Nose Job And Still Be A Feminist?

July 29, 2018 - 7:00am


It’s more than a belief. I know–deeply–that women are equal to men. But can I call myself a feminist if I plan on getting a nose job?

I hate my nose. I religiously watch Celebrity Plastic Surgeons of Beverly Hills. And I dream of the day Dr. Diamond will put my face into proportion.

My wish for a nose job has become a challenge to my identity as a feminist. Otherwise, I’m pretty critical of the beauty industry–of models, fashion ads, and makeup.

On the one hand, it’s my body, I should have the freedom to alter myself as I please. But then I worry about the reason I want the surgery in the first place.

Something deep inside me truly believes that my life will be better if my nose slopes instead of bumps. It’s like I’ve completely bought into the beauty standards. Can I be mad about the society that shaped me when I am such an obvious product of the system?

We’ve come to accept now that beauty is subjective. Maybe this should apply to feminism, too. Neither are concretely defined. I think it’s up to me to decide my own standards.


Categories: Blog

7 Things Only Borderlanders Will Understand

July 27, 2018 - 4:07pm

The border is a hot topic but many of us living on the border can’t help but feel that most of the country doesn’t understand what it’s really like to here. Whether it’s Fox News stories talking about the wave of immigrants getting into the country or the spaghetti westerns that make border cities like El Paso (where I live) look like towns with nothing but churches and cantinas, these narratives are missing by a mile.

Here are some things that really represent what it means to live on the border.

1. If you don’t pay attention while driving, you could end up in Mexico.


There’s close to the border, and there’s being CLOSE to the border. For El Pasoans, missing an exit or taking an early exit on the freeway could mean crossing the border. We’ve all been driving along only to be confused by the “Welcome to Mexico” signs.

2. Your slang is a mix of two languages, but doesn’t make sense in either


I thought “ay ay” was something everybody said. It wasn’t until friend from California told me the first time he heard a girl say it, he thought she was sneezing. Other staplies like “Parkear” and “trocka” are actually bad translations from English to Spanish, but have become frequently used words in southern border towns.

3. You’ve been criticized for switching languages


Whether you’re bilingual, semi-fluid in Spanish, or just know the popular slang, we’ve all been called out for mixing languages — what we in El Paso call “speaking ‘pocho.'” What many don’t understand is that code switching between languages has created a Borderland language of its own.

4. You’ve been told to speak “American” by someone who wouldn’t fit the “American” stereotype.


Viral videos of the police being called on people of color for silly reasons, or people using racial slurs or racially charge comments have become common. But on the border race, ethnicity, nationality, and philosophical labels are trickier. Same city does not mean same household, and where two people may look the same, it is common for people with the same background and even last name to be different skin tones and identify differently. I’ve been told to speak “American” by people with last names much less “American” and with much darker skin, proving that race may be a social construct, but racism is definitely not.

5. You see some form of law enforcement everywhere.


The list of agencies patrolling on the border goes on and on. Whether you’re a frequent speeder or don’t get pulled over at all, the constant presence of officers can be unnerving. In El Paso there’s not just police, there’s Border Patrol, state troopers, the sheriff’s vehicles, and ICE.

6. You know that bi-cultural meals are heaven sent.


I was asked once if we celebrate Thanksgiving on the border. Yes, we obviously do, as we are part of the U.S. The only difference for border towns is we get food from both cultures. We’ll have turkey, mashed potatoes, and sweet potato; but we’ll also have menudo, tamales, and champurrado if we’re lucky. This goes for every holiday. We need extreme workouts after the holidays to get back in shape too.

7. You are confused by portrayals of your hometown in mainstream media.


Border towns are just as diverse as any other cities; some are small and agricultural, others are large and expanding hubs. And while there are some issues that arise from a binational and bicultural environment, there are just as many positives that come from it. What hurts is seeing movies like ‘Sicario,’ or the beginning of ‘Logan,’ that make cities like El Paso seem like small villages in the middle of nowhere.

Living on the border, like living any where else, has its positives and negatives. But it isn’t a war zone nor is it a small village with more tumbleweeds than people. Sometimes it takes more than a news story; it takes actually experiencing it first hand to really understand what life on the border is like. That’s definitely something legislators need to understand as they enact policies that may harm communities and individuals without having to.

Categories: Blog

Are Plastic Straws Really That Bad For the Environment?

July 26, 2018 - 3:30pm

Plastic straws are having a moment of infamy, mostly due to the fact that these suckers end up as pollutants in the ocean. Companies like Starbucks and Disney are already making moves to completely phase out plastic straws in the coming years.

Viral videos like the one of a turtle getting a plastic nose pulled out of his nose and celeb-backed organizations like Lonely Whale are putting the anti-plastic straw movement on the map and keeping the masses educated.

Here’s what you need to know about plastic straws and their impact on the environment.

How many plastic straws are out there?

There are an estimated 7.5 million plastic straws on America’s shorelines alone, which has led scientists to believe there could be 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws on coastlines across the entire world.

And that number could be growing since Americans use 500 million single-use straws every single day.

Why are plastic straws a problem?

Although these plastic straws should technically be recyclable, in reality, they aren’t. Often, most plastic straws are too lightweight to make it through a mechanical recycling sorter, according to Lonely Whale. As a result, they contaminate recycling loads.

Sometimes, it’s due to human error, as straws are small and easily left behind or littered, or even get blown out of trash cans.

How do plastic straws affect marine life?

When they do reach the ocean, straws never completely break down. They turn into microplastics rather than completely biodegrading, which poses a huge threat to ocean life.

And straws are often mistaken as food by sea creatures such as birds, turtles and fish, which can often lead to suffocation and death.

71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs (or in their nose, like that poor turtle). And marine life has a 50% mortality rate after ingesting plastic. In other words, they have a 50-50 chance of dying.

It’s estimated that by the year 2050, we’ll have more plastic in the ocean than fish, because as ocean scientist Sherry Lippiatt, California regional coordinator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine debris program, told the Chicago Tribune, “for every pound of tuna we’re taking out of the ocean, we’re putting two pounds of plastic in the ocean.” (Of course, straws aren’t the only source of plastic in the ocean. Plastic bags, single-use plastics like water bottles, and more contribute to the problem.)

What are some straw alternatives?

Starbucks has begun introducing a sippy-cup lid as they work toward nixing single-use plastic straws in the coming years (although some argue these lids are just as hard to recycle as their straw predecessors).

Last week, we announced that we'll be removing plastic straws from our stores globally by 2020. You've asked a lot of questions—and we have answers for you! pic.twitter.com/dHhy9FsY6w

— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) July 20, 2018

Other straw alternatives include paper straws–which still produce waste but are less harmful than plastic–these biodegradable silicone straws.

There are also stainless steel straws, which are currently the front runner as an alternative despite the risk of heating up when used with hot drinks. Steel straws are easy to stow away, reuse and clean.

#reusablestraw #steelstraws #straws #downtowncantonflea

A post shared by Mark Weber (@meetmarkweber) on Jun 16, 2018 at 1:58pm PDT

And most of us (some in the disabled community do need to use straws to ingest liquids) can just forgo straws altogether.

@thegreenhub_ Hoping for a straw free Hawkesbury. reposted. : : : : : : #thgreenhub #strawfree #plasticfree #ecoconscious #waronwaste #greenliving #environment #gogreen #hawkesbury #theHawkesbury #bluemountainsnsw #environment #reuse #reducewaste #strawless #bluemountains #myhawkesbury #Bilpin #Kurrajong #Kurrajongheights

A post shared by LIFE IN KURRAJONG, NSW. (@kurrajong_nsw) on Jul 26, 2018 at 1:03am PDT

Categories: Blog

Kids Separated From Their Parents at the Border Describe Their Nightmare

July 26, 2018 - 2:15pm
A man protesting the Trump administration’s family separation policy. Photo by Joe Piette, Flickr, via Creative Commons license

July 26 is the legal deadline for the Trump administration to reunify families who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under the controversial zero tolerance immigration policy.

For weeks, children have been separated from their parents at the border and moved to separate detention centers and shelters–often under prison-like conditions sometimes hundreds of miles apart, and usually without knowing where their family members are or when they might be reunited.

In one case, a 4-year-old girl “was so traumatized that she wasn’t talking. She was just curled up in a little ball,” according to Michelle Brane, director of migrant rights at the Women’s Refugee Commission.

But there’s no substitute for hearing young people describe what they’ve gone through themselves. So here, culled from various news organizations, is what the ordeal has been like for children and teens–in their own words.

On feeling helpless

“What could I have done? … I couldn’t do anything.”
— Jorge, Boston Globe

On the conditions in detention

“I was placed with female girls from 5 to 6 years old to 15 or 16 years old. There were large numbers of girls, some of whom had to sleep on concrete and sitting up because there wasn’t sufficient room in the cell. I slept on the floor in a passageway were [sic] I could find room. It was around midnight, and I was given an aluminum blanket. There were no mattresses. … I had difficulty reaching the bathroom because I didn’t want to push through other girls and wake them. When I did go to the bathroom, there was no door or separation between the toilets. The lights were on all night.”

— Dixiana, 10, ABC News

“It was freezing cold. They didn’t give me good food.”
— Jose, age unclear, MSNBC

On treatment by shelter staff

“They wanted to humiliate you. They would do everything possible for you to get mad and lose your patience, because there was more security, and if you got mad, you would suffer the consequences. You would need to go to bed earlier. You would need to write down ‘I shouldn’t wake you up’ 300 times. They wouldn’t allow you to go to field trips. They wouldn’t allow you to have free time. … I was going crazy in my head.”

— James, 14, Youth Radio

“It made me very sad to see there were 3-year-old girls crying. The woman [officer] would shout at them ‘Shut up!’ Your mom has already been deported!”
— Keyri Oliva, 9, The Guardian

On the food and water in detention

“The ham was black. I took one bite, but did not eat the rest because of the taste.”
— Dixiana, 10, Huff Post

“I only drank it twice because I didn’t trust it. It made me feel funny in my stomach the times I drank it.”
— Justin, 13, Huff Post

On the effects of removal

“The thirst, the sleepless nights, the tiredness is very frustrating. You even get tired of crying. I could only see my little sister crying while my mom was being taken away. To be removed from your mom or dad is really hard. It’s like getting an arm or leg removed.”
— Elmer Oliva Jr., 17, The Guardian

“I was very frightened and depressed the entire time. I am still depressed. I also have nightmares and a lot of anxiety because of the separation.”
— Keylin, 16, Huff Post

On the interminable wait to be reunited

“At first I thought it’d only be a few days before I saw my dad,” she recalled. “But after a month there, I was going crazy, thinking, When? When? When?”
— Unnamed daughter of Silvana and Yulio Bermudez, 11, Washington Post

On wanting information

“I didn’t know where my mother was. I saw girls ask where their mothers were, but the guards would not tell them.”
— Griselda, 16, Associated Press

On the feeling of awaiting release

“I am excited to get out of here and get past this nightmare.”
— Angel, 13, Associated Press

Categories: Blog

The Family Reunification Deadline Sheds Light On Another Broken System: Foster Care

July 26, 2018 - 11:10am
Noel Anaya was separated from his birth mother after he entered the foster care system. He re-met his birth mother at age 14 after a ten-year hiatus. In preparation for that visit, he wrote this letter to give her. Photo courtesy of Noel Anaya.

Recently, I watched the video of a 1-year-old representing himself in an immigration court. The kid is young and scared. Seeing his face, my first thought is, Why isn’t this kid getting proper representation in a U.S court?

My second thought is, Damn. Family separation is nothing new. It happened to me too.

I was just over a year old when I was separated from my family. It wasn’t at the border, like the migrants who are in the news right now. But just like many of those kids, I was taken from my family and put into the U.S. foster care system — a system that, I know from personal experience, isn’t great at reunifying families.

According to the latest government report on the foster care system, only a little more than half of foster kids have a case goal of family reunification. And while the system, at least on paper, doesn’t seem to be too bad at hitting those numbers (in 2016, 51 percent of the kids who left foster care were reunified with their parents or primary caregivers), the real story is more complicated.

It’s not as easy as your parents wanting you back and then the family living together again.

When you’re placed into the foster care system, kids don’t get that much of a say as to whether the goal is to reunify you with your biological parents. In fact, kids in care may not have a lot of information about their family, period. And time is short for parents to attempt to get their kids back.

According to child advocates, the process to terminate parental rights can start as early as four months after a child is placed into foster care. For parents who face language barriers, have fewer resources, or lack documentation, it can be intimidating and challenging to fulfill the requirements ordered by the court. If a kid’s parents are “out of compliance” with the court order, the judge could change their case goal from reunification to adoption or another form of permanency.

The internal confusion surrounding what I continue to call the “grey hands” of a chaotic system, is only made worse when parents have already been deported. Combine the foster care system with the immigration system, and the chances of family reunification plummet even lower.

The problems with the foster care system are not new, but the recent family separations have finally put them into the spotlight. Despite the end of The Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance Policy,” hundreds of parents and children remain separated — some because the government has decided that reunification is not a proper goal, on the basis of parents’ backgrounds or circumstances.

Again, no one is asking these kids what they want. At best, in the eyes of the government, they are wards of the state. At worst, they are seen as criminals.

As a child being raised in the system that’s supposed to be temporary, I always dreamed of finding a family that would love me. Instead, I spent 20 years in foster care, eventually aging out.

It wasn’t until earlier this year, when I talked to my birth mom about what happened, that she told me my birth family had been trying to find a way to talk to me throughout my childhood.

She told me I came close to being reunified with my relatives, but factors like immigration status complicated things (I am an American citizen, but that’s not the case for some of my family members). Language barriers made it hard for my birth family to navigate the bureaucracy of the system, which required things like classes and keeping appointments with social workers and attorneys. I also talked to my mom about why she thinks we were never reunified, and she said she never had proper help. Over time, she was allowed to see me less and less.

One day, when I was three or four, she said they called her to say she had a six-hour visit with me — and that it would be our last. She says I held onto her leg and didn’t want to let go of her at the end.

I don’t remember that meeting. I wouldn’t see her again for 10 years.

I get that families aren’t perfect, creating situations where reunification sometimes isn’t a possibility, for safety or other concerns. But at least in my experience, I wish I had had more say in what the system determined was best for me.

Today is the deadline to reunite migrant parents with the older children who were taken from them at the border, so I expect my social feed will soon be full of happy family reunification videos. But I’ll be thinking of the kids who remain in the system — with case plans not fully in their control.

Categories: Blog

5 Ways Your Mom Could Be Stalking You At This Very Moment

July 25, 2018 - 2:34pm
Your parents could be snooping on you right now. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

With cell phones, kids can feel more free from their parents. And parents can feel much safer letting their kids go out, knowing their child can call them whenever they need to and vice versa.

Before iPhones, you had to either write a note saying where you were going and what time you would be back, or you would be forced to call your mom or dad on a landline once you got to your destination. Or you just didn’t go out at all. Now, giving a child a cell phone is almost like a rite of passage. It’s a key of their own into the world.

But is this sense of freedom all a facade? With cell phones, kids may get be allowed to go to more places by themselves, they may be unknowingly giving their parents even more information than before.

Here are five ways parents can use their phones to snoop on their children.

1. Find My iPhone

This one’s probably the most obvious on the list. While this is a helpful app if your iPhone is lost or misplaced, it’s not helpful if you’re trying to sneak out and go to a party.

Through this app, one can see where any of their own IOS devices (iPhone, iPad, Macbook, etc.) are located using the GPS features on the phone. If your mom knows your iCloud account, she can keep tabs on your location at all time without you even knowing.

2. Snapchat

Like the Find My iPhone app, Snapchat also takes advantage of cellphone’s GPS locations. Users can see where their friends are on the Snap Map, even showing which one of your friends are hanging out together or near each other.

Luckily, for the most part, you can approve who sees or doesn’t see your location. But, if your Snapchat story is featured on the app’s curated “Our Story” page, your location becomes available to everyone. So be careful!

3. Venmo

Unlike apps that use location services, Venmo is an app for making payments through the phone. While Venmo won’t say where you are, the app will show people what you’ve purchased and what you’ve sold. Parents can monitor their children’s financial decisions. And, as a Bloomberg article shows, parents have already started using this stalking technique.

A silver lining could be that users can decide how private the transactions are, but many times, especially in situations where someone is asking for money quickly, you just make the payment and close the app.

4. Uber or Lyft

While rideshare apps don’t publicly post exactly where you are, the app keeps a history of all your trips. If your parents know the login to your account (or can somehow get into your email), they can potentially see everywhere you’ve been traveling to.

Thought you were in the clear after sneaking out last month? Too bad your Uber receipts show where you really were.

5. FB Live and Instagram Live

Since the dawn of social media, parents have been spying on their child’s social media pages. Stalking Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is one of the most basic (and best) ways for parents to secretly get a glimpse on what their children are doing when they’re not around.

But with new features like Facebook Live and Instagram Live, it’s almost as if young people are putting surveillance cameras on themselves. Basically, when you go live, you’re live-broadcasting yourself to anyone who follows you.

If you’re parents or family members follow you, here’s a bit of advice: DON’T GO LIVE DOING STUPID OR ILLEGAL THINGS. Not only will they see what you are doing, but can comment and publicly scold you in front of all the people you tried being cool in front of.

While cell phones may seem like a way for young people to have more freedom from their parents, the devices can actually be used for the opposite. But, if the child feels freer and parents can keep a better eye on their child, I guess it’s a win-win if. And if a parent pays for their child to have a cell phone, I guess the kid shouldn’t even be complaining if their parent is spying on them.

Categories: Blog

4 Influencers Who Challenge Our Notions of Beauty

July 25, 2018 - 11:40am

Influencers have become a growing force in the beauty industry. However, while beauty influencers stand to benefit from all of the freedom that the internet potentially offers, they still stumble into the same pitfalls as fashion magazines. Many of the most popular YouTubers–the Jeffree Stars and Jaclyn Hills— resemble models who already walk the runway. 

Beauty fans around the world represent many different races, sexual and gender orientations, sizes, and skin tones. While influencers who get the biggest deals with major cosmetics brands often don’t look like us, there are exceptions. Makeup is for everyone. Here are some of my favorite beauty bloggers who take “unconventionally beautiful” to a new level and offer messages that are more than skin deep.

1. @laynadelay, 18

heavily inspired by @amber.carr.art I love this makeup a lot! The last pic is the last time I was red.

A post shared by lay (@laynadelay) on Apr 29, 2018 at 3:55pm PDT

One of my favorite Instagram gurus is @laynadelay. Layna specializes in bright colors and bold shapes. Her makeup skills put a glam spin on FX makeup. Never scared to shy away from her brights or glitter, Layna always serves a new look, whether it’s pink monochrome or a full face of devilish red, complete with horns. It’s nice to see someone who is pushing the limits of makeup and showing that it can truly be an art beyond the usual glam look portrayed on Instagram and YouTube. 

2. @sacheu, 22

Sarah Cheung may be conventionally pretty, but her makeup videos offer so much more than the average beauty blogger. Her easy-to-follow tutorials are intersected with politically-charged videos that tackle topics like anti-blackness in the Asian community.

Sarah is also a student, with videos fearlessly unpacking major philosophical topics, like utilitarianism and free will. While many YouTubers only scratch the surface of beauty, Sarah shows that knowledge is the always the best beauty tip.

3. @onlinekyne, 19

Here’s a short snippet of my Machinist Marie Antoinette video for those who haven’t watched the video on my channel yet!! @nyxcosmetics @nyxcosmetics_canada #FACEAwards

A post shared by Kyne (@onlinekyne) on Jun 18, 2018 at 12:54pm PDT

When it comes to drag queens, many of the top talents have had to build themselves up over time. Few get famous until their mid-to-late 20s. So it’s unusual to find such a young talent as @onlinekyne.

With countless videos on makeup, sewing, and even wig styling, Kyne has shown himself to be a triple threat. Kyne’s Machinist Marie Antoinette (as shown above) got him voted into the top 12 of the NYX Cosmetics FACE Awards. It’s inspiring to see someone so young accomplishing so much in the drag world.

4. @kenniejd, 23

On the surface, Kennie JD’s channel is devoted to her love of K-Beauty, loaded with product reviews and makeup tutorials inspired by looks from her favorite K-Pop idols. However, with her video series like K-Beauty on Dark Skin and The Darkest Shade: K-Beauty Edition, Kendall shares her struggles as a black girl in the K-Beauty world.

In one video, she calls out the fact that many Korean makeup brands are expanding into the international market, without catering to these international consumers by expanding their range of foundation shades. With nearly 160,000 subscribers, Kendall is using her popularity to push K-Beauty to be more inclusive and representative for people of color.

Categories: Blog

Youth Radio Raw: Youth Nation Episode 1

July 24, 2018 - 11:53am

Welcome to the first 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

Nia Wilson Killed on BART. Oakland Demands Justice

July 24, 2018 - 11:04am

A day after the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Nia Wilson, friends, family and supporters gathered for a vigil at the MacArthur BART station near downtown Oakland.

Categories: Blog