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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: 1 hour 4 min ago

Why We’re Stuck With Fake Game Ads: They Make Big Bucks

March 20, 2019 - 10:59am

If you’ve ever played a game on your phone — and really, who hasn’t — you’ve probably seen a fleet of ads. Ads in between rounds of a Match 3 game. Ads offered up as a way to unlock bonuses. Ads just hanging out at the bottom of the screen, getting in the way of your thumb.

The weirdest part: they tend to be ads for other games. Other games that will, in turn, show you ads for yet more games.

Things didn’t always used to be this way. Before games relied on the “freemium” model, people, you know, paid for them. But with even the most popular console and PC games — cough “Fortnite” cough — using a version of the freemium model, the days of paying up front for video games seem to be heading into the sunset.

That’s because the business model of games like “Fortnite” makes sense: people pay Epic Games directly for all the in-game stuff to customize their game, and the game is so popular that big brands — like Marvel — use the game as a marketing platform.

While every game maker wishes their latest release is the next “Fortnite”, the vast sea of games fall into the “Casual” and “Hyper-Casual” categories. (No, really. That’s what they are called in the business.) These are those often super-simple games that fill up Instagram feeds with their promotions if you so much as look at one of their ads too long. (Okay, not really. Maybe. Does anyone really understand algorithms?)

This chart of In-App-Ads vs. In-App-Purchases in Casual games shows a significant shift in the last year. (Source: Appsflyer)

According to a report by Appsflyer, more than half of the revenue of Casual games comes from in-game advertising. And which ads happen to be lucrative? Ads to get you to download other games. While a Casual game on Android might net an advertiser just $1.38, a Casino game on iOS can be worth over $4. That’s a lot of money for just one download, and that’s just in the United States. Advertisers make even more in a country like Japan.

So the game maker’s game plan is simple: make a game that looks fun to play and has enough breaks in the action to show you ads for other games. They also make money selling in-app purchases, which are structured to “help” you beat the game. For the Hyper-Casual and Casual games, ads are beating out in-app purchases. Which means it pays off in those games to just keep you playing and watching ads, even if you’re not buying anything.

Those who do spend money sometimes end up spending ridiculous amounts. 

Of course, with these incentives, mobile game makers sometimes play fast and loose with the ads for those games.

Dive into Reddit or any mobile-gaming forum of choice and you’ll find threads about how some ads are downright deceptive. You’ll see “gameplay” video that has nothing to do with the game itself.

A HomeScapes ad, captured by YouTuber JoshGunner. Compare to the actual gameplay video below.

Take the game “Homescapes,” which has an ad that makes the game look like a breezy home handyman game, often labeled with a banner that says something like “why is this game so hard”, even though it looks brain-numbingly easy. Yet that isn’t the game at all. “Homescapes” is a — rather successful — Match 3 game with a story progression.

An actual gameplay video, made by MobileGamesDaily

This gameplay ad situation has been around for years, with even ads on the Super Bowl — excuse, us — the Big Game, being called out for showing footage that looked nothing like the real game. Yet nothing happens.

Nothing happens because people keep downloading games from game ads, and just enough people keep paying for in-game purchases to make it worthwhile for game makers to keep advertising. That some games are making more money on ads than purchases could mean the market is cannibalizing itself… but there are other categories of games where purchases still have the upper hand. And, of course, games at the top of the food chain that are more “ways of life” than they are pastimes — like “Fortnite,” which has its own mobile version.

The odds of platform holders doing anything about fake ads are pretty low, as they have an economic incentive — a cut of the profits — when players do finally make a purchase. So if you want to stop seeing all these fake ads: you’re going to have to stop clicking on them.

The post Why We’re Stuck With Fake Game Ads: They Make Big Bucks appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Elujay Showcases Self-Reflection with “Adojio”

March 19, 2019 - 3:37pm

We all love an artist that can pour their heart and soul into their music. We also love an artist that can transcend music and make you feel what they’re feeling. What’s great about Elujay is that he effortlessly does both. He’s a rare find in today’s music landscape, which is filled with artists looking for quick fame and mass popularity. As I listened to Elujay’s discography, I could tell that music wasn’t just a promising profession to him, but instead an honest dream read out loud for us to experience. When someone’s craft is that ingrained into their essence, a genuine artist is born.

His most recent project, “Adojio,” give us access to Elujay’s own self-reflection, as well as his sincere experiences with life and love. I had the chance to sit down with him and discuss what personal perception looks like and what music means to him.  

SC: What did your creative journey first look like? How did it begin to transform into making music?

E: Since I was a child, I’ve always been very creative. Whether it was painting or making movies — like little shorts on a VHS camera with my friends and uploading it to YouTube. And then I got this beat making program from my friend. I don’t know, I’ve always been inspired to make music because I listen to a lot of music, I listen to a lot of different genres. And then it just kind of transpired into making and producing music, and creating something from nothing.

SC: So you say you listen to all different genres. Do you think you have one that impacted you the most?

E: Probably neo-soul and hip-hop. It’s like a mixture of both.

SC: You frequently talk about making and supporting music that is honest. What makes a song honest?

E: I think it’s a direct reflection of the way a person perceives life, or their dreams or reality. I really don’t think that it has to be like, “what I ate yesterday was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich so I’m gonna write about eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Like it can just be whatever. If you have a dream about something and you see yourself in a different light or you had this epiphany about something, that’s your perception and no one can tell you that it’s wrong.

SC: How do you channel your own truth into your music?

E: Well my intention is purely genuine. I don’t want to make it for any type of monetary amount or to please anybody. It’s just like, I’m making it for myself. I find the meaning in things that I can place replay value on.

SC: Although you’re a hip-hop artist, I noticed you incorporate soul into your songs and it comes off quite organic. Was that a natural path for you?

E: It was natural because that’s just what my family played all the time around me. So it’s kind of hard to shake Stevie Wonder off, and Earth, Wind & Fire and stuff like that, out of my bones. Like this was the stuff I kind of grew up on.

SC: What is your process for creating a song?

E: My process for creating a song starts with a chord progression and then a melody. It’s usually very minimal stuff, maybe some drums and a chord progression. And then a melody just kind of comes together. I just get other people to come in to help me with the other instrumentation. Whether it needs more guitar, more piano… stuff I can’t really figure out on my own. I do like to collaborate with a lot of musicians. Musicians are like the golden piece in a lot of my music. It’s just like the very backbone of the songs and how they’re created. Because I’ll usually scratch stuff from the initial chord progression and I’ll have somebody expand on it or take it in a different direction.

SC: Does an idea for a song or a melody have to come naturally to you or do you try to sit down like, “Okay, I’m gonna write a song and it’s gonna be about this.”

E: I kind of just let it happen. If I think of an idea, I’ll just kind of lay it down and it’ll just happen.

SC: When making a song, is there ever a particular feeling that you’re seeking to emote?

E: Like a feel good type of feeling.  I just want to make people feel good about themselves. Whether you’re cruising in the whip and you wanna turn on some jams to make you just get a little more in the mood, or smile a bit. That’s what I’m all about.

SC: How does your new album, “Adojio,” differ from your previous project “Jentrify?”

E: This album has a lot more singing on it. I guess there’s more jazzy production — there’s a lot more harmonizing. It’s really good compared to “Jentrify.” I really think it was a level up for me. All the records have a story behind them so I think that’s pretty cool.

SC: Is there an observable evolution listeners can notice?

E: Yeah. I mean, it all comes down to their perception. They can see it as evolving or demoting. I think a lot of people will see it as an evolution though, because it’s more cohesive, and I feel like I’m more confident in my voice.

SC: What inspired the project? Is there a meaning behind the name?

E: What inspired the project was a lot of Frank Ocean, Cosmo Pyke, The Internet, Björk — they all were a  big influence on that. Stevie Wonder, Pharrell, any R&B… those are like the main influences. The meaning behind the album name is it translates to slow-tempo in Italian. But it’s spelled differently — it has a “J” instead of a “G.” It also has another meaning, like a slow progression. To me it represents a slow progression to our goals, but like done successfully and actively.

SC: Your song “Blu” touches upon contemplating love. What was the inspiration behind that song?

E: I started writing it and it just kind of wrote itself. There wasn’t really a lot of thinking behind it. I was thinking about how it would feel hearing a perspective of loving someone but not knowing if you really love them. That was the initial feeling it gave me.

SC: You’re an Oakland native. How has the Bay Area shaped your artistry?

E: It gave me a sense of wisdom. I got to see all walks of life, be inspired by different people that I’d see in the street. Being in such a diverse place can give you that feeling.

SC: What do you hope people take away from your music?

E: I hope that people can feel good about themselves and be like, “You know, this guy makes some cool tunes.” But I don’t really want to dwell on what people should take away from it, I just feel like they should live with the music. I don’t really think too deeply about it.

SC: What is one piece of  advice you would give to new artists?

E: Just keep your time in the music and don’t let too many people in on your ideas, unless they’re helpful or creative. It can be very troublesome when you have people who are aren’t necessarily involved in seeing your music grow, but they just want to be a part of the moment. I think the best thing you can do is just make the best art possible and don’t worry about the outcome.

The post Elujay Showcases Self-Reflection with “Adojio” appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Opinion: We’re Finally Talking About Wealth and Legacy

March 19, 2019 - 11:23am

When I first arrived at Harvard three and a half years ago, I was surprised by the sheer wealth of my peers and the unexpected number of legacy students I met. During the first week of my freshman year, my roommate bought a flat-screen TV for the common room and a $300 gaming chair. He barely used both. A friend from class casually mentioned to me that both of his parents had also attended Harvard. I later learned his older sister graduated five years ago and his twin brother was currently attending with him.

Harvard was a foreign world for me. As Korean immigrants settled in a Texas suburb, my parents had idolized the Ivy League as the ultimate realization of their American dream, so I learned to think the same. To achieve this dream, my parents labored at their small doughnut shop and during the summers, I followed my dad to his second job cleaning a local recreation center. I was lucky to have attended a well-resourced public high school folded within a middle-class suburb, and to be born into a stable-income family.

Regardless, for a college that touts its diversity, I was shocked that so many of my classmates came from rich, well-connected families and were part of a legacy in institutions like Harvard. Meeting peers whose parents were professors at elite colleges, doctors with Wikipedia pages, or leaders of multi-million dollar companies reminded me of my working-class roots.

Over the last few years, Harvard has been embroiled in a contentious affirmative action lawsuit which remains unsettled. The school has been under investigation for its alleged discrimination against Asian-American applicants. Meanwhile, the clear advantages which favor wealthy students and white legacies remain unquestioned.

The recent college admissions scandal revealed the extent to which parents and prospective students will cheat the admissions system for entrance into an elite university. Thirty-three parents were charged after bribing their children into colleges like Stanford, Yale, and Georgetown.

From my time at Harvard, I was not surprised. Wealthy families have long manipulated college admissions in ways that are equally dubious but within the bounds of law. They pay exorbitant fees for college consultants, or have personal statements written by outside companies. It is not unimaginable to consider the ubiquity of these practices. After all, the median income of a Harvard student triples the national average, according to Harvard’s student newspaper The Crimson.

This elitist, easily-rigged college admissions process produces a predominantly wealthy and white campus: 42% of white students from Harvard’s class of 2021 come from families making over $250,000 per year. Not to mention, applicants who benefit from Harvard’s legacy preferences, which favor white and wealthy applicants, are five times more likely to get admitted compared to non-legacy students.

My black and brown peers fend off derisive comments accusing them that their acceptances into Harvard were contingent on their race, having stolen spots from more “qualified” applicants. Yet, they have time and again demonstrated excellence despite severely underfunded schools for black and Latinx students and other institutional barriers which have limited opportunities for people of color. White families, on the other hand, are literally buying their way into college and perpetuating the cesspool of white mediocrity at elite institutions. Truly, who is stealing spots away from “deserving” applicants?

Over the past year, I have struggled with the conversations sparked by the Students for Fair Admissions lawsuit against Harvard. A friend of the plaintiff, Michael Wang, has been outspoken about the discrimination he had felt as an Asian-American college applicant. While he now claims he does not want affirmative action abolished, Mr. Wang remains complicit in bolstering a toxic narrative which argues that a race-neutral admissions process is the only solution to achieving educational equity for Asian-Americans.

But I contend that affirmative action has not harmed me. When I applied to Harvard, I wrote a personal essay about my Korean heritage and its intersection with queerness. My identity as a Korean-American overlaps with all aspects of my life and it felt disingenuous to write solely about my sexuality. Affirmative action allowed me to present an application that felt true to my identities beyond just one facet, acknowledging the role my Korean identity played in my experiences.

For this exact reason, we need an admissions policy that can reckon with how race plays a role in all aspects of our lives and the opportunities laid out for us. Wealth and legacy created a system meant to exclude people of color and working-class and low-income families. The college scandal has made that clear. Affirmative action seeks to deconstruct this system into one that is more equitable.  

The Students for Fair Admissions lawsuit denies the sociopolitical, racial, and economic bonds that connect Asian-Americans with all communities of color. The lawsuit threatens to decrease educational gaps for black, Latinx, Native American and yes — even Asian-American — students.

Meanwhile, the real source of inequitable college admission processes has been bitterly exposed for a whole nation to behold, one that has been festering underneath a facade of meritocracy for decades.  In light of the attacks on affirmative action, surely the irony rings clear: wealthy parents are literally buying their children into college in both legal and illegal ways.

And yet, for all of their arguments about fairness and equity, Students for For Fair Admissions and other critics of affirmative action are strangely silent. Where is their anger now?

The post Opinion: We’re Finally Talking About Wealth and Legacy appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Bay Word of the Day: On My Mama

March 18, 2019 - 6:00pm
BAY WORD OF THE DAY, STARRING MONEY MAKA, IS A VIDEO SERIES BREAKING DOWN BAY AREA SLANG.

The post Bay Word of the Day: On My Mama appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Opinion: The New Zealand Massacre and Everyday Islamophobia

March 18, 2019 - 5:38pm

When I learned of last week’s attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, it struck me that the gunman chose a Friday. For Muslims around the world, Friday is the best day of the week because it’s the most blessed day of the week. Friday is when Jummah occurs: 30 minutes of meditation, free from your phone and surrounded by community. I grew up going to an Islamic school that had Jummah every Friday, and now that I’m in college, I miss it.

Jummah prayer is when a mosque is the most packed. So I have to believe this terrorist knew what he was doing when he chose a Friday for his massacre.

Like other Muslims I’ve spoken to since the terrorist attack, my immediate reaction was fear and disgust. I called one of my friends to check up on her, and she said the scary part is that this can happen at any mosque because all mosques are the same. They are open to anybody and everybody. So we are afraid. But no, we are not shocked. Because we know that extreme moments of terror are an extension of the everyday Islamophobia Muslims worldwide experience. We know that this is what Islamophobia can do.

The “thoughts and prayers” that are being sent to Muslim communities are a kind gesture, but they aren’t enough. Instead, you can offer your outrage. And not just after 50 of my fellow Muslims, who had full lives to look forward to, are killed, but all the time. Stop waiting until our lives are taken.

Be action-oriented when you see Islamophobia used as entertainment.

I think we can all agree that shows like “24” or “Elite” using Muslim people as their go-to bad guy or oppressed woman can create distorted views of Islam. But even seemingly benign moments, like Cardi B’s music video for “Bodak Yellow,” are othering and harmful. You can still love Cardi B and condemn that type of work. You can even love Disney and call them out for “Aladdin.”

Call out leaders who create policies that promote Islamophobia.

When politicians and commentators call for Muslims to be surveilled or proclaim that Islam promotes extremism, they dehumanize billions of people, and we are seeing the consequences. As Australian broadcaster Waleed Aly noted in his moving address following the attack in Christchurch, many of the same politicians sending thoughts and prayers have promoted anti-Muslim rhetoric sometime within their careers.

The same politicians that have made a career out of Islamophobia are the ones sending condolences today.

— Mustafa (@droop206) March 16, 2019

In the U.S., President Trump offered condolences after the attack, but in reference to immigrants he also used the exact same word as the gunman. “Today the terrorist has quoted the most powerful man in the world: President Trump,” stated the leader of the Council on American–Islamic Relations Nihad Awad. Perhaps it is a call for reflection when a white extremist’s source of inspiration comes from the President of the United States. And just a few weeks ago in America, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar received death threats and was blamed for 9/11 due to her faith. Where was the outrage then? 

'Mr. Trump, your words matter. Your policies matter.' — The leader of Muslim American organization @CAIRNational says hate speech from world leaders is directly related to Islamophobic attacks like in New Zealand pic.twitter.com/tqrItM2eJR

— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 16, 2019 Make a point to eliminate Islamophobia in our everyday lives.  

Instead of praying for Muslims, report that Islamophobic tweet you scrolled past. Call out your family members or coworkers for making anti-Muslim jokes or pressuring Muslims to do something that goes against their faith. When you hear about a school principal who advises parents not to have their kids fast for Ramadan, your response should be just as outraged as if Christian parents were told their kids couldn’t pray before lunch in the cafeteria. 

And even if you can’t think of a specific action, you can just be mad. We must not be complacent with hate if we want to create change.

The Friday after the attack, I went to prayer. Jummah is one of the only moments Muslims like me don’t feel like the other. And yet all I could think about was that my mosque could be next. All our doors are open.

I get that it makes people uncomfortable to speak up about things like this. But you should not be comfortable in the face of my discrimination.

The lives we lost last week will always be in our hearts. We will always attend Jummah to honor their lives, but just as the mosque open for all, it’s time for society to be open to us.

There's a Muslim BAN currently in effect in THIS country. Everyone here can shove their "thoughts and prayers"

— Prison Culture Returns (@prisonculture) March 15, 2019

The post Opinion: The New Zealand Massacre and Everyday Islamophobia appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Have What It Takes to Be a U.S. Citizen? Take Our Quiz

March 18, 2019 - 11:12am

With all eyes on U.S. borders and immigration debates polarizing the nation, a new study shows that most Americans lack basic knowledge of U.S. history. Earlier this year, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation gave 41,000 Americans a U.S. history exam. In only one state, Vermont, did the majority of residents even pass.

We expect immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship to study up on 100 civics questions, but do you even know the answers? Are these even the right questions? Tweet us @itsYRmedia with different questions you’d want on the test. In the meantime, see how you do on our quiz, which draws from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ naturalization test.

Photos by: Unsplash, Wikimedia Commons and Library of Congress.

The post Have What It Takes to Be a U.S. Citizen? Take Our Quiz appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

I Turned to Self-Help Books to Deal with My Depression

March 17, 2019 - 8:00am

This past year, I noticed a big increase in my self-confidence. And I owe a lot of that to the books I read.

When my doctor told me I had depressive symptoms, she recommended that I see a therapist. The few times I talked about my depression to family and friends made me uncomfortable. So the thought of bringing up my deepest, darkest thoughts to a stranger terrified me.

I tried to find an alternative solution. It started with a spontaneous trip to the library where I picked out a few self-help books with appealing covers. I wasn’t expecting much.

But, to my surprise, I learned a new strategy to cope with my depression from each book, and saw my mental health significantly improve. These tips were simple, like taking breaks from social media or writing down three things that made me happy daily.

Self-help books became my silent therapist. There were no fears of judgment — just meaningful advice. Seeing a therapist is an important option for many people, and I haven’t written it off. But for the time being, self-help books have been transformative for me as a way to better my mental health.

The post I Turned to Self-Help Books to Deal with My Depression appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Playlist: LA Sun

March 15, 2019 - 4:16pm

It’s a little cliché but after spending the last month of my trip to New York getting rained on/freezing to death in 30-degree weather, I think I deserve a chance to say, “Thank the lord,” for the Los Angeles sun. Here’s a collection of some good-feeling music to enjoy on a sunny day.

Mick Jenkins – Gwendolynn’s Apprehension

This new Mick Jenkins album is so ridiculously good that I don’t think a day has passed where I’ve stopped slapping it.

Spote Breeze – Stubborn Optimist

This track was actually produced by a homie and I think the song title captures my recent vibes this month. S/O Spote Breeze.

Bakar – Dracula

Bakar threw me for a loop with this track when I first heard it but it definitely grew on me and it’s just a fun upbeat song!

LA Priest – Night Train

This track by LA Priest is smooth like a freshly shaved shin.

Little Dragon – Lover Chanting

This is definitely one of the greatest bands ever and they consistently release good music so bless up Little Dragon.

Larry June – Sausalito

There’s not many rappers that consistently make you smile with hilarious lyrics while keeping a tame, real vibe, but Larry June brings that to the table.

Anderson .Paak & Kendrick Lamar – Tints

Kendrick Lamar & Anderson .Paak on a track is a recipe for greatness and the song lived up to its lineup.

Kelela – Waitin (KAYTRANADA Remix)

Kelela is one of the most bomb artists to exist and then you mix that with one of the most bomb artists to ever exist ( KAYTRANADA ) and you get this masterpiece.

Melody’s Echo Chamber – You Won’t Be Missing That Part of Me

She’s dope and Kevin Parker actually helped produce the album so not much to not like here. Really psychedelic vibes.

Frank Ocean – Lost

I haven’t met one person who dislikes Frank Ocean because I think it’s actually physically impossible to not love him.

I hope this list brings you joy with some good songs to relax in the sun too, take care out there and always treat yourself right with productivity and rewarding goals.

The post Playlist: LA Sun appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Students Worldwide Skipped School to Fight Climate Change

March 15, 2019 - 8:00am

Students around the world stepped away from their desks and onto the streets Friday to protest lack of government action to fight climate change.

They demanded immediate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to reach devastating levels by the year 2040. United Nations scientists predict widespread disaster including floods, droughts, wildfires and food shortages, according to a 2018 report.

Forty-two percent of the world population is under the age of 25.

“Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope,” activist Greta Thunberg told world leaders in Davos. “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel, everyday. And then I want you to act.”

The 16-year-old Swedish student has been skipping school every Friday to protest outside of her parliament. On Thursday, Thunberg was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Inspired by Thunberg’s actions, international student strikes have been ongoing since August 2018, tagged #FridaysforFuture. While some school administrators and politicians have called for students to be punished, the strikes prevail — and grow.

Friday’s #ClimateStrike included participants from well over 100 countries, making it one of the biggest environmental protests in history.

The demands of the strikers varied depending on where they were organizing around the world, but included aggressive cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, a halt in fossil fuel infrastructure projects and 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. In some places, lowering the voting age was also on the list.

In the United States, over 100 strikes were planned thanks to the organizing efforts of Alexandria Villasenor, 13, Haven Coleman, 12, and Isra Hirsi, 16, — three activists who have staged sit-ins, fundraised online and launched the Youth Climate Strike US (YCSUS).

“We don’t have enough time to wait until we’re in positions of power,” Villasenor said in Elle. “We have to force the world leaders right now to start taking action.”

Find a map of U.S. strikes on the YCSUS site. International strikes are here.

The post Students Worldwide Skipped School to Fight Climate Change appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

After Historic Election, School Official Takes on District Dogged by Sexual Misconduct

March 14, 2019 - 9:00pm

Gwinnett County School board member Everton Blair is calling for a review of student discipline policies in response to YR Media’s year-long investigation into his metro-Atlanta school district’s handling of K-12 student sexual misconduct.

Gwinnett County Public Schools is a microcosm of the nation, as schools set out to balance the rights of sexual harassment victims with growing concerns about criminalizing children and disproportionately punishing black and brown boys. If they get the balance wrong, districts face federal investigation by the Office of Civil Rights.  

Blair, who was elected at 26, is the youngest and first black board member of Gwinnett County Public Schools, one of the most diverse counties in the southeast. He ran for office as a current educator and a former student of Gwinnett. YR Media spoke with Blair about his historic win and the changes he intends to make.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Shawn Wen: Data shows that Gwinnett is disciplining students for sexual misconduct at twice the rate of Cobb County [the second-largest district in Georgia], with one boy who is as young as 5 years old being suspended for it. What do you make of such a high rate?

Metro-Atlanta School Districts: Total Sex-related Offenses per 1,000 students

2016-2017 School Year

SOURCE: Georgia Department of Education

Everton Blair: I think all of our student disciplining needs to be addressed. And when I see reports about a higher incidence of discipline in certain counties versus others, my first thought is, how [do] we respond, what interventions we’re putting in place, or what preventative measures [do] we have? I do think that we have to figure out whether [there’s] a failure to adequately educate our students on what appropriate sexual behavior is.

SW: Our reporting also found that black boys were disproportionately disciplined for sexual misconduct. What did you make of this disparity and what is the district going to do to address it?

Metro-Atlanta Students Disciplined for Sex-Related Offenses:Broken down by Race and Ethnicity

2016-2017 School Year

SOURCE: Georgia Department of Education

EB: I don’t know. I think we have to take a deeper look at that. We really try to deepen our engagement with mentors, and with teachers, and staff in the building to make sure that our students, or especially our black boys, feel like they have a role model and an advocate in our buildings. So they’re not lashing out or acting out in a way that’s irresponsible or not conducive to the learning environment. I take that on as a personal matter, as a black male educator, because I do want our black boys to be supported.

SW: What sort of conversations have you had about sexual harassment or sexual assault in schools?

EB: I haven’t had very many. But I have heard of very specific instances at previous board meetings, before I was serving in an official capacity, where students were commenting on the failure of our sexual education. Some victims of sexual violence have commented on our failure to really serve our students well. They did not receive an education that prevented some of the behavior from happening.

I think we can do more, really stressing consent: the definition of consent, as well as what affirmative consent means, so that people are much more safe, especially when they leave our K-12 environments and go on to college and career.

SW: What’s the board doing in response to that feedback?

EB: I think I am the person who is the most vocal around the need to look at our sex education curriculum and make a change. I can’t comment for other people.

SW: Do you face resistance from other board members?

EB: When I bring it up, people tend to agree around the need to have conversations about consent. We have to either supplement to our current curriculum or [find] a replacement of it altogether. And I think that I’m optimistic that we’ll find some traction in the coming months around it.

SW: Some of these larger issues we’re discussing — sexual misconduct, racially disproportionate punishment, the very limited sex ed — did you recognize these while you were a student?

EB: Definitely as it related to the sex ed curriculum. Abstinence-only sex ed is just not going to cover the full arsenal of what kids need to know in order to make responsible decisions. At that point, there was still that ridiculous chewing gum analogy that was shared in my middle or high school. [Ed. note: A popular analogy in many abstinence-only curricula compares losing one’s virginity to becoming a chewed up piece of gum.]

SW: I’m curious if the school board has been receptive to your approach.

EB: They don’t have a choice.

SW: Right. You’re an elected official.

EB: Fortunately right. I’m from the community. When I speak, I try to speak with a level of authority limited to either my lived experience, or research. And so you can’t deny my lived experience as my lived experience. And you also can’t deny data is data.

SW: When I asked the superintendent about racially disproportionate punishment, he basically said, “We are punishing students in accordance to the misconduct committed.” I wonder if you have any response to his response?

[Ed. note: Gwinnett Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks wrote to YR Media, “Student discipline for misbehavior of any nature is administrated according to our discipline code and because of the act of misbehavior and not gender, race, or ethnicity.”] ‘

EB: No. I don’t have any response to what they’ve said.

When somebody says, almost as a justification, that “we’re applying the law equally across all groups,” or something along those lines, I’m thinking, if there are kids under our watch who need more, why are we not providing it? And if we’re able to also see a huge body of research that shows that kids across the board are committing some of the same offenses, but certain groups of kids are being disproportionately suspended or disciplined for the same behavior at a higher rate or more severely than others, then we need to address that.

And if that’s a conversation on unconscious bias, then we should have that. If that’s a conversation just around student intervention I think that should happen too and it should be student led. This is work that our kids would want to lead.

How does Gwinnett get to 1,087 students disciplined for sexual misconduct? Here’s a school-by-school breakdown of sex-related offenses Gwinnett County Public Schools in the 2016-2017 school year.

Source: pdf


The post After Historic Election, School Official Takes on District Dogged by Sexual Misconduct appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How to Not Be the Awkward Wallflower in the Studio

March 14, 2019 - 5:52pm

Recording studios are where musical magic is created — so of course, bringing the right vibes and energy into that space is key. It’s important you know how to move correctly to positively add to the creative environment. There are many unspoken rules which a lot of people think are just common sense, but truth is, most people are wet behind the ears. Paying attention to these nine tips on how to act in the studio will have you prepared for any upcoming recording session you may find yourself present at:

1. Say “What’s Up” and introduce yourself to EVERYBODY when you walk in the studio.

I cannot tell you how many times people have been passed up in the studio and they’re one of the most important people in the room. First impressions are everything, so don’t screw it up over something as little as an introduction… just shake everyone’s hand.

2. Be involved in the conversation! Don’t be that random person who doesn’t say a word!

Conversation is a part of the vibe. If you stay secluded or reserved, that can look bad on your part because it comes off as disinterested or unwilling to collaborate — and collaboration is what a studio session is all about. The studio is a creative space and collaboration is a big part of that. A word or sentence would be the bare minimum but the goal is to be open, get to know other creatives and gain connects that could potentially grow your network.

3. If you’re going to eat food, eat away from the mixing board and equipment — and make sure it doesn’t stink up the space.

I’ve seen straight tragedies where people have been eating next to equipment and spill a whole bev. If the equipment gets damaged that’s your a**, and that might ruin your chances with the studio, engineer, etc. Usually there will be a lounge, or another room that you can just chill and eat in. BE SMART.

4. If you’re participating in adult activities (drinking, smoking, etc.) make sure you got some for the whole team. Don’t be selfish lol.

Don’t be that person who pulls up with a fifth of that henny and sip it solo dolo — that’s part of the vibe too for some people. Like I said previously, it’s all about connecting and getting to know one another. One of the best ways to do that? Music and drinks, etc. Odds are people are on the same thing you on, so pop that bottle and share the love.

5. Include everybody. Everybody is there for a reason!

There are some folks who kind of ball hog when it comes to records. Don’t be that person. Include everyone because everyone’s got their own individual sauce. However don’t wait on someone to include you, showcase your confidence.

6. Intro’s are important!

If you’re going to bring yo partner and/or side pieces to the stu just make an announcement when you introduce yourself.  For example, “What’s up I’m ____, this my girl” or “this my patna.” If you’re not “famous,” odds are we don’t know you… let alone your girl/dude. A simple introduction is always needed so we can know each other from then on. Even if the “relationship” isn’t that serious, still introduce the person because it’s awkward not knowing who you’re chilling with in such an intimate setting.

7. Do NOT bring swishers, 99c wraps, etc.

Since I’m keeping it 100… nobody smoke those bruh! Not only are they unhealthy (even more than most products), they’re just nasty. Sorry to yuck your yum (not sorry) but “If it ain’t a Backwood, then it ain’t that good,” and “If it ain’t a Raw I don’t want it at all.” Abide by those quotes and you’ll be good my youngins.

8. Always (tastefully) offer to add/contribute something, you never know what people will mess with!

Never be afraid to showcase your talent! Learn how to read the room and to see what kind of contributions will be welcomed by the other creatives in the session. If you hear something that you feel would be a positive addition — lay that sh*t down. Magic is often made by building on top of others’ ideas. And you never know where that impromptu collab could lead you.

9. Don’t bring people unannounced. That sh*t  is awkward and lowkey annoying +2 max.

Let the people in your session know ahead of time if you’re going to bring the homies through, especially if they’re randoms that no one knows because it throws the vibe off a little bit. Like bruh who are these people? Why are they here? Can they wait in the car? If they’re not involved in any parts of media (photography, digital media, music, music business, etc.), can’t contribute to the vibe/music, and are only sliding to stay on their phone for five hours… “it’s a no for me dawg.” You can bring whoever you want to your session but I’m just letting you know right now — if y’all pulling up unannounced to someone else’s session, that’s annoying.

The post How to Not Be the Awkward Wallflower in the Studio appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Playlist: March Madness

March 14, 2019 - 12:23pm

With one of the most anticipated tournaments of the year about to begin, people are wildly rooting for their home team, sharpening their pencils for their brackets and dying of excitement. March Madness brings an extra level of energy and anxiety for college basketball fans. Whether you’re on or off the court, rooting in the stands or watching at home, you should be pumped and ready to do whatever it takes to support your team and favorite players. To channel this energy, it’s essential to have the right kind of music on deck to get in the proper mindset and hyped for your team. If you don’t have the right music you might as well erase all your brackets for March Madness. I’ve assembled an arrangement of music in this playlist that will pump that team spirit through your blood. 

The post Playlist: March Madness appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Let Me Keep Going: Life After Youth Incarceration

March 14, 2019 - 8:00am

When I was thirteen, I wrote an essay looking for my purpose. I asked:

How do I identify my passions, wishes, and dreams? Maybe it’s about being remembered as somebody with a purpose and not just anybody.

This was the year I first tried weed, when I almost got kicked out of school. I had already been arrested once.

I spent the next few years in and out of juvenile hall. I was still looking for my purpose. I was trying to pull myself out of this lifestyle — holding down a real job as a lifeguard and swim instructor. Then, I caught another charge.

I’ll be honest with you, I’m still traumatized by this experience. So I don’t want to say what happened exactly. But it led to me being incarcerated for more than 200 days.

At the start of my time in juvenile hall, I was grieving. But then, I decided, “Hell no, that’s the old me. They’re not going to get the best of me.” 

Two other girls and I became the first in several years to graduate high school from inside juvenile hall. I completed packet after packet of study guides. It wasn’t easy. For geometry, I wasn’t allowed to have a ruler in my cell, so I used my hair for measurements.

I was an exception to the system. I never thought I’d accomplish these milestones.

I have been out now for a year. I feel extremely lucky. I’m in college. Now, I’m back in juvenile hall, but not as an inmate. I’m a youth commissioner. I sit in meetings with probation officers, the D.A., the public defender’s office, and judges. I insist that people working within the system treat incarcerated youth more humanely.

I tell other girls in the system: “Your life is still going. This is not a stop, not a pause.” I didn’t ever say, “Let me restart my life.” Because my life was happening in juvenile hall. Instead, I told myself, “Let me keep going.”

The post Let Me Keep Going: Life After Youth Incarceration appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Like A Girl: Angel Rios Makes Wrestling History in Colorado

March 13, 2019 - 4:08pm

It’s not like Angel Rios really had a choice. She was born into a family of wrestlers. Even a premature birth couldn’t slow her down.

Rios spent the first four months of her life in a hospital but soon started spending time at the gym. Two of her older brothers were wrestling and the whole Rios clan got involved.

“So my dad coached one,” Rios said, “and my mom had me at the corner by her side, coaching another brother when I was in my car seat.”

It was hard to walk around the Rios family household without stepping over tumbling torsos. Rios is the seventh-born in a family with eight kids. By age 3 she had already followed in the footsteps of her three older brothers and started to wrestle.

Jump to last month, and there she was making history as one of Colorado’s first two female wrestlers to make it to the podium in the 84-year history of the high school state tournament. Rios finished fourth in her class, while Jaslynn Gallegos finished fifth.

Both athletes secured victories after their opponent Brendan Johnston refused to wrestle girls and forfeited the matches.

Listening to Rios, a junior, recap her experience, it sounds like after some initial nerves, she took the historic moment in stride. 

“I feel like I didn’t look at it any different than a normal tournament,” Rios said. “It’s kind of normal for me.”

Angel Rios (4th place) and Jaslynn Gallegos (5th place) became the first girls to reach the podium at the Colorado state high school wrestling tournament. (Photo: Cher Muniz-Rios)

But for Rios’s mom Cher Muniz-Rios, there was nothing normal about that day. 

“Actually I didn’t know it was 84 years until I heard somebody else talking about that,” Muniz-Rios said. “It’s just really overwhelming. It took a while to sink in actually.”

Success is nothing new to Rios, who claimed a gold medal in Buenos Aires at the 2017 Cadet Pan-Am games, dominating an all-girls field. Though the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) piloted an all-girls wrestling state tournament this year, Rios wanted to compete against the opponents she’s faced her whole life: boys.

Three hundred female wrestlers across 100-plus programs participated in the sport this school year but only 12 took part in the Colorado state tournament, according to CHSAA associate commissioner Ernie Derrera. He said on April 24, the CHSAA will hold a vote to introduce girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport for the 2020-21 school year.

Ironically though, if that happens, wrestling against boys will no longer be an option for girls at schools with all-female teams. “If there are some girls out there that still want to compete with the boys, I feel like that’s still limiting them,” Rios said. “Right now there’s not even enough girls to have a tournament.”

Rios still has another year left to make an impact on the high school level (medals, anyone?) and she’s currently eyeing a college wrestling career and criminal justice degree. With lofty aspirations to be an Olympian and mixed martial artist, Rios is likely to keep making headlines. 

“I don’t think gender has anything to do with her success,” said Rios’ coach Ruben Lucero. “She’s worked hard her entire life and hard work paid off for her this time. She’s a competitor. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. She works her butt off at her craft and she never gives up.”

The post Like A Girl: Angel Rios Makes Wrestling History in Colorado appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Opinion: I Stood By Jussie Smollett. Now I’m Not So Sure

March 13, 2019 - 11:23am

A judge ruled this week that cameras will be allowed during Jussie Smollett’s next hearing in court. Last week, the “Empire” actor was charged for filing a false police report and indicted on 16 counts.

Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed that he was attacked during the early hours of Jan. 29 by two males who wrapped a noose around his neck and poured a chemical substance on him. Police have shut down those claims and insist that evidence shows the actor planned the alleged attack on himself because he was upset about his salary on the show “Empire.”

As a queer person and a person of color, I sided with Smollett when the story of the attack first made the news. I know first hand what it feels like — and how scary it is — to be attacked based on how you look. Since the alleged incident, accounts of that night have changed so much that it’s difficult to distinguish what’s true or false. I’m not sure who to believe and what side I should take.

But what I do know, and I’m very sure of, is that I’m disappointed in Smollett if the charges are true. In a time when LGBTQ+ people are fighting for representation in media, it seems unfair that one of the few figures we have would use his platform — and the support of his queer fans — for his personal gain. If he is lying about his attack, he is allowing the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community to be dismissed. I’m sure in the near future when a queer person is attacked and is brave enough to report it, they will be met with scepticism by police and others.

Let’s stop and recognize that queer people and people of color face hate all the time; their stories are just not publicized to this extreme. If I take anything away from Smollett’s case, it’s that I would like to see queer people, who aren’t celebrities, get more support when they decide to come forward and report a crime.

The post Opinion: I Stood By Jussie Smollett. Now I’m Not So Sure appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Opinion: 5 Men Who Are Better Role Models Than Donald Trump

March 12, 2019 - 4:39pm

Last week, Glenn Beck said that James Bond and Donald Trump are the last male role models for red-blooded American boys. Fawning over the president’s “masculine” energy, Beck said:

He is the almost cartoon of an alpha dog. You know what I mean? And I think because we have taken alpha dogs and shot them all, when he comes to the table there’s a lot of guys that are out there goin’ ‘Damn right!’

Hell no.

The man who may have faked his bone spurs to avoid military service and is reportedly afraid to fire his employees is not an alpha dog. The president has shown himself to be immature  skirting his most important responsibilities, throwing tantrums and folding like a lawn chair when under pressure. Rather than the future of masculinity, Trump embodies some crude caricature of a regressive past where “real men” ate hamburgers before bed and cheat on their wives with porn stars.

Yet for all its outlandishness, Beck’s statement holds some truth. It is hard to find male role models today — not because there aren’t enough men like Donald Trump but because there are too many. With never-ending news swirling around powerful and unethical men, it can be difficult for people looking for male role models to know where to find them.

The #MeToo era makes us face hard truths about the failings of men once lauded in public life, yet here are a few whom I have personally found inspiring. They have remained relatively scandal-free and seem to handle life with grace and humility.

Chance the Rapper Photo: Julio Enriquez/Wikimedia

Who else has the creative range to make Acid Rap and Coloring Book? Chance the Rapper is prolific  —  with a catalog that spans trippy adolescent adventures and gospel odes celebrating the joy and responsibility of fatherhood. The Chicago native embodies the activism and artistry flowing through his hometown. When he’s not winning Grammys and churning out bops with Cardi B, he works in his local community, donates to public schools and puts in work at the local level through his nonprofit Social Works.

Mychal Denzel Smith View this post on Instagram

Behind the scenes at @freshspeakers photo shoot

A post shared by Mychal Denzel Smith (@mychaldenzel) on Jan 19, 2016 at 10:24am PST

With the publication of his 2016 memoir, “Invisible Man Got The Whole World Watching,” Smith grapples with the pitfalls of toxic masculinity and American racism. The book is a refreshing investigation into overlapping identities and the complicated landscape of our political moment. Never afraid of nuance, he writes about politics fluidly while exploring how pop culture icons like Mos Def and Dave Chappelle often both push against and replicate societal inequality. I deeply admire the way Smith uses his writing to embody how his maleness and his blackness have him toggling between oppressor and oppressed.

Frank Ocean View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Frank (@blonded) on Nov 6, 2018 at 1:13am PST

Ocean taught us the proper way to troll the internet  —  not with bullying but with a desperate expectation of when his next brilliant artistic project will drop. Renowned for his genre-bending music that infuses surreal imagery with beautiful melodies, Ocean is an artistic genius. The release of Channel Orange coincided with an announcement about his fluid orientation that helped drive hip-hop culture in a more progressive and inclusive direction.

Barry Jenkins View this post on Instagram

Nice shot by friend and filmmaker @mattmorrisfilms #35mm #contaxt3

A post shared by Barry Jenkins (@bandrybarry) on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:21am PDT

The award-winning director of “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” is a cinematic mastermind. He wrote the screenplays for both of these films in only six weeks. Jenkins has been brave enough to show humane and fresh pictures of black American life in all its facets. His earth-shattering “Moonlight” took Hollywood’s eyes and placed them on communities typically ignored. A story of masculinity, queerness, race and class, Jenkins brilliantly peeled back the layers of society to tell one of the most compelling love stories in the last decade. As a creative, I love Jenkins because his work shows that artistic integrity and political impact aren’t mutually exclusive.

Stephen Curry Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

At 30, Steph Curry is already considered the best shooter in the history of the NBA. But even off the court, Curry has continued to lead the culture. A frequent collaborator with President Barack Obama on the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, Curry has leveraged his platform to encourage mentorship, faith and community service. I’ve always revered Curry’s quiet leadership and his ability to prioritize family and service even as a superstar.

The post Opinion: 5 Men Who Are Better Role Models Than Donald Trump appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Undocuqueer: Life in Photos

March 12, 2019 - 10:54am

If you haven’t heard the phrase undocuqueer before, you aren’t alone. The term is a mashup of two words: undocumented and queer. But more importantly, undocuqueer is a movement of people who celebrate being a part of two marginalized groups. This is why Beto Soto, a 24-year-old photographer and storyteller from San Diego, created his photo series “Undocuqueer; Stories from Bordertown.” His goal is to spread awareness around the term and the people who identify with it.

Soto, who is himself undocuqueer, has spent the past two years documenting the lives of undocuqueer people who are DACA recipients, and sharing their experiences.   

Right now, because he’s based in San Diego, Soto’s project is mainly focused on Latinx perspectives. But he’s working on expanding those perspectives so his work represents the diversity of the undocuqueer movement with people from many ethnicities and cultures. He has reached out to members of the undocuqueer movement in New York, Baltimore, and Los Angeles in order to get their feedback and ideas.

One of Soto’s favorite stories from the project is the story of Dayamis, a trans woman. Her story stands out to him because, “she overcame so much.” He hopes to expand his project to include more trans stories because he says trans women “sparked the pride protests back in the 70s and sometimes we as LGBTQ folk forget that.”  

Soto admits, ‘it is a scary time, honestly” to be undocumented and queer under the Trump administration. He sees his photo project as one way to counteract the negative energy from the current administration and their immigration policies.  

When asked about the state of mind of the undocuqueer community he followed, Soto says, “we are enjoying the time we have and the opportunity that we have to be able to be working legally and also [to be] free to show our queerness.”

Soto plans to continue to interview subjects for “Undocuqueer; Stories from Bordertown” through April.

For more information on the project, check out Undocuqueer.org

To see more of Beto Soto’s work, visit his website, www.betosoto.com

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Categories: Blog

Bay Word of the Day: Chonk

March 11, 2019 - 5:58pm
BAY WORD OF THE DAY, STARRING MONEY MAKA, IS A VIDEO SERIES BREAKING DOWN BAY AREA SLANG.

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Categories: Blog

Closing the Gap: Black Girl Therapy

March 11, 2019 - 2:15pm

The first time I saw a therapist in 2017, all I could think about for the whole first session was an exit strategy. I was young, black and didn’t want to talk to a therapist despite having suicidal ideations for months. I didn’t want a stranger poking around in my brain, and I didn’t want anyone to know I needed a stranger to poke around in my brain.

Turns out, I wasn’t alone in my apprehension. Fear of discrimination and stigma play a huge role in keeping black people from getting the mental health care they need, according to new research out of Lehigh University. Professor Sirry Alang, who led the study released earlier this year, found a significant unmet need for mental health care among black folks.

“Although blacks have similar or lower rates of common mental disorders than whites, mental disorders are more severe, persistent, and disabling among blacks. Blacks are also less likely to utilize psychiatric services, and if they receive care, it is usually of lower quality than care provided to whites,” according to the research.

The stigma around mental health has decreased in recent years, but some people still aren’t completely comfortable with seeing a mental health professional.

Ndidi Enyinnia, a UX researcher in New York, grew up in a Nigerian household where mental health issues were “written off as problems of the weak,” she told me. She credits black female practitioners with helping her throughout her journey.

“I am thankful to have met a therapist who made me feel the opposite of weak. She helped me to realize that advocating and caring for yourself is one of the strongest things a person can do, especially in a community that often looks down on therapy,” Enyinnia said.

Enyinnia found one of her therapists through a directory called Therapy for Black Girls. Started by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, the platform aims to “present mental health topics in a way that’s relevant and accessible.” The directory caters to black women, but the therapists on it have clients of all genders and races. 

Harden Bradford, who goes by Dr. Joy, is a licensed therapist in Atlanta, Georgia. She talks about issues of discrimination and stigma on her podcast (also called Therapy for Black Girls). Because the medical field has a history of mistreating black people, she recommends asking “lots of questions” and being “selective in choosing your providers.” What matters most, she told me, is that the patient is comfortable with and feels heard and understood by their therapist.

“It’s okay to be concerned about the stigma,” she added. “In order to break the stigma we all have to do our part in normalizing treatment and encouraging ourselves and one another that it’s okay to do what we need to do to take care of ourselves.”

Kyle Woumn, a software developer in the Bay Area, was initially hesitant about going to therapy but told me his experience has been great so far. His therapist is a white woman Woumn described as “an amazing ally” who “recognizes her privilege.”

Woumn directly benefited from the normalization Dr. Joy talked about.

“The things that pushed me to therapy was more people that I knew sharing with me how they’ve gone to therapy and how much it’s helped them. I didn’t know the underlying problems they were working through, but these were people I related with, so I figured if they’ve had success with therapy, then I should at least give it a try,” he said.

Dr. Alang’s research also found that systemic fixes are needed. “Mental health systems should confront racism and engage the historical and contemporary racial contexts within which black people experience mental health problems. Critical self-reflection at the individual level and racial equity analysis at the organizational level are critical.”

Between inclusive directories, friends who support their friends, schools teaching students about the history of medical racism, and clinicians recognizing their position within a fraught history (and present), creating a more equitable and inclusive mental health environment is possible.

These days, you won’t catch me darting to the nearest exit in a therapist’s office. After going to several therapists — some good, some who induced more anxiety than any of my other problems did — I’ve come to realize that while we fit into a system, it’s the personal relationship you have with your therapist that makes the biggest difference.

The post Closing the Gap: Black Girl Therapy appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Charter School Student Reflects on the Oakland Teacher Strike

March 10, 2019 - 8:00am

I’m a junior at an Oakland charter school. I feel like I’m getting a great education. But during the Oakland teachers’ strike, I began worrying that my education is coming at the expense of others.

The Oakland teachers’ strike ended last week, but not all of the issues are resolved. Public school teachers are still complaining that money is being diverted from public schools to charters.

In fact, during the strike, I was playing basketball with some friends from Oakland Tech. One of them came to me and said, “Thanks, man. We’re out of school for the teachers’ strike, and it’s because of you and your charter school!”

Obviously it was a joke, but to many people, there’s nothing funny about it. There’s real anger at the charter school system. It’s been widely reported that charter schools cost Oakland public schools $57 million dollars a year. It occurred to me that my access to a good education might be keeping others from one.

I wish it wasn’t framed like this: charter school versus public school, with only so much money to go around. In theory, a free and decent education should be a right for all. But it’s not that simple.

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