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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: 46 min 34 sec ago

How to Not Go Broke with Finance Expert Sonari Glinton

December 12, 2018 - 11:48am

How To Be A (Credit Score) Baller: Red Jeep Edition ft. Sonari Glinton

What you gonna do when the rent is due? Rely on your credit score or be a baller? 

YR Media’s Nyge Turner gets his young childhood dream of owning a red Jeep Wrangler crushed as he and Merk Nguyen get financial advice from an expert. NPR’s former business reporter, Sonari Glinton, is in to talk about credit: what it is, how to build it up, and why he thinks 22-year-olds (like Nyge) should bank on financial security instead of pics with Jeep Wranglers and Drake captions that make you look baller.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media’s Adult ISH podcast (episode 7 – Self ISH).

Nyge: Merk, I wanna tell you about a childhood dream. I was 10 years old in Hawaii on vacation and I hopped into this red Jeep Wrangler. And I’m sittin’ in it. Big wheels. It’s lifted up off the ground and I fell in love. And I always told myself, “When you make it Nyge, you are getting a red Jeep Wrangler.”

Merk: Well, we got the same paycheck and I’m definitely not getting enough [for] that. I mean, do you have good credit? What’s your credit score?

Nyge: I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever looked before.

Merk: How do you not know your credit score? Whatever. Live your dreams, but do it responsibly. And if I can’t convince you to do that, I’ve got someone who will: Sonari Glinton! He’s covered stories from the 2012 presidential race to pancakes being ‘on fleek’. So Sonari, what do you have to say to our generation?

Sonari: It’s this [interview] I realize that allows me the moment to be the old black man who says stuff at the barber shop and is like, “Listen to me, fool!” Nyge, I gotta tell you. That story was beautiful, but I’ve been a car reporter for six years. In that [time], I’ve only given a review of two cars. One is a Jeep Wrangler and it is the worst car…ever.

Nyge: Why? Can you imagine the amount of Drake captions I can put on my pictures when I post that on Twitter, like, I’m standing on the hood?

Sonari: Oh, you think it’s an SUV? Ain’t no storage in it.

Merk: We’re talking too much about cars. What we care about today is credit. We want to be able to get a car in the first place! Sonari, you’re our expert. What exactly is credit?

Sonari: Credit is your reputation. Back in the day, people would keep track and merchants would say, “Hey! Sonari don’t pay his bills.” We all have various kinds of credit, but the official kind comes with your credit score. Many of you know most of us have a credit score called your FICO credit score. It judges how creditworthy you are, meaning how likely you are to pay money back. The better your credit is, the less interest you have to pay on loans and things like that. 700 or so is a good credit score.

Merk: Someone once gave me advice to use your credit card as if you’re using a debit card because if you already know you have the money in your debit account, then you pay [that back to your] credit card right away. [They said] that’s a good way to build credit. True or false?

Sonari: If you can pay it off every month then that’s the same. Does that make sense? So, one of my automatic payments on my credit card is “pay full balance”. That will help create credit. I’m going to tell you — you’re 22 years old. You don’t need no car and you definitely don’t need no Jeep Wrangler.

Nyge: I do though! I’m supposed to pull up to my girl’s house on foot?

Sonari: You know what’s sexy to a woman? A man who can pay his own bills. A man who has stability. What are you going to do when the rent is due?

Nyge: I just got to look smooth. I didn’t say it was my wife. I said it was my girl. She don’t know what my rent look like.

Sonari: I just want to tell you this: Ralph Gilles is a black man who is the designer for Chrysler and he’s cute too. He’s a cute brother. He’s climbed over all these folks to be the head of design and design[ed] the Jeep Wrangler. I can’t even get down with it and it’s a brother who designed it! You know how few brothers there are out there?

Nyge: You just gave me another reason to get a Jeep Wrangler.

Sonari: Buy yourself a bicycle, man. Get yourself a nice video game.

Nyge: I’m gonna look even more broke! If I pull up on a bike, everybody’s like, “Oh, Nyge fell off. What is that boy doing now?”

Sonari: Young blood, here is what it’s about. It’s about your security. You can look baller or you can be a baller, but most of us cannot choose both.

Nyge: Well, Sonari, you’ve successfully crushed a young boy’s Hawaiian vacation dream.

Merk: We really do wanna thank you for giving your two-cents.

Sonari: Thank you. Don’t be ashamed. That’s all I’m gonna say.

The post How to Not Go Broke with Finance Expert Sonari Glinton appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

The Importance of Bystanders in Cases of Sexual Assault

December 12, 2018 - 11:23am

During Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this fall, the country was gripped by the story of an alleged sexual assault. One important piece of his story related to Mark Judge, a high school friend of Kavanaugh’s who is said to have witnessed the alleged incident. Judge’s presence brings up the question: What should bystanders do, when witnessing sexual harassment or assault?

I interviewed Peggy Orenstein, author of the 2016 best-seller, Girls & Sex, an examination of the emotional and sexual lives of girls. Orenstein is working on another book, now looking at the intimate lives of boys. She’s been asking, what responsibilities do boys take on when they witness their friend engaging in non-consensual behavior?

Orenstein: Do you ignore that person? Do you pretend it didn’t happen? Or do you say, ‘Well, he’s otherwise a good guy.’ How do you handle that when you’re in a friend group?

Since the #metoo movement started a year ago, we’ve been talking a lot about what steps young people like us can take towards preventing assault here at YR Media. Reporter Jeremías Arevalo, 18, speaks on the complicated experience of being an “active bystander.”

Arevalo: I sometimes go to parties, with a couple of friends. Most of the guys do look out for the girls, which I think is a really good thing. I thought, ‘That’s great, right, like my friend is a girl, we’re all going to be looking out for her.’

I remember that happened recently. We went to a party, and me and my friends were just staring at this guy who was dancing with one of my [female] friends, and we were just mugging him, making sure he wasn’t doing anything bad.

While many young people don’t know what to do after witnessing sexual harassment or assault, experts are working to build awareness around the importance of bystanders stepping in. YR Media interviewed Charol Shakeshaft, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and one of the leading experts in K-12 sexual harassment prevention. 

Shakeshaft: I think the training that’s done — a lot of it isn’t very good and very thorough. Not just training kids, but also bystanders. What’s your responsibility if you see this happening? If you are a bystander to violence, or you hear about it, if you act on it, you change the culture.

Shakeshaft is on the front lines of trying to change the culture. She advises school districts on training staff and students in personal space and consent, as well as bystander intervention.  

Arevalo, who recently graduated high school, brought up another benefit of being an active bystander that might not be visible to experts.

Arevalo: Just as much as we would talk to that one female friend about what signals to give us, I think us guys should have a talk with each other [about] how not to perpetrate [that behavior] ourselves. 

If you’re thinking ‘Oh, I’m here, I’m protecting my friend, it’s all good,’ then you might not think, ‘Oh, I’m gonna do something bad.’ You might put yourself at a higher status. 

Being an active bystander does not necessarily preclude a person from also perpetuating sexual harassment or abuse. Arevalo feels that young men should have conversations with one another, to work towards acting as consistent, self-aware allies–and to check themselves.

The post The Importance of Bystanders in Cases of Sexual Assault appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Found Sounds Ep 4: Urban Ore

December 11, 2018 - 6:59pm

In this episode of “Found Sounds,” music producers Money Maka and Clay Xavier explore the sonic textures of Urban Ore, a thrift store in Berkeley, Calif. The industrial warehouse is home to every used treasure imaginable. Watch as everyday recycled items become sweet music.

Check out every episode of “Found Sounds.”

Learn more about Urban Ore.

The post Found Sounds Ep 4: Urban Ore appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Mental Healthcare Crisis: Kaiser Workers Strike in Protest

December 11, 2018 - 2:23pm

Four thousand Kaiser Permanente mental healthcare workers began a five-day strike on Monday, Dec. 10 throughout California to address the growing challenges facing mental-health services.

The strikers say Kaiser, which insures more than 12 million people across the country, needs to improve the clinician-to-patient ratio, address long wait times and increase the frequency of returning patient visits.

“Enough is enough, and we’ve done our best to go through legal channels and work with Kaiser, but ultimately Kaiser isn’t going to make meaningful changes for patients unless we fight for it. We have to get out and fight for it,” said Gwendolyn Zannes, a licensed family and marriage therapist.

The company is one of the largest not-for-profit HMOs in the U.S. In California alone, Kaiser Permanente provides health insurance to more than 8.5 million people.

More than two-thirds of U.S. counties had “‘severe shortages’ of psychiatrists and other behavioral health providers,” according to a study published in the National Council for Behavioral Health.

“To be completely frank, the bottom line is we need to get patients in to see us with enough frequency, intensity and duration in order for them to have a meaningful treatment experience,” said Clement Papazian, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked at Kaiser for 30 years.

Even though laws in place mandate that mental health services be comparable to physical health services, that hasn’t always been the case in practice. Some patients wait to be seen more than six weeks after inquiring about their first appointment, which could be life-threatening, according to Zannes.

Why is it so hard to get mental health therapy even if you have insurance?

“If you’re paying for insurance, then you should be able to use your insurance and not pay out of pocket for private services, but a lot of people end up having to do that anyways,” Papazian said.

That’s because Kaiser, according to both Papazian and Zannes, hasn’t hired enough clinicians to accommodate the demand for mental-health appointments.

“They said they’ve hired hundreds, but the number of members we have has quadrupled and we’re out of balance with the whole system,” Zannes said.

Kaiser disputes that it hasn’t been doing enough to expand its staff.

“We have been hiring therapists, increasing our staff by 30 percent since 2015 — that’s more than 500 new therapists in California — even though there’s a national shortage,” said John Nelson, Vice President of Communications at Kaiser Permanente.

The national shortage of therapists means that the problems of access to mental-health care isn’t an issue limited to one company.

“Mental-health issues are so pervasive and still such a challenge,” said Harry Nelson, chair of the board of the Behavioral Health Association of Providers. “And I think psychiatry has been a challenging place to be. It’s been a practice area that’s in some ways doesn’t get the same level of respect and has not been the center of innovation.”

Harry Nelson draws a line between our culture’s reluctance to deal with mental-health issues as a whole, and the lack of those willing to work in the field. The care that is available in health plans is often limited.

“A patient may come in with depression and a plan may only offer 12 to 16 sessions of treatment, when in reality, many of these conditions are really long-term conditions that require much more care. And there just aren’t enough dollars in the system and resources to meet the needs,” he said.

The human impact

“If a patient with depression can’t get in after seeing you one time for six weeks, what’s going to happen?” Zannes asked. “That depression is going to get worse and what does that mean? That puts them at higher risk and they may end up going to a hospital and imploding the emergency room.”

The end result, Zannes said, is that the emergency room becomes filled with people who could have been seen earlier, before their symptoms became severe.

For these reasons even those who have health insurance often find themselves using out-of-plan resources to get timely care, a quick fix that isn’t an option for many when it comes to a systemic problem.

Resources for those who need help now: 

If you’re experiencing anxiety or depression and feel you need help now, you can reference local community resources. Many of these options come from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which has even more listings on its website.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides referrals to support groups, mental health professionals, resources on loss and suicide prevention information. Phone: 1-888-333-2377

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides 24/7 crisis intervention, safety planning and information on domestic violence. Phone: 1-800-799-7233

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline connects callers to trained crisis counselors 24/7. They also provide a chat function on their website. Phone: 1-800-273-8255

NAMI’s recommended mental health resources:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) provides information on prevention, treatment and symptoms of anxiety, depression and related conditions. Phone: 240-485-1001

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) provides information and referrals on ADHD, including local support groups. Phone: 1-800-233-4050

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) provides information on bipolar disorder and depression, offers in-person and online support groups and forums. Phone: 1-800-826-3632

International OCD Foundation provides information on OCD and treatment referrals. Phone: 617-973-5801

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) maintains the Schizophrenia Anonymous programs, which are self-help groups and are now available as toll-free teleconferences. Phone: 240-423-9432

Sidran Institute helps people understand, manage and treat trauma and dissociation; maintains a helpline for information and referrals. Phone: 410-825-8888

TARA (Treatment and Research Advancements for Borderline Personality Disorder) offers a referral center for information, support, education and treatment options for BPD. Phone: 1-888-482-7227

The post Mental Healthcare Crisis: Kaiser Workers Strike in Protest appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

My Undocumented Friend Has Mixed Feelings About the Migrant Caravan

December 11, 2018 - 1:52pm

My close friend from school can light up any room. He makes people laugh, he dishes out handshakes left and right, and most of all, he has a truly infectious smile. I remember the very first thing my mom said to me after meeting him was, “That boy just has the sweetest smile in the world, doesn’t he?”

Until just a few weeks ago, I never would’ve guessed that he had so much hidden behind that smile. One day in class we were joking around, neglecting our assignments, when I brought up the idea of traveling to another country, to which my friend responded that he would never be able to do that.

When I asked him why, he told me in the most casual, nonchalant way that it was because he’s an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. I was taken aback at first. Until then, I had never met or known someone who’s undocumented. 

Whether you follow the news or not, it’s hard to deny the issue of immigration has become a heavily debated topic in our country. Even my friend, who came to this country illegally, is morally conflicted by the controversial migrant caravan. 

Recently, I decided to sit down with my friend to have an open conversation about how he crossed the border, what it’s like to be an undocumented young person in the Trump era, and what his thoughts are on the migrant caravan at the border. I’ve withheld his name for security purposes.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 


Eli Berrick/ YR Media: What are your thoughts on the news that’s been coming in regarding the migrant caravan at the U.S. border?

Friend: Honestly, I’m against it but also for it. I’ve seen all these videos that show migrants throwing rocks at helicopters and doing all these things that they shouldn’t be doing. Being violent is not the right way to go about it. If they want sanctuary here in the U.S., they should definitely be more peaceful about it. But at the same time, I’m for it, because I feel them, you know? They come to this country, wanting a better life for themselves and their families.

EB/YR: What do you remember about your experience coming to America?

Friend: I was 4, turning 5. I remember that in order to come here, we had to pay people to bring us across. Some dude that my dad knew drove [me and my sister across the border] and we used false papers. We were scared, but our parents told us to stay calm, that everything would be OK. My sister was crying almost the whole way, so I was trying to stay calm for her. At some point, the guy told us to go to sleep, so we slept the rest of the way. When I woke up, we [were with another man] who we later found out was my uncle. We had already crossed, but I didn’t know that at the time. I thought I was still in Mexico. I thought my parents were going to be there when we woke up, but they weren’t, so I was scared. My parents ended up staying in Mexico for two more weeks before they crossed over to meet us.

EB/YR: What’s your documentation status now?

Friend: I’m not completely sure, but basically there’s no record of me or my sister being here. We don’t have a visa or a green card. We don’t have anything to identify us as who we are.

EB/YR: Does your status make you feel different from other young people in any way?

Friend: Honestly, I don’t feel any different. I mean, of course, there are things I can’t do. I can’t travel out of the country, so I can’t visit my family back in Mexico. That sucks because, like, the majority of my family is back in Mexico and I can’t ever see them. That kind of gets to me sometimes.

EB/YR: Do you ever worry about being caught or deported?

Friend: I personally don’t because say an ICE officer ever talks to me, right? I speak English. I’ve lived here pretty much all my life. They’re not going to just assume I’m an illegal immigrant, right? I’m more scared for my parents. They don’t speak English as well as me, and they don’t know what to do in that situation. I’m not going to be with them all the time to help them out, so I worry for them.

EB/YR: How did your family react when President Trump took office?

Friend: When Trump was elected, of course I was scared. My whole family was scared. But I was able to keep cool for them to show them that everything’s going to be OK.

EB/YR: Everything you’re saying sounds so brave. Where do you think that sense of strength and resilience came from?

Friend: I grew up with my dad, who’s always been a very tough guy. When he’s not there, I’m the one that looks over my mom and my sisters. I hate seeing them be scared. I used to be scared with them, but I realized that if I keep myself cool, they’ll channel that from me. My parents are always worried these days, mostly about [the possibility] of us having to go through the process of being taken away. There’s all this controversy about separating families, so they never want us to experience that. I try to keep myself and my younger sisters cool, so my parents don’t have another thing to worry about.

EB/YR: Looking back, are you upset that your parents brought you here?

Friend: I thank them a lot. When we first arrived here and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to see my family in Mexico anymore, I got really upset at them. If I was still [in Mexico], I’d probably just be working instead of going to school. I probably wouldn’t have the clothes I have now. I’m here and I’m grateful because they gave me the opportunity to [do what] they never had the opportunity to do.

EB/YR: Is there anything that you wish people understood about what is like to be undocumented?

Friend: There’s a lot of people that don’t like undocumented people and think we’re all the same, but we all come here for different reasons. We come here to be successful, not to take people’s jobs, not to do illegal things, none of that. We simply don’t want the life that we lived in Mexico. We want a better life. We want to be able to thrive.

The post My Undocumented Friend Has Mixed Feelings About the Migrant Caravan appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Momma I Made It: Social Media Star Demetrius Harmon Talks Mental Health

December 10, 2018 - 12:10pm

Actor/model/poet Demetrius Harmon on how social media and his mom helped save his life.

YR Media’s Nyge Turner and Merk Nguyen get real in their feels about mental health issues with model, actor, and poet Demetrius Harmon (who you might’ve seen glowin’ up on Vine back in the day #RIPVine). His candid conversation with the co-hosts goes into dealing with feelings, how his mom literally saved his life, plus why some communities of color don’t talk about depression or anxiety.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media’s Adult ISH podcast (episode 7 – Self ISH).

Nyge: We’ve seen you with Zendaya, with Yara Shahidi, with Khalid on the “Young Dumb & Broke” video, and you have over 900,000 followers on Instagram. Is it safe to say that you’re out there you know, Lil Duval, “living your best life”? Or does real life sometimes get in the way?

Demetrius: It’s a mixture of both because I struggle with being depressed and anxious. I think I look so happy within those moments because when things are happening, I really take everything in as it is.

Merk: You once tweeted “the best/worst thing that happened to you was Vine.” What did you mean by that?

Demetrius: It’s a good platform, but a gift and a curse because people try to dumb down the things you do. That’s a part of why I changed my name [from Meechonmars to Demetrius Harmon] because I wanted to separate myself from that.

Nyge: When I first found you on Twitter, that was a really rough part of my life. I think three years ago, my anxiety got so bad that I was hospitalized and everybody thought I was crazy. I would watch your videos and was like, “I’m not crazy.” You’ve always been extremely open about your depression and anxiety. Has that always been the case?

Demetrius: Not really. [Sophomore] year I tweeted something in relation to being suicidal. I never told people in my school what I did, never expected them to find my Twitter. One of my friends brought it up and I was scared because I didn’t really talk about it to people. I didn’t like the idea that [they] had that power to make me feel bad about it. So, I decided I would take control and make it visible. No reason why anyone should be scared to speak about how they feel because when we don’t, that makes it worse.

Nyge: I can’t speak for other communities of color but as black men we don’t really talk about mental health in our culture. Why do you think that is?

Demetrius: If we look back at generations, like my grandmother’s generation, they had to deal with Jim Crow laws. Your feelings [got] put on the back burner because you were living in paranoia. Now we’re starting to focus on things that affect us internally, because I don’t think they had the time to do that [before]. My grandma has become more open and she understands why my dad [is] maybe closed off. She kind of raised him to think, “One, you’re a man, you’re not supposed to show these emotions. Two, you’re a black man, you have to be on defense and be strong.”

Merk: I think [some] of our parents’ generation came from the Vietnam War. There was so much trauma they just didn’t talk about. I feel like that does a disservice to people our age because we recognize the problems and it’s like, “My parents aren’t talking about it. Why should I?” But I have a lot of hope for our generation speaking up.

Nyge: Yeah, I think something sobering is: right now we’re three people of color having a conversation on a platform about mental health.

Merk: There was a video that you tweeted back in July [where] you talked about your mom and how she came through when you wanted to take your own life. Were there any specific things she did that made all the difference for you?

Demetrius: She validated my feelings. My dad is the opposite of me when it comes to emotions. I was a crybaby back in the day and when I would cry, my dad would tell me, “Stop being a little girl.” And my mom would just let me cry. She wouldn’t tell my dad about me being late to school and stuff like that to protect me. One absolute thing I know is that my mom loves me. It’s part of everything I do.

Merk: What’s great about people like you is that you provide a voice that some other people don’t have within themselves to really share. I struggled with that when I was younger. Seeing people like you vocalizing how you’re feeling and who you are on the inside, it’s really a breath of fresh air.

Demetrius: Thank you. This is really good to hear.

Nyge: We usually ask our guests to drop a little bit of knowledge to their younger selves [with us]. In this case, we’re going to drop advice to our future selves. Let’s go…

Merk: I would say listen to your kids and value what they have to say.

Nyge: [My advice] would be: believe them when they say how they’re feeling.

Demetrius: I would say don’t hit your children because it reinforces fear in them. Listen to them about the things they want and don’t get too consumed with work.

The post Momma I Made It: Social Media Star Demetrius Harmon Talks Mental Health appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Jewish Enough to Feel the Difference Under Trump

December 10, 2018 - 11:55am

Although the American cycle of mass shootings began to feel predictable long ago, I still haven’t numbed to it. When I got the notification that 11 people had been killed at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue, my stomach clenched, the world got hazier, and I felt disconnected from reality: all too familiar reactions by now. But days later, when the sensation refused to subside, I realized something was different. I felt connected to this tragedy as a Jew in a way that I hadn’t felt as a high school student after Parkland or as a concertgoer after Las Vegas.

I was surprised by this feeling, since I am entirely secular. I could count on two hands the times I’ve been to synagogue, mostly for friends’ bar mitzvahs. My family lights candles on a menorah across the room from our Christmas tree. At Seder dinners, we skim through the Haggadah to get to politics. I am Jewish by name, features and family history.

While growing up in the US as a Jew hasn’t made me feel non-white, at the same time, I know Jews are hated targets of white supremacists. I’ve lived mostly in Berkeley, California, the son of two professors, in a social bubble where Jewish integration is complete. Some of my friends are white, and some of them are Jewish, but we go about our lives with many of the same privileges.

I’ve also grown up partly in Paris, France. Despite my French passport and family ties, I don’t feel quite as white in France. Although France has a history of republicanism–emphasizing civic duty and individual liberty—still, for many, “being French” means generations of French people in your family history and a last name like Beaulieu or Chevalier. I remember that in Paris, in fifth grade, I had a friend whose father was a Holocaust denier. At dinner my friend’s father announced that if people were truly deported from France to death camps, they weren’t really French, but foreigners (he meant Jews, both French- and foreign-born, casually referring to my own family members who had been sent to to their deaths).

Of course, anti-Semitism exists in the U.S., too. My grandmother’s family came to America after World War II. When her parents tried to rent an apartment in Minneapolis, the landlady apologetically told them that she couldn’t rent to them, since her sister was unwell and living downstairs — presumably because Jewish refugees carried diseases.  

But my grandmother climbed the academic ladder, helping to set the stage for my life in Berkeley, and now as a student at Harvard. The US has traditionally made space for this possibility: outsiders—though only certain outsiders at certain times—have had children and grandchildren who felt like insiders. Harvard’s new president, Lawrence Bacow, has said that his mother arrived in the US as a 19-year-old Auschwitz survivor, the only one in her town to survive. “Where else,” he asked, “can one go in one generation from off the boat with literally nothing to enjoying the kind of life and opportunity that I and my family have been fortunate to enjoy?” Now, he went on to say, we must defend the things that made that possible, including a humanitarian openness to immigrants.  Many people, I know, never had the opportunity to become insiders in America. But it was possible for some, who have a responsibility work to make it possible for more.

And yet, instead we’re building walls, putting up razor-wire, and sending troops to the border to defend us against exhausted, famished refugees.

Shortly before the Pittsburgh massacre, the shooter tweeted about HIAS, a Jewish organization that helps refugees, and about the caravan of migrants crawling towards the US border. The Tree of Life Synagogue works with HIAS. Extreme-right groups and authoritarian governments tend to tout conspiracy theories about this connection between Jews and refugees, especially focusing on the billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Trump, energized by the midterms, joined these conspiracy theorists, railing against Soros, accusing him of funding the migrant caravan and resistance to Brett Kavanaugh.

Perhaps I feel connected with Pittsburgh because it is a reminder that, even as a non-practicing Jew, I am — as my great-grandmother put it — “Jewish enough for Hitler.” I am Jewish enough for his current admirers, too. But my dismay extends beyond concerns for the Jewish people. There is also a more universal worry: what is happening to our democracy, in the wake of these racially motivated attacks? Manuel Valls, French Prime Minister during the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, observed: “History has shown us that the reawakening of anti-Semitism is a symptom of a crisis of democracy.”

A resurgence of anti-Semitism in the US is scary to me as a Jew. Recognizing it as heralding the collapse of a humane, democratic international order is scary to me as an inhabitant of the world.

The post Jewish Enough to Feel the Difference Under Trump appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Four States Where You Can Go To College For Free

December 10, 2018 - 11:38am

Student loans suck. Americans owe a staggering $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, according to the Federal Reserve. But in the last couple of years, individual states have been stepping in to help fill the void with “College Promise” programs and other types of community and state college scholarships.

That means that if you’re a resident of California or a handful of other states, you might be able to go to college for free, and avoid taking on student debt yourself. Yay, free money!

Here are a few of the states where you can attend college for free:


Thanks to a bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown last year and budget approval, the state of California is now offering a free year of college at all of its 114 community colleges to California residents who are recent high school graduates.

California’s “College Promise Grants” are separate from Cal Grants and vary regionally throughout the state. (More information about them is available here.) For example, as of August 27th, Contra Costa Community Colleges are offering free tuition to incoming “first-time, full-time” students through its FT3 initiative.

To be eligible for the tuition waiver, applicants must be taking at least 12 units, maintain a 2.0 GPA, complete an application for the program as an application for federal student aid (either through the FAFSA or the California Dream Act), create an educational plan, and be in their first year of college ever. The program encompasses all three of the community colleges in Contra Costa’s district: Contra Costa College, Los Medanos College and Diablo Valley College.

Another California program, called Free City, is available for San Francisco residents. The program is available for both full and part-time students through City College of San Francisco, though it’s not applicable for summer classes.


In May, Maryland passed a bill that will fully cover community college tuition for all full-time students from families who make under $125,000/year. The only requirement is that students must maintain a 2.7 GPA and attend college within two years of leaving high school. The law will go into effect in 2019.

This makes Maryland the most recent participant of the 16 states that run College Promise programs for their eligible residents, including Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Missouri and Hawaii.

New York

Through the Excelsior scholarship, New York now offers free tuition to residents at any two or four-year public college or university in the state. The scholarship grants up to $5,500 to full-time students with household incomes ranging up to $100,000 (that limit rises to $125,000 in 2019.) Excelsior currently assists just over 20,000 students, although research indicates that requiring recipients to complete 30 credits a year in order to be eligible currently poses a major barrier to the growth of the program.


Tennessee now offers two free tuition programs to its residents designed to address the needs of different demographics of students: Tennessee Promise is for recent high school graduates and Tennessee Reconnect is for independent adults who are returning to school. Both programs are “last dollar” tuition programs, meaning they kick in to pay fees that are not covered by other federal and state grants.

The Tennessee Promise Program provides two free years of tuition, in addition to mentoring services, to all graduating high school seniors in Tennessee. In order to maintain the scholarship, students must attend regular meetings with a mentor, maintain a 2.0 GPA and complete eight hours of community service per school term. Tennessee Promise has been available since 2015.

Tennessee Reconnect, which came into effect this year, is aimed at an older demographic, targeting adults who previously left school and are looking to start or finish their first college degree. To be eligible, applicants must complete the FAFSA, be independent students, and enroll at least part-time (or six instruction hours per week) in college.

The post Four States Where You Can Go To College For Free appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

I Captured the Migrant Caravan First-Hand Through Mexico

December 7, 2018 - 6:48pm

Jair Cabrera is a photojournalist in Mexico. The article and photo captions below were translated to English from the original Spanish by Peter Eversoll.

A migrant runs desperately to catch up with a truck heading north on Nov. 11, 2018. Many migrants from the caravan walked most of the way from Central America to central Mexico. However, for the remaining 1,700 miles to the border, getting a ride on a truck was a matter of survival for some. (Photo: Jair Cabrera)

Oct. 19 is a date that marks a “before and after” for Central American immigration. That’s the day a migrant caravan composed of thousands of people from different parts of Central America entered Mexico. Many of the migrants saw the massive size of their caravan as an opportunity for a safer trip — a way to avoid the possible violence, robberies and extortion they could face if they took the trip alone.

Migrants hurry to jump on a truck to get a ride north to the U.S. border on Nov. 11, 2018. Because of the need for transportation, vehicles were adapted to carry people for the long journey – the truck pictured is usually used to move livestock. (Photo: Jair Cabrera)

I grew up in Iztapalapa, in the eastern part of Mexico City. In my neighborhood, daily life is marked by a lack of opportunities and a high rate of violence, which has caused many people to flee. Since I was little, I’ve lived with migration constantly in front of me: close friends and family have had to leave to find a better life for themselves. This has sparked my interest in the topic, because the migrants I photograph reflect the people I know who have migrated, too.

Children and their families are loaded onto trucks on Nov. 11, 2018. For many, the risks outweigh the threats back home in Honduras, making this a journey of survival. (Photo: Jair Cabrera)

I traveled with the migrant caravan for a week. During this journey, the Central American migrants transformed spaces in order to survive and to continue north. I watched as trailers and trucks, normally used for merchandise or animals, were adapted to carry people across an entire country.

In Mexico City, a sports complex was turned into a shelter with enormous tents set up as dormitories and cisterns for bathing. In one corner of the shelter, some migrants set up a salon, making money by cutting hair and doing eyebrows.

Gerson earns his way cutting hair in one of the shelters set up in Mexico City on Dec. 7, 2018. Originally from Honduras, he felt unsafe there, especially after his brother was murdered. (Photo: Jair Cabrera) In Mexico City, migrants shelter in a soccer stadium on Nov. 28, 2018. The caravan spent a week here, letting migrants catch up, rest and organize resources for the long journey ahead towards Tijuana. (Photo: Jair Cabrera) Dozens of migrants are piled into a truck — this one usually used to transport cars — for the long drive north on Nov. 11, 2018. The trip from Mexico City to Tijuana takes between 36 to 48 hours. (Photo: Jair Cabrera)

After having spent a week traveling with them, I, too, decided to arrive in Tijuana. I’ve always been struck by its status as a border city. Just walking down the street, you hear so many stories and dialects, reaffirming that this is a city full of immigrants who were able to adapt to a new place.

A baseball stadium in Tijuana converted to an improvised migrant camp is home to hundreds of people on Nov. 28, 2018. There was a desperate feeling among the migrants waiting to cross into the United States in search of political asylum. (Photo: Jair Cabrera) In Tijuana, a woman carries her child across the flooded camp where dozens of families are staying on Nov. 30, 2018, just a few yards away from the border wall that separates their dreams from their reality. Extensive rain created chaos and provoked a humanitarian crisis. (Photo: Jair Cabrera)

During my current stay, I met a group of young people (six guys and one woman with her 3-year-old daughter) who had been traveling together since entering Mexico, and I listened to their stories. On Tuesday morning, I went to the shelter where they were staying and they told me that they were going to jump the border fence, so I decided to spend the whole day with them.

A young man takes shelter from a downpour on Nov. 29, 2018. The rain in Tijuana took an emotional toll on the migrants of the caravan. (Photo: Jair Cabrera)

The moment had come for them to take off and we walked a couple of hours to find the perfect spot to cross. There was no time to say goodbye, and they crossed. I watched them through a hole in the fence as the border patrol caught them and loaded them on to a truck. I have no idea what happened to them. It makes me so sad to think of the thousands of migrants who cross borders every day without knowing what’s in store for them.

After reaching Tijuana, a group of migrants attempts to cross the border on Dec. 4, 2018. Here, a man helps a young girl jump the fence. (Photo: Jair Cabrera) Dozens of migrants in Tijuana pray for safe passage to the United States so they can turn their American Dream into a reality on Nov. 27, 2018. (Photo: Jair Cabrera)

To see more of Jair Cabrera’s photos, check out his Instagram

The post I Captured the Migrant Caravan First-Hand Through Mexico appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Hijabs, Burkinis and More: Explore the Diversity of Muslim Fashion

December 6, 2018 - 2:03pm

Tour the San Francisco de Young Museum’s stunning Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibit, with pieces ranging from a headscarf labeled “Feminist” to Nike sportswear. Sasha Shahinfar, a member of the de Young’s Teen Advisory Board, gives an inside look at key garments, as well as exhibition galleries designed by Hariri & Hariri Architecture.

Pieces Shahinfar highlights include a “Feminist” headscarf by Nourka, a “US Constitution and First Amendment” flight jacket by Céline Semaan Vernon for Slow Factory, and a wedding ensemble by Shakeel’s Boutique.

The Contemporary Muslim Fashions exhibit runs until Jan. 6, 2019.

Learn more about the exhibit and how you can visit.

The post Hijabs, Burkinis and More: Explore the Diversity of Muslim Fashion appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

TikTok’s Blowing Up – but Will It Implode?

December 6, 2018 - 11:51am

The latest and greatest social media app, TikTok, has emerged from one of the cringiest corners of the web, and it’s quickly becoming home to an entirely new ecosystem of memes, viral challenges and internet celebrities.

The music-focused, short-video-sharing app was first introduced back in 2017 when its predecessor, Musical.ly, was purchased by Chinese company Bytedance. Bytedance combined Musical.ly with its Chinese counterpart, Douyin, and TikTok was born.

Today, TikTok has become a global phenomenon, with most of its 130 million users in China. While users in the U.S. have been slower to adopt the platform, TikTok’s unique culture and steadily growing audience could mean big changes are ahead for the more established social and video platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

“The app overall is an amazing platform to really see what people can do with just a few seconds. The comedy aspect of the app is something that I really enjoy,” said Kevin Carrieres, an 18-year-old from Arizona and established TikTok influencer.

Kevin Carriers, who goes by kjcproductions, is an established TikTok influencer.

“Honestly I have nothing bad to say about TikTok,” said Cristain Rodriguez, one half of the TikTok-famous brotherly comedy duo, TheRodriguezTwins. “No other platform has helped us the way TikTok has.”

A video from comedy duo The Rodriguez Twins.

Those who haven’t had much experience with the app are most likely to encounter TikTok’s short, choppy videos — often featuring dancing, lip syncing and other incorporations of popular music — and the app’s signature cringe-factor.

In a piece for The Atlantic, social media reporter Taylor Lorenz went so far as to describe TikTok content as being “so painful and embarrassing that a viewer can’t help but laugh.”

TikTok is often compared to Vine, the much-beloved six-second video app that was shut down in 2016.

Rodriguez, who was recruited to create content on TikTok thanks in large part to his and his brother’s Vine fame, said the comparison isn’t entirely fair because TikTok also offers a robust live-streaming feature in addition to the main video feeds.

The two apps do have one major similarity, in that both feature strict video length restrictions: TikTok videos must be under a minute. But TikTok’s unique culture and ever-changing selection of memes has established it as something far-flung from Vine and the more mainstream apps like Instagram or Snapchat.

Unlike on any of those platforms, the videos on TikTok are surprisingly — almost eerily — homogenous. A scroll through the public posts will quickly reveal that there are only a handful of popular video styles (often inspired by hashtags or challenges) at one time, and it often feels as though everyone on the app is participating in them.

For example, a recently popular challenge includes the subject using rubber bands or a nerf gun to knock down paper signs to the beat of a song, revealing a funny joke or a surprise in the process. No one community on TikTok — not the furries, the fitness nuts, the military fanatics or the makeup gurus — was too cool to not post its take on this newest challenge.

A TikTok user participates in a recent challenge. 

At first glance, this phenomenon could give a newcomer the impression that there’s a lack of creativity on the app, but rather, this reporter would argue that the uniformity creates a sense of harmony throughout the platform — unity, even — that is entirely missing from the more crowded social apps.

That unity is incredibly refreshing and encouraging to see online, especially after the cringe-factor has worn off, and is a big selling point for users.

In a recent edition of the Axios Media Trends Newsletter, Sara Fischer wrote, “Mainstream social media apps have grown so big that users are flocking to a less crowded and commercialized place, where they can focus on creating silly and fun original videos, without worrying about the stress that comes with widely sharing them on massive networks.”

At the same time, however, TikTok’s relatively small user base is on the rise.

TikTok saw a 67 percent increase in daily active users over six months in 2018, according to data gathered by Apptopia, and was recently ranked in the top five most popular apps in both Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

And larger platforms are already making moves in an effort to imitate TikTok’s success. Facebook launched a copycat app, called Lasso, no doubt trying to tap TikTok’s famously young audience.

It’s unclear whether a larger platform will replicate TikTok’s best features and ruin its growth before the app itself becomes too crowded and defeats its own purpose, but it’s not a stretch to say that regardless of its future, the super cringey, surprisingly fun app has already made a lasting impact on the social media landscape.

The post TikTok’s Blowing Up – but Will It Implode? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Special: Rick and Morty Composer Ryan Elder

December 6, 2018 - 12:27am

Rick and Morty Composer Ryan Elder is the world’s first “African dream pop” artist.

Music producer of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty, Ryan Elder, gives YR Media’s Merk Nguyen and Nyge Turner the backstories behind the psychedelic tracks heard throughout the show, including fan favorites like “Get Schwifty” and “The Rick Dance”! He gives an inside look into music-making producing (yes, it involves a lot of WTF moments) and admits to some of his REAL nerdy hobbies outside of the studio. Oh yeah, did we mention he’s the pioneer of African dream pop?

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media’s Adult ISH podcast (episode 6 – Nerd ISH).

Merk: How much acid do you have to be trippin’ on to compose scores for a show that feels like an acid trip itself?

Ryan: It’s definitely a headspace you got to get into. But other than coffee, I’m generally fairly unmedicated when I work on the show.

Nyge: I know Justin [Roiland], the voice of Rick, does a little method acting sometimes. Like in season 2 when he actually got drunk in the studio to do drunk Rick.

Ryan: He said the only thing that can get him to do those burps right is light beer. So…if he’s doing a lot of burps, he’s drinking a lot of light beer.

Merk: There’s an episode where Rick himself is actually trippin’ on something. He dances with a bunch of people from all sorts of universes. He’s jammin’ to a bop you made called “The Rick Dance.” What’s your priority when it comes to composing music like that for specific episodes?

Ryan: I asked Justin and Dan [Harmon], what does “The Rick Dance” sound like in your heads? And Justin was like, “Watch this YouTube video of the ‘Do The Urkel‘ from Family Matters.” I’m like, “Okay. Let’s check out the Urkel.” It’s got this kind of old school hip-hop beat and a cheesy little chorus. I asked my friend Lauren Hillman to sing the vocals on it.

Merk: You also composed something that a lot of us young’uns were like OMG! What kind of throwback vibes does Disney’s The Wizards of Waverly Place theme song give you?

Ryan: When did I write that? That was in the mid-2000s probably. Every so often you start writing a cue or a song that almost writes itself. When I sent it off to Disney, I really felt like, “This one is going to be good, they’re going to like this one.” And it worked out.

Nyge: What do you nerd out about?

Ryan: I once played on the “Magic: The Gathering” Pro Tour. I also now play one-day long versions of the TV show Survivor. I have friends who will host these survivor games at the park and we all vote each other out. And it’s pretty fun!

Nyge: What are some requests you’ve gotten that really stick out in your mind?

Ryan: There’s a scene where Beth’s co-worker puts some music on. He’s like, “Hey, do you like that? That’s African dream pop.” And that’s all I got. I had the words African dream pop and that’s it. I called up Dan and Justin was like, “What is African dream pop?” “Oh, you know, it’s African dream pop.” So, my first step was listening to a lot of African music and then listening to a lot of dream pop and finding a way to overlap and then create the one and only song in the genre of African dream pop.

Nyge: What’s the story behind that theme music of Rick and Morty?

Ryan: I’ve worked with [Justin over the years] on several pitches and we were pitching another animated show called Dog World to another network, but it was more for kids, on a planet where dogs have evolved from men. He wanted a piece of music that had a really dramatic, energetic, adventurous, sci-fi kind of build to it that exploded at the end. So, I wrote this piece and he fell in love with it. Dog World unfortunately didn’t go anywhere. Fortunately for Rick and Morty, we still had the music.

Nyge: One of my favorite musical moments on Rick and Morty was the famous song “Get Schwifty“. I can’t help but wonder where that came from.

Ryan: That’s all Justin. He’s an improvisational genius and the story behind that song is actually really interesting. [Adult Swim] made a little flash game during season 1 of Rick and Morty. In the game, you control Morty and go around into Summer’s bedroom and find her iPod that has three songs, one of which is “Get Schwifty”. The writers just loved these crazy songs so they’re like, “Let’s just write a whole episode around these crazy songs from Summer’s iPod.”

Merk: Based on what you know about our show Adult ISH, if you had to write a theme song for our show, what would it sound like?

Ryan: Fun, for sure. Got to be up-tempo. Maybe a little danceable. I think I would do some old school hip-hop. You guys seem like you are vibing on that. I would start there. Maybe I’d give you an alternate version that’s a little more modern and let you decide between the two. Yeah, number one, it’s got to be fun. Got to be a little bit unhinged.

The post Special: Rick and Morty Composer Ryan Elder appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Tracking the Rise of Anti-Semitism

December 5, 2018 - 11:20am

The attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue this past October was a rude awakening for many Americans, who were unaware of such virulent anti-Semitism in the U.S. It’s been over a month since Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue and murdered 11 people there. Even as that particular event begins to feel more remote, the reminder that overt acts of anti-Semitism and hate exist in the US still feels very present.

YR Media’s Oliver Riskin-Kutz spoke with Lecia Brooks, the outreach director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, about the current trends in hate and anti-Semitism, and what we can do to reverse them.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

ORK: This shooting took many by surprise. Prior to the shooting, had anti-Semitism already been on the rise in America?

LB: The SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) has been tracking an increase in the number of anti-Semitic hate incidents and crimes for the past two years — but there’s been an increase for about 10 years, in this country and globally. This attack is not an anomaly, except in that it was a mass murder.

Anti-Semitic acts are usually verbal rhetoric, like the trope of Jews being responsible for anything that goes wrong, as we’re seeing now with the migrant caravan. But we’ve seen an increase in acts too: bomb threats being called into over 100 Jewish day schools two years ago, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries that started immediately after that and still continues, up through [recently] when a group at a junior prom in Wisconsin took a photo doing a Hitler salute. And people are saying that [an incident like the prom photo] really doesn’t matter, when of course it does.

ORK: What effect does the Internet have on the spread of anti-Semitism? Are people recruited over the Internet?

LB: The Internet is great at spreading information. Unfortunately, still too many people believe that everything they read on the Internet is true. Google search algorithms are such that if you were to search for proof that Jews control everything, or are behind a “white genocide,” all you’d need to do is [type in] that affirmative statement and you’d get information that only validates what you already thought.

Bowers was a frequent poster on a site called Gab. There are also other sites, like the Daily Stormer or Stormfront, places where people can feed their racism and anti-Semitism and find people who think like them. Research shows that people who visit these websites tend to feel marginalized — people who already believe that an increase in populations of color and immigrant populations is putting them on the losing end of society.

ORK: What is the SPLC doing to fight this rise in anti-Semitism?

LB: The SPLC is educating policymakers, influencers, and educators about the existence of white supremacy and anti-Semitism. With our research and publishing, we hope to shine a light on these bad actors and show folks that there is indeed a connection between white supremacy and anti-Semitism. People don’t necessarily link them, but with the massacre at the Tree of Life, people are beginning to see the connection.

Anti-Semitism is connected to other kinds of hate. We identified 954 hate groups in 2017, of which at least 85% are white supremacist. And white supremacist groups are also anti-Semitic, because they’re in a tradition of Aryan purity, meaning Jews are not white in their mind. We want people to rise up against that and push back against normalizing biased, bigoted, and anti-Semitic thoughts and actions. That’s why we publish.

ORK: What effect has the Trump presidency had on the rise of anti-Semitism and hate?

LB: The President entered his 2016 campaign on a platform of hate. He began by demonizing Mexicans, and then Muslims. “Make America Great Again” was and continues to be read, as “Make America White Again.” I’m not saying that the President has expressed anti-Semitic thoughts, but he doesn’t speak out against them.

In the Tree of Life example, he didn’t take a strong stand against the terrible act. He also promotes a white nationalist agenda with his-anti immigrant and anti-Muslim policies, which tends to fuel far extreme-right and white nationalist movements. They feel like they have a leader in the White House. He needs to reject that, but he does not. The desires of the white nationalist and white supremacist movements are being actualized by policies that come out of the federal government.

ORK: Do you think any recent changes in national politics, like the House of Representatives turning blue, could have an effect on this rise?

LB:  Any administration should have a check on power. It’s not good for our democracy to have all three branches of government controlled by one party or one leader. There’s been no check on Trump’s policies to date.

We hope that will change when the new Congress is sworn in. It may provide a cover for those in the Republican Party who wanted to speak but didn’t, for fear of being marginalized by the president. I feel confident that the newly elected officials will begin to speak out, and demand that the president speak out more against the rise in hate and extremism in our country.

ORK: What can ordinary citizens do to help check the rise of hate?

LB: Each of us has a responsibility to speak out against hate, bias and bigotry. The hateful rhetoric that we hear every day becomes normal when we allow it to. We’ve all seen stories of hateful acts carried out against Latinx people, or Jews, or Muslims. We have to speak loudly and firmly against these acts. For all our criticism and critique of President Trump, it really is up to us to push back against the hate and reject it.

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Categories: Blog

Momma I Made It: Bumblebee Actor Jorge Lendeborg Jr.

December 4, 2018 - 4:21pm

Bumblebee Actor Jorge Lendeborg Jr. is Mr. Miyagi and a DC fan (#sorrynotsorry Marvel).

Nyge Turner calls for backup in a mini ‘Agree To Disagree’ where YR Media’s Merk Nguyen argues DC dominates over Marvel. Who comes in and saves his day? Actor Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (The Land, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Love, Simon) who’s been glowin’ up on the silver screen. The fellow 22-year-old messes around with the Adult ISH co-hosts and gets into his G.O.A.T. animes. Jorge talks about his upcoming projects (Bumblebee, Alita: Battle Angel) and says if he could go back in time, he’d pull a Mr. Miyagi on his younger self.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media’s Adult ISH podcast (episode 6 – Nerd ISH).

Nyge: First question: Marvel or DC? Merk is tripping for thinking DC is better.

Jorge: Look…I remember seeing Tobey Maguire be Spiderman and that was like the end-all, be-all. I was like, “This is the coolest shit I’ve ever seen.” So I’m gonna have to go Marvel.

Nyge: Yea that’s what I’m talking about! I knew I liked you.

Merk: No. No. No. DC came before Marvel — DC was like the OG number one pioneer of superhero comics. Marvel is great. But I’m all about the underdog. And hey, you never know Jorge — you could get a casting call for a DC movie.

Jorge: Nah, I’m going to burn all the bridges right now. Marvel all the way. Freakin Iron Man had a drinking problem. I’m like 12 [saying], “Why is this guy so sad?” 

Nyge: What is an acting role you really wanted but you but you didn’t get?

Jorge: The new Mid90s movie. That movie was my life! I’ve been skateboarding for five years. I was definitely pretty bummed for like a hot minute with that one.

Nyge: I hope this doesn’t come off offensively at all. When you first see your name, I thought it was Jorge (pronounced Horhey). But you pronounce it George. Do you get that a lot?

Jorge: Yeah all the time. Why would that be offensive?

Nyge: You never know.

Jorge: Thank you. Respect. Respect. I get it. When I was in kindergarten, people would ask me, “Do we call you Jorge or George?” I was like, “Oh I like George.” So, since everyone gave me the option, I was like “George.” But now I’m all famous and sh*t, people are like, “Is it Jorge?” 

Merk: We’re asking people what they geek out about. So what’s your fix, man?

Jorge: Anime. My Hero Academia is destroying. I also like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Devilman Crybaby, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo…Ya’ll asked and I’m gonna give you the deep, deep. I don’t really watch TV. I watch anime.

Nyge: You a dubs or subs (subtitles) person?

Jorge: Everything subbed. But I don’t mind a good dub. Also, it feels like you get more lost in the anime with subs because they are way more intense in Japanese. Like, “Ahhhhhh! It’s a fight sequence! Where are we going? The sky is purple. He’s knocked out! Where am I!?” 

Merk: So you’re in Bumblebee, the new Transformers movie that comes out this month. The CGI looks fly from what I’ve seen in the trailers, but I’ve always wondered what it’s like shooting those kinds of scenes. Do you just have to go off your imagination, or is someone actually there?

Jorge: We had a guy on stilts who was up in the air like 10, 12 feet wide and he would stand in and do the blocking for where Bumblebee would be. We do that one time for rehearsal. Then, there’d be nobody there.

Jorge: Next year, you’re going to be in Alita: Battle Angel. That’s the cyberpunk action movie based off of Yukito Kishiro’s manga. What’s something you want people to know about it without giving anything away?

Jorge: What I want people to know is [this]: I know the anime community has been failed many, many times with their animated adaptations. But there was so much care [with this movie]. I want people to know that James Cameron had hundreds and hundreds of pages of notes going into this…I want people to know that this is anime adaption done right.

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

Nyge: If you could tell your less adult-ish self one piece of advice, what would it be?

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

The post Momma I Made It: Bumblebee Actor Jorge Lendeborg Jr. appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

ET Ep 7: Cosmonaut

December 4, 2018 - 3:55pm
Extra Terrestrial is part of YR Media’s Sonic Sphere. Produced by Michael Diaz. Graphics by Julia Tello.

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Categories: Blog

Adult ISH: Nerd ISH

December 4, 2018 - 3:00pm

Rick and Morty composer Ryan Elder spills the backstories behind fan favorites like “Get Schwifty” and “African Dream Pop.” DIY-obsessed YouTuber Lauren Riihimaki (LaurDIY) did not make her mason jar chandelier (gasp!). Bumblebee Actor Jorge Lendeborg Jr. is Mr. Miyagi and a DC fan (#sorrynotsorry, Marvel).

The post Adult ISH: Nerd ISH appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Race and Community Loss from a Teen Poet’s Perspective

December 4, 2018 - 2:04pm

Leila Mottley, 16, is the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. She talked with YR Media about what inspired her to write her poem, “Love Poem to Oakland.”

The poem offers a look at the changes Mottley sees in Oakland. Watch the video to hear Leila’s perspective on what it means to live in a city that’s becoming more and more expensive.

RELATED: Meet The Teen Poet Whose Love Letter Is a Call To Action

To hear Leila read her poem, check out this video:

For more about the Youth Poet Laureate Program: https://www.oaklandlibrary.org/teens/events-programs/youth-poet-laureate-program

The post Race and Community Loss from a Teen Poet’s Perspective appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Witness Describes Conditions for Migrants on US-Mexico Border

December 4, 2018 - 11:12am

Mexican authorities have moved thousands of migrants from a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, to a new facility farther away from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Leticia Guzman works with a nonprofit called Border Angels and has traveled between California and Mexico to bring the migrants donations. The migrants are part of a large caravan that traveled to Tijuana from Central America.

Listen to Leticia describe the conditions in the now closed Benito Juarez shelter.

This weekend Guzman was at the old shelter, located in Tijuana’s Benito Juarez stadium, and said there were still some migrants inside. She said Mexican police kept people from entering with donations.

“They stopped me,” Guzman said of the police. “They didn’t let me go inside. They said, ‘We are no longer taking donations for people.’”

Guzman said hundreds of people were still sleeping outside the old shelter. She worried that the new shelter, called El Barretal and located about 11 miles away, may be “dangerous.”

“It is in a pretty rural area,” she explained. Migrants “don’t know how to make their way around there, they don’t know who’s on their side, who’s not on their side.”

The post Witness Describes Conditions for Migrants on US-Mexico Border appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

#Goals: LaurDIY

December 3, 2018 - 4:28pm

What’s trending? YouTuber LaurDIY says mason jar chandeliers and being your best self online.

YR Media’s Merk Nguyen has got a naked room that needs serious decorating and Nyge Turner is hungry for a blue check on Twitter. So, who the heck is going to help the two reach their social media and decor goals? None other than do-it-yourself YouTuber LaurDIY (a.k.a. Lauren Riihimaki)! She’s been shamelessly geeking over craft kits since 5ever ago and is now makin’ bank showing the world her D.I.Y. projects. Basically, living her ‘90s kid dreams (and ours too). Lauren also shares some tips on how to get to verification / ultimate subscriber status. Hint: be yourself.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media’s Adult ISH podcast (episode 6 – Nerd ISH).

Merk: Were you a DIY nerd your whole life?

Lauren: Oh my gosh, yes. I went through all the DIY kits from the early 1990s. Bless my parents! They still have all my “professional” DIY crafts.

Nyge: A DIY closet? We never had a craft closet in the Turner household.

Lauren: I think they just took a closet and booted out my dad’s clothes and let me put all my craft supplies in there.

Merk: When did you realize you could make a living doing this kind of thing?

Lauren: I kind of fell into it by accident. I was in university studying a boring program in Toronto and started a blog as a creative outlet. Eventually that transitioned to a YouTube channel [and one day I] got an email saying I could monetize my content.

Merk: You’ve got high energy in your videos, but who is Lauren off camera?

Lauren: Obviously you can’t be that high energy all the time. I definitely have a calmer attitude. But for the most part, I’m a pretty upbeat and positive person. That translates and [my fans] know it’s genuine.

Nyge: What was your first big DIY project ever?

Lauren: I was like 10 and made this entire Bikini Bottom city. There was the pineapple, Squidward’s house, Patrick’s rock. I’m so sad [my parents] didn’t keep it.

Merk: Well that’s goals right there and perfect for what we’re about to go into. We find experts to help us reach our dreams and you’re here to help us with our #DIYgoals. We’re also going into double-geek mode with #SocialMediaGoals.

Nyge: Can you handle this pressure?

Lauren: I mean my hands are a little clammy, but let’s do it!

Merk: So, my room’s naked. I really don’t have any photos of my loved ones from back home [since I moved], but I’ve got plenty on my phone. What are a couple cheap, crafty ways for me to get a little photo cray?

Lauren: I just ordered a strand [of twinkle lights] for $15 off Amazon. You can get some cute little clips, then get some photos printed, and hang them from the twinkle lights. Pharmacies and Costco do photo prints for really cheap.

Nyge: Walgreens has an app that I used one time in my DIY. I just hopped on the app and picked out the photos on my camera roll and had them printed.

Merk: Note to self…

Nyge: When you live on your own for the first time, you realize all these things you didn’t ever know you needed. What are some DIY items you can use for everyday living?

Lauren: Mason jars are the easiest and trendiest. You can put literally anything in a mason jar and it looks cooler. It’s a good way to see what’s in there but also hold your stuff. They’re paintable, you can tie ribbon around them. You can literally do anything with them and they always look cute.

Nyge: When do you think everybody will be like, “Oh, you’re still on mason jars, bro?”

Lauren: I just bought a chandelier with mason jars on it, so hopefully not anytime soon!

Nyge: You’ve got more than eight million followers on YouTube. What are some tips on making a channel that people actually watch?

Lauren: The first thing is just being yourself. I know that sounds cheesy, but it truly is such a personality-driven website. Anyone can do a cooking recipe video, but it’s only different because it’s you.

Merk: Moving on with our #SocialMediaGoals. Which platform would you say is the one we all need to be on to really feel connected to each other?

Lauren: There’s pros and cons to every one and they all serve different purposes. I’d say Twitter and Instagram are tied for me. Twitter I think is more of like a conversation. Instagram is more of like an art space.

Nyge: If you don’t exist on social media but want to get in the game, where do you even begin gaining followers?

Lauren: I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. So many people are trying to get into the space that’s really oversaturated, but I think it’s just finding what you’re passionate about, building a brand for yourself, and making everything cohesive.

Nyge: Then there’s this infamous mysterious world of verification. You have a blue check. How does that even happen?

Lauren: I woke up one day and I was like, “I’m verified. Sweet!” I didn’t submit myself for anything, but I know now there’s a submission situation.

Nyge: I really don’t even want a huge amount of money or followers. If I just have a blue check, everybody automatically has to respect what I say. I tweet something and they’re like, “He has a blue check. He’s obviously saying something powerful.”

Lauren: I’m not going to lie. There’s definitely some perks. Like on Twitter, there’s a different tab that’s “verified”. So you’ll see an interaction with someone else who’s verified whether you follow them or not.

The post #Goals: LaurDIY appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

We Literally Redrew Our Community (and You Can Too)

December 3, 2018 - 2:26pm

By Ricardo Perez, Imani Jones, Tiffany Gresseau, Tatiana Cruz, Carissa Wu, Myles Smith

All over the country, gentrification takes many forms, like rising rents, $4 coffee shops overrun with hipsters, flipped homes with reclaimed wood fences designed to keep neighbors out. Where we live in Jersey City, less than 30 minutes outside New York, we see it in the empty storefronts that line our once-thriving business district.

As teenagers in Jersey City, we hang out a lot on Monticello Avenue, and it seems like the street has become a graveyard for small businesses. Former banks, restaurants, and bodegas with empty windows gather dust and graffiti as they wait to be filled by rich outsiders. The few mom-and-pop shops left on Monticello are dilapidated.

While the community is changing for better in many ways, such as cutting gang violence and drugs, we risk losing the small, locally-run business culture that made Monticello so great in the first place.

What if the people growing up here got to pick what goes into all these empty shops? Rather than sit around and dream, a bunch of us decided to get together and draw what our community would look like, if we were in charge. We even imagined the back-stories behind the new businesses we want to see. Slide right for the before-and-after.

Jitaku and Kibaku- 90 Monticello Avenue

We need diversity in food and other healthy dietary choices in an area where the only options are fried chicken restaurants and fast-food spots. New, affordable restaurants could expose us to new cultures and customs. One business we imagine is an affordable, artistic Japanese spot.

“Move over Panda Express! Jitaku and Kibaku is the next big Asian food restaurant. Jitaku and Kibaku Imari are twins who came to America in 2007. The brothers always dreamed of founding their own restaurant and sharing Japanese culture with the world. Jitaku incorporates Japanese street food recipes into his dishes while maintaining their nutrition, while his artist-brother Kibaku hand-picked the unique Japanese decor, showcasing the work of obscure Japanese artists. For $5.99, enjoy a sushi platter of California, spicy tuna, and salmon rolls!”

My Island-109 Monticello Avenue

We’d love to see this spot turn into an immigrant-run business, reflecting the people who came to this country escaping persecution and hardship. In addition to the shops run by Hispanic and Chinese immigrants along Monticello, we’d also like to see entrepreneurs of other ethnicities get time to shine.

“Jamal was a chef at storm shelters in the Caribbean during the 2010 magnitude-7 earthquake in Haiti. It was during this catastrophe that he met his current wife Jasmine, a Haitian caterer who lost her home. Jasmine came back with Jamal, and the two dreamed of opening their own restaurants in the inner city. My Island combines age-old Caribbean recipes to ensure the best Caribbean experience in the entire planet! The restaurant’s signature dish is the Caribbean Combo, a meal that includes a meat dish, a side, and a home-brewed exotic fruit juice; all for five dollars! Meals include papaya juice, conch fritters, potatoes and plantains, jerk chicken, roti, and curry chicken.”

Sweet Cravings-142 Monticello Avenue.

It’s hot here in Jersey City, and unless you happen to be near a roving ice cream truck, there’s nowhere to get a sweet-tooth fix. We like the idea of having a place to cool off and grab an affordable cone without turning to fast food or a chain. Plus it’s an easy hop from the local high schools.

“This mom-and-pop shop satisfies your sweet tooth with a by-the-pound candy bar featuring the most iconic sweets and nostalgic flavors. Over the summer, look out for our fresh ice cream and self-serve frozen yogurt. For $3.99, you can get a large cone of Mary’s Mix, the owner’s special. Pick a selection of toppings to be blended into your favorite ice cream, creating endless flavor and fun!”

MonticelloActive! – 108 Monticello Avenue

Next up: an affordable gym for people in the community who want to maintain fitness and stay active all year around.

Are you tired of gyms that lock you into a contract and offer nothing but dull machines? MonticelloActive makes exercise fun. We engage our members with a top-of-the-line rock climbing cardio workout and an Olympic-grade obstacle course inspired by the likes of America Ninja Warrior and Wipeout. You never have to worry about our courses being repetitive, as we change the layouts monthly.

A one-hour pass to MonticelloActive is $2, and $1 for students with a valid ID. With a $25-per-month membership for adults and $10 for teens, you can record your best course completion times and compete with other athletes for the top spot on our leaderboard! Inclusion in our HighFive leaderboard gives athletes major discounts on our products. And there’s even a juice bar!”

LazerRaver-92 Monticello Avenue

There are no arcades, laser-tag businesses or karaoke spaces in the area. Basically, the only options for teens are sitting around the house, watching Netflix, sleeping, and gaming. We imagine a business that would get teens out of the house in a supervised, healthy environment, where we could socialize in a healthy way with other teens. We’d also like to see a business that caters to all ages — kids and parents alike.

“Experience the high-skill, high-thrill intensity of LazerRaver tag. Live through a half-hour adrenaline rush of action and excitement as you play the most diverse laser tag experience in the Tri-state area! You can choose the standard free-for-all game type or our Capture-the-Flag mode to take your team to victory! In our Deathmatch mode, you have 50 Life Points as opposed to the standard 20. Lose all of them and you’re out for the rest of the game! Pick among eight different classes, all with different weapon types and strategies that will keep you coming back again and again! In addition to our regularly updated arena, characters, and game types, we host birthday parties for upwards to 20 competitors, plus discounts on birthday cakes and pizza. Afterward, enjoy our retro gaming arcade and late-night karaoke festivals. LazerRaver is an unforgettable experience for all ages!”

Plants & Paws – 91 Monticello Avenue

Instead of seeing stray animals on the streets, we’d like to see a business that helps animals find homes. We also need more places for middle schoolers and teens to earn community service hours for our resumes, jobs, and colleges.

“Tyler is an animal rights activist. He opened his first gardening store, Tyler’s Terrace, but was wanted to interact more with the young demographic. His daughter was an animal enthusiast who aspired to open an animal shelter in the inner city. The two joined forces to create Plants & Paws, a community garden and animal shelter whose number one goal is to serve the community. Plants & Paws donates all its crops and foods to homeless shelters and soup kitchens. The community garden is staffed by volunteers, giving the youth of the neighborhood a fruitful hobby. At the animal shelter, kids can care for the animals and advertise the adoption program. Plants & Paws takes pride in hiring teens to better the community.”

Is your community gentrifying? Let us know if you want to redraw your neighborhood. Check out our pitching tool and then send yours to us here

YR partnered with Jersey Art Exchange (JAX) on this project. JAX is a neighborhood-based nonprofit established to fulfill arts, cultural and educational needs in Jersey City.

Illustrators: Carissa Wu, Tiffany Gresseau, Tatiana Cruz
Writers & Photographers: Ricardo Perez, Imani Jones, Myles Smith

The post We Literally Redrew Our Community (and You Can Too) appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog