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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: 25 min 45 sec ago

Playlist: LA Sun

March 15, 2019 - 4:16pm

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

Mick Jenkins – Gwendolynn’s Apprehension

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

Spote Breeze – Stubborn Optimist

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

Bakar – Dracula

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

LA Priest – Night Train

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

Little Dragon – Lover Chanting

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

Larry June – Sausalito

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

Anderson .Paak & Kendrick Lamar – Tints

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

Kelela – Waitin (KAYTRANADA Remix)

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

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

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

Frank Ocean – Lost

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

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

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

Categories: Blog

Students Worldwide Skipped School to Fight Climate Change

March 15, 2019 - 8:00am

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

They demanded immediate change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Blog

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

March 14, 2019 - 9:00pm

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

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

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

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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

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

2016-2017 School Year

SOURCE: Georgia Department of Education

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

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

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

2016-2017 School Year

SOURCE: Georgia Department of Education

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

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

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

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

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

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

SW: Do you face resistance from other board members?

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

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

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

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

EB: They don’t have a choice.

SW: Right. You’re an elected official.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: pdf

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

Categories: Blog

How to Not Be the Awkward Wallflower in the Studio

March 14, 2019 - 5:52pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Intro’s are important!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Blog

Playlist: March Madness

March 14, 2019 - 12:23pm

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

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

Categories: Blog

Let Me Keep Going: Life After Youth Incarceration

March 14, 2019 - 8:00am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Blog

Like A Girl: Angel Rios Makes Wrestling History in Colorado

March 13, 2019 - 4:08pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Blog

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

March 13, 2019 - 11:23am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Blog

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

March 12, 2019 - 4:39pm

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

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

Hell no.

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

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

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

Chance the Rapper Photo: Julio Enriquez/Wikimedia

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

Mychal Denzel Smith View this post on Instagram

Behind the scenes at @freshspeakers photo shoot

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

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

Frank Ocean View this post on Instagram

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

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

Barry Jenkins View this post on Instagram

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

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

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

Stephen Curry Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

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

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

Categories: Blog

Undocuqueer: Life in Photos

March 12, 2019 - 10:54am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Undocuqueer: Life in Photos appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Bay Word of the Day: Chonk

March 11, 2019 - 5:58pm

The post Bay Word of the Day: Chonk appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Closing the Gap: Black Girl Therapy

March 11, 2019 - 2:15pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Blog

Charter School Student Reflects on the Oakland Teacher Strike

March 10, 2019 - 8:00am

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Blog

Playlist: Post-Stress

March 8, 2019 - 4:18pm

It’s been a tough season for everyone. With school picking up the pace, the seasons changing, and just continuing to live life in this world, things can get hella overwhelming. This playlist was made to just vibe, relax a little bit, and enjoy some of the simple things like just listening to music in your room <3

Old School – Arin Ray Who Hurt You? – Daniel Caesar Troop – Tobi Lou Flea Market – Tierra Whack Cable Guy – Tierra Whack Chillin Wiv Da Man Dem – Dizzee Rascal Honeywheat – VanJess I Really Like You – Alexandria U Times 2 – Wintertime

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Oakland Teachers’ Strike: The Latest in Nationwide Movement

March 8, 2019 - 11:43am

In the latest indication that public school teachers are leading a national labor movement, Oakland teachers ended a seven-day strike last week. Mayor Libby Schaaf called it a “historic day” for the city.

The teachers in Oakland Unified School District had been without a contract for over a year. With support from students, community advocates and fellow teachers from outside the district, they were able to secure an 11 percent salary increase over four years and one-time three percent bonus. The district also agreed to gradually reduce class sizes, starting with the most at-risk schools.

While the union endorsed the agreement, many Oakland teachers and students feel shortchanged, especially after the board of education cut more than 20 million dollars from next year’s budget a few days after the strike ended. The cuts will affect social programs for restorative justice and foster youth.

Oakland’s controversial settlement begs the question: how does this deal compare to other strikes from across the country?

Almost half a million workers across industries went on strike last year, according to U.S. Labor Department data. 2018 saw the highest number of strikers in over 30 years, and teachers are prominent leaders of this new labor movement.

The wave of high-profile teacher strikes began in West Virginia just over a year ago. In February 2018, public school teachers from across the state took to the picket lines. West Virginia teachers had not received a raise since 2014 and were among the lowest paid in the country. After nine days on strike, teachers won a contentious battle, winning a 5 percent pay increase and a pause on increasing health insurance premiums. (Recently, West Virginia teachers voted to strike again if a new education bill in the state legislature becomes law.)

West Virginia teachers sparked strikes in several other states including Oklahoma, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Colorado.

The largest teacher strike came shortly after the 2018 West Virginia protests: in April of that same year, 81,000 Arizona teachers and school staff walked out for six days. While they didn’t meet all of their goals — such as an increase in counselors, nurses and librarians — teachers won a 20 percent salary increase over the next three years, according to The Associated Press.

The first wave of teacher strikes in 2018 were often referred to as “Red State Revolts.” Many took place in predominantly conservative states facing cuts to education spending. They hit before the midterm elections and served as major political talking points for candidates seeking office.

The latest round of strikes in 2019 are happening in a very different political climate and in places with progressive leadership, like Denver, Los Angeles, and Oakland. When I interviewed teachers in Oakland, they described downtrodden conditions in schools. “The students are not getting the things that they need, which is like paper, pencils, rulers, markers, basic necessities. We don’t have soap in our bathrooms,” said Elena Martyn, 30, a math teacher at Life Academy.

Until the mid-90s, teacher pay was comparable to that of other educated workers, according to a study from the Economic Policy Institute. Over the past 20 years, teacher pay has sharply eroded. As of 2017, teachers were paid more than 18 percent less than comparably educated workers.

Other teachers described the difficulties of surviving in the Bay Area on teachers’ wages. “Our two teacher salaries are not enough for daycare and preschool for two children, rent for a two bedroom apartment. We just can’t make ends meet in the city that we teach in,” said Mitch Singsheim, 35, a science teacher at Castlemont High School who is married to a fellow Oakland educator. His family plans to leave the Bay Area this summer.

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Categories: Blog

The Gig Economy Is Gonna Break Your Heart

March 7, 2019 - 11:42am

Finding a good job can be tough, which leads to a lot of people to make ends meet in the “gig economy.”

Apps like Lyft and Instacart have made it possible for more people to either get extra cash moonlighting or just piece together a living without a traditional job. In fact, since 2014 about 3.7 million more people have started freelancing, according to a report commissioned by Upwork and the Freelancers Union. With that freelancing statistic covering everything from writers to domestic workers, gig economy workers are definitely in that mix. These aren’t always great jobs, but there are plenty of people in cities big and small who use them to keep their long-term dreams alive.

Yet there are two forces that, working together, could turn those dreams to nightmares.

First there’s automation, which HBO’s John Oliver dedicated a whole “Last Week Tonight” episode to this past weekend.

As Oliver points out, automation is nothing new — and since the Industrial Revolution we’ve seen one type of job go away only to be replaced by another. What his segment didn’t dive into too deep is how the cutting edge of automation could potentially impact freelancing gigs.

It’s no secret that Uber is looking into self-driving cars, which would knock out the need for drivers. The industry that would get hit hardest by self-driving technology would be the trucking business, but technologists dream of cities where the roads are filled with self-driving cabs that are networked via blockchain. That may read like a mass of buzzwords, but it’s something that is actually being worked on, and could disrupt the already disruptive ride-sharing industry.

Blockchain technology allows for decentralized transactions over an open network. Which could mean that independent operators could run autonomous vehicles without relying on companies like Uber. That could be a boon for small investors, but it also cuts out the need for a driver. How much this would impact all those Prius and Civic drivers who moonlight on the apps would depend on just how much an autonomous vehicle would cost consumers. (Assuming they would even be sold or leased that way.)

For now, gig job apps like Instacart and Task Rabbit are less vulnerable, if only because automation can’t do something as complex as assemble an IKEA bed or shop and deliver groceries. Still: delivery robots are a thing now, and in the San Francisco Bay Area you can find start-ups working on robot baristas and burger-making droids. It may only be a matter of time before drone delivery from the Amazon-owned Whole Foods is just a matter of course. Which would liquidate the Instacart part of the equation.

Which brings us to the second force: Wall Street.

Amazon’s history provides us a valuable lesson — Wall Street’s willingness to stick with companies that reduce costs at every step of the way. For years the online shopping giant operated at a loss, but investors looked the other way and kept pumping money into the stock on the promise that one store could rule them all. In the wake of Amazon’s investor-fueled success, chain stores shrunk back and malls took a massive hit, taking retail jobs with them.

Uber autonomous vehicle Volvo XC90 in San Francisco. (Photo: Dllu/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

This matters because gig economy darlings like Uber and Lyft are having trouble showing a profit. Lyft lost almost a billion dollars on its operations in 2018, and Fortune reports that “its average revenue per ride is tiny: $3.56.” Meanwhile Uber lost $1.8 billion, on $50 billion in bookings according to Reuters. (That’s along with all the regulatory issues and corporate scandals that have plagued the company.)

Uber and Lyft are getting ready to put up their stock for public trading for the first time, and these initial public offerings are expected to be some of the hottest in years. I.P.O.s are what made companies like Google and Facebook into what they are today: nearly unavoidable parts of everyday life.

Part of the allure of Uber and Lyft for Wall Street is the possibility of a future where there are very few employees, just machines churning out profit the same way that Amazon’s increasingly automated warehouses do. A burst of I.P.O. money could speed up their efforts, and given the recent history of other tech companies that have gone public, it almost certainly will.

Of course, the opposite could always happen. Wall Street could blink and the I.P.O.s could tank. While that’s not likely, it would mean the end to much of the app-powered gig economy overnight.

It could be that in not too long, the gig will be up for those who made app-driven jobs an essential part of their income.

So what’s a job seeker to do? 

In Oliver’s segment he closes with a bit where he gives elementary school students a little career advice. It basically boils down to: focus on things automation could never do. There are other economic waves that are happening, known as the craft economy and the experience economy.

In the former, the focus is on creating more labor-intensive goods and selling them at a premium precisely because they are handmade. That can cover everything from Etsy stores to cake decorating. In the United States people spent $43 billion on “creative products” in 2016 according to the Association for Creative Industries, which tracks the U.S. craft and hobby markets.

As for the experience economy, immersive pop-ups and companies like Meow Wolf and the Museum of Ice Cream are turning pop-art experiences into can’t-miss destinations that are powered in part by the people who work at those venues, much in the same way retail once worked. The escape room fad, which turned into a fixture, is part of this mix too. Only in these jobs, personality goes even further as they are essentially entertainment gigs.

While automation can be a vicious cycle, there’s a virtuous circle counterpart in the craft and experience economy. The more effort and energy people put into craft-made goods and interpersonal experiences, the more value is created. That’s a kind of cultural shift that is very much in the hands of those who are seeking out something more than the fleeting economic interactions that app-driven gigs can provide.

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Categories: Blog

Inside the Industry – Artist Manager Cristela Rodriguez

March 6, 2019 - 4:48pm

In this edition of YR Media’s Inside the Industry, we get to know Cristela Rodriguez, manager to Chicago rappers, Saba and Joseph Chilliams.  She tapped in to give us details about her job, her specific experiences working on the business side of things and what it’s like to work so closely with a musical artist.

Throughout the interview, Cristela hooks it up with some great advice and an insider perspective on the music industry for anyone interested in the business side of the game.

Jess: What made you get into management? And how did you wind up becoming Saba’s manager?

I got into management when I was working at this company in the Bay Area called Ineffable Music. They were a service management company — kind of doing anything on the management side from booking flights, to getting artists shows, to advancing those shows. I started working there in 2014 as an assistant my sophomore year of college, and ever since then I’ve been working in the music industry. I met Saba, I got put on to him through a friend, and I was just a really big fan. Then I met him at a show in Oakland at Leo’s and I hit up his manager at the time to see if they had an intern position available. I worked alongside his then manager for a little bit and then eventually I just became the manager.

Jess: What would you say is the most important part of your job as a manager? Can you describe a typical day on the job?

CR: The most important part of my job is just double and triple checking a lot of details like contracts, flight reservations, scheduling appointments, or making sure that I have proper contacts necessary to do a show or an interview or anything like that. Then my everyday life as a manager — I usually wake up around 8:00 and I’m responding to emails by 9:00; I usually sit in front of my computer until 5:00 or 6:00 pm with little breaks in between to get on the phone or do anything like that. It’s a lot of emails and a lot of phone calls. It definitely gets really hectic just because things have sped up a lot. So sometimes I’ll be on back-to-back phone calls from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and then I get really flustered because I feel like I’m so behind and I’m barely starting to respond to emails until noon because I’ve been on the phone all day. It’s just trying to find a balance like, okay this is the time I’m gonna set aside to be on the phone, this is the time I’m gonna set aside to do emails and all that stuff. Time management!

Jess: What are some things you wish you knew before starting in your role?

CR: Oh, that’s a good one. I don’t know if anyone’s ever asked me that before. I wish I knew the specifics of how label contracts work. I feel like that’s something nobody really teaches you. Obviously, the music industry is changing so much because of streaming and record companies are having to get really creative with what they’re able to offer artists. But I wish somebody told me that. Something that nobody talks about as well is the difference between mechanical royalties and publishing royalties. Nobody teaches you that, you have to learn it on your own or go seek out that information. Which is cool — you should always be seeking out information — but I think those are two things that should really be taught first and foremost. There are so many things that go into it.

Jess: I see Smino’s a big supporter of Saba, how did you guys end up making that connection?

CR: Saba and Smino met ’cause Smino’s from Chicago. Well, he’s from St. Louis but he’s been in Chicago for a really long time, so they kinda have just known each other through that and music. They have a bunch of unreleased stuff that hasn’t come out which is really dope. Yeah, that’s like family.

Jess: Have you made any mistakes on the job? If so, what have you learned from them?

CR: Hell yeah. All the time. I’ve booked an incorrect flight before which always sucks because they try to charge you hella money to fix them, but I usually always get out of that because I can be very convincing with airlines. Things like that feel like the end of the world, but you just kind of calm down and figure out a way to figure it out and move on. You’re going to make mistakes for sure. It’s kind of like a balance of knowing when to just be honest and fess up to or just try to wing it and figure it out. Sometimes there are situations I have to talk to the team and be like “Yo, I messed up here’s what happened.” Other times I figure it out and nobody even knows that something went wrong.

Jess: Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into artist management?

CR: The advice I have is to ask ALL the questions. Always ask, even if you think there is, there’s no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to this stuff. Always ask questions — any little question that you have. The smallest details can really be the biggest thing so it’s always better to just ask.

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Categories: Blog

Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: Edel

March 5, 2019 - 4:27pm
Oakland DJ / Producer / Engineer / A&R  Edel is a part of Remix Your Life’s behind-the-scenes team

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Categories: Blog

Bay Word of the Day: “Fonk”

March 4, 2019 - 6:18pm

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Categories: Blog

You Don’t Want to Miss Out on Kehlani’s Latest Mixtape “While We Wait”

March 4, 2019 - 4:43pm

Kehlani has never shied away from being open and personal in her music. She makes sure every lyric written, every tune sung, comes straight from the heart. “While We Wait” is her first project since her debut studio album “SweetSexySavage” and it is her most honest and expressive project to date. The album showcases her growth not only as an artist but as a woman as well.

Fans have been highly anticipating this mixtape for nearly two years, but the pay-off was worth it. “While We Wait” ingeniously incorporates the ’90s, ’00s, and contemporary R&B to blend into a singular sound that is completely organic to Kehlani. Touching on topics such as love, heartache, and self-assurance, Kehlani matures her playfully sassy attitude into confidence from a force to be reckoned with.

Footsteps (feat. Musiq Soulchild)

Kehlani sings, “Cheers to being honest/Neither of us knew what we wanted,” setting up the mood for “While We Wait,” an album focused on her dysfunctional relationship. “Footsteps” serves as the reflective intro, assessing what caused the relationship to stop working. The song is fully equipped with nostalgic 90’s production over sounds of waves, bringing out the best in Kehlani’s raw vocals. After breakups, most of us are faced with emotions and despair. She doesn’t sulk but instead, voices her gratitude. Kehlani, mature in her standing, gives thanks to her partner for the time and lessons learned within the relationship. In an album that centers around an unhealthy relationship, Kehlani lets the listener know that her growth is what was the most important thing learned in the relationship.

Too Deep

Kehlani sings about the complexities that come with situationships on “Too Deep.” The two are clearly not on the same page as she talks about communication issues and one-sided feelings. Kehlani’s partner demands more than what she’s willing to give, as she’s not looking for a relationship with them. She knows that if they continue on the path they’re on, it is inevitable that they will hurt each other.

“Too Deep” is a smooth yet contagious song, reminiscent of a conversation with oneself. The beat goes hand-in-hand with Kehlani’s soulful, captivating voice, it’s the kind of song that’s almost impossible not to sing along to.

Nights Like This (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)

Kehlani’s heartfelt emotions shine through on this track, utilizing her signature melodious voice to showcase a sentiment that’s true.  In “Nights Like This,” Kehlani tells an unfortunate love story about still yearning for an ex-lover, despite having been hurt and misled in the relationship. The heartbreak and betrayal are amplified in the song’s music video, where Kehlani plays a scientist that repairs an android and begins to form a close bond with her, only for the android to later kill her and take over her body.

RPG (feat. 6LACK)

Kehlani’s cry for love is recognized on “RPG,” the centerpiece of While We Wait. The song’s lyrics locate the initial disconnect that spurred the conflict of the relationship between Kehlani and her partner, who is played by 6LACK. The dispute comes down to a difference in understanding of what it means to love another person. Kehlani doesn’t feel loved, while she tells her partner, their actions aren’t reassuring enough to show love. There is no reciprocation of affection. “RPG” represents a commonality in relationships where needs aren’t met, partners feel as if they need to overcompensate then end up draining themselves for one another. Kehlani shows us that love shouldn’t be a task, but, love should be effortless.

Love Language

The inspiration for Kehlani’s “Love Language” came from one of the song’s producers, Super Duper Brick, who learned to speak Portuguese to communicate with his girlfriend.

In “Love Language,” Kehlani sings about a partner that she feels an intense connection with, but who speaks a different language from her. She asks about his interests, trying to figure out all the things they can do together. Unable to stress just how much she wants to keep learning about this person, Kehlani makes it clear that “Love Language” is about devotion. The track features a sweet melody backed by a dancehall-esque beat, ending the project with a bang.

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