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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: 6 min 39 sec ago

The Long Shadow of Columbine

April 17, 2019 - 5:41pm

I’m a high school senior in Littleton, Colorado. I go to school about twenty minutes away from Columbine High School. Although the Columbine shooting happened 20 years ago, it still casts a shadow over our community.

On Tuesday night, Denver FBI Chief Dean Phillips gave a press conference about Sol Pais, a young woman who “expressed an infatuation with Columbine.” Phillips warned that she had traveled to Denver and that she was armed. Within hours, several school districts in the Denver metro area announced that they would close the next day due to safety concerns.

Littleton Public Schools will be closed Wed. Apr 17, 2019 due to ongoing safety concerns re: a woman considered armed and dangerous in the Denver area. No activities, athletics, SACC. @CBSDenver @9NEWS @DenverChannel @KDVR @CentennialGov @CityofLittleton

— Littleton Public Schools (@LPSK12) April 17, 2019

By midday Wednesday, the FBI announced that Sol Pais was dead. It has been a whirlwind that’s shaken up my local community.

We can confirm that Sol Pais is deceased. We are grateful to everyone who submitted tips and to all our law enforcement partners for their efforts in keeping our community safe.

— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) April 17, 2019

I’m accustomed to living with Colorado’s relaxed gun laws. Still, it was disturbing to think that Pais flew to my home state and legally purchased a gun from a store close to Columbine High School. Gun shop owner Josh Rayburn confirmed that he sold her a gun, but he added that she passed the background checks required to purchase a firearm.

Before Pais was located, many parents and other students expressed concern. On Facebook, I saw posts from parents who wanted to keep their children home from school the next day, regardless of whether classes were canceled. Many of us breathed a collective sigh of relief when school districts announced closures.

After school, I work part-time as a preschool teacher aid. Several hours after I arrived at work on Tuesday night, my supervisor showed me Sol Pais’ picture and told my fellow coworkers that the FBI had asked citizens to be on the lookout for this person. I was afraid not just for myself, but also for the young children I watch. I instinctively scanned the classroom for potential weapons that I could use to protect the children and myself.

The next morning, I felt that I should not go out in public alone. A friend and I met at a coffee shop to study for an exam. In between practicing math problems, we discussed how crazy it was that one woman’s threats could shut down so many school districts in the entire Denver metro area. We felt dazed, but sadly, I also feel desensitized to events like these.

I was born two years after the shooting at Columbine. My peers and I have come of age in an era where school shootings are the norm. In some ways, I feel that my generation is more used to the reality of gun violence than our parents. At school, we practice lockdown drills, where we turn off our classroom lights and hide in corners or behind chairs, outside the line of sight of a potential shooter. These drills seem foreign to people of older generations. Last summer, I covered an anti-gun violence rally, where a survivor of the Columbine High School shooting, Annette Haugh spoke. She questioned the lockdown drills. “Should we really be asking our children to practice for mass shootings? Enough is enough,” she said. But practicing for gun violence is my reality.

The post The Long Shadow of Columbine appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here

April 17, 2019 - 3:40pm

Dear YR Media Family,

I’m excited to share an update (and an invitation!) for a project the YR Media Arts team has been working on for several months, in collaboration with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

This Saturday, April 20, 2019, marks the opening of Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here at YBCA, an exhibition of work honoring the artist and her collaborations with communities — artists, activists, organizations, schools — throughout her prolific career.

Back in February, YR Media’s artists were tapped to develop a special audio and visual installation as part of this exhibit, which explores young artists’ experiences of and with gentrification, and invites the visitor to put themselves in the artists’ shoes. It’s an abstract piece, allowing people to emotionally experience and understand the perspectives of young artists.

Every aspect of the installation, including the background, was created by our team of  young artists. It’s a beautiful and immersive experience, and also showcases a peek at the type of work YR Media artists are refining within our internship and training programs here in Oakland.

The concept for the installation centers around artists’ recreating memories using soundscapes, a concept inspired by YR Media Board member and seven-time Academy Award-winning sound designer, Gary Rydstrom.

At the opening, YR’s NEA-backed musical artists will be building beats in a live performance.

Without giving away more, I invite you to please join us for the opening night celebration this Saturday, April 20th at YBCA. There will be DJs, dancing, and special performances from our very own Remix Your Life music producers: Cole Anderson, David Lawrence, Jacob Armenta and Christian Romo, among others! Tickets and more information here — we look forward to seeing you.


Maeven McGovern

Executive Producer, Arts

The YR Media audio and visual installation is curated by GBaby, with artistic direction from Maeven McGovern, Oliver Rodriguez, Maya Drexler, Yared Gebru, Brigido Bautista, and Ben Frost.

Featured musical artists:

Clay Xavier, Christian Romo, Jacob Armenta, Jessica Brown, and Rommel Delafuente

Featured visual artists:

Xingzhou Chen, Symone Woodruff-Hardy, Rami Kingsley-Doyle, Gabriel Saravia, and Noah Holt.

Build a Beat Performers:

Cole Anderson, David Lawrence, Jacob Armenta, and Christian Romo.

The post Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Playlist: POP Hits

April 17, 2019 - 3:13pm

You might try and deny it but we all have a sweet spot for pop music — you know you have that one pop song that comes on that makes you go dumb. Don’t be that person who always has to act hard when pop music comes on and don’t act like pop music doesn’t complement genres all across the world. In this playlist, I have curated the best-of-the-best pop tracks for your road trips, pool parties, beach parties, BBQs, etc. It’s about to be summer and everyone is happier during the summer, so you might as well match that energy with this poppin’ a** pop playlist full of hits.

The post Playlist: POP Hits appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

What If You Ruled the School Dress Code?

April 16, 2019 - 12:19pm

About half of all public schools in America have a strictly enforced dress code, which means a lot of us have to think twice each morning before getting dressed. Sometimes dress codes are designed to keep us safe, like a ban on open-toed shoes in science labs. But when there’s no health issue, it’s harder to pin down the logic.

Commonly banned clothing categories include baggy, tight and revealing clothing, according to the dress code policies YR Media analyzed from 42 schools across the United States. Given that range, how do schools even decide what’s off-limits? What are dress codes really for?  

Before I share my take, what if you got to rule school dress code policy? Check out the outfits below and decide which you think are violations — and then compare your answers to a subset of actual dress codes from schools across the country.*

One last note: dress codes are subjective! We’ve made our best attempt to interpret the published codes, but sometimes it’s a hard call. That’s why we’re sharing the codes in full, so you can judge for yourself. Oh and remember: as we all know, official policies don’t always match what happens in real life…

* Why those schools? We picked them because they’re located in metropolitan regions where the YR Media audience is concentrated and represent a range of types (public, private, charter, parochial) with diverse demographics.

Okay so we know how your dress code judgments compare to real-life examples. Now, we’ll go deeper.

Let’s Talk About Gender

A common justification for dress codes is that they keep students from being “distracted” or  “distracting” others. It’s been widely reported that girls are more likely to have their outfits policed and be asked to alter their appearances for the sake of others. Taken to an extreme, this core idea came up last year in a rape case where the victim’s lace underwear was reportedly used in court as proof that her clothing signaled her consent, according to The Irish Times. Also, take the example from our line-up of outfits with a non-binary student in a dress. Would a ban on an outfit that “causes distractions or inhibits the learning process” make that one off-limits — using the code to enforce gender norms? School is where students first form perceptions of the world around them. Dress codes risk normalizing an outdated sexism that young people can carry into adulthood.

Getting Ready For Work?

Most of us eventually graduate from school to the workplace, where discrimination, harassment and the wage gap are widespread, and these problems are related to dress codes, too. Of course, modest dress can be a show of respect, whether at a place of worship or a job interview, and that’s important. But students aren’t doing a job or getting paid. Some dress code proponents argue that dressing professionally helps prepare students for the workplace, but why not allow students to take advantage of these years for personal expression before they have to adhere to dress guidelines for the rest of their lives?

Ironically, while dress codes might be designed to reduce sexualization at school, the effect for those whose bodies are policed is often the opposite — suddenly they’re being viewed and shamed for how they look. In the #MeToo era, dress codes can feel out of date and just plain out of touch with the current political climate.

Social Control

Clothing is not just clothing. Take a headscarf. Banning that can be a coordinated attack on a person’s religious identity. Gang-associated garments are another tricky case. The term “gang-related” gets twisted and racialized in a lot of dress code policies. One school in the YR Media sample bans chains, bandanas, stylized belt buckles, and PLAIN WHITE T-SHIRTS because they’re considered to be “gang-related,” and it’s hard to find a school that doesn’t ban sagging. Essentially, if you want to dress like a popular rapper, you are labelled a “thug” or “gang member.” These rules put people in boxes and criminalize some of the culture trends associated with people of color.

Now that you’ve read my take, do you want to go back and re-assess those outfits above? Also: if you went to school with the clothes you’re wearing now, would your outfit pass?

  • Ariel Tang
  • Dante Brundage
  • Elisabeth Guta
  • Jen Tribbet
  • Marlene Rodriguez
  • Mila Sutphin
  • Shanya Williams
  • Radamés Ajna + Asha Richardson 

The post What If You Ruled the School Dress Code? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Trump Requires Campus Free Speech. Students Speak Up

April 15, 2019 - 1:20pm

President Trump recently signed an executive order that requires colleges to protect campus free speech in order to continue to receive federal funds. At the signing, he was joined by conservative students who felt that their free speech rights were threatened at their universities.

In a speech in front of the Conservative Political Action Conference last month, Trump pointed to the assault of conservative activist Hayden Williams at UC Berkeley in February as a reason for the order. Williams was tabling on campus for Turning Point USA, a conservative organization, when Zachary Greenberg allegedly knocked over his table and proceeded to punch him. The incident was quickly met with backlash from conservatives, who were disappointed with the delayed arrest of Greenberg.

However, neither Williams nor Greenberg are affiliated with UC Berkeley, according to the university. After the incident, campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof reaffirmed the university’s commitment to the First Amendment, writing, “Our commitment to freedom of speech and belief is unwavering.”

With this new executive order, the White House has waded into a years-long debate about free speech on campus, cultural appropriation, safe spaces and political diversity. How do students around the country feel? Here’s a sampling of what college journalists and opinion columnists are writing and reporting from around the country:

Conservatives should not be closeted

Many conservative college students have said they feel “closeted” at their hyper-liberal schools. In fear of being ostracized by their peers, these students have kept their political beliefs quiet.

Drew Alcorn, a freshman at Loyola Marymount University, articulated his frustrations in an interview with the Los Angeles Loyolan. Alcorn said, “One of the biggest issues is that in class, often both professors and students will make anti-conservative thought the accepted ‘truth,’ not opinion. It creates an environment where everyone seems either against you or complacent.”

Free exchange of ideas is vital to education

Many supporters of campus free speech point to colleges as space for students to become exposed to new ideas and open discussions. Ashley Vaughan, a University of Texas alum, wrote a guest column in her college paper, The Daily Texan, “Universities are places for debate, ideas, discussion and disagreement. Students who are never exposed to ideas they disagree with will learn nothing.” 

Protecting hate speech goes against school beliefs

Eastern Michigan University struggled with its own incidents with campus free speech this past December. A wall on campus that previously said “Together Against Antisemitism” was painted over and replaced with “Together Against Semitism” and later the phrase “it’s ok to be white.”

Many students felt that the white supremacist message contradicts their ideas of acceptance. Student and writer for The Eastern Echo Austin Elliott wrote, “This isn’t about censoring speech we don’t agree with. This is about protecting our community and making it clear that everyone is welcome here.”

Despite the range of student opinions on campus free speech, some higher education leaders are accusing President Trump of federal overreach. Association of Public and Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson warned that under the free speech executive order, federal agencies could “strip or block federal research funding from universities they subjectively believe aren’t adequately permitting the diverse debate of ideas. While enforcement could be challenged in court, this executive order is deeply disturbing on many levels.”

The post Trump Requires Campus Free Speech. Students Speak Up appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Playlist: 2000’s Throwbacks

April 12, 2019 - 6:15pm

We all have those times where we wish we could go back and relive our early 2000’s memories featuring baggy pants, baggy shirts, and swangin chains. To help get you back there, re-lace yourself with this playlist I’ve filled with all of our favorite 2000’s throwbacks (excluding a few songs that hit around 2011 but still made the playlist), guaranteed to make errybody and they playa patnas “Holla Back” (wooo wooo). You can never go wrong with “old school” Hip Hop, R&B, etc. (yes, early 2000’s music now counts as old school). 

The post Playlist: 2000’s Throwbacks appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How My Stepdad’s Move Prepared Me for College

April 12, 2019 - 6:08pm

When my stepdad moved across the country, I was worried it would strain our family. Instead, it’s prepared me to move to college next year.

Last fall, my stepdad got a job in Richmond, Virginia. I was afraid our lives would change drastically. He’d no longer be here during dinner, we wouldn’t hear him leaving the house for his weekend bike rides. And when would we make fun of his British accent?

When I expressed these anxieties, my parents said, “It’s like he’s going to college. We’re sort of prepping for you leaving next year.”

Since he left, we’ve seen him often. We spent two weeks on the East Coast over Christmas, and he’s come back for long weekends. He’s super present in our lives, and the time we spend together makes up for the distance.

This experience has lifted some of my anxieties for college. The idea of being apart from my family creates this heavy feeling in my stomach. But I look at how my family has thrived, despite the distance, and I’m not so scared anymore. Just because I’ll be living away, doesn’t mean I’ll be alone.

The post How My Stepdad’s Move Prepared Me for College appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Five Tax Tips for Freelancers in the Gig Economy

April 12, 2019 - 3:14pm

It’s 2019 — so you don’t have a job, you have JOBS. It’s April — time to file taxes. Here are five things you should know about freelancing, the gig economy and paying the tax man.

The post Five Tax Tips for Freelancers in the Gig Economy appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Family Separation Back In Spotlight Amid Homeland Security Shakeup

April 12, 2019 - 11:05am

Kirstjen Nielsen resigned from her position as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) this week after less than two years on the job.

Nielsen faced heavy criticism during her tenure for the “zero-tolerance” family separation policy in April 2018 that split migrant children from their parents. Facing widespread public backlash, President Donald Trump reversed the policy two months later through an executive order.

But the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General reported on January 17 of this year that separations began as early as June 2017 and thousands more families were split than once thought.

YR Media spoke to Dan Galindo, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who is working on a class action lawsuit against the administration.

“The latest in the lawsuit is the judge ordered last month that the government has to account for what could be thousands more separations than they previously reported,” Galindo said.

With this increase in reported separations, the administration is now saying it may take up to two years to finish its reunification process, according to the ACLU. That’s a lot longer than the 30 days a U.S. District Court judge gave Trump in June 2018.

“One to two years is obviously far too long,” Galindo said. “If the government can dedicate the kind of resources it dedicated to separating these families in the first place, it should be able to do what needs to be done to put them back together.”

He told YR Media the discussion at the next court date on April 16 is likely to focus on the length of the government’s current reunification plan, which has not been approved yet.

Galindo said the ACLU hopes the court will not accept the plan in its current state. “It certainly isn’t anything like what we say can be done, should be done, and has to be done.”

So far, according to court records filed in February, approximately 2,700 children have been reunited with a guardian or have turned 18. But thousands remain separated.

In defense of the delay, the government said the U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not collect data on family separations prior to April 2018, prolonging the time needed to reunite these children with their parents. That’s according to reports on the case.

YR Media has reached out to the administration for comments on the delayed reunification timeline. But officials didn’t respond in time for our deadline.

Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), a non-profit organization that works to ensure no child appears in court without legal representation, worries about the psychological impacts long-term separation will have on kids.

“We are horrified at this because we have seen first-hand how the months of separation has traumatized children and their families,” Megan McKenna, the senior director of communications and community engagement at KIND, told YR Media. “We have worked with children who refused to speak, others who could only cry, and many who were clearly deeply affected in other ways by the separation, and will be for many years to come.”

Nielsen’s exit from the DHS comes just two days after the administration argued it may need two years to put the families it split back together.

Immigration advocacy and legal assistance groups blasted Nielsen’s work at the DHS.

“Secretary Nielsen presided over a @DHSgov that showed a blatant disregard for our Constitution, civil rights, and human life. History will judge her,” the National Immigration Law Center tweeted following the announcement of her resignation.

Democratic politicians also denounced Nielsen’s policies and expressed concern that the administration may take an even more extreme stance on immigration with her gone.

“It is deeply alarming that the Trump Administration official who put children in cages is reportedly resigning because she is not extreme enough for the White House’s liking,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrote in her statement.

Reports say Nielsen was forced out of her post by officials within the Trump administration who want even tougher immigration policies at the DHS. 

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan will serve as acting DHS secretary until the president finds a long-term replacement.

The shakeup of the administration’s immigration officials continues — even after Nielsen’s resignation — as Ronald Vitiello, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is stepping down, according to Politico.

The post Family Separation Back In Spotlight Amid Homeland Security Shakeup appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

‘Like Losing Another Home’: Oakland Closes My Middle School

April 11, 2019 - 8:00am

Roots International Academy will be the first Oakland school to close. One former student, Danny Lopez, reflects on what he learned as a student there.

My two years at Roots International Academy were life changing. That’s the middle school I attended in East Oakland. I had moved from the Philippines to the Bay Area just two weeks before the first day of 7th grade.

I was scared walking into Roots. It seemed crazy to begin school right after moving to a new country. Other kids picked up on how disoriented I felt. They’d ask: “Do you know what BART is? Do you know what AC Transit is? How can you not know about BART?” I didn’t know anything.

Some adults noticed. We sat in a small restorative justice circle. I had to explain that I was a brand new immigrant. Afterwards, I felt more comfortable and connected.

A teacher pushed me to join clubs, go on field trips, and attend the book fair. Most importantly, she told me about the Gay Straight Alliance. In the Philippines, I attended a Catholic school. I was very much closeted. Through the Gay Straight Alliance, I learned about my sexuality. I found my community.

At Roots, so many people went out of their way to welcome me, to make me feel seen.

Now I’m a sophomore at Oakland Tech, a massive high school. I credit my time at Roots for teaching me how to talk with people and to branch out.

Now, the Oakland Unified School District has announced that Roots will close. That’s like losing another home. I wonder, if I had not gone to Roots, would I be as open or as comfortable with who I am now? I look at my little brother. He won’t experience what I experienced — an incredible education for a recent immigrant.

The post ‘Like Losing Another Home’: Oakland Closes My Middle School appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

The Elephant In My Room: An Illustrated Coming-Out Story

April 10, 2019 - 9:55am

In elementary school, I didn’t think about sexuality at all. I didn’t know what that word even meant. But that would change pretty soon.

Because I was very new to all of the terms and labels, I thought I was a lot of different things. Was I straight, gay, bi? After a period of trial and error I finally found a way to identify myself. 

I got my first cell phone at the end of 5th grade. With my own internet access, a new world opened. And in that world, I discovered the extensive realm of different sexualities and identities.

And then, near the beginning of 6th grade I met a girl. We got along with each other pretty fast. We always ate lunch together and hung out all the time. Then one day, after school, she asked me a question: “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” And I said yes. Nothing really changed between us — we were only 6th graders! But we started to hold hands. It was my first relationship ever, so it was pretty exciting.

For a while I didn’t really think about telling my parents about being bisexual, because I didn’t see why I should. I didn’t know if they would accept me. Looking back, I realize that was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever thought. See, both of my parents are queer. But I didn’t realize it at the time. When I was younger we didn’t really talk about it, and you can’t really just tell what people’s identities are by looking at them!

And besides that, being an anxious preteen, I didn’t like to make a big deal over stuff. I wanted to just have my parents know without having to say anything. And funnily enough, that’s kind of what ended up happening. I started to get more involved with LGBTQ stuff, like going to Pride and joining the newly formed school GSA in 7th grade. As I did all of that, I just assumed they knew. And that was that.

A lot of the time we think of coming out as a giant event, for better or worse. (I thought so back in 6th grade.) It’s like an elephant in the room. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Cisgender people don’t have to come out as cis and straight people don’t have to come out as straight. I didn’t come out either, I’m just living it.

The post The Elephant In My Room: An Illustrated Coming-Out Story appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Social Media Polling for a Sense of Self

April 7, 2019 - 7:11pm
“Justina isn’t Justina without…” I type into the question box on my Instagram Stories. Now, I wait.

The responses flooded in — some funny, some painfully accurate. Turns out, my nearly-40,000 followers have been noticing things about me I’m not even conscious of, like how I only wear bracelets on one arm, or my aversion to the word “stuff” (I guess I only ever say “things”). It was a shock to realize how much of my identity was on display and that absolute strangers were tracking my moves. It also felt like a lot of pressure. There were guesses that felt wildly incorrect, but enough people suggested them that I wondered: is that who I am?

These thoughts are familiar. Like just about everyone, I spent my teenage years questioning who I was. Alas, I didn’t have polls at the time to ask other people for their input and then count up the results, so I just took the traditional existential crisis route and got bangs.

Aubrey, who’s 16, doesn’t have the luxury of hiding from the internet. She maintains a brilliantly curated social presence, complete with existential captions and daily updates on her life. She uses polls almost-daily to ask her 1000-plus followers things like how their day is going or, in a subversive move, what they think she thinks of them. On that second question, she was surprised by the response.

“I’ve learned that a lot of people actually think I don’t like them! In every instance, I make sure to let the person know I definitely do like them. Mainly it’s because I am such a quiet person,” she said.

For those of us who put a lot of stake in our friendships, this kind of information can be jarring. But how important is it really?

“These polling numbers can truly effect how you feel about the most mundane of decisions,” said clinical psychologist Danielle Ramo, who directs research at Hope Lab and is a part of the adjunct faculty at the University of California, San Francisco.

Ramo told me the problem with the quantitative data we get from social media’s newest features is that it can elevate the importance of information that might not otherwise even register. Individuals can be more geared to care about responses to a poll that they would to information presented in a caption — or if they just hadn’t asked in the first place.

Social stress has always been there, and Aubrey told me that both online and IRL, she feels pressure to be on-brand all the time. She sees herself as one of those incredibly rare teenage girls who can float between the cliques, but maintaining that balance is a 24/7 job.  It also involves soliciting a lot of opinions from people who are essentially strangers.

If that sounds exhausting, that’s because it is — perhaps especially for girls. Researcher Jean Twenge noted in The Atlantic that 48 percent more girls said they often felt left out in 2015 than in 2010, compared with 27 percent more boys. Social media has made it possible to constantly access someone else’s life, compare it to every aspect of our own, and then ask why we weren’t invited. With the introduction of polling features, we have the ability to turn what were previously qualitative thoughts and feelings into solid numbers that are on display for the world.

“Before social media, we didn’t have as much opportunity to think of our social identities in a quantified way,” Ramo told me. “Social media blew that on its head by putting our network in a quantified place.”

Tracking likes and followers is old news — and as new data gathering features are rolled out on social media platforms, we are likely to find ourselves even more caught up in counting our way to a sense of self. But Ramo cautioned against seeing this shift as inherently negative. There isn’t a lot of research actually looking at the cause-and-effect relationship between social media and mental health, Ramo told me. Even in doing research for this piece, I found hundreds of articles trying to scare people off social media, backed by pseudo-science at worse and biased responses at best. The truth is that we just don’t know yet how this is shaping us.

Kamrin Baker is a social media influencer who is currently working to educate young people about mental health and sex education — and she is one of the most “on-brand” people I know. She ticks off all the boxes: a consistent filter, an honest voice, question boxes soliciting thoughts and feelings from her audience, cute dogs. She and I have talked about how the internet shaped our lives, and I wondered how she felt about the measurement tools being integrated into our feeds.

“I am comfortable with who I am, and my “brand” is kind of soaked in painful honesty and authenticity, so if something changed in my life or I stopped liking something, I think I’d tell people how and why I got to that conclusion and feel good about it,” Kami told me. “However, there have been times where I’ll just be sitting in my house, looking at my space, looking at my Instagram feed and thinking, ‘Is this really me?’ Like, am I really all cute and floral and positive and sunshiney?”

I honestly feel this way more often than I’m comfortable with. I wonder if I’m giving up too much of who I am to people who don’t really know me, and how they feel about being offered that power. I posted something last week about a train of thought I’ve been having, out of the ordinary for my selfie/outfit/travel-littered feed, and then did a poll. “Do you guys want to see more posts like this, where I share what I’m thinking on/writing about?” The options were “yes” or “meh.”

The yes crowd won out, but they weren’t all excited about it. I got a DM from a friend who was outraged that people had voted “no”… and that I had even asked. My thoughts were so valuable, she told me, why would I ask that?

The answer is very simple: in a world where we have to constantly evolve to keep everyone’s attention, there is always going to be a struggle between “Who am I?” and “Who do you want me to be?”

The post Social Media Polling for a Sense of Self appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Thinking About Adulthood at Just 20 Years Old

April 7, 2019 - 8:00am

As a young person turning 21 soon, I should feel like a full-fledged adult, but I know I’m far from it.

Seeing people achieve success when they’re young paints an unrealistic standard. It’s so hard to be successful these days so I’m gonna have to work really hard through my twenties to be self-sufficient and comfortable. That’s when I really will feel like an adult.

At other points in my life, the milestones came faster and I felt ready for them.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teenager so bad, so it was a big deal when I turned 13.

When I turned 18, I was excited to be a voter. But it was Trump’s inauguration day –– a rude awakening for me. I felt even further away from the things I want to achieve.  

Two years later, it’s not any better. While other young people in their 20s might be excited to be partying, I’m worried about what’s to come. I won’t really feel grown up til I’ve made it. I’d love a steady paycheck, and my own house. As Jennifer Garner taught me, I can’t wait to be 30, flirty, and thriving.   

The post Thinking About Adulthood at Just 20 Years Old appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

For Young Voters, It’s About More Than Mueller

April 5, 2019 - 4:59pm

Young voters are unlikely to change their opinions on President Donald Trump based on the results of the special counsel’s investigation into his involvement in Russian interference in our 2016 elections, according to students  and researchers who track the youth vote.

According to the minimal information that’s been made public so far, Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation did not find evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. In his letter to congress, Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr, said he found insufficient evidence to establish that Trump had committed that offense. Before his nomination, Barr called the investigation into obstruction-of-justice “fatally misconceived.”

“Regardless of what the report was going to find, I still feel like there are legitimate criticisms of Trump to be made, so it doesn’t affect how I’ll vote in 2020,” Hadeel Eltayeb, a New York University student, told YR Media.

She thinks her peers will hold similar views.

“Those who are fans of Trump are only going to feel vindicated by this, and those who aren’t are unlikely to change their minds because Russia isn’t the biggest reason people are opposed to him,” she said.

Young Trump backers, like Georgetown student Bobby Vogel, are saying the same.

“I was not surprised by the findings,” Vogel said. “But I read an article saying few voters said the investigation results would affect their opinions.”

Researchers largely agree.

A CNN Poll released on March 27 found only 13 percent of Americans say the Mueller report will affect their 2020 vote. Seven percent are more likely to support Trump based on the findings, whereas 6 percent are less likely to do so.

“Unless we really see a big fight from the Dems and some sort of additional legal action or investigation that carries through closer to November 2020, I don’t think it will directly impact youth in their choices,” said Sarah Yerkes, a Carnegie Endowment Fellow who has studied youth voting patterns.

What is likely to have an impact on young voters in 2020 is 2016 Russian interference more generally, even if Trump hasn’t been implicated.

As of this writing, this is still very much a developing story, especially since members of Mueller’s team have gone public with criticisms of Barr’s handling of their investigation.

Brandon Shi, a Columbia University student, said previous Russian involvement in U.S. elections will make him “more mindful about disinformation on social media.”

Eighteen-year-old Thacher Smith, who will be casting his first vote in a presidential election in 2020, told YR Media, “Russian intervention certainly affects [my] vote in the 2020 election as it creates a greater sense of urgency to preserve the principles of our democracy.”

But not all young people will feel that way, Yerkes believes.

“This additional element of uncertainty, the Russian interference, will likely lead some young people to stay home in 2020,” she said.

Abby Kiesa, the director of impact at CIRCLE — a Tufts University center that studies young voters and civic engagement — also thinks the interference may deter some young people from participating.

“It doesn’t lend a lot of support for people who think the system doesn’t facilitate as much change as they want,” she said.

But she also believes there are a lot of factors that go into people’s attitudes towards voting. The impact that Russian interference has on an individual young voter’s outlook “could be different depending on how a young person already views civic engagement or has participated themselves,” according to Kiesa.

Looking beyond Russian interference as an issue, some young people are saying the record-setting diversity of the new Congress is what will bring them to the voting booth in 2020.

“For the first time this year, I saw my ‘Palestinian-American-ness’ represented whole heartedly in American politics,” 19-year-old Anais Amer said. “I will vote in this coming 2020 election to make sure that this continues.”

Voting-age Americans under the age of 40 — Gen Z and millennials — will make up nearly 40 percent of the electorate in 2020 according to Pew. Targeting them and winning their support will present a unique challenge to an aging field of candidates.

The post For Young Voters, It’s About More Than Mueller appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

‘It Feels More Real’ — Life on a Border the President Threatened to Close

April 4, 2019 - 4:29pm

President Trump announced on Thursday that he won’t, in the immediate term, close the U.S.-Mexico border but instead will give Mexico a “one-year warning” before taking action. This message comes after Trump had taken to Twitter earlier to announce his frustration with Mexico’s failure to end illegal immigration.

….through their country and our Southern Border. Mexico has for many years made a fortune off of the U.S., far greater than Border Costs. If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States throug our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2019

….the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week. This would be so easy for Mexico to do, but they just take our money and “talk.” Besides, we lose so much money with them, especially when you add in drug trafficking etc.), that the Border closing would be a good thing!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2019

This isn’t the first time POTUS has made these types of threats. Last year in response to the migrant caravan, Trump initially threatened to close the southern border but instead sent thousands of troops there to strengthen security.

To get a sense of how Trump’s latest threats are playing out in a border town, YR Media reached out to 24-year-old Estefania Castillo, whom we’d spoken to last year. Castillo lives in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and is a graduate student at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). She said it’s difficult to stay calm in light of the threats that feel more real and scarier to her this time around.

Castillo’s school took the president’s most recent threats seriously. They issued two letters to students expressing their support and notifying them of resources like housing, free food and “virtual counseling and immigration advising for those who are unable to come to the campus.”

Antonio Villasenor-Baca: When was that letter sent out and was it sent to the whole university or just to international students?

Estefania Castillo: There were two letters sent out. There was one by [UTEP President] Dr. Natalicio on Monday [April 1st]. That [letter] was sent out to the entire university. It [said] that UTEP was going to try to support international students as much as possible, offer free housing and free meals if need be. Then the same day, like an hour or two later, we got an email from the Office of International Programs. It gave instructions for Mexican students about what to do. It gave a website [that tracks] bridge closures. It also gave you a hotline and an email to contact if students get stranded or can’t cross. They told us a list of documents that we should be carrying around 24/7 just to avoid any problems. And it also said to ‘exercise good judgment because you are guests of Homeland Security.’

Excerpt from a letter from UTEP President to students, April 1 2019

AVB:  What went through your mind when you read those emails?

EC: The fact that the university sent an email made me really anxious and nervous because if [the school] sent an email, it must be something more real. It’s not just the president [of the United States] saying stuff, it actually may happen and the university is preparing for it. The fact that [UTEP] has places to stay, I mean it’s good to know just in case of emergencies, but It makes me worry. There are a lot of us that cross everyday, so I don’t think they have enough rooms for everyone. But it’s good that they have these free resources because obviously not everyone could afford to stay at a hotel or keep buying food. It’s nice to have the support of the university.  But at the end of the day it’s still scary.

AVB: So this varies from last time?

EC: This time it feels a lot more real for a few reasons. The last time it was just rumors here and there. The lines [at the border] got a little bit longer but not the way that it has now. Last time the express line was the same. Now, every morning I’ve been doing at least thirty minutes to cross. I mean that’s the express lane, that shouldn’t take you more than five minutes. The lines on the bridge are getting ridiculously long.The bridges, they closed off a lot of lanes because they have barbed wire and fences and there are CBP [Customs and Border Protection] officers everywhere. So it feels a lot more like they’re on high alert.

AVB: Are you planning on taking up the offer for one of these rooms?

EC: Fortunately, I have a lot of friends that live in El Paso and they have offered for me to stay there. I have one particular friend, she’s my best friend, who told me ‘You can stay here as long as you need.’ So I had already made arrangements. I’m leaving a bag of clothing with her, like essentials, a toothbrush, pajamas, some jeans and t-shirts just in case I get stuck here.

The post ‘It Feels More Real’ — Life on a Border the President Threatened to Close appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Playlist: Mid-Tempo Monsters

April 3, 2019 - 6:39pm

Explore the trippy world of heavy bass music and mid-tempo madness with these monster tracks from our favorite artists in this emerging subgenre. Fusing early 00’s electro and industrial techno sonics with trap and dubstep these producers are pioneering the new sound and style of bass music and we are HYPED for the future of this new genre.

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Categories: Blog

Asha Imuno Discusses the Importance of Honesty with “Full Disclosure”

April 1, 2019 - 4:35pm
Photo: Ivan Davalos / Edit: Asha Imuno

Asha Imuno wants to be known as an artist of the new age. The Moreno Valley, CA, native dropped his debut project “Full Disclosure” this past February. Imuno is part of the musical collective Raised By The Internet, which was formed in 2017 over social media. Imuno writes and composes music himself. He cites his musical background as always being a constant in his life, especially with his history of being a part of band in middle school and his keen interest in music composition. Just as the title suggests, “Full Disclosure” is an honest and vulnerable body of music. He doesn’t shy away from any topic, interweaving each song with his own experiences and genuine outlook on what life is like, as well as the promise of integrity and trueness.

After listening to his music, I found myself interested in not only the songs but in the artist behind them as well. I was impressed with how open he was about what was personal to him and how he framed it in such a way that anyone could relate to it. I recently got the opportunity to interview Asha, where we discussed vulnerability and the importance of self-expression, and how he utilizes them as tools of interconnection.

What does your musical background look like?

I grew up around music. From a young age, I was really interested in music and composition. Throughout middle school, I was a band kid and that was my thing for a while. In my freshman year of high school, I quit band to focus more on composition, starting with jazz and classical stuff, and then transitioning into R&B and then into hip-hop.

When did you first realize music was something that you wanted to do?

I think even when people started to take it seriously, I still wasn’t thinking about it as something that could become a really serious, professional thing. And it was only when I streamed my first single on all platforms and people responded to it in the biggest way, I think that was when I first realized that it could be something that I could do as a career.

I saw that you’re a part of the collective Raised By The Internet. Could you explain how that came to be?

So I found Jelani, the founding member of Raised By The Internet, just on Instagram while scrolling and I instantly really liked his music. And I started to take inspiration from it and we started exchanging messages back and forth, and he found my music after a while and really liked it too. He asked me if I wanted to join a collective and introduced me to everybody and I think a couple days after I joined the collective, we started working on our first project and finished it in like a week, and put it out not too long after that. And the rest is history.

Photo: Ivan Davalos / Edit: Asha Imuno

If you could, how would you describe yourself as an artist?

As an artist, I think I would describe myself as honest because that’s really the most important thing to me. With the music that I make, at least, is just being honest about my experiences, emotions, and just everything in my life. I like to let it bleed into my writing and even in my composition, structure, chords, everything. I just like to put myself on the table.

When writing a song, where do you get the most inspiration from?

I find the most inspiration from little everyday things, like normal, plain parts of my day. I feel like a lot of times in music, the goal is to be as dramatic and theatrical as possible but I like to write from the perspective of the average person, so that it’s something people can relate to. But I still try to take an in-depth approach to explaining my emotions and everything, so sometimes it’s the more dramatic parts of life. But for the most part, I take the most inspiration from regular stuff, things around me.

What does your songwriting process usually look like?

For the most part, it varies case to case. Sometimes I’ll just out and about and think of a bar and write it down, and come back to it later. Or sometimes, those notes just get lost and I never come back to it. But other times, I’ll sit at my desk with a clear goal and know that I’m gonna do with a song and it almost never goes exactly how I thought it would. Depending on whether I’m chopping a sample or playing chords, whatever it is. I might start with drums first and I could click the wrong sound and end up interested in a totally different kind of song and it changes everything.

Where did the idea for your album “Full Disclosure” first come from?

I had the idea of making an album in general for a really long time. I tried a bunch of different concepts and they just didn’t feel quite right, because I felt like I was trying to do too much for my first release. And I eventually just realized that the best idea would probably just be to introduce myself. I feel like the goal of “Full Disclosure” is to be vulnerable and open with the listener, and I feel like it’s pretty transparent. And that was my goal.

I love that you just mentioned being vulnerable because on your song “February Fever,” you sing about confessing your love to someone who then doesn’t take it seriously. Why do you think it’s important to showcase vulnerability in music?

I think vulnerability is important in music because real people are vulnerable and it humanizes not just me as an artist, but it humanizes struggle and makes it something that’s not so rare. It makes people feel like their experience isn’t something that just falls on them. And I feel like at the same time, it helps people become more attached to me as a character and as an artist because they can see themselves in the work that I do.

Photo: Ivan Davalos / Edit: Asha Imuno

What has been your favorite part of making music?

My favorite part of making music has been how unexpected collaborating could be or how spontaneous it could be. Songs like “New Eyes” on my album, that song was supposed to be just me, a cool little whatever song. But out of nowhere, I got the idea to put Damian on the song, and it took a long time but after he got everything back to me, it was a completely different concept it felt like. I think as a whole that’s the most fun, when somebody can share an idea with you and give birth to something that didn’t exist before.

What do you hope people take away while listening to this album?

I hope people take away a sense of self acceptance and willingness to be more vulnerable. Because there’s moments of extreme joy on the album, extreme despair, and love and stuff like that. And those emotions wouldn’t have been as visible had I veiled the way that I felt or chose to write about something that was cooler. I hope that people feel me as an artist and have a better understanding of what I plan to do in the future.

The post Asha Imuno Discusses the Importance of Honesty with “Full Disclosure” appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Nude, Trans and Empowered

March 29, 2019 - 6:25pm

For these models, posing is personal. Beyond making it as a model, they’re striving to get rid of negative stigmas about trans and non-binary body types in society.

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Categories: Blog

Playlist: My Dad’s Music

March 29, 2019 - 5:50pm

When I was younger, my dad played only one genre of music at all times. Salsa. Naturally, I developed a resentment towards the genre as a whole, since it was all I heard. Growing up around kids roasting me for different parts of my cultural identity (such as salsa), I grew astray from the music. But as I grew up, I began accepting my culture and being proud of my identity. Now, I hold the genre close to my heart. Here’s a list of songs that remind me of my dad and some songs he always used to play.

Johnny Colon – Son Montuno Joe Cuba Sextet – Cuenta Bien, Cuenta Bien Oscar D’León – Lloraras The Brooklyn Sounds – Mirame San Miguel Arcangel Cheo Feliciano – El Raton Pochi y su Cocoband – Salsa Con Coco Roberto Roena – Que Se Sepa Afro-Cuban All Stars – Amor Verdadero Johnny Colon & Orchestra – Mira Ven Aca Willie Colón – La Murga

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Categories: Blog

This is My Self-Care Routine — What’s Yours?

March 27, 2019 - 6:26pm

After two Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors died in apparent suicides in the same week, young people are talking about resilience and self-care, #MySelfCareRoutine.  

In a series of tweets, Parkland survivor-turned-activist David Hogg sparked the conversation. 

QT this with your self-care routine so we can all have a conversation about what self-care looks like, which is different for everyone

What self-care looks like for me is

-watching the office
-listening to Lo-Fi
-flying drones
-gardening #MySelfCareRoutine

— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 24, 2019

Hogg urged politicians to spend money on school mental health services instead of arming teachers. 

Stop saying “you’ll get over it.”

You don’t get over something that never should have happened because those that die from gun violence are stolen from us not naturally lost.

Trauma and loss don’t just go away, you have to learn to live with it through getting support.

— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 24, 2019

People across the country are adding their own #MySelfCareRoutine posts, sharing how they cope when things get tough. 

#MySelfCareRoutine looks like:

– working out
– playing the piano
– sharing with friends
– meditating when I can

We (and I especially) need to remember that if we can’t care for ourselves we can’t help anyone else https://t.co/WR7uxKsPq3

— Ethan Somers (@ethanjsomers) March 24, 2019

Best advice I ever got: Start the day by making your bed. For one, it means you got out of it. Secondly, it means no matter what crap life throws at you, you got one thing done today. And it encourages self. My daddy taught me that, the army taught me that and I’m passing it on.

— True Blood Net (@truebloodnet) March 24, 2019


-bubble bath
-spa day w/ massage
-dance party
-carefully chosen tv show
-angry cry w/ prayer
-face mask
-look for beauty
-sit or walk in nature
-coffee or smoothie
-sleep or nap
-sit/rest in the sun
-fresh sheets https://t.co/HFsEeIgKRL

— Jennifer Smith (@JenRachelSmith) March 24, 2019

My self-care routine
-stream feel good shows/movies I’ve already watched
-take a nap with the kitties
-clean up around the house/laundry
-see a friend or family member
-personal hygiene/dress nice#MySelfCareRoutine

— juliet (@julelouise) March 24, 2019

When it comes to my self-care routine, I like focusing on things that make me feel productive. Things like cleaning my room, going to the gym or practicing a forgotten hobby make me feel better. By doing something to improve myself, I can channel my stress into something positive.

Sometimes, you have to pause and ask yourself if you’re okay. If the answer is no, here are some suggestions people on Twitter are sharing. 

This helps me! #MySelfCareRoutine pic.twitter.com/zThuBE3Wlq

— Christine Parker (@ceemarieparker) March 24, 2019

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

#MySelfCareRoutine involves:
• being outside with my soccer ball
• listening to music
•laughing while watching my favourite comedies
•watching Scooby doo
It’s so important yet so often neglected to look after oneself. We must ALL make it a priority. #selfcare

— Kristen J. Prior (@KristenPrior) March 25, 2019

my self care routine (not in order and not always helpful. but i constantly try my best!!)
– journaling
– facetiming a friend
– spoken word and poetry
– counseling!!!
– practicing gratuity
– exercise
– calling my mom
– celebrating my small victories#MySelfCareRoutine https://t.co/r86Zz08bgJ

— kaylalala (@kayranguyen) March 25, 2019


– working out, especially yoga
– Walking, especially with family
– talking to family and friends
– working, because I love it
– meditating
– cooking while listening to music This list evolves as I do

— Lisa Bishop (@lisabishop34) March 24, 2019

The post This is My Self-Care Routine — What’s Yours? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog