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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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Updated: 27 min 20 sec ago

Why I’m Choosing Community College Over a UC

February 3, 2019 - 1:20am

I’m a high school senior. And I get lots of questions from my peers and teachers about my post-high school plans. It’s like people expect this huge, planned-out timeline… And I don’t have it.

I’m graduating high school this year.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life just yet, so I’m going to community college. I want to explore my options a little bit.

When I tell my classmates or teachers, I get a mix of reactions. Some people seem supportive. Often, my peers seem jealous that I’m opting out of the stress, or even kind of upset that I’m not jumping through the same hoops.

Recently, a friend was telling me about his college applications. He was flustered and tense. He wasn’t sure if he has what it takes to get in. Watching him under all this strain, I felt reassured about my decision.

Sure, I still worry about what I’m going to study… And do for the rest of my life. But knowing that I can go to community college and buy myself some time, without spending tens of thousands of dollars figuring this out, is a big relief.

The post Why I’m Choosing Community College Over a UC appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

This Drag Queen Slays Behind the Scenes (and On Stage)

February 1, 2019 - 5:30am

Getting ready for a night out is a lot of work. It’s even more work when you’re a drag queen getting ready for a long night of performing. It takes a lot of practice, patience and handling your nerves before it’s time to shine.

RELATED: Destined for Drag (Audio Commentary)

Watch as YR Media follows me around for a night, from doing my hair and makeup to showtime.

The post This Drag Queen Slays Behind the Scenes (and On Stage) appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

If a Hate Crime Could Happen to Jussie Smollett, It Could Happen to Me

January 30, 2019 - 5:33pm

In the early hours of Jan. 29, openly gay “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett became the victim of an apparent hate crime. Moments after leaving a restaurant, he was attacked by two white men donning ski masks, according to news reports which cite what Smollett told the Chicago Police Department.

Smollett’s attackers yelled out homophobic and racist slurs and said, “This is MAGA country,” according to the reports. They drenched him in bleach and wrapped a noose around his neck. After his assailants fled the scene, Smollett was forced to take himself to the hospital.  

If someone as high profile as Jussie Smollett is at risk for attacks like this, what does that say for other people?

The truth is any queer person — and especially a queer person of color — can be the victim of this type of violence, and I know this firsthand. I’ve lived in the Bay Area my entire life and I’ve experienced flagrant homophobia, even just for wearing makeup. While riding BART to a concert, I was called the f-slur by a man, who proceeded to threaten to smash my phone. I was accused of making fun and taking pictures of him. While this happened, I froze, shocked and scared.

Luckily for me, he walked off angrily to another train car and I wasn’t hurt, just shaken.

The Bay Area has built itself a reputation of liberalism, stemming from San Francisco’s history of free love and LGBTQ activism. That could lead you to believe that it’s a paradise for queer people — but it’s not.

The image of the Bay Area as a gay mecca has been marred by a national spotlight on the racism that is alive and well here. This is the home of BBQ Becky and the place where Oscar Grant was killed.

As a drag queen I go out to do what I love, but I feel like I’m at even more risk. A night of fun means ignoring cat calls and smacking away hands that try to touch me. Many people don’t see performers as human beings, so they think it’s OK to cross boundaries. I’m there to perform because it’s what I love, not to be harassed. It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing, or how flirty they thought my performance was.

If wearing makeup as a boy led to me being threatened, then public transport in drag is out of the question. I’m forced to take Ubers to my performances. But I don’t take Pool rides, for fear of another rider taking offense to me.

I go out every day knowing someone could single me out as queer and put me at risk. When I present myself in ways that endanger me even more, it’s even scarier.

In the years since Trump’s rise to power, racists have been emboldened by the hate that has flooded the news, co-signed by their president. Whether it’s the alt right in Charlottesville or the two men who just attacked Jussie Smollett, they are the faces of the racism that permeates this country.

The post If a Hate Crime Could Happen to Jussie Smollett, It Could Happen to Me appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Shy’an G Takes Us on a Journey of Self-Discovery with “The Reset”

January 30, 2019 - 3:42pm

Shy’an G isn’t looking to be stereotyped, nor does she seem interested in people’s expectations of her anymore. For this very reason, the rapper seeks to be versatile in not only her sound but in her lyricism as well. From political activism to her own personal struggles, Shy’an G’s latest effort is as candid and sincere as a true emcee can get.

I recently got the chance to sit down with East Bay rapper Shy’an G to discuss her new project, “The Reset.” The five-track EP represents Shy’an G’s growth as an artist and the journey to a new era in her life. Although she was originally a part of YR Media’s Remix Your Life program when she was a teenager, her interest in hip-hop began at the tender young age of nine. Since then, she’s graduated college, opened up for her idols and even rapped in cyphers internationally. At 23, the rapper has been mastering her craft for over a decade, and she’s ready to share her evolution with the world.

How old were you when you first joined Remix Your Life and how did that relationship come about?

Well, I was fifteen. I was downstairs learning how to make beats in the CORE program. And one of the former Remix Your Life program directors approached me about coming to a writer’s workshop and initially I always wanted to go into the studio. So I figured it was a way for me to make it to the studio. That lead to me developing strong relationships with people in that program.

In what ways did RYL influence your artistry?

It influenced my artistry by showing me how to practice and develop rhyme schemes and how to study rhyme schemes. How to study music that exemplifies particular rhyme schemes and poetry techniques. It informed me to want to approach all of my lyrics as also poetry from that point on.

What does your relationship with RYL’s A&R team consist of? How is it working with RYL now versus being in the program when you first started?

It consists of fresh perspectives. I’m learning about how to develop my brand and my professionalism as an artist from an older generation and a younger generation at the same time. I would say RYL has turned more into a production-based company where the focus is on making music.

What inspired you to rap and write?

The moment that first inspired me to rap and write, I would have to say was when I saw a young girl performing at a Fourth of July festival. I was like nine years old. I think she was like 13 and she was rapping and singing, and I thought it was so cool and I wanted to do it to. I went up to her I got her autograph and just started, like as soon as I went back to school. That’s when I just started listening to 2Pac and Biggie, and kind of studying them first, that’s when I wrote my first raps.

When did you first start producing and what made you want to take it up?

I started producing at 15. I got really tired of waiting for producers to send me beats and I didn’t have a budget to buy these from people all the time. And I didn’t want to keep ripping beats from YouTube. I was already pretty much influenced by a lot of producers like J Dilla, Madlib, Q-Tip, Nujabes, 9th Wonder, Black Milk. I started studying them a lot. Not only was I writing to their beats but I was also studying their beats too, and so the first program that I made my first ever beat on was on a demo version of FL Studio. I took all the demo tracks from it and then I put it on this recording and mixing session software. So I just put everything there and then I recorded through there, and I created my first song. And it turned out terrible of course, but that was the start to me producing on my own. And I just started going crazy ever since and using Reason.

What does “The Reset” symbolize for you?

“The Reset” is the release of everything. In the past I would stress over everything that taunted me. Everything in the past that I thought I needed in my life and to actually finally close the book on all of those chapters that I would still pull with me into the next chapters, and just scratch all of them. I’ll keep them in my archives in my life, but I’m really ready to not even move on to another chapter about how I feel, I feel like I’m moving on to a whole other book, like so many chapters that I filled up with the last book in my life and I’m ready to start a whole new book. So it represents the rebranding of myself and it represents a new approach to how I’m living my life, how I want to live my life moving on.

What first inspired the vision for this project?

Well, I released an EP about two years ago called “I Just Need A Minute.” I didn’t get as personal as I wanted to. I was still censoring myself and I kind of wish I didn’t, but I was still using that as a coping mechanism and as a resource of therapy for me after everything that I encountered in 2017. I encountered a lot of the stuff that whole year. I had a emotional breakdown and I decided to put it all in music that I created in like three months. In my head I was always like, since I released this project I figure I should follow up with something to let people know “Okay, I’m good now and I feel different.”

“The Reset” cover and track-list artwork by Stoney Creation What the name of the track that you produced yourself and what is it centered around?

“Shot Clock” is the song that I produced myself. It is centered around the idea of finishing whatever it is that you’re going through strong before you take on a new challenge. I used to play basketball in high school and I can remember a specific moment where I would get hurt, or I would miss so many shots, or I wouldn’t execute a play correctly. But I always did what I could to finish strong. So I look at this song as a symbol of me kind of looking at what I lost in my life at that specific moment but I finished strong by not running away and by tackling it on head first so that I can move on to something better.

Click here to listen to “The Reset” on all streaming platforms  Why was it important to note your change as an artist?

I always have been infatuated with evolution. My first ever mixtape that I released was called “Rejuvenated” and that was even a point when I felt like I was becoming a different person too. Because I was never comfortable performing and sharing my music with anyone in public. So I feel like I needed to refresh my feelings about performing and creating music, and to rejuvenate my mindset into just putting it out there and putting forth effort into executing the need and desire to connect with people. This time, it’s really evident that I really hit a breaking point where I’ve evolved a lot and I just hope that that’s reflected well in this project.

What is your writing process usually look like?

I would do some reading or listen to music that relates to a feeling I have until I find something that triggers a concept and I would write about it. I would usually write it as a free journaling style or as a poem and then I would turn it into rhyme, and then a full song or verse.

So what was it like to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with new sounds?

I was ready for some new sounds. I want to see how versatile I can get with the sounds. I always want to connect with different styles and sounds of music, and I definitely want to connect with the younger generation. I feel like I’ve been focusing more on the sound preferred by the older generation. I want to see if I can bring those two generations together and find my niche in a new sound that isn’t too far fetched. Working with both generations has challenged me a lot to think outside the box and think more creatively about not just how I deliver a verse but how I paint it.

In the beginning of “Top Down”, you say “I’m sorry if you don’t like me / Impressing you ain’t a priority.” Walk us through your journey of learning the art self confidence.

I definitely had to acquire it over the years. I always wanted to impress people before I even started writing and performing the rap in this stuff. My whole approach in life, every day that I got up, was always about “What shoes should I wear to get someone’s attention? How should I wear my hair?”

I just recently went natural, so I’m ready to like step outside in the world and just wear my hair natural and just not care about what other people think about me. Even before I started making music, putting myself out there as an artist was the representation of me no longer caring about what people thought about me, and no longer caring about impressing people.

How has your music and subject matter evolved since when you first started? Are you more confident talking about certain things now than when you first started?

My music evolved mostly in my delivery and my voice. I just want to make sure every word that I’m saying is coming out clearly. My sound, my music evolved mostly based around my tone of voice and the knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years. I’ve always been big on acquiring knowledge over the years that I can apply to my music. I never wanted to get personal in my life. So this time around, I’ve been getting a little bit more personal instead of political or socially conscious, that’s something that I’ll never leave. But back then, I was always talking about conscious issues. I still do in a sense, which you can hear on this new project in my song “Go Off.” I’m talking about some issues, as far as the fabrication of political activism in the media. But then I also have a song about everything that I’ve struggled with in my life so far and what I intend to do from this point moving forward. Sometimes I just want to have fun and live my life carefree with the top down you know. That’s what “Top Down” is about.  I tried to show as much range as possible in this project and I have to do that in the future as well.

What is one lesson that you’ve learned from when you first started out as an artist up to now?

I guess just follow my own preference and my own style. I never really had a problem with doing that and I never really followed a trend to get noticed by people. Now, I’m not calling out anyone who does that. I just don’t want to be looked at as a woman who raps and be assumed to talk about certain things automatically. I don’t want to be stereotyped as a woman who creates hip hop music. So that would be the lesson — to kind of stay true to my craft as much as possible.

The post Shy’an G Takes Us on a Journey of Self-Discovery with “The Reset” appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Do You Still Listen to R. Kelly?

January 30, 2019 - 1:54pm

The list of musicians who’ve been accused (and in some cases, convicted) of rape, sexual assault and pedophilia is unfortunately really long.

This includes R. Kelly and Michael Jackson. Both are being talked about again because of the documentaries “Surviving R. Kelly” and “Leaving Neverland,” which feature their alleged victims.

From R. Kelly and MJ to 6ix9ine and Chris Brown, YR Media’s Niya Brown and G Baby have a candid conversation about whether you can still listen to — and enjoy — the works of artists or musicians accused of serious wrongdoing.

The post Do You Still Listen to R. Kelly? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Breaking Down the Duke Professor’s Racist Email

January 29, 2019 - 3:34pm

I want to take the time to break down a recent incident that made it to the news.

It’s important to name the specific forms of racism that we see and experience. For those of us who experience racism, having words to define what happened makes us feel less crazy. And it invites others into a conversation that can have real solutions because we are all on the same page.

Also, I like to make use of the ethnic studies classes I took in college.

Here’s what happened: An email sent to graduate students in a Duke University medical school program urging them to speak only English on campus was published online and quickly made headlines.

The email’s author, Prof. Megan Neely, said that two faculty members came to her complaining about students speaking Chinese in the student lounge and study areas. These faculty members, who remained anonymous, wanted to identify the students to avoid working with them in the future, she said.

“To international students, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep these unintended consequences in mind when you choose to speak Chinese in the building,” Neely wrote in the email. She followed this by saying she had the “upmost (sic.) respect” for them.

What is this fresh nonsense? This is not the email that needed to be sent.

What this is, is racism. Not allyship.

It’s called hegemonic paternalism. This happens when people (white or otherwise) offer to “help” people of color become better white people. This might show up as people encouraging you to take off your hoop earrings or to change your hair to be more professional. It’s “Charm School,” that old MTV show that tried to show reality stars how to “act right.”

First off: hegemony is the natural human instinct of wanting people to follow an agreed upon set of cultural norms. Parents do it, teachers do it, even friends do it. It becomes a problem when a “ruling class” or race dominates everyone else, demanding their assimilation at the expense of their own identity. Think “Brave New World.”

For a real-world example, consider Native-American boarding schools. Children were forcibly taken from their parents and placed into Christian boarding schools where their names were changed, speaking their first language was forbidden and indigenous religious practices were demonized. This was done in the name of “civilizing” Native people. The cultural, psychological and economic effects of these schools are still widely felt by Native populations today.

The paternalism — or in this case, maternalism, because it was a white female professor who sent the email — applies when people in the ruling class act as if (and sometimes actually believe) they have your best interests at heart when they correct your behavior or beliefs.

Here’s the thing: when the university professors overheard the international students speaking Chinese in the break room, and threatened to exclude them from professional opportunities, it was a terrible thing that happened. The demand to speak English is ridiculous and discriminatory in a country that does not have an official national language.

Neely was correct in recognizing that something was wrong here. Her allyship goes awry when she thinks the solution to the problem is to warn students that speaking their native language was unprofessional, rather than address the professors who were wrong in the first place.

Neely has since been removed from her post as the director of graduate studies for the biostatistics department. But she is still teaching. And nothing has been said about the original wrongdoing of these bigoted professors. I sincerely hope Duke University doesn’t stop at Neely, but digs deep into the culture of their university to ensure they welcome international students, and not exclude and chastise them for the ability to speak more than one language, which is very much an asset.

The post Breaking Down the Duke Professor’s Racist Email appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Who Should Really Give the State of the Union? DC College Students Have Ideas

January 29, 2019 - 11:30am

After being invited to give the State of the Union, then dis-invited from giving it, then re-invited, President Donald Trump is now set to speak to our nation a little later than expected, on Feb. 5.

But does anyone even watch the State of the Union? YR Media talked to D.C.-based college students from different political perspectives and campuses about what they think the state of our union really is — and who, if anyone right now, is most qualified to give the speech.

The State of the Union would have actually happened today, but that was before the government shutdown led Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to dis-invite Trump from giving the speech until the government re-opened. So when Trump announced on Friday that the government would re-open, Pelosi re-invited him, but for a slightly later date: Feb. 5.

Here’s what students thought about some of the will he or won’t he drama.

Joe Lazzari, 19, Catholic University (Class of 2021)

“The State of the Union is a good reminder that no matter how tough things are, it will all work out in the end.”

Have you ever watched the State of the Union (SOTU)? Yes.

Do you think Nancy Pelosi should have postponed the SOTU? No.

Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.” Is that true this year? Even though 800,000 government workers were out of a job, it’s still not a majority of people. I still think there is good going on in the country. Not even just politicians, the economy is doing well … and the positives outweigh the negatives.

Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have addressed the nation? Although he isn’t alive, I would say Ronald Reagan. I think he was one of the best presidents we have ever had.

Lizzie Martinez, 18, Catholic University (Class of 2022)

“I think the state of the union is very divided, especially this year between the two parties.”

Have you ever watched the SOTU? No.

Do you think Nancy Pelosi should have postponed the SOTU? I do not think so. If this is something that happens yearly, there are things that happen every year that must be addressed.

Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.” Is that true this year? What is the state of our union to you? I think the state of the union is very divided, especially this year between the two parties.

Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have addressed the nation?  I would love to see Sonia Sotomayor deliver the State of the Union.

Nile Hodges, 21, Howard University (Class of 2019)

“I am fortunate enough to be at Howard where I do not have to deal with too much of the division. But I know out in the world, there is a stark division between people of different views.”

Have you ever watched the SOTU? I have not watched the State of the Union since President Obama left office. I haven’t been the most interested.

Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.” Is that true this year? What is the state of our union to you? To be honest, I do not think the state of the union is strong. It is honestly very divided. I am fortunate enough to be at Howard where I do not have to deal with too much of the division.

Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have address the nation? I would listen to, of course, Barack Obama, but someone like Nancy Pelosi would be more intriguing than hearing what our current president has to say, in my opinion. She would provide us with what’s actually going on, versus what she wants it to be.

Crimson Duckett, 23, Georgetown University (Class of 2020)

“With President Trump being president, it’s hard for me to watch, because I think he isn’t serious about his position and I don’t agree with what he has to say.”

Have you ever watched the SOTU? Yes, the only ones I ever watched (were those given by) President Obama because he was an inspirational figure to me. Ultimately, I was inspired and a lot of the things he discussed were focused on change and that was empowering to me. With President Trump being president, it’s hard for me to watch, because I think he isn’t serious about his position and I don’t agree with what he has to say.

What do you think of the drama surrounding the State of the Union? I am disappointed.

Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.” Is that true this year? What is the state of our union to you? The State of The Union to me is a message that keeps citizens informed. I do not think the current state of the union is strong and there is a lot of work that has to be done.

Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have address the nation? I would love to see President Obama give the State of the Union one last time. We are struggling under President Trump’s reign.

Joya Grillo, 21, Howard University (Class of 2019)

“I think President Trump should take accountability for the current state of our union.”

Have you ever watched the SOTU? Yes.

Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have addressed the nation? At the end of the day, Donald Trump is our president, and he is responsible for delivering this speech. Although I do not agree with what he has to say, I think it’s important that he is the one that addresses us because he is the one responsible for everything happening in the United States of America.

The post Who Should Really Give the State of the Union? DC College Students Have Ideas appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How To: Collaborate with Other Artists on New Music

January 28, 2019 - 5:26pm

As an artist, it’s important to understand the value in collaboration and the advantages it has to offer. Whether you’re a singer, rapper, producer or a writer, collaboration is necessary in order to find success in your field of work. Although you may not have trouble in creating your own art, collaborating with other artists allows you to discover new techniques, network with other artists and get feedback on your music from other talents. Additionally, collaboration will help you develop your sound into something you may not have imagined it could be, allowing you to be more versatile with your style.

Get to Know the Artist Before Going into the Session

If you’re collaborating with an artist for the first time, be prepared by doing your homework. Even though you’ll be going into the session without ever working with the other artist, that doesn’t mean it has to be the first time talking or interacting with her/him. When collabing with artists, it’s important to get to know them before going into the studio in order to avoid any awkward or uncomfortable discourse. Watching a movie or spending a whole day with the artist is never necessary, but it is essential to chop it up or grab a coffee before working.

Prepare Your Ideas Beforehand

Although you may be eager to start fresh on a new track when you get in the studio, coming into the session without any forethought may not be the best strategy — especially if it’s your first collaboration session. Before coming to the session, it’s in your best interest to brainstorm ideas of chord progressions, song topics, or even songs that you are inspired by. These ideas may not be the main focus of your session, but if the session starts to get dry, you will always have something to fall back on. Even if you don’t use the ideas in the session, the process of brainstorming will help you get a better understanding of your sound and how you want to implement it into the session.

Photo: Frankie Cordoba/ Unsplash Be Open to New Ideas

Although you may be working with an artist with a similar sound as yours, it should be expected that you will encounter new ideas and styles of work in the session. Whether it resembles your personal style or is completely foreign, it’s important to keep an open mind about it. Even if you aren’t feeling the idea at first, you should attempt to work with it before you disregard the effort completely. By being more open to new ideas, you allow the sound to be heard in more than one perspective. Therefore, you will be able to produce a more unique and creative track.  

Photo: John Hult/Unsplash Don’t Force Ideas

Because working with another artist is fairly different from working on your own, you may not be able to create using the same process. This could possibly cause you to get stuck trying to force your ideas. If your attempts at producing a new track are significantly derailed, there is nothing wrong with coming back to it later on. It’s better to let fresh ideas flow, rather than forcing an idea on a track that isn’t coming naturally to you. By allowing your ideas to flow naturally without forcing anything on the track, you will develop a more organic sounding product.

Don’t Be Discouraged If Things Don’t Work Out the First Time

Coming into the session, you may have already imagined how it would play out, assuming different circumstances and details of the collaboration. Maybe you expected to finish a song or you expected the other artist to do something differently. However, as much as you’d like to predict how the session will go, things may not always play out how you expected. Even though your session might not go as planned, it’s important to accept it as a learning experience. Despite the outcome of the session, it’s critical that you follow up with the other artist in order to maintain your relationship with her/him.

The post How To: Collaborate with Other Artists on New Music appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

I Hope It Won’t Be Like 2016: Voices from the Kamala Harris Rally in Oakland

January 28, 2019 - 2:27pm

An estimated 20,000 people lined up around several city blocks in downtown Oakland, California, on Sunday morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Harris officially launched her 2020 presidential bid from the steps of City Hall on Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Before the public was allowed on the plaza, a long line snaked around several Oakland city blocks. Some Harris supporters weren’t let into the plaza, and went into neighboring bars to watch the senator’s speech on the television or on their smartphones.

Harris is among several Democrats who have announced that they’re running for president, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Much of the cheerful crowd were excited to see Harris — the former California Attorney General-turned-national politician — kick off her campaign in her hometown. But a few people came out to protest, saying her policies will “suppress the middle class” and criticizing the former prosecutor for not sufficiently addressing mass incarceration and systemic racism.

YR Media talked to people in the crowd. Some said they’re all in for Kamala, while others are still shopping. The first Democratic primaries for the 2020 presidential race won’t take place until next year.

“I’m really excited that a woman of color is running. She’s awesome,” said Selina Xie. “I think it’s going to be a close race and I hope it won’t be like in 2016. I hope the Democrats won’t be at each other’s throat, but are able to unite. They need to unite.”

“This is the beginning of my self-education process when it comes to the candidates for the 2020 elections,” Eva Johnson said. “I need to stay more in tune with what’s happening in the political landscape. So the coming two to three months, I’m going to see what the others have to offer. I’m not a die-hard Kamala Harris supporter, but I love the energy here and the ‘pro rights’ undertone.”

“I worked with congressional campaigns before, and I think Kamala Harris is the right candidate for positive legislation,” said Isaiah Cane. “You can see that from her history as a prosecutor.”

“I’m with the Democratic Socialists of America and I’m here to speak the truth about Harris’ policy. She hijacks leftist words and phrases and makes it seem that she’s with the people, while she’s against them,” said Dina Asfaha. “Kamala Harris, like the other candidates, are just corporate clowns.”

“I want to see a woman as president. That’s why I’m here. I want to learn more about Kamala Harris and at the same time want to be part of something bigger,” said Jenny Weik.

“This announcement really excites me. There are a lot of people around the country who are hurting and I think Kamala Harris is the right person who can stand up for those people through her policy. It’s going to be a very crowded primary election and I hope this won’t divide the Democrats, the way the diverse set of candidates did back in the 2016 primaries,” said Noam Haykeen.

Yesterday’s crowd was reportedly bigger than when President Barack Obama announced his candidacy in 2007. At the time, 15,000 people braved the winter Illinois cold to see the then-junior senator lay out his vision for winning the White House.

During a speech at Sunday’s rally, Harris promised that she would fight for Medicare for all and would deliver the “largest tax cuts for the working and middle class in a generation.” But before she can do that, there’s still a long way to the official nomination.

The post I Hope It Won’t Be Like 2016: Voices from the Kamala Harris Rally in Oakland appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Learning to Accept My Jewish Identity

January 27, 2019 - 8:00am

When I was in middle school, I had a few classmates who made jokes about the Holocaust and Jewish stereotypes, I felt small. I didn’t want to be Jewish anymore.

For years I grappled with my identity. If someone asked me, “Aren’t you Jewish?” I would say, “Yeah, but I’m not really Jewish.”

A couple years ago, I asked a rabbi if it was okay I didn’t believe in God. “Of course it’s okay, it’s not about that,” he said.

My rabbi was understanding of my skepticism. I felt accepted. I started paying more attention during services and stopped hiding my Jewishness from my peers.

I learned that Judaism is about working towards accepting others and giving back. I’m proud of my community.

When 11 people were killed in the Tree of Life synagogue in October, I broke down crying. I couldn’t understand why people carry so much hatred. My temple has since hired extra security.

Looking back, I feel ashamed of the moments when I turned my back on my faith. Now, I am proud of the way we continue to preach compassion, even among threats and hate crimes.

The post Learning to Accept My Jewish Identity appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

4 Reasons You Should Care About Facebook’s Suicide Prevention Tool

January 25, 2019 - 5:03pm

The world’s largest social media company, Facebook, sees every word said on its platform, and they’ve been trying to use that vantage point to help people who may be suicidal, but the hidden costs might be too high.

Facebook’s tool “uses signals to identify posts from people who might be at risk, such as phrases in posts and concerned comments from friends and family,” Catherine Card, Facebook’s director of product management, wrote in a blog post

And when Facebook determines someone is suicidal, the company contacts local law enforcement, according to a recent New York Times report.

In 2017, Facebook started relying more heavily on artificial intelligence, or AI, to identify users who might be at risk of hurting themselves or attempting to end their own lives.

This technology became a priority for Facebook developers after several stories of users, including a 12-year-old girl, broadcasting their suicides on Facebook Live.

Here are four reasons you should care about Facebook’s suicide prevention feature:

The Potential Upside

Facebook is uniquely positioned to have a meaningful impact on global suicide rates, given that it has access to the posts and correspondence of more than one billion users, or roughly 13 percent of the people on Earth. The New York Times described the social platform’s tech as “most likely the world’s largest suicide threat screening and alert program.” If Facebook’s tools work as intended, countless lives could be saved every year.

The Dowwnside: Computers Are Flawed

Unfortunately, technology isn’t perfect, and detecting intent — particularly intent as complex and multi-faceted as the intent to end one’s own life — is much more complicated than setting up a series of keyword-detecting algorithms. In a different post, Facebook’s Catherine Card said that it can be difficult to teach a computer to pick up on all the nuances of human language.

“A human being might recognize that ‘I have so much homework I want to kill myself’ is not a genuine cry of distress, but how do you teach a computer that kind of contextual understanding?” Card asked. That’s why human beings are still part of the process, she explained. If Facebook’s algorithm flags a post, “a trained member of Facebook’s Community Operations team reviews it to determine if the person is at risk,” Card said.

The Danger of False Positives

Card’s blog post — and much of the reporting that followed — points out that the technology is prone to yielding false alarms. These false positives could result in disastrous unintended consequences, such as people who are not at risk for suicide having to be hospitalized, undergo psychological evaluation or have unnecessary, high-stress interactions with law enforcement. The AI may not even be able to distinguish between a person struggling with suicidal thoughts and a person looking to discuss mental illness candidly with their Facebook friends, said Mason Marks, a medical doctor and research fellow at Yale and NYU law schools, in an interview with NPR.

“People … might fear a visit from police, so they might pull back and not engage in an open and honest dialogue. … And I’m not sure that’s a good thing,” Marks said.

The Cost in Privacy

Lastly, Facebook’s suicide prevention feature begs a few interesting questions for users concerned with the network’s reputation for mishandling personal data. After a long two years of privacy-related scandals emerging from the network, Facebook users might reasonably wonder whether the status of their mental health might be used to advertise to them, or leaked to nefarious third-party analytics companies.

“I think this should be considered sensitive health information,” said Natasha Duarte, a policy analyst at the Center for Democracy and Technology, in an interview with Business Insider. “Anyone who is collecting this type of information or who is making these types of inferences about people should be considering it as sensitive health information and treating it really sensitively as such.”

Unlike other aspects of Facebook, this isn’t something a user can opt out of. When either a user or an algorithm detects a possible suicide threat, “a trained member of Facebook’s Community Operations team reviews it to determine if the person is at risk,” according to another post by Facebook’s Card on the subject.

A reminder that for better or worse, what gets said online has consequences.

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Categories: Blog

When Clueless Parents Smoke Weed: An Illustrated Explainer

January 25, 2019 - 5:30am

We should have seen it coming, right?

Recreational cannabis is legal for adults in 10 states plus the District of Columbia, and first-time weed buyers are hitting dispensaries all over the country in droves. If your parents are over 50, like mine, they’re in one of the fastest growing  groups of cannabis consumers in the United States.

Still, it’s confusing to keep up with the changing world of legal weed, even for seasoned burners. No worries, man: read on for all your parents’ weed questions (and maybe some of your own) explained.

You know, you’re not wrong… But dabbing in the context of cannabis means something completely different. A “dab” refers to a small amount of cannabis extract. Extract has many nicknames, like shatter, oil, wax, or rosin. Dabs can test at more than 90% THC.

Cannabis concentrate. (Stay Regular via Pexels.com)

The dab is placed onto a hot quartz or metal surface and inhaled, usually using a special bong (a “dab rig”) or another type of filtration system. Some companies add extra terpenes (the aromatic chemicals found in cannabis plants) that enhance the flavor and smell of their extracts.

“Vape” isn’t a substance-specific term. There are two main types of vaporizer: “herbal” vapes and vape “pens.” Both can refer to either cannabis or nicotine devices.

If the device has a metal or wire mesh chamber for dry materials, it’s a herbal vape. This type produces very little visible vapor and often lacks a detachable battery. Some are built for tabletop use, others are handheld. These are basically for pot, but technically you can use them to vape dry tobacco as well.

A dry herb vape with cannabis inside. (The Vape Guide via Flickr)

Vape pens are used for liquids, like cannabis extract and nicotine “e-juice,” which are tricky to tell apart. Both can be yellow-golden or reddish-brown, but cannabis extract is thick and resinous (or even solid at cool temperatures) and produces moderate amounts of harsh vapor when heated. Nicotine liquid is made from runnier liquids —  glycerin and propylene glycol — that create a dense, foggy vapor. E-juice also usually has added flavoring.

(Lindsay Fox via Wikimedia Commons) (Stay Regular via Pexels.com)

The top image is a common disposable vape cartridge, pre-filled with cannabis extract. The bottom one is a common e-juice tank. Notice how they’re being held at the same angle, but the air bubble is “stuck” in the thick cannabis extract? Finally, pay close attention to black rectangular vapes. Certain cannabis vape brands mimic the discreet look of JUUL e-cigarettes, making them very hard to distinguish.

Cannabis taxes aren’t just super high, they’re super confusing. Take California, which has a 15% excise tax on pot and its products. This tax is based on the average market value of a product, not its sticker price. On top of that is ordinary sales tax, which is applied to almost everything you buy at any store, and varies depending on where you are. For example, in San Francisco, sales tax is 8.5%. These taxes alone can generate a 25% additional charge in some counties.

And it doesn’t stop there: localities in California sometimes enact their own taxes. Last year, San Francisco passed a recreational cannabis tax to be imposed on pot businesses grossing more than $500,000 a year. Yet despite (or perhaps because of) the steep rates, tax revenue generated from recreational cannabis sales was smaller than expected in 2018. Total sales dropped half a billion dollars after legalization, suggesting many pot consumers are seeking cheaper black market alternatives.

What’s the deal with weed packaging these days? You used to find cannabis in glass or pop-top plastic jars at dispensaries. It wasn’t uncommon for pot shops to store their buds in large containers and package amounts to-order. But when recreational laws passed in California, so did a bunch of strict packaging regulations. Now, all cannabis products have to be in resealable child-proof containers even before they arrive at a dispensary. Bad news for grandma’s arthritis.

While it’s now easy to find really strong weed, there are plenty of other options for folks who don’t want to be knocked out. One of the advantages of buying legal cannabis that didn’t exist back in the day is that the law mandates lab testing, so users can know how strong their pot is. A good bud-tender can recommend specific products, depending on a customer’s tolerance level.

Sorry, I think you’re on your own with that one. Good luck!

The post When Clueless Parents Smoke Weed: An Illustrated Explainer appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

After Viral Video, Young Kentuckians Confront Racist Legacy

January 24, 2019 - 3:54pm

by Caitlin Cummings

My social feeds went crazy this weekend over the viral video of a tense moment between some Kentucky teens and a Native American elder.

Watching teen Nick Sandmann standing directly in front of Native American elder Nathan Phillips’ face smiling blankly…it’s uncomfortable.

Because I live in Kentucky, it’s even more uncomfortable. Racism is a problem America is facing, not just Kentuckians.

But most of the media coverage showed the teens from Covington Catholic High School — a few hours from where I live — acting horrible. Provoked or not, they were shown as racist and disrespectful.

Kentucky has always faced stereotyped portrayals of our culture and people.  How the Covington teens reacted and behaved, only reinforced those stereotypes. 

That’s not the Kentucky I was raised in. I was raised to treat everyone equally.

The Kentucky where I grew up includes memories that are nothing like that viral video. Memories of my parents taking me to my gay uncle to get my haircut and him telling me to always love everyone. Memories of me and my gay best friend staying up at night watching documentaries about drag queens and doing makeup on one another. Memories of meditating in the woods with my friends asking for a better world. 

To see such hate spewed from people that are in the same state as me is really difficult because that’s just one picture of the place I live.

While the country is a having a conversation about politics, race and left vs. right, here’s the conversation happening where I live.

(Image courtesy of Kyra Higgins/Appalachian Media Institute)

Kyra Higgins, 20, Redfox, KY

Watching that video I felt anger and humiliation. There was such blatant disrespect and ignorance. This is Kentucky’s representation in the media. That is what people see as our legacy. I have conversations with people from different areas of Kentucky sharing the same sentiment as I do from all walks of life: young, old, African-American, white, Latino, working class, education professionals, organization leaders, college students and high school students. I wish that was recognized more and highlighted more. I cannot say there are not people like these [Covington Catholic High School] students young and old in Kentucky, but there are also people who live here doing good work that goes unnoticed. I often wonder what it would be like if people experienced Kentucky through the eyes of young people that I encounter daily full of hope, curiosity about others, intelligence, kindness and depth.

(Image courtesy of Olivia Harp/Appalachian Media Institute)

Olivia Harp, 24, Hazard, KY

Growing up in Eastern, KY all my life, I have been subjected to many stereotypes. Most of the time I accept and appreciate my roots. Racist ignorant hillbilly is one I refuse to accept. That stereotype has created a stigma for many Appalachian people. People like Kim Davis and the Covington Catholic High School [teens] are not what we represent. Kentucky is going to gay bars and singing Dolly Parton at the top of your lungs…Kentucky is wanting to learn Spanish so you can talk to your cousin’s husband in his native tongue. Kentucky is not what the media has [portrayed] us to be.

(Image courtesy of Dustin Johnson/Appalachian Media Institute)

Dustin Johnson, 19, Hazard, KY

The hive mentality of this hateful, spiteful, area is one of generational bias. Though we’re all human, no matter the race, sex, gender or nationality, there are people who still feel as if they should preach hate for their own selfishness. I believe in the fair and equal treatment of all. #StompOutHatred

This story was a collaboration with the Appalachian Media Institute

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Categories: Blog

7 R&B Acts We’re Excited About in 2019

January 24, 2019 - 12:28pm

The beginning of a new year is always an exciting time. Most people use it as an opportunity to ditch old habits while others seek new ventures. If you’re a music lover like me, a new year means new artists to explore. As a woman, I know what it’s like to be overlooked because of my gender. Even though there is a fair amount of powerful women in the music industry, it’s well known that the opportunities for women to excel are sparse and harder to conquer than they are for men. It’s no different than any other job field; women have to be exceptional and fly to get what the average man can walk to.

For this reason, I always look to support women in music, especially those that are newcomers in the industry. Over the past couple of years, SZA, Ella Mai, Alessia Cara and Cardi B have made huge waves, becoming some of the most prominent and successful acts in the industry, but in 2019 we can do better. Here is my list of seven women/women-led acts that are on the verge of breaking out in 2019.

Summer Walker

Summer Walker has already begun to carve her own lane in R&B at only 22 years old. LVRN’s singer-songwriter is a skilled guitarist and draws inspiration from Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu in her music. Songs like “CPR” and “Girls Need Love” have already garnered her some buzz, with the latter’s music video getting 20 million views in just four months; her debut project “Last Day of Summer” solidified her as a force to watch out for.

Mahalia

Hailing from across the pond, this U.K. singer-songwriter is the breath of fresh air that R&B needed. Traces of alternative and soul can be heard in her music, as she cites Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill as some of her biggest influences. She first signed with a major label when she was only 13 years old and has since released an album, three EPs and 16 stand-alone singles, including her breakout single “Sober” from 2017. As of late, she’s nominated for the BRIT Awards 2019 Critic’s Choice Award, with past winners including Adele and Sam Smith. It’s safe to say she’ll be an artist to watch in 2019.

Spellling

Sacramento native Spellling is a true underground artist that deserves mainstream attention. Her first project “Pantheon of Me” was released in 2017 and was entirely self-written, recorded, and produced in her apartment in Berkeley, CA. Her music can only be described as ethereal, unique and mesmerizing. She’s received critical acclaim from national and local publications alike, the future is bright for the self-made songstress. Pitchfork called her first project “one of the most compelling debuts of the year.” Her followup “Mazy Fly” is set to be released this February!

King Princess

Currently signed to Mark Ronson’s label Zelig Records, King Princess dropped “1950,” her first single, last February and since then she has accumulated over 10 million views on YouTube. It might’ve also helped that singer Harry Styles tweeted the lyrics to the song back in March. A multi-instrumentalist producer as well as a singer-songwriter, she is skilled in playing guitar, bass, piano and drums. King Princess identifies as gay, and it’s not something she shies away from, with the topic being a recurring theme in her music.

Ravyn Lenae

The Atlantic Records signee was born and raised in Chicago, and at 20 years old she’s already on her way to becoming the next big thing. She toured with SZA and Noname on their respective tours and her latest EP “Crush” was produced entirely by Steve Lacey, who has previously worked with Solange and Kendrick Lamar. “Crush” is an old-school inspired R&B piece that is not only fun but soulful as well. 

Raveena

Indian-American R&B singer Raveena has been compared to the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae and Sade, with her delicate vocals carefully sung over gentle, rhythmic instrumentals. Her COLORS video for “If Only” has garnered over two million views. Raveena treats her songbook like a diary, with each song framed as a piece of her soul. Her music is open and honest and aims to empower women of color, making her an exciting artist to watch this year.

Radiant Children

This three-piece London-based band Radiant Children are comprised of musicians Tyler Acord, Marcos Bernardis, and lead singer Fabienne Holloway. Their debut single “Life’s a B***h” was featured on HBO’s “Insecure” season three premiere, giving the group much deserved exposure. Radiant Children’s music can be described as soulful R&B with a thin veil of alternative-pop, making their appeal captivating to many different audiences.

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Categories: Blog

First-Generation Fashion

January 24, 2019 - 11:20am

Style can be about more than just what’s “on trend” — it can also be about expressing who you are and where you came from.

We checked in with three first-generation style mavens to see how they use fashion to tell a bigger story about their families and cultural identities.

Yasir Althami

“My parents worked too hard to get me here for me to ever be ashamed of who I am and where I come from”, says 17-year-old Somali Yasir Althami.

Althami says the greatest values that his Somali and Muslim cultures have instilled in him are a love and respect for family.

Yasir’s outfit is a nod to the Macawis, a sarong typically worn by Somali men.

Senait Hagos

“My culture means unity,” says Senait Hagos, a 16-year-old whose parents are from Eritrea. “In anything we do in our culture, it’s together. In my culture and my country, you always have people to lean on.”

During a span of about 22 years, about a third of Eritrea’s population, including Senait’s parents, were forced to flee the country because of poor living conditions and the outbreak of two civil wars.

“In my country, each tribe has a distinct clothing piece, distinct hair type, distinct jewelry, so I think fashion plays a major role in my culture”

Senait is wearing a traditional Eritrean dress called a Zuria as well as gold jewelry, a commonly worn accessory.  

Valasi Alailima

“My culture is who I am and it shapes the way I live. My culture is deeply rooted in Christianity. I’ve been raised in something called the ‘Fa’a Samoa’ or ‘the Samoan way,’” says Valasi Alailima, 16.  

Valasi is wearing a dress called a Puletasi. It is most commonly worn to church and formal cultural events.


Valasi says she’s very excited to be able to pass the practices of Fa’a Samoa on to her children and future generations to come.



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Categories: Blog

Review: Toro y Moi Looks Inward for “Outer Peace”

January 23, 2019 - 6:46pm

Toro y Moi (aka Chaz Bear) is back with a new album, “Outer Peace,” and it couldn’t be a better reintroduction. It’s been two years since his last project, “Boo Boo,” and while away, Chaz Bear took some time to tour and even explore other forms of art.  It would be unfair to box this Toro y Moi album to one genre, as he explores funk, electronic, R&B and pop music, to create one cohesive sound.

According to a press release by Carpark Records, Toro y Moi’s “‘Outer Peace’ is duality. It embodies whatever form you choose to inhabit in the  moment.” Check out our five favorite songs from Toro’s latest below. 

Ordinary Pleasure

First released as the album’s second single, “Ordinary Pleasure” is playfully cool as he tells listeners “Nothing can make it better, maximize all the pleasure.” The track opens up with rhythmic bongo-playing while introducing synthesized vocals, and a mesmerizing bassline throughout the song. You wouldn’t think that funk, techno, alternative and pop would mesh so well on a track together but Toro y Moi makes it work.

Baby Drive It Down

“Baby Drive It Down” is one of my favorites off the album, despite the track being three minutes long, it feels like it’s over way too soon. Beware, the replay value on this song is very high, it manages to be a psychedelic upbeat yet mellow track.

Who I Am 

“Who I Am” comes in towards the end of the album, with a contagiously fun beat that is for sure going to make people want to dance. Toro blends retro-futuristic 80’s synth-pop with a tinge of 70’s disco-funk. He gets real existential as he contemplates ideas of self- worth and his place in the world.

Monte Carlo (feat. Wet)

Toro doesn’t shy from his chillwave roots, everything about the song is hypnotic, from its breezy beat to its background harmonies that fill the track. The singer recruits Wet for a brief hook, but the melodic vocals from lead singer Kelly Zutrau are enough to steal the show.

50-50 (feat. Instupendo)

The singer cited this collab with Instupendo as his favorite song on the album, because it came with a challenge, pop music. Toro y Moi has been hesitant to create pop music in the past, but in this track, he takes pop music and put his own spin on it, and just like the rest of the tracks on the album, it turned out to be very rewarding.

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Categories: Blog

Found Sounds: All Episodes and Complete Track List

January 23, 2019 - 5:31pm
Full Episode List Episode 4: Urban Ore  Episode 3: Oakland Library  Episode 2: Open Cafe Episode 1: Latham Square Complete Tracks

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Categories: Blog

What To Do If Instagram Makes You Feel Bad

January 23, 2019 - 2:25pm

If you’re like most people, you probably spend a lot of time scrolling through social media. But do you ever wonder if it’s good for you? 

Instagram can be pretty fake, so how does it affect us when people try and pass off their embellished lives as reality?

YR Media reporter Hannah Cornejo talks with Harvard researcher Dr. Emily Weinstein to find out how social media affects young people, and whether we’re searching in the wrong place for realness.

Weinstein is a researcher at Project Zero, a center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She studies how how social technologies shape the lives of kids and teens.

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Categories: Blog

The Facebook Group Subtle Asian Traits Just Gets Me

January 23, 2019 - 11:18am

Have you ever come across a meme that is so hilarious you get those deep belly laughs, you’re crying tears of laughter and sharing the heck out of it? Yeah, I feel you. And in the prime age of Twitter and Instagram, it’s hard not to stumble upon these comedy gems every once in a while.

But let’s not forget about Facebook. There lies the home of a group that brings me so much joy: subtle asian traits.

A group of Asian-Australian friends in their late teens and early 20s started the group, inviting users to join and “add all your Asian friends :).” As it’s a “closed group,” only approved members can view the content.

Incredibly, subtle asian traits reached one million members worldwide in December 2018, and its membership is growing daily. It has also expanded onto Instagram.

A meme featuring Surprised Pikachu posted by the admins of subtle asian traits when it hit a membership milestone on Dec. 21, 2018. (Photo: subtle asian traits)

One of my cousins sent me an invite to join the group a couple months back and I’m so glad she did. Not only do I come across posts that have me clutching at my sides with laughter (while simultaneously trying to tap the “like” button), I see so many Asian people I know IRL in the group. That gives me a true sense of community.

There’s the obvious reason for how I feel: I’m Asian and the group was made primarily for an Asian audience.

Sauce packets like these, pictured in a post on Jan. 16, 2019, are commonly found in Asian instant ramen packages. (Photo: Giovanne Lagas II/subtle asian traits)

Then there’s the subtle reason: the group just gets me. Mind blowing, right?

I find memes here especially captivating, because they express the nuances of what it was like to grow up with immigrant parents as a first-generation Asian-American. Sometimes, certain memes even zoom in to what it was like to grow up in a Vietnamese household like mine.

A meme posted to subtle asian traits on Jan. 18, 2019, references how fish sauce, also “nuóc mắm,” is used in many Vietnamese dishes. (Photo: Maya Verónica/subtle asian traits) A post on Jan. 18, 2019, points out how some Asian dads are known to be strict — and blunt — about their disapproval when their kids stay out late. (Photo: Brandon Jiang/subtle asian traits) A hilarious and pretty accurate description of what’s inside fridges in many Asian households, posted on Jan. 17, 2019. (Photo: Vicky Chang/subtle asian traits)

I grew up in a suburban city about 15 miles north of Seattle (shout-out to anyone from Lynnwood!). I went to a high school with a predominantly white population. That meant I spent a lot of time telling people how to pronounce my last name, fielding requests that I speak in Vietnamese on cue, and explaining why the lunches I brought from home looked “weird.”

Though this was an often isolating experience, what made a difference for me was my group of friends, who are Asian for the most part. The parts of myself other classmates found it hard to wrap their heads around didn’t need to be explained to my friends, because they understood. Simply put, they got me.

A Jan. 17, 2019, post features chicken feet, which are a familiar Chinese dim sum dish. (Photo: Amy Ong/subtle asian traits)

I’m really fortunate to have a group of friends who’ve been there for me since middle (and elementary) school, but a few months ago I moved to New York City, far away from my childhood buddies. I still have yet to find a squad that truly understands me in the way they do, but subtle asian traits is definitely a start.

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Categories: Blog

What Happens When a Teen Activist Turns 20?

January 21, 2019 - 8:20am

For the past few years, I’ve built a lot of my identity around being a teenager — or more specifically, a teen activist. But now, I’m turning 20. And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what that means for me.

When I was 16, MTV News ran a story about the nonprofit I started, which is aimed at empowering teens to disrupt the status quo. They titled their story: “This Muslim-American Teen Turned His Suffering Into a Full-Fledged Battle Against Stereotypes.”

There’s a whole world of kids like me, teen activists and entrepreneurs who have been continuously celebrated for our youth. There are many of us, young people who have become spokespeople for certain causes: gun violence, education reform, drug decriminalization. We are listened to, at least in part, because we are young.

I think people love stories about young people mobilizing because of the novelty of it all, but also because the next generation is always associated with hope. When young people give presentations, we are often told that we reignite people’s belief in tomorrow. The reality is that young voices have an opportunity to be heard because we are received as exciting, powerful and refreshing. The public wants to believe in the next generation, naturally.

As I’ve come of age as a young American-Muslim, I’ve leaned into “teenagerness.” I gave a TEDxTalk titled, “Our Age Does Not Limit Our Activism” in 2015. Later, I founded a consulting firm, JUV Consulting, with the aim of teaching brands how to better market to Generation Z. As I moved into the lane of youth advocacy, my “teenagerness” became a massive part of who I was, the work that I did and how the world saw me.

I’ve leaned into the idea that people have listened to me more closely because I’ve been young. But as I turn 20, I’m thinking now about what happens next.

I realize that I’m not suddenly old because I’m 20. My ideas were no more valid when I was 19 than they are now. I’m grateful to have been given a platform while I was so young, and my hope is to continue to use my platform responsibly to focus on issues that matter.

I’ve been tremendously lucky that my teens have been so good to me, but I’ve also been so non-stop in my “hustle” that a part of me does feel like my teens have just passed me by. There are moments where I worry that sometimes I’ve forgotten just to take a moment and enjoy my youth. So as I think about growing up into a 20-something, my goal is to savor these years.

As I get older, I feel committed to passing the mic to many other young people, especially those organizing to make tomorrow better. I will also continue to be enormously proud to be of my generation — and to support those younger than me as they claim their seats at tables.

As I think about what’s next, the answer is simple: the work. The fact that I’m 20 doesn’t change my passions, so leaning into my purpose irrespective of my age will be an anchor for this next decade of my life.

And I hope people are willing to listen, even if “20-something” isn’t as catchy as “teen.”

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Categories: Blog

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