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The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) formed out of recognition that youth are critical to the future of democracy and that the digital age is introducing technological changes that are impacting how youth develop into informed, engaged, and effective actors.

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Updated: 1 hour 35 min ago

Playlist: Waiting for the Sun

February 8, 2019 - 3:32pm
With the weather being so flip floppy recently, I crafted a playlist here to pass the time until those beautiful days where the healing sun is out. With most of the music originating from Africa, take a moment to appreciate and ponder your ancestors. Yègellé Tezeta – Mulatu Astatke Bul ma miin – Orchestra Baobab Cheikh Lô – M’beddemi Saye Mogo Bana  – Issa Bagayoyo 1Er Gaou – Magic System Paulette – Balla et ses Baladins  Marijata – I Walk Alone Dissan Na M’bera – Super Mama Djombo Umalali, The Garifuna Collective – Mérua AfroCubism – Jarabi

The post Playlist: Waiting for the Sun appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How To: Promote Yourself As an Artist

February 8, 2019 - 1:14pm

If you’re a new artist and feel your work isn’t getting the exposure it should, it’s probably because you suck at promoting yourself. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean your music sucks — you just haven’t tapped into the secrets of the current music industry landscape to help optimize your audience engagement. It’s important to know all the tools you need to become a successful artist.

Now artists can easily upload their music to streaming platforms thanks to widely accessible services like DistroKid or Tunecore. Additionally, by strategically harnessing the power of social media you can promote yourself, build a strong brand and even make money from your music without having a label’s support. Getting your music out to the world is probably the easiest part of being an artist, as long as you figure out how to make people pay attention. In this article, I’ll be putting you on game with some essential tips to help promote yourself. Apply these self-promotion tips and tricks, and you’re sure to see your engagement grow and numbers go up.


How can artists promote themselves and build a following if they don’t have any work to show for themselves yet? Content comes in many forms including graphics, music, collaborations, performances and more. One of the best ways to promote yourself is to consistently put out content. Be actively visible. Each time you put out content that is either showcasing your work or is related to your work, you are continuing to build your platform and grab the attention of new people. Even if you aren’t ready to share your final project or piece of art in whatever form it may be, you can get creative with the types of content you are posting to continue to build engagement.


Working with other artists is another strategic way to develop a solid foundation and promote yourself. It also helps you reach audiences that you might not reach on your own. If you and another artist have slightly different fan bases, collabing would allow both of you to gain a mixture of your supporters. It’s a win-win situation. A developing artist can also gain another level of exposure when they collab with an artist with an even bigger fan base. This type of co-sign exposure has been happening in the music industry for years. Have you ever heard a song by one of your favorite artists and noticed that it featured someone that lightweight slaps that you haven’t heard before? Then you go to their page and check out their music? This is what I’m talking about. Collaborating with other artists can be one of the quickest ways to get more organic exposure. If you’ve never collaborated with an artist, be sure to check out our in-depth article that breaks it down.

Social Media:

As an artist, you should be as active on social media as possible because it can be an easy way to promote yourself and your brand. You should be actively posting on your social media so the fan base you’re building up has something to consume. It may seem like an easy task but in reality, for some, it can be pretty hard to post content every single day. But if you can get into a routine of engaging your followers on social media in a way that feels natural to your brand, you’ll gain new followers and create a platform that your audience wants to visit on a daily basis. Using social media in a creative way is just as important, taking advantage of features like the Instagram Stories questions sticker, for example, allows you to engage with your followers, conduct voting polls and even post full music videos and interviews to your profile with Instagram TV.

Social media can also be used as a strategic business tool in helping you promote your brand and track your promotional progress. A business profile means people can contact you through email, and phone for more professional inquiries, but you also unlock Instagram Insights. This allows you to track your fan engagement, promote with ads, impressions, audience demographics and more. These are all features that will help improve your social media presence.


Because it takes time to build a strong and engaged fan base as a new artist, it can be difficult for new artists to book shows when starting out. However, performances are a great way to gain more exposure, so as an up-and-coming artist, it is your job to hustle and build relationships to get those placements. A good way to start this process is to network, tap in with people like local DJ’s, bloggers and photographers — let them know what you got going on, and reciprocate the love and support that they show you. Promoting yourself is a lot about the connections you make and the impressions you leave, so put your best foot forward.


Every successful artist should have a great graphic designer on deck and strong graphics to support their brand. In the current music market, visuals can be just as important as the music itself. If it’s for events, projects, singles, etc., make sure it looks good! Artists should be selective when using a graphic artist — make sure they are a good creative fit. It’s usually the first impression a listener gets when scrolling on a streaming platform or social media. Cover art should tell the listener a story of what they are about to hear or reel them in to check out your music. This also goes for promotional material. If you’re performing at an event or headlining your own show, the flyer should look captivating. Graphic designers can help set you apart by creating logos for you, this will take your artistry to the next level. A clear unique aesthetic is important for the development of your artist brand, which will also help with self-promotion. When fans see that specific logo and aesthetic they’ll know who is behind it and that is how branding works. The more people that see your logo the more they’ll remember you.

The post How To: Promote Yourself As an Artist appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Opinion: Ralph Northam is the Fall Guy for America’s Racism

February 8, 2019 - 5:30am

Virginia’s government casts more white men in blackface than “Tropic Thunder.” Gov. Ralph Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, it’s anyone’s guess who’s next.

Thus far, the governor has been comically self-incriminating. He admitted to donning blackface to impersonate Michael Jackson, while putting on an encore performance as Shaggy —  saying that the man in another blackface photo wasn’t him. Yet aside from his makeup and moonwalk, there is nothing extraordinary about Northam’s racism.

Most white Americans voted for Donald Trump, a man with a decades-long track record as a racist. As recently as 2012, most Americans were found to have an anti-black bias. And even Democratic standard-bearer Joe Biden suggested you need a slight Indian accent to go to Dunkin’ Donuts and 7/11.

When you place Ralph Northam and Herring in context, they look much less like extreme outliers than cogs in a smoothly-run, racist corporation. It was merely to save themselves that Northam’s co-conspirator coworkers turned on him.

Over the last week, there have been bipartisan calls for Northam’s resignation, but much of this hand wringing and moral outrage is disingenuous. Like Touré criticizing R. Kelly’s predation or Eric Schneiderman prosecuting men for misconduct, many of the politicians calling attention to Northam’s wrongdoing hope to obscure their own crimes.

Until 2016, Virginia state government enforced racist voter discrimination laws that originated in Jim Crow. The policy used one discriminatory system (anti-black policing) to drive another (racialized disenfranchisement).

These kinds of prejudiced, anti-democratic policies have largely been used to erode the gains of the civil rights movement. The state also still maintains Confederate memorabilia on public lands, even after the deadly neo-Nazi Charlottesville attacks. This is the mundane racism that haunts many black people’s lives daily. It is as insidious as it is brutal. Yet the people who uphold this order consider themselves to be “non-racist” because they call on Northam to step down.

This is a game of misdirection. The trick is to set the bar for racism so high — at the peak of a Klan hood, perhaps — that nearly everyone falls below it.

“My experience in this world has been that the people who believe themselves to be white are obsessed with the politics of personal exoneration,” Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in “Between the World and Me.” “And the word racist, to them, conjures, if not a tobacco-spitting oaf, then something just as fantastic  —  an orc, troll or gorgon.” 

To this list, you can add a man dressed in blackface in a medical school yearbook. Blackface is as blunt as it is antiquated. And its relative rarity makes it a safe form of racism to denounce. Like polio, most Americans know it existed in the 20th century, it was bad and that they don’t want it anymore.

And because blackface is so outside the norm, it makes for an awful barometer of modern racism. Yet our country continues to operate on a rubric created over 50 years ago —  a period when racial epithets and “whites only signs” were still ubiquitous. While this type of blunt bigotry is no longer in vogue, we still use it to serve as one of the only baseline forms of discrimination we publicly decry.

“Somebody has to call us a nigger, or someone has to shoot down an innocent 12-year-old child or someone has to massacre nine black people in a church to remind us of the ugliness of our past and present,” Princeton Prof. Eddie Glaude Jr. writes in “Democracy in Black.” “Otherwise, the nation is unconcerned with the problems of black America.”

Today, America isn’t tormented by the bigots we like to sensationalize, but by huge groups of regular, everyday racists. These racists are citizens who have a deep-rooted and unchecked racial bias. It’s time we acknowledge they are the problem.

Northam and Herring are not lone wolves, just dogs in a pack. They were merely doing what people in power often do —  ridiculing the Others to reaffirm themselves. They were using the cruel and insensitive humor of whiteness to shore up their own identity. Yes, blackface and Klan hoods are crude and hurtful symbols of racism, but let’s not be mistaken, they’re not disconnected from the more subtle and discrete practices of white supremacy.

This regular prejudice permeates throughout the United States daily. Educators exercise it when they discriminate against black preschoolers. Loan officers apply it when they discriminate against black mortgage seekers. Business owners apply it when they discriminate against job applicants. Everyday racism is everywhere. The only thing that differentiates it from Ralph Northam’s is that it’s not executed while wearing shoe polish.

The post Opinion: Ralph Northam is the Fall Guy for America’s Racism appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

I Watched Both Fyre Documentaries So You Don’t Have To

February 7, 2019 - 3:02pm

Netflix and Hulu released separate films within days of each other in January 2019 that are both about the #epicfail of a big musical shindig on a tropical island involving some white dude. I didn’t know much beyond that and quite honestly, I wasn’t too far off.

If you’re interested in Fyre but not game enough to spend more than three hours of your life watching two movies about it like I did (!) — here’s what I learned from both films and which one I think is best.

Both documentaries highlight how 27-year-old William “Billy” McFarland scammed hundreds of people into buying tickets for Fyre Festival, a Coachella-esque event in the Bahamas. Fyre was scheduled to happen over the course of two weeks in Spring 2017. Gourmet meals, luxury lodging options and the chance to see big-name musicians were all part of the package offered to prospective attendees.

Ultimately, both films reveal the many reasons for the festival’s downfall and McFarland’s eventual debt of more than $25 million, which led him to be sentenced to six years in federal prison. 

So how and why did Fyre get as far as it did without burning to the ground from the very beginning? Keep reading!

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (Netflix)

The Netflix documentary opens with a shot of a beautiful island. The music playing underneath has a mystical and tropical vibe to it.

Since this was the first of the two movies I watched, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the camera filters were gorgeous so I was hooked. Names of the film’s production team fade on and off screen. Then McFarland is mentioned as Fyre Festival’s co-founder (the other co-founder being rapper Ja Rule).

The first batch of interviewees suggested something bad was about to go down. There was a hint of disappointment in all their voices, but one interview in particular sent me mixed signals. A little after the two-minute mark, event producer Andy King says, “I hope Billy [McFarland] doesn’t go to prison for [his actions], but I don’t know.” That made me unsure of how I should feel toward McFarland. A little sympathetic, maybe?

Something else that stuck out was how much raw footage was included in the doc, which was captured in the moment as Fyre Festival’s organizers were trying to put it together. I liked that element because it really helped me see how Fyre got as far as it did, and almost felt as if I was watching the event planning process happen in real time.

A big detail I missed until I read this article on Insider is that a handful of the interviewees on camera were also co-producers of the documentary itself. This was questionable considering those particular people also worked for Jerry Media, the same organization Fyre hired to market the festival — an integral part of how the festival was able to generate so much buzz in the first place.

Fyre Fraud (Hulu)

The Hulu documentary felt more like a critical analysis of the Fyre Festival rather than a documentary about how it came to be. The opening sequence showed white text on a black background with tense music playing underneath. I got an exposé vibe from the first five minutes (and from the title of the film itself).

The focus was clear: McFarland pulled a big oopsie and we’re going to learn why so many people believed in Fyre, even if it was doomed to fail from its inception. Overall, the film took a comical approach to millennial/social media culture and its contribution to the festival’s failure.

Journalists from publications like The New Yorker, ProPublica and Mic made up a solid portion of the interviewee cast. Not to mention McFarland’s model girlfriend Anastasia Eremenko, who reads letters he wrote to her from prison, and McFarland himself.

Now, McFarland’s inclusion is causing controversy because The Ringer found out the Hulu documentary paid him for that interview and raw footage. This creates an ethical dilemma for the “Fyre Fraud” filmmakers, who have been criticized not only for paying a source (a no-no in journalism) but also a person who defrauded other people of money (as seen in both documentaries). 

It’s not clear exactly how much McFarland was paid, but the film’s director told The Ringer it was “less than $250,000.”

Overall Thoughts

All in all, there’s a lot of shady shit that went down in the event itself and how it was documented in both films. Putting the drama aside, I was entertained by both productions as much as I was SMH in cringey disbelief. What I appreciated about watching each of them was how they captured the importance of social status for today’s young people.

Between the two, I’d recommend watching the Hulu doc, since it’s more critical of Fyre (and doesn’t seem quite as shady as the Netflix movie in terms of how it was made). But both Netflix and Hulu should have known that paying the people who made Fyre happen — whether that’s Jerry Media or McFarland himself — was bound to get them burned.

The post I Watched Both Fyre Documentaries So You Don’t Have To appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Opinion: If You Could Sign Northam and Kavanaugh’s Yearbooks Now

February 6, 2019 - 1:35pm

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh are aligned with different political parties but have something big in common: yearbooks that haunt them.

So far Gov. Northam, a Democrat, is refusing to resign after a racist photograph surfaced from his 1984 medical school yearbook page. The photo pictures a man in blackface, smiling next to someone in Ku Klux Klan garb. Northam initially apologized for appearing in the picture but later denied he was in it. He has admitted to appearing in blackface — just not on this particular occasion. 

Justice Kavanaugh’s yearbook trouble hit after President Trump nominated him for the United States Supreme Court. At his confirmation hearings last fall, Justice Kavanaugh was called upon to explain a series of cryptic references — allegedly related to sex, flatulence and drinking — that appeared on his high school yearbook page from 1983. 

All this yearbook drama has me thinking: What if you could sign their yearbooks now?  Tweet us @itsYRmedia with your ideas, hashtag #YearbookSigning.

A YR Media resident designer imagines: If Gov. Ralph Northam or Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked you to sign his yearbook, what would you write? (Illustration: Desmond Meagley)

The post Opinion: If You Could Sign Northam and Kavanaugh’s Yearbooks Now appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Affirmative Action As We Know It Could Change. Here’s What to Know.

February 6, 2019 - 5:30am

Two cases targeting affirmative action are making their way through federal court. An organization representing Asian-American students, called Students for Fair Admissions, is suing Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for allegedly discriminating against Asian-Americans in their admissions process.

The Harvard trial concluded in November 2018, but it’s still awaiting a final judgment. Meanwhile, in the UNC case, both sides have filed dueling legal motions asking the judge to bypass a trial.

Both cases have the potential to go to the Supreme Court and even bring an end to race-based college admissions.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the headlines around these complex cases. Here are the main takeaways you should watch for as they continue.

1. Going to the Supreme Court is NOT a done deal for these affirmative action cases

Both sides of the Harvard case have said they plan to appeal the judge’s decision in District Court, regardless of what she does. But an appeal doesn’t guarantee a direct line into the Supreme Court. “Everyone in the media says this case is destined for the Supreme Court,” said Vikram Amar, dean of the University of Illinois College of Law. “The Supreme Court takes very, very, very few cases.” 

Amar pointed to Fisher v. University of Texas, another challenge to affirmative action that the Supreme Court heard only three years ago. Given how recent that case was, the Court may not take up the Students for Fair Admissions cases. Instead, the Justices may wait and see if colleges will experiment with new approaches to race-based admissions. 

2. Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s position is unknown — and it might be a surprise

If the challenges to affirmative action do get taken up by the Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh might end up being the deciding vote. Justice Anthony Kennedy surprised people by voting to uphold affirmative action in Fisher v. University of Texas, and Amar says Kavanaugh may do the same.

“Now, I don’t know that Brett Kavanaugh will feel the same way that Justice Kennedy did about this. But I don’t think that Brett Kavanaugh would relish the notion that one of the first big cases that he hears as a justice would be to be the fifth vote to make such a major change, in such an important area of law,” Amar said.

3. The UNC and Harvard cases are significantly different

Although the same party is responsible for both lawsuits, the two lawsuits make different arguments. The Harvard case is claiming that Asian applicants are disadvantaged compared to white applicants, but this suit does not go into the benefits that African-American and Latino applicants receive. On the other hand, the UNC case argues that both white and Asian applicants are unfairly burdened by the advantages given to underrepresented minorities.

[The UNC case is] a more old-fashioned attack on affirmative action,” Amar said. “The Harvard case is more exotic than the North Carolina case. If the North Carolina case gets to the Supreme Court, it is more likely to serve as a vehicle for the court to consider affirmative action as a whole”.

4. Asian students in the Harvard case are making a unique argument — that Harvard is lowering their rankings based on likability

While Harvard admissions officers consider grades, extracurricular activities and SAT or ACT scores, the Harvard trial revealed that they also consider “soft variables.” This can include an applicant’s general likability and leadership skills.

Having observed the trial, Amar questions why Asians, as a group, score significantly lower in the soft variables. “It’s hard to understand why as a group, [Asian-American applicants] would fare worse on those criteria unless there’s some implicit stereotyping bias going on,” he said.

5. Harvard doesn’t get a pass for being a private school

Previous challenges to affirmative action have targeted public universities, such as University of Michigan, University of Texas and UC Davis. Public schools are governed by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits racial bias in public universities.
However, Harvard does receive federal funding.

Congress passed Title VI that tells any university that receives public federal funding — which means any university, since public and private receive federal funding — that they have to also refrain from discrimination on the basis of race,” Amar said.

6. What about diversity when it comes to socioeconomic class?

A common argument against race-based admissions pushes for class diversity over racial diversity.

However, even within the same socioeconomic class, black and Latino students are less likely to graduate than white students. “So a poor person of color has an even stronger headwind in front of her than a poor white person. If you really want racial diversity in higher education, we’re not yet at the point where there’s really any good substitute,” said Amar.

7. So … should Asian-Americans be nervous about marking their race on college applications?

Well, it depends on the school. Professor Amar is a dean at the University of Illinois. “I don’t think here at the University of Illinois, there would be any statistical or other data to suggest that Asian-Americans are being biased in the undergraduate admissions process. But, you know,, the admissions process doesn’t have nearly as many subjective inscrutable criteria as the Harvard process does,” Amar said.

The post Affirmative Action As We Know It Could Change. Here’s What to Know. appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

The 21 Savage Petition Isn’t the Only Proof Americans Support Immigrants

February 5, 2019 - 4:05pm

A rapper’s possible deportation is proving a bigger point: most Americans want undocumented immigrants to have a way to stay in the U.S. legally, according to recent polling.

Rapper 21 Savage was arrested over the weekend and placed under deportation proceedings for allegedly overstaying his visa, according to news reports.

The rapper, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was brought to the United States from the U.K. as a child, according to his lawyer in an interview with NBC News. When he arrived, Abraham-Joseph’s family had visas, but when they expired he and his family continued to stay in the U.S., his lawyer said.

Most fans assumed 21 Savage was originally from Atlanta, a city he’s closely associated with.

The rapper could face deportation and a 10 year ban from entering the U.S.

21 Savage is best known for his hit songs “X,” “Bank Account” and “Rockstar” in collaboration with Post Malone.

Since his arrest, there’s been an outpouring of support from artists and fans asking he be released. Black Lives Matter and United We Dream, along with other advocates, created an online petition, #Free21Savage, demanding ICE officials stop deportation proceedings and release the rapper immediately. As of today, the petition has more than 170,000 signatures.

This overwhelming support towards an undocumented immigrant reflects how Americans feel on the issue of immigration. The vast majority of Americans — 81 percent — support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the U.S., according to a recent Gallup Poll

Here are some more interesting findings from Gallup:

  • 61 percent oppose deporting all undocumented immigrants back to their home country.
  • 60 percent oppose significant new construction on border walls.
  • 75 percent favor hiring more Border Patrol agents.

The post The 21 Savage Petition Isn’t the Only Proof Americans Support Immigrants appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Playlist: Alt State of the Union

February 5, 2019 - 3:13pm

The time of year has come where the president is finally going to tell us his plan for the year. Personally, I’ve never been one to watch these, but this year I have another reason as to why I don’t want to. The current state of the U.S. government is saddening to the highest degree. The fact that we are coming off the longest shutdown in history, to the SOTU, feels like an extra slap in the face. The current president is willing to endanger the well being of hundreds of thousands of people with government jobs for the sake of his temper tantrum. I created this playlist as an alternative way to spend your time instead of supporting the current mess that is our government. Some of these songs are here to just make you feel good, and some are here to help bear a reminder to the unity that we as a people should hold together during these stressful times.


BlackStar & Common – Respiration

Sam Cooke – Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

Kendrick Lamar – PRIDE.

Reflection Eternal & Vinia Mojica  – Blast

The Pharcyde – Runnin’

Ms. Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing)

J Dilla – Fuck The Police

Fela Kuti – Water No Get Enemy

Queen Latifah – U.N.I.T.Y

Jill Scott – Can’t Wait

The post Playlist: Alt State of the Union appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

I’m an Immigrant with DACA Who Supports Trump. Surprised?

February 5, 2019 - 12:49pm

If you watch Fox News, you might have seen 26-year-old Hilario Yanez.

The young conservative has been on air several times in the last year, discussing his support for President Trump’s $5.7 billion border wall and other aspects of Trump’s immigration policy.

Those aren’t unusual viewpoints for a conservative. But what is unusual?

Yanez is an immigrant himself. His mom brought him here illegally from Mexico when he was 1. Undocumented immigrants like him — who were brought to the U.S. as children — have sometimes been called “Dreamers.”

Yanez is now only able to work legally in the U.S. because of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The Obama-era program gave Dreamers like Yanez the chance to apply for a two-year, renewable work permit and to live free from the fear of deportation.

The fate of DACA recipients has been a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats, with the Trump administration calling for a complete end to the DACA program last year, a decision the courts overturned.

Recently, Trump offered Democrats a three-year extension of DACA — but not a path to citizenship for DACA recipients — in exchange for funding for the border wall. Democrats rejected the offer.

YR Media spoke with Yanez about how you can be undocumented but pro-wall.

(Photo courtesy Hilario Yanez)

YR Media: What opportunities has DACA given you?

Hilario Yanez: When I heard about DACA, I completely started crying and I knew it was going to be my only shot at living the American dream. I immediately applied for it. Having DACA allowed me to have a Social Security [card], a work permit and I was able to pay my way through college. Now I’m a first-generation college graduate and I worked for a Fortune 500 company. If it wasn’t for DACA, I don’t know how I would have had the opportunities I was able to have. So it was life changing and I’m always going to be forever grateful for DACA.

YR Media: As someone who really benefited from DACA, what do you think of it?

HY: We knew this was only temporary status and we knew that the next president or any other president could easily get rid of it. It wasn’t a permanent solution and so now, this is where we stand. You have President Trump trying to remove DACA. I think he has every right to do that and I think he should. [DACA] is unconstitutional and I think we need to find a permanent solution at this point.

YR Media: You’re saying that Trump should end DACA and that obviously would impact you a lot. Doesn’t that worry you?

HY: When he removed DACA, he said, “I want to take [DACA] because it wasn’t done correctly and I want Congress to fix it.” And right now, that’s exactly what I want. I want a permanent solution. I don’t want a temporary status where I have to plan every two years. It’s frustrating. That’s the issue you’re seeing with TPS [Temporary Protected Status] right now. TPS was supposed to be temporary status, but we kept renewing it, kept renewing it, and now we’re in this limbo where we don’t know what to do now. We need to find a permanent solution for DACA. The moment the Supreme Court rules on DACA and says it’s unconstitutional, everybody is going to run to the table and want to try to fix this, as soon as possible.

YR Media: What’s your stance on immigration in general?

HY: I’ll say this, in order to have immigration reform you need to have some kind of immigration control. I think that we need to upgrade our immigration and have more opportunities for people to come to the U.S. the right way and be here lawfully. I think right now there’s a perfect opportunity to have border security in exchange for a permanent solution for DACA recipients. I think that’s a quick win and it’s an easy win that most Americans agree with. Let’s talk about the rest of the immigration community because it’s also an issue there. People like my aunt, my mom, people who are good immigrants, who are contributing and are helping the economy grow and that have not broken a law. They’re law-abiding citizens, people that love this country. There’s always that misconception that the rest of the nine million, 10 million [undocumented] immigrants, [they] all want to be citizens tomorrow and I think that’s just a false idea. They just want peace. They want to remain here in this country without the fear of deportation.

YR Media: Why are you a conservative and what appeals to you about this administration?

HY: I believe in working hard. I believe in God. I believe in standing on your own two feet. Ronald Reagan said it best: “Government is not the solution. Government is the problem.” We need government less in our lives. I’ve gotten this far without handouts or at least [without] help from the government. I think the Republican Party needs to do a better job of reaching out to the Hispanic community. I’m so tired of seeing the Hispanic community being represented by Anglo-American people that really don’t understand our issues.

YR Media: Why do you think we need a wall?

HY: I think the president has emphasized [the wall] a little too much. I think at the end of the day there [are] some areas where we do need barriers. I think the Democrats have voted for this in the past. I think the key issue is that the president has made [the wall] his priority and his promise. 

YR Media: Does Trump’s flakiness worry you? I say that because Trump has gone back and forth with an offer of citizenship to DACA recipients last year, but this year no offer like that is on the table yet.

HY: I think he’s a deal maker. I also feel strongly that in his heart he’s really for the DACA community. He really supports us. I think he’s a father first and I think he would love to get this fixed.

YR Media: What kind of response have you gotten after being on Fox, in particular from the Latino community?

HY: It is really surprising because there’s a lot of [conservatives] that are like, “Man, I used to be like anti-amnesty and I used to be, ‘All Dreamers are Democrats and all Dreamers want citizenship,’ and now I’m not.” I was able to open their minds and kind of touched their heart as well, so that’s one aspect. Now in terms of the Latino community, I’m getting called a traitor. I’m like, wait a minute, first of all, I’m trying to get a solution brought to the table.

YR Media: How would you answer people who might see you on Fox and say you’re being used by the right as a kind of token Latino who supports the conservative viewpoint on immigration?

HY: First of all, I’m not getting paid by anybody to say these things. No one is influencing my mind. I know there are real theories out there that I’m not getting paid under the table to say these things. I’m taking it all in as an opportunity to be at the table and to have my voice heard.  I’m just grateful. I’m not being influenced. I’m not being used as a token. At the end of the day I can say, “I don’t want to do this,” but I think this is a perfect opportunity to change people’s lives.

The post I’m an Immigrant with DACA Who Supports Trump. Surprised? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Meet a Black Panther Party Member Who’s Been in Prison for 47 Years

February 4, 2019 - 4:39pm

Even though the Black Panther Party, or BPP, officially dissolved in 1982, several of its members have been imprisoned for nearly half a century or more.

Jalil Muntaqim is an author, poet and former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member. He was arrested when he was 19 years old for the murder of two New York police officers and has been in prison for 47 years. His parole has been denied 11 times.

Muntaqim spent the first decades of his time in prison arguing he was innocent, but recently admitted to the murder during his last attempt for parole, according to a New Yorker article.

And incarceration has not stopped Muntaqim from contributing to the betterment of his community. From behind bars, he has authored multiple books, taught black history classes (which landed him in solitary confinement, according to several activist websites) and co-founded the Jericho Movement, which seeks to organize around and provide resources for political prisoners.

The Black Panther Party now serves as an iconic source of inspiration for many modern-day activists and artists. Colin Kaepernick, Beyonce, the hit Marvel movie “Black Panther” and, of course, Black Lives Matter all call upon the imagery and legacy of BPP.  In the fall of 2018, I sat down with Jalil Muntaqim in Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York, to look back and intimately discuss the BPP’s history and his own personal transformation.

Shavonne Bryant: What originally sparked your interest in joining the party?

Jalil Muntaqim: At 16, I signed up to become a BPP member. However, I did not truly become active until I was 18 years old. In 1967, BPP members went to the California Capitol with guns demanding the law prohibiting open carry be nullified. It struck me how serious these black men and women were in support of the liberation of black people.

SB: Subscribing to an ideology is one thing, but sticking around and going down for the cause is another. I remember in 2014, circa the Ferguson protests, I thought, “OK, I’m willing to die for this.” Did you have a similar moment?

JM: My major transformative moment was the assassination of Dr. Martin L. King Jr., and the many riots in response across the country. That was a pivotal moment knowing that peaceful resistance could get you killed. Therefore, we need to do more than simply marching and petitioning for human rights.

SB: History informs the present to the point that they often reflect each other. In what ways is a mirror being held up to the ’60s/’70s?

JM: Today, we are finding a resurgence of white nationalism that seeks to reverse the gains won during the civil rights and Black Power era of struggle. It virtually reflects an era of Jim Crow segregation and the thought of white supremacy that we opposed. Similarly, today, we find young people — particularly in the Black Lives Matter initiatives — that oppose any effort to reverse gains won. To more or lesser degree, depending on your perspective, these are reflective not only of the past struggles, but indicative that the system of capitalism is unsustainable as a system of competition, class division and racial hatred for the profit of plutocrats. Therefore, these struggles are essentially a continuum, in the ebbs and flows, of a revolutionary determination.

SB: How have your political beliefs transformed since then? What about your religious and spiritual beliefs?

JM: I have matured and recognized to what extent our challenge back then was infantile. While we were prepared to die for the cause, we were not conscious to the means and method in which the U.S. government would apply to thwart our movement. I have since become Muslim, also recognizing each and every major leader in our struggle believed in a higher being.

SB: Can you pinpoint a particular thought or emotion that fueled your passion back then? What about now?

JM: The primary thought or emotion is my love for black people specifically, and love for humanity generally. There is no greater motivator for a revolutionary than a sense of love of self and love of humanity. That has not changed, but rather has become magnified witnessing many comrades make the ultimate sacrifice in struggle.

SB: I think a lot of folks would be shocked reading the details of the blunders of the BPP. What are some of the mistakes modern-day activists should avoid?

JM: Sexism and chauvinism, personality worship and commanderism, and failure to study and learn from history. In this regards, I have a specific issue that irks me, that being young activists’ failure to reach out to political prisoners. They fail to speak with and learn the lessons, first hand, from those who been there and made sacrifices in struggle.

SB: What is something you’d like to be remembered for? What action of yours do you believe will live on?

JM: My efforts to establish, keep and sustain a relationship with my child and grandchildren despite my decades of imprisonment. In terms of what I hope will be lasting and endure is the creation of Jericho Amnesty Movement. For as long as there are political prisoners, there needs to be an organization that works to support them in every way possible.

SB: What is the biggest transformation you’ve experienced over the last 47 years? How has incarceration influenced that change?

JM: For me, personally, it is to be more patient and less impetuous. To recognize the value and significance of education — to study relentlessly, and to share knowledge as widely as possible. Lastly, that getting old in prison ain’t no joke. Growing old in prison prevents one to disregard the daily misery imposed by a system bent on punitive sanctions and punishment. Couple that with the pervasive racism that permeates the system, the conscious suffers the daily indignities of dehumanization of incarceration. With the knowledge that this is no happenstance, but rather a planned determination, we learn our community is targeted for mass-incarceration, that the school-to-prison pipeline is real, causes a sense of despair. So, prison has further internalized, for me, an understanding this system of coercive capitalism is the ultimate anti-humanity governing institution in the world.

The post Meet a Black Panther Party Member Who’s Been in Prison for 47 Years appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

It’s Super Bowl Sunday. Should Black Players Protest?

February 3, 2019 - 1:45am

As Black History Month kicks off, YR Media’s Aaliyah Filos offers her take on all the controversy surrounding the Super Bowl, which is in part about whether Maroon 5 should have said yes to the halftime show, given what’s happened to Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback, hasn’t played since the 2016 season, when he protested police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem.

But now, with all the focus on Maroon 5 and this year’s halftime show, what about the players themselves?

Aaliyah Filos looks back at the history of black athlete activism, from Muhammad Ali refusing to be drafted in the Vietnam War, to NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf not standing during the national anthem back in 2010.

The post It’s Super Bowl Sunday. Should Black Players Protest? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Why I’m Choosing Community College Over a UC

February 3, 2019 - 1:20am

I’m a high school senior. And I get lots of questions from my peers and teachers about my post-high school plans. It’s like people expect this huge, planned-out timeline… And I don’t have it.

I’m graduating high school this year.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life just yet, so I’m going to community college. I want to explore my options a little bit.

When I tell my classmates or teachers, I get a mix of reactions. Some people seem supportive. Often, my peers seem jealous that I’m opting out of the stress, or even kind of upset that I’m not jumping through the same hoops.

Recently, a friend was telling me about his college applications. He was flustered and tense. He wasn’t sure if he has what it takes to get in. Watching him under all this strain, I felt reassured about my decision.

Sure, I still worry about what I’m going to study… And do for the rest of my life. But knowing that I can go to community college and buy myself some time, without spending tens of thousands of dollars figuring this out, is a big relief.

The post Why I’m Choosing Community College Over a UC appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

This Drag Queen Slays Behind the Scenes (and On Stage)

February 1, 2019 - 5:30am

Getting ready for a night out is a lot of work. It’s even more work when you’re a drag queen getting ready for a long night of performing. It takes a lot of practice, patience and handling your nerves before it’s time to shine.

RELATED: Destined for Drag (Audio Commentary)

Watch as YR Media follows me around for a night, from doing my hair and makeup to showtime.

The post This Drag Queen Slays Behind the Scenes (and On Stage) appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

If a Hate Crime Could Happen to Jussie Smollett, It Could Happen to Me

January 30, 2019 - 5:33pm

In the early hours of Jan. 29, openly gay “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett became the victim of an apparent hate crime. Moments after leaving a restaurant, he was attacked by two white men donning ski masks, according to news reports which cite what Smollett told the Chicago Police Department.

Smollett’s attackers yelled out homophobic and racist slurs and said, “This is MAGA country,” according to the reports. They drenched him in bleach and wrapped a noose around his neck. After his assailants fled the scene, Smollett was forced to take himself to the hospital.  

If someone as high profile as Jussie Smollett is at risk for attacks like this, what does that say for other people?

The truth is any queer person — and especially a queer person of color — can be the victim of this type of violence, and I know this firsthand. I’ve lived in the Bay Area my entire life and I’ve experienced flagrant homophobia, even just for wearing makeup. While riding BART to a concert, I was called the f-slur by a man, who proceeded to threaten to smash my phone. I was accused of making fun and taking pictures of him. While this happened, I froze, shocked and scared.

Luckily for me, he walked off angrily to another train car and I wasn’t hurt, just shaken.

The Bay Area has built itself a reputation of liberalism, stemming from San Francisco’s history of free love and LGBTQ activism. That could lead you to believe that it’s a paradise for queer people — but it’s not.

The image of the Bay Area as a gay mecca has been marred by a national spotlight on the racism that is alive and well here. This is the home of BBQ Becky and the place where Oscar Grant was killed.

As a drag queen I go out to do what I love, but I feel like I’m at even more risk. A night of fun means ignoring cat calls and smacking away hands that try to touch me. Many people don’t see performers as human beings, so they think it’s OK to cross boundaries. I’m there to perform because it’s what I love, not to be harassed. It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing, or how flirty they thought my performance was.

If wearing makeup as a boy led to me being threatened, then public transport in drag is out of the question. I’m forced to take Ubers to my performances. But I don’t take Pool rides, for fear of another rider taking offense to me.

I go out every day knowing someone could single me out as queer and put me at risk. When I present myself in ways that endanger me even more, it’s even scarier.

In the years since Trump’s rise to power, racists have been emboldened by the hate that has flooded the news, co-signed by their president. Whether it’s the alt right in Charlottesville or the two men who just attacked Jussie Smollett, they are the faces of the racism that permeates this country.

The post If a Hate Crime Could Happen to Jussie Smollett, It Could Happen to Me appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Shy’an G Takes Us on a Journey of Self-Discovery with “The Reset”

January 30, 2019 - 3:42pm

Shy’an G isn’t looking to be stereotyped, nor does she seem interested in people’s expectations of her anymore. For this very reason, the rapper seeks to be versatile in not only her sound but in her lyricism as well. From political activism to her own personal struggles, Shy’an G’s latest effort is as candid and sincere as a true emcee can get.

I recently got the chance to sit down with East Bay rapper Shy’an G to discuss her new project, “The Reset.” The five-track EP represents Shy’an G’s growth as an artist and the journey to a new era in her life. Although she was originally a part of YR Media’s Remix Your Life program when she was a teenager, her interest in hip-hop began at the tender young age of nine. Since then, she’s graduated college, opened up for her idols and even rapped in cyphers internationally. At 23, the rapper has been mastering her craft for over a decade, and she’s ready to share her evolution with the world.

How old were you when you first joined Remix Your Life and how did that relationship come about?

Well, I was fifteen. I was downstairs learning how to make beats in the CORE program. And one of the former Remix Your Life program directors approached me about coming to a writer’s workshop and initially I always wanted to go into the studio. So I figured it was a way for me to make it to the studio. That lead to me developing strong relationships with people in that program.

In what ways did RYL influence your artistry?

It influenced my artistry by showing me how to practice and develop rhyme schemes and how to study rhyme schemes. How to study music that exemplifies particular rhyme schemes and poetry techniques. It informed me to want to approach all of my lyrics as also poetry from that point on.

What does your relationship with RYL’s A&R team consist of? How is it working with RYL now versus being in the program when you first started?

It consists of fresh perspectives. I’m learning about how to develop my brand and my professionalism as an artist from an older generation and a younger generation at the same time. I would say RYL has turned more into a production-based company where the focus is on making music.

What inspired you to rap and write?

The moment that first inspired me to rap and write, I would have to say was when I saw a young girl performing at a Fourth of July festival. I was like nine years old. I think she was like 13 and she was rapping and singing, and I thought it was so cool and I wanted to do it to. I went up to her I got her autograph and just started, like as soon as I went back to school. That’s when I just started listening to 2Pac and Biggie, and kind of studying them first, that’s when I wrote my first raps.

When did you first start producing and what made you want to take it up?

I started producing at 15. I got really tired of waiting for producers to send me beats and I didn’t have a budget to buy these from people all the time. And I didn’t want to keep ripping beats from YouTube. I was already pretty much influenced by a lot of producers like J Dilla, Madlib, Q-Tip, Nujabes, 9th Wonder, Black Milk. I started studying them a lot. Not only was I writing to their beats but I was also studying their beats too, and so the first program that I made my first ever beat on was on a demo version of FL Studio. I took all the demo tracks from it and then I put it on this recording and mixing session software. So I just put everything there and then I recorded through there, and I created my first song. And it turned out terrible of course, but that was the start to me producing on my own. And I just started going crazy ever since and using Reason.

What does “The Reset” symbolize for you?

“The Reset” is the release of everything. In the past I would stress over everything that taunted me. Everything in the past that I thought I needed in my life and to actually finally close the book on all of those chapters that I would still pull with me into the next chapters, and just scratch all of them. I’ll keep them in my archives in my life, but I’m really ready to not even move on to another chapter about how I feel, I feel like I’m moving on to a whole other book, like so many chapters that I filled up with the last book in my life and I’m ready to start a whole new book. So it represents the rebranding of myself and it represents a new approach to how I’m living my life, how I want to live my life moving on.

What first inspired the vision for this project?

Well, I released an EP about two years ago called “I Just Need A Minute.” I didn’t get as personal as I wanted to. I was still censoring myself and I kind of wish I didn’t, but I was still using that as a coping mechanism and as a resource of therapy for me after everything that I encountered in 2017. I encountered a lot of the stuff that whole year. I had a emotional breakdown and I decided to put it all in music that I created in like three months. In my head I was always like, since I released this project I figure I should follow up with something to let people know “Okay, I’m good now and I feel different.”

“The Reset” cover and track-list artwork by Stoney Creation What the name of the track that you produced yourself and what is it centered around?

“Shot Clock” is the song that I produced myself. It is centered around the idea of finishing whatever it is that you’re going through strong before you take on a new challenge. I used to play basketball in high school and I can remember a specific moment where I would get hurt, or I would miss so many shots, or I wouldn’t execute a play correctly. But I always did what I could to finish strong. So I look at this song as a symbol of me kind of looking at what I lost in my life at that specific moment but I finished strong by not running away and by tackling it on head first so that I can move on to something better.

Click here to listen to “The Reset” on all streaming platforms  Why was it important to note your change as an artist?

I always have been infatuated with evolution. My first ever mixtape that I released was called “Rejuvenated” and that was even a point when I felt like I was becoming a different person too. Because I was never comfortable performing and sharing my music with anyone in public. So I feel like I needed to refresh my feelings about performing and creating music, and to rejuvenate my mindset into just putting it out there and putting forth effort into executing the need and desire to connect with people. This time, it’s really evident that I really hit a breaking point where I’ve evolved a lot and I just hope that that’s reflected well in this project.

What is your writing process usually look like?

I would do some reading or listen to music that relates to a feeling I have until I find something that triggers a concept and I would write about it. I would usually write it as a free journaling style or as a poem and then I would turn it into rhyme, and then a full song or verse.

So what was it like to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with new sounds?

I was ready for some new sounds. I want to see how versatile I can get with the sounds. I always want to connect with different styles and sounds of music, and I definitely want to connect with the younger generation. I feel like I’ve been focusing more on the sound preferred by the older generation. I want to see if I can bring those two generations together and find my niche in a new sound that isn’t too far fetched. Working with both generations has challenged me a lot to think outside the box and think more creatively about not just how I deliver a verse but how I paint it.

In the beginning of “Top Down”, you say “I’m sorry if you don’t like me / Impressing you ain’t a priority.” Walk us through your journey of learning the art self confidence.

I definitely had to acquire it over the years. I always wanted to impress people before I even started writing and performing the rap in this stuff. My whole approach in life, every day that I got up, was always about “What shoes should I wear to get someone’s attention? How should I wear my hair?”

I just recently went natural, so I’m ready to like step outside in the world and just wear my hair natural and just not care about what other people think about me. Even before I started making music, putting myself out there as an artist was the representation of me no longer caring about what people thought about me, and no longer caring about impressing people.

How has your music and subject matter evolved since when you first started? Are you more confident talking about certain things now than when you first started?

My music evolved mostly in my delivery and my voice. I just want to make sure every word that I’m saying is coming out clearly. My sound, my music evolved mostly based around my tone of voice and the knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years. I’ve always been big on acquiring knowledge over the years that I can apply to my music. I never wanted to get personal in my life. So this time around, I’ve been getting a little bit more personal instead of political or socially conscious, that’s something that I’ll never leave. But back then, I was always talking about conscious issues. I still do in a sense, which you can hear on this new project in my song “Go Off.” I’m talking about some issues, as far as the fabrication of political activism in the media. But then I also have a song about everything that I’ve struggled with in my life so far and what I intend to do from this point moving forward. Sometimes I just want to have fun and live my life carefree with the top down you know. That’s what “Top Down” is about.  I tried to show as much range as possible in this project and I have to do that in the future as well.

What is one lesson that you’ve learned from when you first started out as an artist up to now?

I guess just follow my own preference and my own style. I never really had a problem with doing that and I never really followed a trend to get noticed by people. Now, I’m not calling out anyone who does that. I just don’t want to be looked at as a woman who raps and be assumed to talk about certain things automatically. I don’t want to be stereotyped as a woman who creates hip hop music. So that would be the lesson — to kind of stay true to my craft as much as possible.

The post Shy’an G Takes Us on a Journey of Self-Discovery with “The Reset” appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Do You Still Listen to R. Kelly?

January 30, 2019 - 1:54pm

The list of musicians who’ve been accused (and in some cases, convicted) of rape, sexual assault and pedophilia is unfortunately really long.

This includes R. Kelly and Michael Jackson. Both are being talked about again because of the documentaries “Surviving R. Kelly” and “Leaving Neverland,” which feature their alleged victims.

From R. Kelly and MJ to 6ix9ine and Chris Brown, YR Media’s Niya Brown and G Baby have a candid conversation about whether you can still listen to — and enjoy — the works of artists or musicians accused of serious wrongdoing.

The post Do You Still Listen to R. Kelly? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Breaking Down the Duke Professor’s Racist Email

January 29, 2019 - 3:34pm

I want to take the time to break down a recent incident that made it to the news.

It’s important to name the specific forms of racism that we see and experience. For those of us who experience racism, having words to define what happened makes us feel less crazy. And it invites others into a conversation that can have real solutions because we are all on the same page.

Also, I like to make use of the ethnic studies classes I took in college.

Here’s what happened: An email sent to graduate students in a Duke University medical school program urging them to speak only English on campus was published online and quickly made headlines.

The email’s author, Prof. Megan Neely, said that two faculty members came to her complaining about students speaking Chinese in the student lounge and study areas. These faculty members, who remained anonymous, wanted to identify the students to avoid working with them in the future, she said.

“To international students, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep these unintended consequences in mind when you choose to speak Chinese in the building,” Neely wrote in the email. She followed this by saying she had the “upmost (sic.) respect” for them.

What is this fresh nonsense? This is not the email that needed to be sent.

What this is, is racism. Not allyship.

It’s called hegemonic paternalism. This happens when people (white or otherwise) offer to “help” people of color become better white people. This might show up as people encouraging you to take off your hoop earrings or to change your hair to be more professional. It’s “Charm School,” that old MTV show that tried to show reality stars how to “act right.”

First off: hegemony is the natural human instinct of wanting people to follow an agreed upon set of cultural norms. Parents do it, teachers do it, even friends do it. It becomes a problem when a “ruling class” or race dominates everyone else, demanding their assimilation at the expense of their own identity. Think “Brave New World.”

For a real-world example, consider Native-American boarding schools. Children were forcibly taken from their parents and placed into Christian boarding schools where their names were changed, speaking their first language was forbidden and indigenous religious practices were demonized. This was done in the name of “civilizing” Native people. The cultural, psychological and economic effects of these schools are still widely felt by Native populations today.

The paternalism — or in this case, maternalism, because it was a white female professor who sent the email — applies when people in the ruling class act as if (and sometimes actually believe) they have your best interests at heart when they correct your behavior or beliefs.

Here’s the thing: when the university professors overheard the international students speaking Chinese in the break room, and threatened to exclude them from professional opportunities, it was a terrible thing that happened. The demand to speak English is ridiculous and discriminatory in a country that does not have an official national language.

Neely was correct in recognizing that something was wrong here. Her allyship goes awry when she thinks the solution to the problem is to warn students that speaking their native language was unprofessional, rather than address the professors who were wrong in the first place.

Neely has since been removed from her post as the director of graduate studies for the biostatistics department. But she is still teaching. And nothing has been said about the original wrongdoing of these bigoted professors. I sincerely hope Duke University doesn’t stop at Neely, but digs deep into the culture of their university to ensure they welcome international students, and not exclude and chastise them for the ability to speak more than one language, which is very much an asset.

The post Breaking Down the Duke Professor’s Racist Email appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Who Should Really Give the State of the Union? DC College Students Have Ideas

January 29, 2019 - 11:30am

After being invited to give the State of the Union, then dis-invited from giving it, then re-invited, President Donald Trump is now set to speak to our nation a little later than expected, on Feb. 5.

But does anyone even watch the State of the Union? YR Media talked to D.C.-based college students from different political perspectives and campuses about what they think the state of our union really is — and who, if anyone right now, is most qualified to give the speech.

The State of the Union would have actually happened today, but that was before the government shutdown led Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to dis-invite Trump from giving the speech until the government re-opened. So when Trump announced on Friday that the government would re-open, Pelosi re-invited him, but for a slightly later date: Feb. 5.

Here’s what students thought about some of the will he or won’t he drama.

Joe Lazzari, 19, Catholic University (Class of 2021)

“The State of the Union is a good reminder that no matter how tough things are, it will all work out in the end.”

Have you ever watched the State of the Union (SOTU)? Yes.

Do you think Nancy Pelosi should have postponed the SOTU? No.

Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.” Is that true this year? Even though 800,000 government workers were out of a job, it’s still not a majority of people. I still think there is good going on in the country. Not even just politicians, the economy is doing well … and the positives outweigh the negatives.

Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have addressed the nation? Although he isn’t alive, I would say Ronald Reagan. I think he was one of the best presidents we have ever had.

Lizzie Martinez, 18, Catholic University (Class of 2022)

“I think the state of the union is very divided, especially this year between the two parties.”

Have you ever watched the SOTU? No.

Do you think Nancy Pelosi should have postponed the SOTU? I do not think so. If this is something that happens yearly, there are things that happen every year that must be addressed.

Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.” Is that true this year? What is the state of our union to you? I think the state of the union is very divided, especially this year between the two parties.

Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have addressed the nation?  I would love to see Sonia Sotomayor deliver the State of the Union.

Nile Hodges, 21, Howard University (Class of 2019)

“I am fortunate enough to be at Howard where I do not have to deal with too much of the division. But I know out in the world, there is a stark division between people of different views.”

Have you ever watched the SOTU? I have not watched the State of the Union since President Obama left office. I haven’t been the most interested.

Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.” Is that true this year? What is the state of our union to you? To be honest, I do not think the state of the union is strong. It is honestly very divided. I am fortunate enough to be at Howard where I do not have to deal with too much of the division.

Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have address the nation? I would listen to, of course, Barack Obama, but someone like Nancy Pelosi would be more intriguing than hearing what our current president has to say, in my opinion. She would provide us with what’s actually going on, versus what she wants it to be.

Crimson Duckett, 23, Georgetown University (Class of 2020)

“With President Trump being president, it’s hard for me to watch, because I think he isn’t serious about his position and I don’t agree with what he has to say.”

Have you ever watched the SOTU? Yes, the only ones I ever watched (were those given by) President Obama because he was an inspirational figure to me. Ultimately, I was inspired and a lot of the things he discussed were focused on change and that was empowering to me. With President Trump being president, it’s hard for me to watch, because I think he isn’t serious about his position and I don’t agree with what he has to say.

What do you think of the drama surrounding the State of the Union? I am disappointed.

Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.” Is that true this year? What is the state of our union to you? The State of The Union to me is a message that keeps citizens informed. I do not think the current state of the union is strong and there is a lot of work that has to be done.

Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have address the nation? I would love to see President Obama give the State of the Union one last time. We are struggling under President Trump’s reign.

Joya Grillo, 21, Howard University (Class of 2019)

“I think President Trump should take accountability for the current state of our union.”

Have you ever watched the SOTU? Yes.

Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have addressed the nation? At the end of the day, Donald Trump is our president, and he is responsible for delivering this speech. Although I do not agree with what he has to say, I think it’s important that he is the one that addresses us because he is the one responsible for everything happening in the United States of America.

The post Who Should Really Give the State of the Union? DC College Students Have Ideas appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How To: Collaborate with Other Artists on New Music

January 28, 2019 - 5:26pm

As an artist, it’s important to understand the value in collaboration and the advantages it has to offer. Whether you’re a singer, rapper, producer or a writer, collaboration is necessary in order to find success in your field of work. Although you may not have trouble in creating your own art, collaborating with other artists allows you to discover new techniques, network with other artists and get feedback on your music from other talents. Additionally, collaboration will help you develop your sound into something you may not have imagined it could be, allowing you to be more versatile with your style.

Get to Know the Artist Before Going into the Session

If you’re collaborating with an artist for the first time, be prepared by doing your homework. Even though you’ll be going into the session without ever working with the other artist, that doesn’t mean it has to be the first time talking or interacting with her/him. When collabing with artists, it’s important to get to know them before going into the studio in order to avoid any awkward or uncomfortable discourse. Watching a movie or spending a whole day with the artist is never necessary, but it is essential to chop it up or grab a coffee before working.

Prepare Your Ideas Beforehand

Although you may be eager to start fresh on a new track when you get in the studio, coming into the session without any forethought may not be the best strategy — especially if it’s your first collaboration session. Before coming to the session, it’s in your best interest to brainstorm ideas of chord progressions, song topics, or even songs that you are inspired by. These ideas may not be the main focus of your session, but if the session starts to get dry, you will always have something to fall back on. Even if you don’t use the ideas in the session, the process of brainstorming will help you get a better understanding of your sound and how you want to implement it into the session.

Photo: Frankie Cordoba/ Unsplash Be Open to New Ideas

Although you may be working with an artist with a similar sound as yours, it should be expected that you will encounter new ideas and styles of work in the session. Whether it resembles your personal style or is completely foreign, it’s important to keep an open mind about it. Even if you aren’t feeling the idea at first, you should attempt to work with it before you disregard the effort completely. By being more open to new ideas, you allow the sound to be heard in more than one perspective. Therefore, you will be able to produce a more unique and creative track.  

Photo: John Hult/Unsplash Don’t Force Ideas

Because working with another artist is fairly different from working on your own, you may not be able to create using the same process. This could possibly cause you to get stuck trying to force your ideas. If your attempts at producing a new track are significantly derailed, there is nothing wrong with coming back to it later on. It’s better to let fresh ideas flow, rather than forcing an idea on a track that isn’t coming naturally to you. By allowing your ideas to flow naturally without forcing anything on the track, you will develop a more organic sounding product.

Don’t Be Discouraged If Things Don’t Work Out the First Time

Coming into the session, you may have already imagined how it would play out, assuming different circumstances and details of the collaboration. Maybe you expected to finish a song or you expected the other artist to do something differently. However, as much as you’d like to predict how the session will go, things may not always play out how you expected. Even though your session might not go as planned, it’s important to accept it as a learning experience. Despite the outcome of the session, it’s critical that you follow up with the other artist in order to maintain your relationship with her/him.

The post How To: Collaborate with Other Artists on New Music appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

I Hope It Won’t Be Like 2016: Voices from the Kamala Harris Rally in Oakland

January 28, 2019 - 2:27pm

An estimated 20,000 people lined up around several city blocks in downtown Oakland, California, on Sunday morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Harris officially launched her 2020 presidential bid from the steps of City Hall on Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Before the public was allowed on the plaza, a long line snaked around several Oakland city blocks. Some Harris supporters weren’t let into the plaza, and went into neighboring bars to watch the senator’s speech on the television or on their smartphones.

Harris is among several Democrats who have announced that they’re running for president, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Much of the cheerful crowd were excited to see Harris — the former California Attorney General-turned-national politician — kick off her campaign in her hometown. But a few people came out to protest, saying her policies will “suppress the middle class” and criticizing the former prosecutor for not sufficiently addressing mass incarceration and systemic racism.

YR Media talked to people in the crowd. Some said they’re all in for Kamala, while others are still shopping. The first Democratic primaries for the 2020 presidential race won’t take place until next year.

“I’m really excited that a woman of color is running. She’s awesome,” said Selina Xie. “I think it’s going to be a close race and I hope it won’t be like in 2016. I hope the Democrats won’t be at each other’s throat, but are able to unite. They need to unite.”

“This is the beginning of my self-education process when it comes to the candidates for the 2020 elections,” Eva Johnson said. “I need to stay more in tune with what’s happening in the political landscape. So the coming two to three months, I’m going to see what the others have to offer. I’m not a die-hard Kamala Harris supporter, but I love the energy here and the ‘pro rights’ undertone.”

“I worked with congressional campaigns before, and I think Kamala Harris is the right candidate for positive legislation,” said Isaiah Cane. “You can see that from her history as a prosecutor.”

“I’m with the Democratic Socialists of America and I’m here to speak the truth about Harris’ policy. She hijacks leftist words and phrases and makes it seem that she’s with the people, while she’s against them,” said Dina Asfaha. “Kamala Harris, like the other candidates, are just corporate clowns.”

“I want to see a woman as president. That’s why I’m here. I want to learn more about Kamala Harris and at the same time want to be part of something bigger,” said Jenny Weik.

“This announcement really excites me. There are a lot of people around the country who are hurting and I think Kamala Harris is the right person who can stand up for those people through her policy. It’s going to be a very crowded primary election and I hope this won’t divide the Democrats, the way the diverse set of candidates did back in the 2016 primaries,” said Noam Haykeen.

Yesterday’s crowd was reportedly bigger than when President Barack Obama announced his candidacy in 2007. At the time, 15,000 people braved the winter Illinois cold to see the then-junior senator lay out his vision for winning the White House.

During a speech at Sunday’s rally, Harris promised that she would fight for Medicare for all and would deliver the “largest tax cuts for the working and middle class in a generation.” But before she can do that, there’s still a long way to the official nomination.

The post I Hope It Won’t Be Like 2016: Voices from the Kamala Harris Rally in Oakland appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog