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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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From Our Oakland Teen Desk: MLK’s Legacy in 2019

January 21, 2019 - 8:05am

America celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day today.

MLK sparked a social movement in the 1960s that addressed civil rights issues in America, emphasizing the barriers people of color face.

To see how MLK’s legacy continues today, we talked to some of the students and interns at YR Media’s headquarters in Oakland, California. (YR Media provides after-school programs and internships to a diverse group of young people from around the Bay Area.)

Martin Luther King “motivates me to do better in school and do what I believe in,” Anthony, 17, said.

Given that messages of white supremacy and racism are still all around us — from Rep. Steve King’s recent comments in defense of white nationalism, to the alt right and Charlottesville, Virginia — what would MLK do if he were still alive today?

The post From Our Oakland Teen Desk: MLK’s Legacy in 2019 appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Listen to ADP.FM: City Cat Radio MLK Episode

January 21, 2019 - 8:02am
The freshest DJs in the bay spinning live from a street-level studio in downtown Oakland, California.

Happy MLK Day! This is an episode of City Cat Radio with DJ Henroc, airing from All Day Play FM. We hope you enjoy the show in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and continue to create his dream.

The post Listen to ADP.FM: City Cat Radio MLK Episode appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How Much Do You Really Know About MLK? Take Our Quiz.

January 21, 2019 - 8:00am

How much do you really know about the man behind the iconic initials, MLK?

To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, or if you’d just like to show off to your friends, take our quiz below.

Are you up for the challenge?

Photos of Martin Luther King Jr. courtesy Wikimedia Commons and the U.S. National Archives.

The post How Much Do You Really Know About MLK? Take Our Quiz. appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Finding Comfort in YouTube Hair Tutorials

January 20, 2019 - 8:00am

Last year, I decided to grow out my kinky, curly hair for the first time. But there was no one in my family that I could turn to. YouTube came to the rescue.

In my immediate family, I’m the only one with kinky hair. I’m mixed race —black, white, and Filipina. My mom has loose curls and my dad’s hair is straight. I didn’t have anyone to look to for guidance.

Time and again, I wandered through the natural hair aisle—feeling lost. When I decided to grow my hair out, I realized I needed some real advice. So I turned to YouTube.

Immediately, I discovered tons of girls online that faced the same hair challenges. I didn’t feel alone anymore. Through these videos I was able to try out new products and styles. I feel less intimidated in the beauty supply store now.

I often hear about social media and the internet hurting more than helping teens. But in this case, I was able to discover a community that wasn’t available for me in person.

Watching people talk about their natural hair made me feel more confident about mine. Now, I consider it one of my best features.

The post Finding Comfort in YouTube Hair Tutorials appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

I Went to the First Women’s March and I’m Still Excited

January 19, 2019 - 6:45am

This weekend is the third anniversary of the Women’s March. Two years ago, I was on a plane flying from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., to join thousands of women on the National Mall. I was traveling with my two best friends at the time, along with our moms.

After we arrived in D.C., we stayed in my friend’s aunt’s apartment, anxiously preparing for our protest by cutting out felt letters and gluing them to blankets we could wear during the march. Mine was a pink snuggy that read, “My Body, My Future, My Choice.”

In the days leading up to the march, we’d sit on the balcony of the apartment and observe the people passing by. There were several smaller rallies leading up to the march, as well as some celebrations for the inauguration of Donald Trump. We watched pink pussy hats and red MAGA hats bob down the street below us, more than we could count. It was both uplifting and upsetting to see the mix.

On the day of the march, we entered a giant sea of people. I have never felt this sort of energy — the amount of love, anger and passion that moved through our group captivated me. I distinctly remember two guys standing up on top of a raised ledge wearing Trump shirts and MAGA hats. They stood there, drinking their beers and watching all of us. A woman stood next to them with a sign that just read, “Fuck this guy.”

We marched for seven hours that day. I never grew tired. Every moment that passed, every sign I read, every chant we yelled, seemed to make us stronger. We became a swarm (and were estimated to be around one million people), fueled by the energy we emitted. At the end of the day, we lay in bed and reflected on our day. I’ve never felt so empowered.

A stack of signs from the Women’s March left on the ground of a D.C. metro station on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo: Mila De la Torre)

Although I was encouraged by the event, the march received a lot of backlash. Even during the first march, many critics questioned its lack of intersectionality. They felt it was not inclusive of women of color and trans women, and they pointed to the white women who organized it in the first place. I can only speak for myself. As a young woman of color, I did feel that there was a place for me. Marching amongst so many people deeply impacted my outlook.

So on Saturday at the Women’s March in San Francisco, I’ll be attending with my close friend and I’m more than excited to feel that same sense of pride again.

The post I Went to the First Women’s March and I’m Still Excited appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Woman to Womxn: New Women’s Marches Aim for Inclusivity

January 18, 2019 - 4:28pm

The Women’s March in Washington, D.C. — and marches around the country — are set to kick off again on Saturday, Jan. 19.

Since 2017, the march has become a kind of annual tradition, with thousands of citizens taking to the streets to protest President Donald Trump and his policies while giving voice to the largest traditionally underrepresented group: women.

With a record 131 women now serving in Congress, it’s tempting to point to the Women’s March as having had a profound effect on American politics.

But some believe the Women’s March hasn’t been inclusive enough of people of color or women from less privileged backgrounds. And critics point to controversial statements made by the lead organizers of the national March. 

Just this week the national Women’s March co-president Tamika D. Mallory was taken to task on the television show “The View” for support she’s shown for controversial, chronically anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan. The dust-up over Mallory is just one issue the central organizers have faced, which has prompted some activists to establish their own women’s marches.

The Womxn’s March in Denver is one such event. On Saturday, Denver locals will march a one-mile route near the state capitol. The name itself — Womxn’s March — has special resonance in Colorado, the first state in the nation to allow “X” as a gender identification on birth certificates and driver licenses.

“The ‘X’ in the Womxn’s March is one way of showing intersectionality,” said Brenda Herrera Moreno, part of the leadership for Womxn’s March Denver.

‘Intersectionality’ refers to how race, class and gender all play a role in discrimination.

“We’re showing a conversation that needs to happen. We’re showing a conversation that has happened and moving it into the lens of the Womxn’s March. So it doesn’t mean we are denying anyone to apart of the room, we’re really opening the door further to make sure everyone can be a part of that conversation.”

For the Womxn’s March Denver, that includes youth voices.

“Two of our speakers are high school students, and that was really important to the programming committee, to make sure that voices were represented from the next generation. I would say that we have work to do on including youth leadership,” said organizer Angela Astle.

Astle explains that the Denver Womxn’s March split off from the national group after the 2017 event. They currently operate under the umbrella of the March On group, a different nationwide organization that grew out of the original 2017 march.

“The difference between National and the March On movement is that National tends to have a top-down approach. National is really trying to like look at…this is what we want you to do and this is how we want people to show up and [this is] our guiding principles,” Astle said. “While March On was like ‘Do you, do what is good for your community, do what is good for your own backyard.’”

The national March On organization also puts an emphasis on getting local leaders elected. That focus on concrete change hasn’t necessarily taken root here in the Mile High City yet.

“People are really moved and motivated to be a [part of] the march itself, but then energy kinda [dips] and the next phase of actual action doesn’t always take place,” Astle said.

So the organizers instead focus on connection as the goal, acting as a platform for other organizations whose activism centers on issues such as domestic abuse, rape and marginalization.

“I would really love everyone…who attends to walk out with a different perspective on any anti-oppressive concept,” said Regan Byrd, another Womxn’s March Denver organizer. “Whether that is intersectionality, whether that is inclusivity, whether that’s gender non-binary. What those designations mean and what they are. I want someone to walk out learning something and understanding how broad this conversation is and can be.”

The Womxn’s March isn’t unique to Denver, as the split between the national Women’s March group and local organizers has happened around the country.

While Denver only has the Womxn’s March, cities like Seattle will host multiple events from different groups of organizers. To add a little confusion to the mix: in Seattle the march affiliated with the Women’s March uses the Womxn’s March spelling, while the group that has broken off calls their event Womxn Marching Forward.

The conversation takes to the streets on Saturday Jan. 19, with the Denver Womxn’s March beginning with a pre-rally at at Civic Center Park at 9 a.m. and the march proper starting at 10:30 a.m.

The post Woman to Womxn: New Women’s Marches Aim for Inclusivity appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Sick and Tired: Oakland Teachers ‘Sick Out’

January 18, 2019 - 2:06pm

Teachers from several Oakland schools staged a walk-out on Friday that’s also been billed as a “sick out.”

A social media post invited students and teachers to meet outside Oakland Technical High School at 8 a.m. and march to the Oakland Unified School District office.

On their way to the district office, the strikers marched down Broadway in downtown Oakland, shouting, “When I say cutbacks, you say fight back,” and, “Keep our schools open.” A flyer distributed at Skyline High School demanded the school district meet the teachers’ union’s demands for “fair wages, lower class sizes and Oakland’s public schools to remain open.”

Earlier this fall, OUSD announced that it would close or consolidate up to 24 schools in the coming years, as a result of budget shortfalls and declining student enrollment. 

Protesters chant, “Keep our schools open,” pushing against district plans to close schools, on Jan. 18, 2019. (Video: Georgia Kingsley-Doyle)

Georgia Kingsley-Doyle, 16, marched alongside her teachers. “If I went to school, they’d just put us in the auditorium with an administrator the whole day anyway,” she said. Kingsley-Doyle is a sophomore at Oakland Technical High School and has dealt with class size issues first-hand. “In my math class, we have so many students that there’s only enough seats if two people skip,” she said.

Kingsley-Doyle walked next to her Spanish teacher, Rebecca Padilla, who said, “We’re striking to protect public education and make sure Oakland has quality teachers.”

Arlette Sanchez, 16, is a sophomore at Skyline High School. She posted frequently to social media imploring her followers to join the teacher walk-out and to wear red in support of the strike. She said teacher turnover has personally affected her. “It’s important to me, because last year I lost almost a whole year of [math], not learning geometry. I was close to failing. We had no math teacher, because he left at the second week of school. I had a lot of subs,” Sanchez said.

Oakland teachers have been working without a contract for over a year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Friday’s walk-out is not sanctioned by the teachers’ union, the Oakland Education Association. SFGate has reported that negotiations between the district and the union have stalled, and the union is entering its final steps before a vote on a union-sanctioned strike.

The post Sick and Tired: Oakland Teachers ‘Sick Out’ appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Meet One High School’s First Trans Homecoming Queen

January 18, 2019 - 1:10pm

Oakland senior Luis Salas didn’t plan on being homecoming queen. The Castlemont High School student only threw her hat in the ring a day before the deadline to get into the homecoming queen race.

“I kept asking around…was there any homecoming queen that was trans
before? And everybody said, ‘No. If you run and you win, you’ll be the first,'” Salas told YR Media reporter Emiliano Villa.

Watch the video to see Salas’ complete interview and find out what it was like to win the crown. And check out the photos below of Salas on the day she won.

Luis Salas on homecoming. (Photo courtesy Salas) Luis Salas on homecoming. (Photo courtesy Salas)

The post Meet One High School’s First Trans Homecoming Queen appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

What It’s Like to Be on the Picket Line with an LA Teacher

January 16, 2019 - 2:41pm

It’s only Natalia Ramos’s first year on the job. But the 24-year-old high school music teacher is already taking part in a historic moment: the first teachers’ strike in Los Angeles in 30 years.

Ramos was one of more than 30,000 teachers who went on strike on Monday, demanding better pay, smaller class sizes and a pause in the growth of charter schools.

Ramos explained she doesn’t have the materials she needs to teach her classes, including up-to-date music and folders for sheet music.

The strike began after contract negotiations broke down between the teachers’ union — the United Teachers Los Angeles, or UTLA — and the school district. Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest in the country. More than 600,000 students are affected by the strike.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted that he’s “proud” of the teachers.

I am proud of our teachers. My greatest priority is the safety of our children. For the latest and most accurate updates about the teachers strike here in Los Angeles, please follow my mayor profile: @MayorOfLA

— Eric Garcetti (@ericgarcetti) January 15, 2019

“This impasse is disrupting the lives of too many kids and their families. I strongly urge all parties to go back to the negotiating table and find an immediate path forward that puts kids back into classrooms and provides parents certainty,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement on Monday.

The school district lost $15 million on the first day of the strike, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner told ABC7 News.

The post What It’s Like to Be on the Picket Line with an LA Teacher appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

5 Things You Need to Know About the Government Shutdown

January 15, 2019 - 1:25pm

Now the longest in U.S. history, the shutdown — basically a result of the debate over spending for a border wall — has left roughly 800,000 federal employees without a paycheck and led to concerns about airline safety and vandalism to national parks.

While many parts of the federal government remain open, here are some ways the shutdown may affect you.


Travelers are complaining about longer than usual security lines as airport officials close screening lanes because TSA employees are taking time off work rather than have to work unpaid. Unscheduled absences doubled Monday to 7.6 percent, compared to a 3.2 percent rate on the same day a year ago, TSA officials tweeted.

With hundreds of TSA workers calling in sick and others working without pay, is it really safe to fly? TSA officials say air travel is not impacted and it’s still safe to fly.

Security standards will NOT and have NOT been compromised. Reports thereof are misleading, agenda-driven and only embolden the adversary. #NotOnOurWatch

— Michael Bilello (@TSA_Bilello) January 9, 2019

Because of wait times, passengers are urged to arrive at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours for international travel. But it’s also smart to check in with your airport directly.

If you have a flight during this shutdown, don’t forget to smile at your TSA workers. They’re working to keep you safe, despite not knowing when they’ll be paid for their services. 

Air Traffic Control

On a similar note, air traffic controllers are also expected to work without pay. Unlike TSA agents, the union for air traffic controllers is suing the Trump administration.

Additionally, air traffic control is a line of work that requires complete and total concentration. A single mistake could lead to drastic consequences. “America wants its air traffic controllers to be laser-focused on landing planes safely and monitoring America’s runways, not distracted by financial issues and anxiety of financial instability,” the union said in its lawsuit, according to news reports.

The union representing flight attendants, AFA-CWA, has also weighed in.

"The government #shutdown must end. As it continues, over 11 million working people that count on a stable aviation system are put in jeopardy." – @FlyingWithSara https://t.co/ycJwLxlUlx pic.twitter.com/b6rict7boU

— AFA-CWA (@afa_cwa) January 8, 2019

But air traffic controllers are getting some support as their Canadian counterparts have sent hundreds of pizzas to US employees as the shutdown continues.

National Parks

Before you head out to visit a national park, you may want to check to make sure it’s open.

While gates at some park sites remain open, currently a third of national park locations are completely closed — presidential homes, museums and cultural sites with buildings that can be locked.

Some of the major parks like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone are open, but the staff is limited and many visitor centers and restrooms remain closed. The roads are also far more dangerous because they have not been cleared of fallen debris.

Limited or no staff leaves many of the national park sites vulnerable. There have been reports of vandals cutting off locks from closed entrance gates, severed Joshua trees and cars driving through restricted areas. At least seven national park visitors have died since the partial shutdown began on Dec. 22, according to CNN. 

America's parks are suffering. It's time to tell @Interior @DOIDepSec: close all national parks until the shutdown ends and they can be FULLY funded, staffed, and protected. Raise your voice here:https://t.co/y6HF6UmsnL pic.twitter.com/hy2dVQKXTg

— National Parks Conservation Association (@NPCA) January 14, 2019

If you’re visiting a park, let the wildlife be. If you brought something with you, also bring it home because Mother Nature doesn’t want your trash anymore than you do. And most importantly, leave it better than you found it.

Financial Aid

Since the U.S. Department of Education is fully funded for the 2018-19 school year, students shouldn’t see a disruption to their financial aid packages this semester.

FYI: The Department of Education is not affected by the shutdown. You can still complete your FAFSA form and there is no impact on your school disbursing your funds. Remember to check your deadlines! https://t.co/ijT4djN1Lo pic.twitter.com/25dQ6tpJnv

— Federal Student Aid (@FAFSA) December 28, 2018

But with some Internal Revenue Service departments closed, students selected by the Department of Education (DOE) to verify proof of their income for next year’s FAFSA application may have difficulty obtaining documents from the IRS.

DOE officials recently announced alternative documentation to verify tax and income information.

FDA Resumes Food Inspections

Furloughed food inspectors will resume food inspections Tuesday, the first time since the federal government shut down.

We re-starting high risk food inspections as early as tomorrow. We'll also do compounding inspections this week. And we started sampling high risk imported produce in the northeast region today. We'll expand our footprint as the week progresses. Our teams are working.

— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) January 14, 2019

While the FDA employees won’t be paid, they’ll focus on high-risk food items like seafood and cheese. But is that cold comfort for people anxious over food safety, especially in the wake of the romaine lettuce scare? 

Have you been affected by the shutdown or know someone who has? Share your stories with us on Twitter (@itsYRmedia), Facebook (@yrmediapage) or Instagram (@yr.media).

The post 5 Things You Need to Know About the Government Shutdown appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

2019 Advice from Olympians, Comedians, Actors and More

January 14, 2019 - 12:00pm
Advice That’ll Help You Get Your 2019 $h*t Together

2019 is here and you know what that means? A whole ‘notha year full of random swerves that life is gonna put in all of our paths. Some guests from Season 1 of the podcast I co-host called “Adult ISH” — a show for fellow 20-somethings trying to figure out their young adult lives — #knowthatfeel and have words of wisdom that might help you keep your sh*t “ish” together this year.

Stand-up comedian Joel Kim Booster’s strategy for the dating app scene:

“If you want to catch anything you’ve got to set the traps.”


OWN’s “Love Is ________” star Will Catlett‘s general life advice:

“Be patient. … Nobody really told me that. Work your gift. Not your knowledge, not your wisdom, but your gift, because that is unique to you.”


What Muslim American Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad suggests you do with your homies who call out your wardrobe choices:

“If your friend is a hater, [get] new friends for sure, and wear that jumpsuit if you feel good in it.”


Stockton, Calif., Mayor Michael Tubbs says gettin’ swol is key:

“Start going to the gym, man. When you start at 28, it is not pretty.”

Workout Bench GIF from Workout GIFs “The Daily Show” Senior Correspondent Ronny Chieng’s tip on time:

“Don’t be afraid to take your time to grow up. I was too anxious about trying to be an adult when I really wasn’t.”

Take It Slow GIF from Jenniferhudson GIFs Poet Ashlee Haze’s warm words for people who struggle with colorism:

“The truth is that you’re worthy. You’re absolutely gorgeous the way you are. I hate to say cliché stuff, but you need to believe it.”

You’re So… Beautiful – Adventure Time GIF from Adventuretime GIFs “Black-ish” actor Marcus Scribner on what to say to your folks if they’re throwing shade at who you’re dating:

“It’s really about the person and the connection that you share with them. If you’re happy and your parents can’t accept that, tough luck.”

Macho Man Randy Savage GIF from Machoman GIFs Do-it-yourself YouTuber LaurDIY on gettin’ those follows on social media:

“Find what you’re passionate about, build a brand for yourself and make everything cohesive.”

Thats Bella Super Instagram Worthy GIF from Thatsbella GIFs “Bumblebee” actor Jorge Lendeborg Jr. on what he would (or wouldn’t) say to his younger self:

“I’d be super Mr. Miyagi. I wouldn’t say anything. I’d be like, ‘Hey guy, figure it out. Bye!’”


Musician and writer Lane Moore’s pep talk of getting through any holiday alone:

“Feel proud of yourself because…you’re still here. … Sometimes that’s the bravest thing of all, and if you don’t believe me, it’s a line in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’”


Actor and poet Demetrius Harmon (FKA Meechonmars) on what he’d tell his future self:

“Listen to your kids about the things they want and don’t get too consumed with work.”


Disabilities rights advocate Haben Girma’s hype up to Nyge and Merk (who are too chicken to try surfing):

“The world is dangerous. You can’t let sharks stop you from doing something fun! It’s a matter of trying, taking lessons and pushing yourselves.”

Baby Shark Dance GIF from Babyshark GIFs

Follow us at @YRadultISH on Insta, Twitter and like us on Facebook. And subscribe to our show if you haven’t already!

The post 2019 Advice from Olympians, Comedians, Actors and More appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Why I Was Ashamed of Owning My Asian Identity

January 13, 2019 - 8:00am

In the first grade, I got my first lesson in what it means to be Asian in this country. One of my classmates was doing his best impression of a Chinese waiter, and everybody laughed. Including me.

I figured the only way I could fit in was by making people laugh.

By middle school, I had created witty comebacks to defend myself against endless comparisons to Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee. I would tell over-exaggerated stories, do stereotypical accents, and pretend to sleep in class.

But every fake accent, every kid doing Asian eyes, every boy who patronized me and made fun of my size made me feel less proud of who I was.

I had become the type of person I was trying to escape – a one-dimensional caricature of myself, providing entertainment, but never garnering my classmates’ respect.

Something had to change, but 10 years of fronting doesn’t go away overnight. I still have to remind myself to be honest about who I am and proud of the culture that shaped me. I won’t let anybody take that away from me.

The post Why I Was Ashamed of Owning My Asian Identity appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

An Inside Look at Remix Your Life’s “At The Moment” Mixtape

January 11, 2019 - 2:57pm
Remix Your Life, YR Media’s music production, distribution and artist development program, has been working on its latest effort for over a year. Throughout the process, the artists involved worked tirelessly to write, produce, record, engineer and mix their latest project, “At The Moment.” These upcoming artists are super excited to watch many of their dreams come true and finally have their voices be heard. Remix Your Life was born in the late 2000s, starting out simply as a safe space for youth to come and express themselves through music and poetry. Since then, it has grown into one of the many robust learning paths offered at YR Media, helping students become proficient in industry-standard audio-engineering programs. Click here for links to “At The Moment” on all streaming platforms.  Click here to listen to Remix Your Life’s previous mixtape, “The Come Up” “Lovin” is the second single off the “At The Moment” mixtape The “At The Moment” mixtape is a collaboration between nearly 20 young artists at YR Media. Vocals, production, engineering, and mixing — it’s all done by young folks from Remix Your Life. While they learn plenty of skills here, the students take their own creative agency and apply their expertise in their own day-to-day life.

The post An Inside Look at Remix Your Life’s “At The Moment” Mixtape appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Remix Your Life x Thizzler

January 11, 2019 - 2:57pm
Remix Your Life took part in the Best Of Thizzler 18 award show at Thizzler’s studio in Oakland, California. Music production on the track came from RYL’s Money Maka, who was accompanied by $hakon, J Walt and Firstclass Trey.

The post Remix Your Life x Thizzler appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Listen to “At The Moment” on All Streaming Platforms

January 11, 2019 - 2:56pm
Find all eight tracks from “At The Moment” on Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube and any other place you listen to music!  Click the track list below for links to your favorite streaming service

The post Listen to “At The Moment” on All Streaming Platforms appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

El Paso to Trump: We Already Have a Wall

January 10, 2019 - 6:55pm

On Thursday, President Trump visited the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas and expressed the importance of building a wall.

If you don’t live in a border town and don’t wake up every day to a mile-long fence, it can be hard to understand how senseless this idea of a new wall seems.

For those who have lived their whole life in a border town like EL Paso, a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico is already part of their daily life. People cross the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez every single day, and sometime multiple times a day, for work, shopping and school.

Diane Huerta, 29, is one of those people. She is a doctoral student of public health at the University of Houston but housed in El Paso. Like many, she was born and raised here. She said through gritted teeth the frustration at building a border wall.

“I understand the need for border security. I don’t think a wall is the best place to put funding into. I think there are better areas as far as border patrol training, amping up those types of services rather than building a wall, fence, whatever the debate is,” Huerta said.

Jose Manuel Flores, 39, and Liz Escobedo, 35, are married and cross the border constantly for work and school. They’re both doctoral students at the University of Texas at El Paso. They explain how not only would a wall be a misplacement of funds but how this type of barrier would disrupt the culture of their home, which is a mix of Juarez and El Paso.

Flores remembers the time when he was a child and crossing would be more casual, sometimes involving conversations with agents they encountered. They were “kinder,” he said, and “would talk with you even if there were long lines.”

“[The border wall] is a controversial topic. I remember when my grandmother said she use to cross without a visa,” Flores said. “There is no need for a wall.”

Escobedo explained that to live on the border means something different than living elsewhere. “To be fronterizo, borderlander, that concept implies a lot because your culture is very different from that of the rest of your country. It’s coming and going between the border, between two cities, and two countries. It is where language, culture, events, traditions, families and friends mix.”

The post El Paso to Trump: We Already Have a Wall appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Inside the Industry – Artist Manager and A&R Xtina Prince

January 10, 2019 - 3:45pm

Behind every great artist is a team of people who help make dreams come true. It’s fun to daydream about having the fancy cars and flashy jewelry that the entertainment industry flaunts, but it’s important to understand what it takes to get there. In our new series, Inside the Industry, we go behind the scenes and talk to entertainment-business vets about their experience in their respective fields.

In our first profile, I interview A&R and artist manager Xtina Prince. Today, Xtina manages Duckwrth, while also working as a full-time A&R for Republic Records. She talks about her daily responsibilities, the specifics that go into managing and A&Ring, and various difficulties she’s had to overcome. These jobs aren’t for the faint of heart. While Xtina is completely transparent about the fact that it’s not easy being a manager/A&R, she also shares what she loves most and what keeps her motivated on the job.

MM: Can you summarize the main aspects of your role as a manager? What about as an A&R representative for a label?

XP: The main aspects of my role as a manager are to keep everything together. The number one component/priority is managing — the artist, the people around the artist, the different and various relationships that it takes to make the artist’s career move forward, and managing myself. My life isn’t just managing, or just A&Ring, it’s about balancing everything.

Then I would say opportunity — finding and meeting different people, relationship building, networking, talking about the artist and roster and different people to work with. It generates opportunity. Artist development is a very, very important part of management, probably the most important. Making sure the artist is moving from step 1 to 2 to 3 and that their career, creatively, professionally, financially, is progressing.

I don’t know if A&R and management are all that different. You’re almost pulled into a management capacity in A&R, if you really care about what happens to the artist and the artist’s success at a record label. So I would say the main components of being a manager are pretty much the same components of being in A&R. The larger component of my role in A&R is a campaign manager; my job is to make sure everyone in the building thinks this artist is hot, and they are the future, and everyone prioritizes this artist to the best of their ability. I have to make sure everybody likes me so they’ll like the artists I’m bringing to the table. It really is, aside from listening to records and booking studio time, about championing for your artist and making sure they have everything they need.

MM: How did you get into management and how did you wind up managing Duckwrth?

XP:At some point, I just decided I didn’t want to be an artist seriously (I was an artist). I started to really enjoy helping and seeing words on paper turn into a song. I’m huge into research so I love looking into new tools like marketing tools, and I would use them to help artists get on DatPiff, and you know I would just research. I was a geek about music stuff and I loved it so much it was easy to help people. And that gave me a natural desire to manage people.

For Duckwrth, I was asked to look for music for The Weeknd and as I was looking, I found a video of Duckwrth’s, and it was grainy, not great quality but it was so sick and I was like “Who is this kid, I love this!” I found a song called “Hoverboard” — I thought, let me just reach out and see if I can help. So I reached out and he told me he had a manager, so I said well if you need any help here’s my number, just reach out. One day he reached out; he said he needed help putting out a song, and I said cool, I’ll help you. I helped him find a blog premier and get the word out to different people about who he was. We talked on the phone a lot but never met. I wasn’t really managing him at the time, I was just kinda helping him, then by like the third year I said “Dude, you can be so much further than you are right now, how about I buy you a ticket to NY, and if you like me, and we like each other, then we’re good…we work, we make it happen.” So he came, and was supposed to stay for a few weeks and [then] he ended up staying with me for 2 years.

Duckwrth’s latest music video “Soprano” MM: What have you learned from previous mistakes made on the job, if any?

XP: The biggest thing that I learned is business first. Because when you’re managing an artist that doesn’t have anything, that no one knows or cares about, it’s a lot of your own energy that goes into that and the only motivation you have is that you believe in that artist and their music; there’s literally nothing else. So you have to really know for sure that this is what you want to do because there is a lot of giving before you get anything. With that said, the mistake I made [when I was managing one of my first artists] was I was a little naive. I thought — I’m going to give everything; this person is going mess with me and that means this person is going to be loyal because they know I put the energy in, and they’ll at least tell the world how dope I am. Because while they’re laying in their bed at 12 o’clock…I’ve been up since 8 begging and pleading for people to listen to their music. But then you find out when people want to be successful, they will walk over you for that. My mistake was I should have gotten the paperwork. So I learned very quickly to give a little, but just enough to see if there’s a relationship to be had. Just don’t give everything right away — and that’s a mistake I won’t make again.

Second is attention to detail. I was young and overlooked something. I had a band that I booked flights for, and I didn’t pay attention to baggage fees and they had to pay $2,500 in baggage fees! I felt so horrible. They called me and I didn’t know what to do so I told them I would give them my next paycheck. They said no, but I felt it would haunt me for life because I could’ve just read that baggage policy! So I gave them my paycheck.

MM: How do you go about finding opportunities for Duckwrth?

XP: I talk to a lot of different people — I’m always talking about him. I could be in a room for something that doesn’t have anything to do with him and I’ll talk about him. Just talk about him. I don’t go out and seek opportunities in that way but what I do is find him resources like places to record, producers, to work with, brands to work with, I just find him things to keep him in a position to do what he’s doing. I told him I was going to make him successful and so we had to figure out what was successful for him and what was successful for me.

MM: Duckwrth just finished his headlining world tour, what was the process for setting that up?

XP: He has a booking agent and we have done so many tour runs where he was an opening act (Anderson .Paak, Rich Chigga). He wanted his own headlining tour and we felt like it was time. So we reached out to his booking agent and they began setting it up. We have a small team, but it’s a dope team. Kyle was the coordinator for the booking agent for Anderson .Paak when Anderson .Paak wanted Duckwrth to open. So when it comes to artist development on the touring side? Kyle, his booking agent, did that. He was out there telling people he was the future and he was hollering Duck’s name wherever he could and that helped lead us here.

MM: Working in A&R, what resources do you usually use to scout new talent to sign?

XP: Word of mouth is the first resource. Somebody coming to me and telling me about something they think is cool. I usually stumble on artists as a result of listening to music that I like. I don’t spend time listening to what’s poppin’ right now — if I don’t like it, I don’t listen to it. I still enjoy listening to music so if I hear something really cool, if it’s an artist on Spotify, I’ll follow that artist or I’ll save that album. Spotify will suggest something else to me that no one’s ever heard of that sounds like what I was just listening to and so I’ll start looking more to find out who this person is. Interestingly enough though, most things came to me. I didn’t find SZA, she was brought to me. A lot of people who know me, know what to bring me, and [know] that they probably can’t bring it anywhere else. It’s a lot of energy. People think that being in A&R is easy — it’s not easy. You have to constantly prove you’re making the right decisions. You’re under the microscope, so at least when you’re getting up fighting every day, make sure you’re passionate about it. Even if the research doesn’t match, if I’m passionate about it then I will do the work and eventually, the research will match. Knowing the research and statistics can show me what’s missing and, [that] can be good tools to pay attention to, but shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

MM: What was the best piece of advice given to you when you first got into the music industry and how has it shaped you?

XP: The best piece of advice given to me was you feel like “You push and push and push, and then one day you feel yourself finally being pulled and it’s the greatest feeling in the world.” How has that shaped me? I be pushinnnn, I be pushing my a** off, pushing! And sometimes I feel a little pull, and I’m like alright cool, at least I’m not pushing for nothing. Its work, you’re not walking into Candyland. Working with people like Mary J. Blige, and Diddy made me feel like it’s just a good time. I don’t think about it like it is real work work, it’s my life.

MM: Any words of wisdom or advice you would give an up-and-coming manager or someone starting out in A&R?

XP:The first word of wisdom, be an assistant. Know what it’s like to support someone on a good day, on a bad day. When you have to wake up every day when you feel like shit and still be responsible for someone else, you learn a lot about yourself and you learn a lot about where you need to go. It requires a lot of self-discipline. People who have never been in that subordinate position don’t make great leaders.

Another word of wisdom I would say — be passionate. Don’t ever lose passion. If you lose the passion you might as well do something else. If you’re going to do this, be passionate, do it because you love it and want to be a part of music history. We are the people who are going to shape what people listen to. If it gets to a place where it’s just about the money, or about the Instagram posts, or the ones who want to be more popular than the artists, it does a disservice to the music. Be part of the solution by being passionate.

The post Inside the Industry – Artist Manager and A&R Xtina Prince appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Headbands and Hair Loss: A Young Woman’s Alopecia Story

January 10, 2019 - 11:23am

According to the instructions on the Rogaine bottle, you’re supposed to fill the syringe to the marked 1 mL line. Despite my painstaking application, the liquid always runs down my face.

“If you’re not careful, hair could grow in accidental places,” the doctor warned. Now I wipe up rogue drips and fear I’ll soon grow whiskers. (My grandma, speaking from experience, tells me it’s going to happen eventually, with or without the Rogaine.)

I always attributed my widening hair part to being a stressed-out teenager. It’s temporary, I told myself, a response to the onset of puberty or the pressure I put myself under to succeed in school.

Then, six months ago, fresh out of college, I learned it was really alopecia, an autoimmune disorder characterized by hair loss. There’s no cure.

Alopecia can lead to hair loss in patches. (Illustration: Desmond Meagley)

My hair loss wasn’t overnight — actually, anything but: protracted, confusing, confidence wrecking. I can’t pinpoint the origin, but it’s been a long time.

In a childhood photo from a 2007 family trip to the Middle East, I’m rocking a mane of curls and a carefree pose in a snug orange top and flowy denim skirt. Now my ringlets are wispy and cling to my scalp, as if unsure of themselves, and my posture seems stubbornly hunched.

To conceal my sparsest patches of hair, I started wearing headbands in my early teenage years. A floral one with eye-catching pinks, peaches and yellows quickly became one of my most indispensable possessions.

I wore it every day, ignoring how it clashed with almost everything in my colorful, very paisley closet. Nice strangers showered it with compliments. Meanwhile my sister could hardly stand the thing. Then, very suspiciously, it went poof one day.

Over time, my collection of headbands grew. Most came from Palestine, where my roots are, and featured traditional Palestinian embroidery. One with hand-sewn red flowers on it — a gift from my grandma — soon replaced the lost headband as my new favorite.

Then I fell asleep on a flight and woke up to discover in a panic that it had vanished. “Headband?” a bewildered stewardess repeated after I, on the edge of tears, breathlessly described my missing valuable.

It never turned up. I imagine an admiring fellow passenger, on her way to the toilet, swiped it off my head. More likely, it fell off and landed at the feet of someone who felt lucky and brought it home.

Outside of family, only close friends, my hairdresser and a handful of doctors knew the real reason for my headband obsession. Everyone else probably assumed it was all in the name of fashion.

Hanan wears a headband. (Illustration: Desmond Meagley)

This past summer, a 6-year-old cousin wondered why I always wore “that” on my head. From the next room, my aunt called out “Serein!”, classically embarrassed by her child’s uninhibited curiosity.

I showed Serein my fine spots and explained that they made me feel bad and that I was more comfortable covering them. When my words registered, her face telegraphed sympathy: “You’re still beautiful, Hanan.”

But that’s not how I feel, watching in helpless despair as clumps of my hair gather in the shower, on my pillow, in the bristles of my hairbrush. With each strand I lose it’s like a part of me dies. And in the future, as the state of my hair worsens, I’m worried headbands will no longer serve me.

“How will you cope then?” I sometimes ask myself. “Transition to bandanas? Get a decent wig? Find a way to embrace being bald?”These wrenching questions cloud many restless nights.

I used to count the number of strands I lost each day (yes, really), to see how I fared compared to the healthy rate of roughly 100. I’ve since stopped the futile tracking, surrendering to the reality that the degree of my hair loss doubtless exceeds what’s normal.

When I start feeling sorry for myself, a disembodied voice chides me: “Stop being ungrateful. It could be way worse. Your hair loss could’ve been a side effect of chemotherapy.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m relieved a serious illness isn’t the culprit in my hair loss. I know I lucked out in the health jackpot — and I’m beyond thankful for that. But it still hurts to say goodbye to a feature so central to my appearance.

When I’m older and wiser, maybe I’ll reach a point of dignified acceptance about it. I’ve got a ways to go.

Gloria, a 90-something friend I met as a volunteer at a New Orleans-based nursing home, understands. A fellow alopecia sufferer, she kept her precious strands wrapped in a shrinking bun until her hair was too stringy to tie back, leaving her with little choice but to transition to wigs in middle age. Tragically, her sense of self-worth continues to suffer all these decades later.

I feel less alone in my struggle knowing Gloria. But the thought that hair loss could be a lifelong torment, like it’s been for her, terrifies me. 

Recently I moved to Jordan to teach English and sharpen my Arabic. My female students don’t twirl their locks mindlessly like I used to in school. The majority of them cover with a hijab. They look — they are — bright, motivated, beautiful. Hiding under a hijab in Amman has been tempting at times, but I’ve decided not to out of respect for what it means to wear one with the right intentions.

For now, I carefully apply Rogaine twice a day. I take vitamins, use a microfiber towel, sleep on a satin pillowcase, gently massage my scalp. My sister keeps me accountable, double-checking through WhatsApp that I remembered my supplements, that I’m still kneading my scalp daily. I try to eat well, stress less. Still, the part in my hair keeps widening, my thin spots getting thinner.

Sometimes I challenge myself to go without a headband on, to prove to myself that I can. This after more than nine years of scarcely letting 24 hours pass without wearing one. I’m a lot more self-conscious on those days, feeling exposed and consequently withdrawn.

When I make it through them, I survey my reflection in the mirror —

And look for that self-assured girl with the wild mass of curls, the girl from the photo, the girl I used to be and perhaps still am.

The post Headbands and Hair Loss: A Young Woman’s Alopecia Story appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Opinion: A Borderlander Reacts to Trump’s Immigration Speech

January 9, 2019 - 4:42pm

On Tuesday, President Trump gave his first prime-time address from the Oval Office. Speaking for nearly 10 minutes, Trump explained why he thinks the United States needs a $5.7 billion barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border. Click here to watch the address or see a transcript of his remarks.

I watched President Trump’s speech on immigration from the comfort of my home in El Paso, Texas. I was born and raised in El Paso, and for those who may not be familiar with the area, there is already a mile-long fence that separates El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. Growing up in a border town, I couldn’t wait to hear what President Trump had to say in his firstever prime-time Oval Office address on Tuesday night.

The president used words like “illegal alien” and “savagely,” which seemed more like the description of another “Narcos” season. I couldn’t help but look out the window to try to find these people in the “crisis” he kept referring to. But instead, all I saw was the Franklin Mountains resting over the city.

Trump used fear as his tactic to advocate for a useless wall that we don’t need. He said, “All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal immigration,” and that border patrol agents experience “thousands of illegal immigrants” crossing the border on the daily.

But as someone who lives on the border and talks to friends who cross the border every day — and at times several times a day — from Juarez to El Paso for work and school, I know it’s far from dangerous.

Trump is pushing for a wall now only because he was arrogant and proud enough to promise a wall on the campaign trail in 2016. But the fact is that the president has the same issue that many in the United States do: lack of authentic representation of the border. The voices of people who live, work and go to school in these border towns are often missing from the conversation. 

For us borderlanders, the entire conversation about immigration and border security is at times confusing. We see people dealing with border patrol officers all the time. There is a wall already in place that divides two countries. It’s hard to understand what more President Trump wants to see at the border. Democrats and Republicans are arguing back and forth over what is best for us without even thinking to ask for our input.

It seems to me the president has been watching too many action movies, or perhaps he binged-watched Netflix for a bit too long.

A bigger border wall is not synonymous with border security. Border cities like El Paso remain among the safest in the country. The president is right about one thing: we have to come to a decision — for the sake of those coming to this country and for those who live here. 

The post Opinion: A Borderlander Reacts to Trump’s Immigration Speech appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Russia Tried to Suppress the Black Vote – the NAACP Has Had Enough

January 9, 2019 - 2:56pm

Every day it seems like there’s a new story about how Russian spies tried to influence President Donald Trump or his inner circle.

But Russian spies also targeted regular voters – including, specifically, African-American voters – using fake Facebook pages and accounts. Many of their messages and fake accounts tried to confuse and discourage African-Americans from voting.

These bombshell revelations about how Russians used Facebook to target people of color first came to light in December. Organizations like the NAACP and others are still trying to fully understand how this happened – and how to prevent it in 2020.

In response, the NAACP issued a call for a one-week boycott of Facebook and Instagram in December.

Marquise Hunt, president of the NAACP Mississippi Youth and College Division, spoke with YR Media to discuss the Russian propaganda tactics and how imperative it is that African-American voters are engaged and properly educated on the issues affecting their communities.

Hunt, 20, is an advocate for national, local and political issues that impact the African-American community.

Marquise Hunt, 20, is president of the NAACP Mississippi Youth and College Division. (Photo courtesy Marquis Hunt)

Nayo Campbell: Why do you think the Russians targeted African-Americans during the 2016 election?

Marquise Hunt: We find that African-Americans are the leading users of certain electronic devices and social media. Facebook is a commonly used app between many people, but we also know the role that African Americans have in actually utilizing these apps consistently and promoting the things that they have certain views on.

And I think that kind of drew some attention to making it easier for Russia to play a role in how they could really persuade African-Americans to think differently based upon where they were already educated within themselves.

NC: How will the NAACP Youth and College Division work to ensure young African-American voters are informed for future elections?

Hunt: For starters, the youth and college division has about 500 plus college and university chapters across the country. During this past midterm election, each college and university has done something that was specifically targeting their community, because they know their community best. We recognize that our voices have to first be heard on the local level before we try and reach to the top.

The goal is to make sure that we are actually engaging people, young people, not to just go out and vote because we want a high turnout, but we want people to really be engaged and find out what issues matter to them and their communities and how they can change the dynamic of their communities.

NC: How will the NAACP work to restore young African-Americans confidence in the electoral system?

Hunt: We have to really find out what issues matter most. And so I think that it all comes from education, but also exposure to other ways that people finally see how we can really fix the system that is in place. I think that we just have to keep the courage, keep the fight, and momentum going because I think that if we’re really dedicated about an issue, it won’t just die overnight. It’ll be something that will continue to fight for.

NC: How can young voters be educated on the negative influences of social media?

Hunt: We have to be able to educate one another about candidates versus what the media shows us. There have been so many negative ads and many people don’t know how to differentiate whether or not it’s true or a lie. Everyone loves to post photos and videos on social media, but if we don’t recognize that what we see is not always what is true, then we’ll always be made to believe that what we see is actually what it is.

NC: What should Facebook fix in order to prevent this from happening again?

Hunt: I think the first thing is to understand that privacy is important. The second is that there needs to be a filtering of ads. Facebook does provide the option to report an ad and say, “I don’t want to see this,” but just because I don’t see it, doesn’t mean someone else might not see it and be affected by it.

No matter if they’re black or white, these social media companies really should give users the privacy that they need and signed up for.

NC: Facebook has released a statement vowing to do more to protect its users. Do you think they responded correctly in regards to the urgency and importance of this [the NAACP] boycott?

Any time a group of people is engaged in something and they’re boycotting, it’s easy for an organization to release a statement that this is where they’re trying to do to fix the problem. But we want people to show us rather than just tell us that this is what they’re going to do.

Furthermore, they never really addressed the issue of African-Americans being the target, especially during the political season. There were a few statements here and there, but no one really addressed the real issue.

At some point, people are going to have to face reality and say that this is a race issue. We have to recognize that there are certain people who are being targeted for a specific reason and that we cannot allow that because it’s just wrong and it just shouldn’t be happening.

To see some of the Facebook content Russia created in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, visit this hub: https://medium.com/@ushadrons

To find out more about how Russia used social media to influence the 2016 presidential election, check out the links provided by the Senate Intelligence Committee in this press release.

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Categories: Blog