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Updated: 16 min 13 sec ago

Inside The Industry – Hunter Marshal

March 27, 2019 - 5:43pm

In this week’s Inside The Industry, we meet Hunter Marshal, a very talented and hardworking individual in charge of Culture Marketing at Red Bull. He produces the Red Bull Music Presents shows and helps bring brand awareness to local artist communities. Hunter has been integral to the execution of numerous shows from artists like Kaytranada and Mr. Carmack to P-LO and ALLBLACK. Each of these shows has a story behind them — they celebrate the unique culture of different communities on the West Coast. In this interview, Hunter explains the ins and outs of his job, what it takes to throw a successful event, and gives out some free game to the youngsters.

EDEL: What is your job title and what are the main aspects of your job? Basically, what do you do?

HM: I work at Red Bull, the energy drink company, and my role is the Culture Marketing Manager for the Pacific Northwest. Basically, my job is kind of two parts — one, I produce all the Red Bull Music Presents shows for the Northwest. That would be Central California up to Seattle, Alaska, and Hawaii. Any of these shows that Red Bull does in terms of music or dance, I would be leading that with my team. We do a lot of emerging music shows, showcases, parties, concerts and work with local creatives in different markets to create these unique experiences. We did one in Oakland in July around the Oakland DJ community. [It focused around] the contribution of DJing [in] keeping Oakland’s music culture alive with the absence of live venues. We brought like six of the most influential DJ crews of the last five years from Oakland and did this celebration/dance party with them. It was two floors at Jeffrey’s Inner Circle in Downtown Oakland. [All the events] have a story like that. I had another one in December in the Bay with P-LO, called “Generations” which looked at the lineage and contributions of the Filipino American community to Bay Area music culture, history and broader hip hop culture. I did one in Hawaii with Kaytranada and Mr. Carmack celebrating the underground nightlife culture of Hawaii. We took over a warehouse and converted it into a one-night-only club. We’re taking these local storylines and creating unique experiences that are supposed to inspire and engage local music audiences.

So, that’s a big part of my job. The other part is bringing Red Bull into these different communities —- aligning our brand with the cool folks moving culture forward in their communities. At the end of the day, we’re promoting a product, but you know it’s really building brand awareness and credibility in these important communities for local scenes. So that’s what I do — creating shows and relationships on behalf of the brand.

EDEL: You also played a pivotal role on the Oakland Music Festival?

HM: Yes. I was part of the team that launched OMF in 2013. We launched over by the New Parish in Downtown Oakland and it had a indoor/outdoor stage with headliners like the Coup and Dam-Funk. We started there with about 700 people and then we ended up moving over to Franklin and Broadway where Pride is normally held. The next year, 2014, we had Dom Kennedy, SZA, SoSuperSam and Esta all before they popped off. So that was super tight.

I first came on to do marketing. I did all the marketing and PR for the first year and then the second year I took on booking as well. In 2015 we had Anderson .Paak and Goldlink and the festival kept growing, like to about 3,500 people.

I was also doing club promotion stuff at that time. I actually got my start in San Francisco. There was a club in the Mission called Som. I used to hella like going there. It was my favorite spot to go to. They posted on Facebook one day that they were looking for a social media intern so I hit them up and sent them my resumé. I ended up meeting the owner and his wife (this guy Kobo) and he kind of became my mentor. Then about a month in he hired me part-time to do all the social media, the newsletter and the calendar. He took me under his wing and helped me do my first event. He’s been my mentor ever since. Then he brought me into the festival (Oakland Music Festival). He ended up bowing out of the festival because he had a kid and so I took his spot. I did that for like five years and that’s where my story started and how I got to this point.

Photo from 2015 Oakland Music Fest

EDEL: Did you know that you were going to end up doing what you do now?

HM: I’ve always been a music head — in college I had a radio show and I was always the person that made CDs for people. So I knew music was something I was passionate about, but didn’t know where it would take me. I wasn’t really a performer or nothing — that’s not really my thing. I don’t necessarily like being on stage, but I still wanted to be around music. I worked on some concerts in college. I had a part time job promoting shows on campus and then I got a job at a PR agency. But when I came back to Oakland I got that internship at Som and it just built from there.

I think after I started doing more clubs and promotions, it began to feel like, “Oh this is something I could do.” I was doing a lot of social media for different spots like club 330 Ritch (which is no longer open). I was doing social media and digital marketing for them and finding gigs but it wasn’t a full-time thing. It was always a side gig for me while I had a regular job, but I wanted to do more of it. Then once I started on the festival (OMF), people really started to hit me for bigger projects and I started to think to myself, “I do want to try to make this my thing,” but it was a gradual process. It probably happened over about four or five years. I started to think, “Oh there is an opportunity to do music as a career even though I’m not necessarily a musician.” I tried to do promotion and social media freelance and do the festival but that was hard. Honestly, it’s a big gamble and there are a lot of expenses in doing music and event production, in particular festivals. I learned a lot from that — how to best throw an event, where I need to spend the money, what type of talent and audiences I need to be going after. I think I learned a lot from OMF but I honestly had to step away from it for awhile. I had been running it for a while and it hadn’t taken off the way that I hoped. Then Red Bull came knocking. They hit me up and offered me this position. So it just paid off after putting in that work.

EDEL: I feel like what you said about wanting to work in music, but not be a musician on stage, probably speaks to a lot of other individuals. So in regards to that, what are some other avenues people should explore if they want to work in music?

HM: Yeah, I have a lot of friends that work in music now and a lot of them aren’t on the stage. There is definitely a whole industry behind everything. It’s about really getting out there, finding out what you’re good at, what you want to do, where you can contribute and going after it. There’s a lot of opportunities, whether it’s doing production, working directly with artists, being a stagehand or actually doing event production. Or you could do music production and be behind the scenes creating the songs with artists or songwriters. You could write about music, you could do marketing, you could do talent buying. There’s a lot of different avenues to get involved in music without being a musician

The more you can do, the more valuable you’ll be to whoever you’re going to be working with and the more opportunities will come your way. A lot of times when you get into the industry you have to be able to wear multiple hats and do a lot of different things. You have to be able to fill a lot of holes on your own and then as you get bigger and more specialized, you can build out a team and start to focus on certain things.

EDEL: What are the pros and cons of your job?

HM: The pros, I get to throw shows. I’m about to go to Hawaii for a week to throw a party and get paid for it, that’s a pretty big pro. I get to travel a lot and work with a lot of different artists, especially up-and-coming artists and promoters that are really passionate about what they’re doing and about the music and their communities. Red Bull has really empowered me to give back. I think doing the Oakland Music Festival was a project of love trying to give back to my city and community, but I could only do so much as an independent person/independent business. But now with the backing of a larger corporation, I can do some of that same stuff and have a lot more to offer. So that’s a big pro for me.

The cons. I work all the time and travel too much sometimes. The stakes are very high and it can also be a high-stress job at times. I have to deal with a big corporate process for certain things. You have to stick to a process and get a lot of things approved — it’s not always the most efficient or fun part of the job but it comes with the perks that I get. Another con is I can’t work with everyone. Sometimes people think, “Oh you’re at Red Bull and you should be able to do whatever — you’ve got unlimited funds and you should be back in on my projects.” And in reality, I can’t always do that. Those are the things that are cons, but for the most part I love my job.

EDEL: What are the ingredients for a successful event?

HM: That’s a good question.

A successful event can be defined differently, it’s not necessarily always measured by having hella people show up. You can have a small event be the most impactful. Sometimes it’s better to do a smaller thing and do it really well. Just get the right folks in there and make the event something that’s either going to inspire them or connect them to each other. I always look at it like how are people going to remember this? How are they going to experience this? Is the goal to get people to just have fun? Or is it to get them to have a conversation about an important issue? Is it just for them to feel better and heal after something traumatic? Or is it to celebrate something beautiful? There are different objectives for every event. I think approaching an event with that in mind and being very deliberate makes it so that everything you do is focused on that intention. A lot of people are like, “Oh we’re going to throw this event,” and then they don’t necessarily plan or they don’t put as much thought into the execution and how people are going to perceive it. That’s where you can get into trouble. It’s really understanding who’s coming to the event and how you can do those extra things that they’re going to remember.

EDEL: If you can give one piece of advice to up-and-coming/young entrepreneurs in the same field, what would it be?

HM: I have a couple, actually. One, I would say just keep doing it. It’s tough to be an entrepreneur and it’s tough to be in the music industry but the people that make it are the people that keep going. Definitely keep pushing and learn from your mistakes. Get a mentor. It’s opened a lot of doors for me to have a key mentor but I really had multiple mentors, big homies and homegirls. I think that’s a key thing for a young entrepreneur or creative that want to really make it. It’s about finding those people that are going to help you understand how to grow and what you need to do. Then I would say build a team, you can’t really do a lot of this stuff on your own. Understand what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are and then find people that can help you fill the gaps. Even if you’re good at a lot of stuff, someone is going to be better at certain things and as you get bigger projects, you’re not gonna be able to do everything. That’s something that I’ve been learning and practicing more. As my projects get bigger and more complex and I have more of them, I realized that I can’t spend as much time on certain things. I need to see the bigger picture and make sure everything happens and coordinate the teams. I think if you spend time building a really solid team that you can you can grow with, you’re just going to be that much stronger. We had a situation for the festival where we grew really fast and then we had to scale back and regroup and get the team up so that we could grow again. So I’d say, just being perseverant and really dedicating yourself to it. That’s what I would I would tell any entrepreneur or creator.

The post Inside The Industry – Hunter Marshal appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Why It’s So Hard to Erase Hate Speech Online

March 27, 2019 - 12:17pm

A Netizen’s Guide to the 21st Century’s Eight Hells

The good news is that we’re not quite completely numb to horror.

That’s an odd way of starting off a piece about online hate speech and why it’s so hard to stamp out. But in the wake of a horrific act of violence that was born — at least in part — online, it is important to take a moment and acknowledge that we’re not numb.

As a species, humanity hasn’t accepted this cycle of hatred and violence as our final resting state, even if the online world we’ve built seems to be uniquely suited to spread anger, fear and hatred.

Some of that seems to be a function of human psychology: it’s always easier to believe something bad about yourself or someone else than it is to believe something good. Social media technology puts an emphasis on sharing, and the more you’re exposed to extreme ideas, the less resistance you have to sharing them.

What follows is a Dante-like walk through the 21st Century’s eight digital hells. Like the poet, we start at the outer gates of the inferno and make our way down to the pit itself.

Reddit

While no longer as “anything goes” as it once was, it’s still possible to find subreddits (translation for boomers: a forum dedicated to one topic moderated by a user) with a dark edge to them on the “front page of the internet.”

2015 saw a wave of forums shut down for harboring hate, and in the wake of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally that led to violence and death, the company began another purge. The 2015 purge led to a backlash against the company, but post-Charlottesville the culture has changed (in part because the worst offenders haven taken refuge in other online spaces).

Facebook

Everyone knows that conversations on Facebook can devolve into hate speech, but the social network doesn’t quite have the reputation of being where the worst of the worst organize.

Unfortunately with a user base that numbers in the billions and a reach that nearly encompasses the globe (China, not so much), even if a small percentage of malicious posts get through that can mean millions of users exposed to hate speech and plenty of hate groups connecting.

To deal with the glut of content, Facebook relies on outside contractors to review and moderate all kinds of nastiness. It’s a job that leads to burnout, and sometimes even the radicalization of the moderators. It turns out that if you look at posts about things like flat-earth conspiracies all day, you may start to believe them.

When Facebook has taken a stance on policing political speech in the past, they’ve been called out — particularly by right-wing politicians, who have a major talking point around conservatives being silenced online. Purges of political pages have lead to cries of censorship from both the left and right as Facebook tries to cull what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior”, aka getting rid of bots, trolls and other spammers who sway discourse through artificially-created volume.

This would be less of a problem if white nationalist terrorists, like the one who took so many lives in Christchurch, didn’t draw inspiration from mainstream right-wing politicians. Not to mention the fact that Facebook’s drive to get people to embrace livestreamed video enabled the Christchurch gunman to do exactly that until the feed was taken down. Unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough, as the graphic video still spread prolificly. 

Twitter

Facebook may be the center of gravity online, but the bleeding edge of culture happens on Twitter. When it comes to hate groups, the company has long had a problem — some of it technical, some seemingly a matter of will — with dealing with the worst offenders.

Twitter, after all, is where public shaming and harassment campaigns are a daily occurrence. There isn’t a part of the political spectrum that isn’t guilty of brigading users for one reason or another. But the presence of neo-Nazis and radical anti-feminists on the platform have led to cultural firestorms that have largely set the tone for the cultural conversation.

Meanwhile, just last week Republican Congressman Devin Nunes sued the company for $250 million for allowing parody accounts like @DevinCow, to mock him. Lawsuits like this can have a chilling effect on the company’s moderation policies, and could lead to Twitter clamping down on political speech across the board. That, or back away from doing any moderation at all if it is deemed less likely to lead to costly lawsuits.

YouTube

At this point in its life, YouTube is practically a utility. So much video is uploaded onto YouTube each minute that it would take many lifetimes to watch it all, let alone moderate it.

To organize it, the company turns to algorithms. Not just so that there are nice buckets of content, but so that people keep watching video after video. All so that YouTube can show you five seconds worth of an ad you can’t skip through.

As it turns out, this incentive to keep people watching is also a great tool for radicalizing people politically, or organizing child porn rings in comments sections. By creating a system that values similarity — you liked this, and so did someone who liked something else you liked, so maybe you’ll like this other thing they liked — YouTube has basically unlocked the internet’s id.

And then there is the simple fact that YouTube is home to all kinds of garden variety hate — from crappy comments to hours-long screeds over genre movies. On YouTube, cultural warfare is entertainment, and that entertainment leads to big bucks for a few content creators and billions for Google. It certainly doesn’t help YouTube when its biggest star is name-checked in terrorist screeds — whether that name check was sincere, malicious or something else entirely. It still happened, and it makes the company look like it is at best a clueless pusher of the worst aspects of humanity.

Discord

Discord is the glue that holds many communities together, with a user base that revolves around gaming. Discord offers voice chat and instant messaging and runs on just about everything this side of an internet-connected toaster. There are more than 200 million users of Discord as of December 2018, if Wikipedia is to be believed.

Discord the company has become more proactive about shutting down servers where hate groups congregate — the software was used by the organizers of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, which led to action by the company. However Discord’s greatest strengths — the ease of setting up a community, consistent user identity across servers, and searchable public servers — is fully exploitable by those looking to create boltholes and for recruiting vulnerable individuals into extremist thought. Which is why we find Discord here, just next to YouTube.

Stamping out servers full of trolls and white supremacists can be a game of whack-a-mole. One where it isn’t always possible to see the critters if they don’t want to be found.

Gab

Born in part as a protest to perceived bias by Twitter against conservative voices, Gab was created as a an alternative to the microblogging site. It became a go-to platform for the full spectrum of the far right: from hard-core conservatives all the way out to neo-Nazis.

Under the banner of free speech, you can find all manner hate speech, and the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies Gab as the platform that radicalized the man who attacked a Pittsburgh synagogue last October. While Gab claims to have 850,000 registered users, the SPLC asked social media analysis site Storyful to look into that number. They found that just “19,526 unique usernames had posted content” in a one-week period in January 2019. 

Gab’s reputation for being ground zero for some of the most radical right-wing extremists has led to it having problems with host and payment companies. Still, while Gab is small, its community has managed to have a disproportionate impact on the world through the violent acts of its most unhinged members. A key difference between Gab and the other social media companies mentioned is that they don’t appear to be phased at all by the fact that people are being radicalized on their site.

8chan

The image board site for people who are too extreme for 4chan’s anonymous threads. 4chan used to be the bottom rung of the internet before you had to spin up a Tor router and make for the “dark web,” but 8chan is now the internet’s filthy truck stop toilet. You might think that’s an insult, but honestly that’s putting it mildly. And an 8chan member would likely be flattered, right before they (GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION DELETED).

8chan ethos revolves around a radical approach to free speech that is buried deep in the internet’s DNA. Shock and grotesqueries have long been a currency — particularly amongst young men and adolescent boys —online. Yet gallows humor and a thirst for being desensitized to the worst that humanity has created can make for a feedback loop that makes radical juvenilia indistinguishable from political extremism. At a certain point, it no longer matters if someone is spreading hate memes for the lulz or to terrify others. What matters is the impact.

Dark Web

Everything we’ve walked through so far is fairly easily accessible online. If you know your way around a search engine — and most netizens do — you can find these sites and services. Odds are you found this article ON one of those services.

But there is another layer: the “dark web.”

Not so much a place as an idea, the “dark web” refers to all the sites, chat rooms, and little spaces online that aren’t publicly accessible. The dark matter of the online world, the “dark web” requires the use of services like Tor anonymity software to access an alternate universe of content.

What’s out there varies wildly, and it’s a mirror of the vanilla internet. It’s also where hate groups would slip away to if by some fiat of governmental or industry action all the Nazis and ISIS types were banned from the publicly-accessible net.

There’s a tradeoff to that idea, of course: by being forced out of the daylight, it will be harder for those groups to recruit from places like YouTube and Discord. It will also be harder for them to be monitored.

The post Why It’s So Hard to Erase Hate Speech Online appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: $hakon

March 26, 2019 - 6:10pm
OAKLAND RAPPER $HAKON IS A PART OF THE “AT THE MOMENT” MIXTAPE — NOW AVAILABLE ON ALL STREAMING PLATFORMS

The post Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: $hakon appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How Privilege Gets You into College

March 26, 2019 - 12:50pm

The college admissions cheating scandal is making headlines, but we want to talk about another way people have been using their privilege to get into colleges for decades. Seth Marceau sat down with Ivy League grad and writer Taylor Crumpton to talk about her experience navigating the Ivies as a black woman and her thoughts on legacy admission policies.

The post How Privilege Gets You into College appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Bay Word of the Day: Scraper

March 25, 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: Scraper appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Why I Want to Talk About My Period — And a New Emoji Could Help

March 25, 2019 - 8:00am

When I first got my period, I thought it was super cool. So did my friends. We had this attitude: “We were women now, and we wanted to flaunt it.” But a shame around our periods started to emerge, mostly through our conversations with teen boys.

The stigma around getting your period isn’t new. But there are signs opinions could be changing. Apple just announced that in the next iOS update, a period emoji will be released. It’s literally a droplet of blood.

And a movie about the fight against period stigma in a town in India, called “Period. End of Sentence.” won this year’s Best Documentary Short award at the Oscars.

There’s still a lot to overcome.

In the 1980s, a survey from tampon company Tampax showed that the majority of people found it unacceptable to talk about periods, even at home. More recently, a study from THINX, an underwear company, showed that 12 percent of women have been shamed by their families, and 10 percent by a classmate, when it comes to their periods, so it’s no surprise that 71 percent hide their pads or tampons when going to the restroom. From these studies, it appears the stigma starts at home and follows us through school.

In my experience, as the boys around me and my friends graduated from middle to high school but didn’t seem to mature, we definitely felt stigma around menstruation. Guys made comments like, “Oh, man, it’s that time of the month,” when we were angry or, “Ew, did I ask?” if we talked about it within earshot.

These comments have been a norm since I was in elementary school, when we had our first ever sex education class. Our teachers split us up into two groups, boys and girls, and gave us separate lessons. Girls were introduced to periods, while the boys learned about erections. 

My experience of isolated, gender-specific lessons on puberty is quite common, and studies have shown that a lack of comprehensive sex education for boys can harm women. The shaming that my female friends and I experienced fell into a weird cycle. Guys get grossed out when they know a girl is on her period, so she tends not to talk about it, and as a result, guys hear about it less and less in their daily lives. Our bodies became increasingly foreign to them. I even find myself hiding it from some of my closest guy friends, because it seems almost wrong to talk about in front of them. But now I’m pushing myself to talk about it more, even when I’m uncomfortable, because it’s natural.

My girlfriends and I are now pushing back against period stigma that we encounter. What happens when some random dude butts in on our conversations about our bodies? We’ll just yell at him to leave us alone. We’ve grown sick of this immaturity and the speculation about our private lives.

We are also actively normalizing conversations about periods amongst each other. We’re very open. We talk about cramps, cravings, the struggle of having to wear sweats for a week straight. We exchange pads and tampons when someone unexpectedly gets hit with their time of the month.

Though it may seem pretty minor, the introduction of this new emoji could destigmatize periods even further. It makes conversation between people online easier. Now imagine pulling up an image of a droplet of blood — a virtual symbol of menstruation — every time you open up your phone. Regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, you can click on that bloody emoji and send it in an instant. 

The post Why I Want to Talk About My Period — And a New Emoji Could Help appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Students Demand Action on Gun Violence

March 25, 2019 - 12:15am

On the first anniversary of the March for Our Lives protest, students rallied at Capitol Hill and delivered letters to politicians to demand gun reform.

The post Students Demand Action on Gun Violence appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Why I’m Not Afraid to Talk About My Chronic Pain

March 24, 2019 - 8:00am

I suffer from chronic pain. But my pain was invisible. So I was often greeted by disbelief.

Two years ago, I sprained my ankle. It didn’t completely heal. For months the pain got worse, until I was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a type of chronic nerve pain.

I spent the next eight months on crutches to give my foot room to heal.

During my rush-hour commute on BART, people were unwilling to give up their seats to a teenager, even one on crutches. They’d look down at my foot, then back up at me, questioning why someone my age would need the disability seating.

My pain therapist told me, “I see kids like you all the time.” She said that complex regional pain syndrome patients are most often teenage girls, like me.

While I’ve never met any, just imagining them makes me feel less alone.

Because even though the pain was bad, the isolation was even worse. I often asked why I was singled out to be living this nightmare. By speaking up about it now, I want to help ease the self-doubt and isolation that other chronic pain sufferers may feel.

The post Why I’m Not Afraid to Talk About My Chronic Pain appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Campus Closures Leave Students Reeling

March 22, 2019 - 8:00am

Dread. Tears. The sense of having wasted precious time.

These are just some responses from students at 22 campuses owned by a company called Dream Center Education Holdings, when they learned earlier this month that their colleges would suddenly close.

Tens of thousands students across the U.S. could be affected by the closure of most Argosy University and Art Institute campuses.

Dream Center, a Christian non-profit organization, acquired Argosy and the Art Institutes in 2017. Just one week prior to the closings, the U.S. Department of Education cut off federal loans to Argosy, after learning that the institution used $13 million of aid meant for students to cover payroll and other expenses, according to the Washington Post.

Students say they received an email about a possible shut down on March 6, just two days before schools officially closed their doors. Now, they say they’re scrambling to transfer credits to other schools, claim refunds on their student loans, or awaiting promised diplomas in the mail.

Here’s what five Argosy and Art Institute students told YR Media’s Amber Ly about the effect of the closures and their future plans.

Trey Young, 28, former Art Institute of Seattle and San Francisco student Photo courtesy of Trey Young

“I felt like Chicken Little, just like, ‘The sky is falling, the sky is falling.’ I was saying, ‘Everyone listen, we’re not going to have a school soon.’ But then, I never expected for it to be shut down before the end of the quarter. I thought at least we would get to finish our quarter out. Now, I’m going to finish my degree at the Seattle Film Institute.

“I’m also a veteran. I have family that can take care of me, but other veterans, they’re just gonna be another statistic of homeless veterans because of this situation.”

Evan Kelley, 21, former Art Institute of San Francisco and Hollywood student Photo courtesy of Evan Kelley

“Initially when the San Francisco campus shut down and I was told the Hollywood campus would remain open, I felt that maybe things could work out. [So I transferred to the Hollywood campus.] When I got that email [that the Hollywood campus was closing], there was just this like sense of dread. I felt like I had went mad for two seconds because I started to laugh. Like, ‘Come on, dude, I had just got here.’

“I kind of felt like the school had pulled the rug out from under me. I can’t change the fact that the school is closing. I have to roll with the punches and try to stay optimistic, because if I feel myself getting too down in the dumps, it kind of hinders my taking action. And I always wanna be proactive.”

Alexandra Beuchat, 33, former Argosy University, Denver and online student Photo courtesy of Alexandra Beuchat

“So, I’ve graduated. I have a transcript that shows the date of completion, but I’m still anxiously waiting every single day. I check the mail like a little kid on Christmas for the diploma. So if we don’t get these degrees, it would be devastating.

“When I heard the school closed, I cried all night because I had no idea what was going to happen. Some of us students have talked. And had Dream Center not continued to have promised that we would be fine, some of us probably would’ve switched schools and wouldn’t have to go through this.”

Jennifer Smith, 47, former Argosy online student Photo courtesy of Jennifer Smith

“There’s a group of us that were in the program together. And we’re looking at different programs to see where we can transfer our credits. And it’s just a handful of schools that’s even offering this type of program.

“I only had a certain amount of student loans available to finish my degree. Everything else would have to be private pay out of pocket. So, now, we’re just left out there to figure this out on our own.”

Rachel Maier, 32, former Argosy University, Tampa student Photo courtesy of Rachel Maier

“We’re just going to wait and see if a diploma shows up. I don’t have a whole lot of options. I had a 3-month-old when I went back to school, and I’ve taken four months time away from her while doing the program. I don’t think I’m eligible for the loan forgiveness because I’ve read the stipulations for that and it says if you’ve completed the program, then you’re not eligible even if you don’t get your diploma. So we’ll probably just end up calling it a wash if I don’t get my diploma at this point.”

The post Campus Closures Leave Students Reeling appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Remix Your Life Artist Profile: Sunday

March 21, 2019 - 6:12pm
OAKLAND SINGER/SONGWRITER SUNDAY IS A PART OF THE “AT THE MOMENT” MIXTAPE — NOW AVAILABLE ON ALL STREAMING PLATFORMS

The post Remix Your Life Artist Profile: Sunday appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Opinion: 5 Things the U.S. Can Learn from New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern

March 21, 2019 - 2:39pm

Less than a week after terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on all military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles. She also introduced a gun buyback program to encourage people to surrender those types of weapons.

The new gun policies announced Thursday come after 50 people were killed and another 50 wounded by a white supremacist gunman.

PM Jacinda Ardern says NZ will ban all military-style weapons and, assault rifles, high capacity magazines and parts that can turn a weapon into a military-style weapon.https://t.co/PN5Vvn2uJN

— RNZ (@radionz) March 21, 2019

The last mass shooting in New Zealand in 1990 also led to changes in the country’s gun laws.  

Gun reform advocates on social media are praising the Prime Minister and pointing to New Zealand as a model for how a country should respond after a mass shooting.

America, take notes. This is what you do after lots of people die as a result of accessibility to guns. https://t.co/QMto0lzQBl

— rubes (@ruby4everever) March 15, 2019

Gun rights supporters online see things very differently. 

New Zealand will ban assault rifles after a shooter killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch.

However, as Australia’s gun ban proves, stricter gun laws only disarm law-abiding gun owners.

Will New Zealand learn from its neighbor?

Watch: https://t.co/TDV0TGVPkj pic.twitter.com/xvKumOEKCJ

— PragerU (@prageru) March 21, 2019

New Zealand’s response contrasts to that of the United States, where 73 mass shootings have reportedly taken place since the beginning of 2019 (and it’s only March). Here are five things America can learn from New Zealand.  

1. Justice, Not Notoriety

Ardern has vowed not to speak the name of the perpetrator of the Christchurch terrorist attack. “Speak the names of those who were lost, rather than the name of the man who took them,” she implored in a statement. It’s amazing to see the Prime Minister choose victims over the attacker. America should take note.

2. Stricter Gun Laws – Immediately

Even before the law changed, gun owners in New Zealand — where firearm regulations had been relatively lax — started to turn in their weapons. The new regulations came quick — just days after the massacre. Ardern clearly understands the impact of gun control laws and the desperate need for change.

Until today I was one of the New Zealanders who owned a semi-automatic rifle. On the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn’t outweigh the risk of misuse.

We don’t need these in our country.

We have make sure it’s #NeverAgain pic.twitter.com/crLCQrOuLc

— John Hart (@farmgeek) March 18, 2019 3. Money for Funeral Assistance

The New Zealand government has pledged to cover up to $10,000 in funeral costs for the victims, the first of whom were buried Wednesday. In the U.S., by contrast, victims of tragedies are often are forced to launch GoFundMe campaigns to solicit donations for funerals and the other ongoing costs of losing a family member.  

4. Increased Social Media Regulation

The attack in Christchurch was broadcast on Facebook Live and viewed over 4,000 times before it was taken down. Facebook also reports that it took down about 1.5 million videos of the attacks worldwide. The role of social media in the massacre has sparked major debates on how sites should deal with graphic content and hate speech. 

We just shared more on our response to the horrific attack in New Zealand and how we’re working with local authorities and other tech companies to counter hate and terrorism https://t.co/mCU5FdCXhb

— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) March 19, 2019 5. Explicit Support for New Zealand’s Muslim Community

Instead of supporting the Muslim community, America too often shows the opposite, with Islamophobia going un-checked in the media and through policies including the so-called “Muslim ban.” New Zealand, by contrast, is offering a powerful display of solidarity. Ardern announced that on Friday, March 22 the Muslim call to prayer and a moment of silence will air on radio and television nationwide. 


The post Opinion: 5 Things the U.S. Can Learn from New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Making Beats in an Arcade with Found Sounds Episode 5 – Plank

March 20, 2019 - 5:49pm

Who doesn’t love the arcade? It’s the spot to find all your favorite old-school video games in one place. Oluwafemi and Clay Xavier explore Plank, an arcade in Oakland, collecting sounds and playing some games along the way! Oh yeah did we mention there’s bowling too?

Check out every episode of “Found Sounds.”

Check out the full track list.

Learn more about Plank

The post Making Beats in an Arcade with Found Sounds Episode 5 – Plank appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How To: Make a Beat Outside Your Comfort Zone

March 20, 2019 - 4:07pm

For many producers, being able to create great music across multiple genres is a dream. There are rewards to challenging yourself as a creative and making beats outside of your comfort zone. It allows you to explore a wider variety of musical sounds, and therefore reach a wider audience.  Having this kind of versatility under your belt can also give you a competitive edge in the music industry because you’ll be able to produce hits for anybody — R&B, Pop, Hip Hop, Trap, etc. The techniques I’ve outlined below will not only help you find some more slappin’ sounds to expand your repertoire, but will also help you figure out your OWN sound (if you don’t already have one).

1. Don’t think, just do.

Some of the best beats are made when you’re not overthinking, but instead just acting on what you hear immediately at that moment. Just do it! (shout out Nike)

2. Don’t listen to music right before you make a beat.

Many producers will listen to music made by the artist they’re working with to get a feel of what style they’re trying to cater to. But if you learn to listen to your own creative instincts before referencing other sounds, you can ensure that your beat will be fully authentic because you’re not trying to replicate a sound — you’re going off your own style and sound.

3. Figure out the basis of your beat.

What’s the BPM (Beats Per Minute/Tempo)?

What’s the pace (Double time, Half time)?

Oldschool? Newschool? Both?

4. Don’t overthink!

Like I said previously, the best beats are made when you’re not overthinking things like sounds or instruments. Essentially, just be open minded and try something new. You never know —- it might blap, or you might even find your sound.

5. Build on sounds

Figure out what type of sounds you’re envisioning like synths, bells, plucks, etc., and build on those.  Scroll through sounds until you find a named sound that catches your eye or sounds cool. If it sounds weird, keep picking sounds that sound dope until you find one you like.

Once you find your first sound, play the first couple melodies that come to mind.

Keep doing this for all your sounds.

6. Drum pattern: TRY NEW THINGS!

Try something you’re not used to. For example — multiple snares, claps, clap rolls, layer drums, or pitch your drums to give it a different effect.

Try using effects you haven’t used before to see if it further sauces up your midi’s.

7. Put your own sauce on it.

Whatever you have identified as what makes a beat uniquely your style — throw it in there. For ex: if your thing is triangles, throw a triangle in there.

The post How To: Make a Beat Outside Your Comfort Zone appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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