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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 46 min ago

Learning to Accept My Jewish Identity

January 27, 2019 - 8:00am

When I was in middle school, I had a few classmates who made jokes about the Holocaust and Jewish stereotypes, I felt small. I didn’t want to be Jewish anymore.

For years I grappled with my identity. If someone asked me, “Aren’t you Jewish?” I would say, “Yeah, but I’m not really Jewish.”

A couple years ago, I asked a rabbi if it was okay I didn’t believe in God. “Of course it’s okay, it’s not about that,” he said.

My rabbi was understanding of my skepticism. I felt accepted. I started paying more attention during services and stopped hiding my Jewishness from my peers.

I learned that Judaism is about working towards accepting others and giving back. I’m proud of my community.

When 11 people were killed in the Tree of Life synagogue in October, I broke down crying. I couldn’t understand why people carry so much hatred. My temple has since hired extra security.

Looking back, I feel ashamed of the moments when I turned my back on my faith. Now, I am proud of the way we continue to preach compassion, even among threats and hate crimes.

The post Learning to Accept My Jewish Identity appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

4 Reasons You Should Care About Facebook’s Suicide Prevention Tool

January 25, 2019 - 5:03pm

The world’s largest social media company, Facebook, sees every word said on its platform, and they’ve been trying to use that vantage point to help people who may be suicidal, but the hidden costs might be too high.

Facebook’s tool “uses signals to identify posts from people who might be at risk, such as phrases in posts and concerned comments from friends and family,” Catherine Card, Facebook’s director of product management, wrote in a blog post

And when Facebook determines someone is suicidal, the company contacts local law enforcement, according to a recent New York Times report.

In 2017, Facebook started relying more heavily on artificial intelligence, or AI, to identify users who might be at risk of hurting themselves or attempting to end their own lives.

This technology became a priority for Facebook developers after several stories of users, including a 12-year-old girl, broadcasting their suicides on Facebook Live.

Here are four reasons you should care about Facebook’s suicide prevention feature:

The Potential Upside

Facebook is uniquely positioned to have a meaningful impact on global suicide rates, given that it has access to the posts and correspondence of more than one billion users, or roughly 13 percent of the people on Earth. The New York Times described the social platform’s tech as “most likely the world’s largest suicide threat screening and alert program.” If Facebook’s tools work as intended, countless lives could be saved every year.

The Dowwnside: Computers Are Flawed

Unfortunately, technology isn’t perfect, and detecting intent — particularly intent as complex and multi-faceted as the intent to end one’s own life — is much more complicated than setting up a series of keyword-detecting algorithms. In a different post, Facebook’s Catherine Card said that it can be difficult to teach a computer to pick up on all the nuances of human language.

“A human being might recognize that ‘I have so much homework I want to kill myself’ is not a genuine cry of distress, but how do you teach a computer that kind of contextual understanding?” Card asked. That’s why human beings are still part of the process, she explained. If Facebook’s algorithm flags a post, “a trained member of Facebook’s Community Operations team reviews it to determine if the person is at risk,” Card said.

The Danger of False Positives

Card’s blog post — and much of the reporting that followed — points out that the technology is prone to yielding false alarms. These false positives could result in disastrous unintended consequences, such as people who are not at risk for suicide having to be hospitalized, undergo psychological evaluation or have unnecessary, high-stress interactions with law enforcement. The AI may not even be able to distinguish between a person struggling with suicidal thoughts and a person looking to discuss mental illness candidly with their Facebook friends, said Mason Marks, a medical doctor and research fellow at Yale and NYU law schools, in an interview with NPR.

“People … might fear a visit from police, so they might pull back and not engage in an open and honest dialogue. … And I’m not sure that’s a good thing,” Marks said.

The Cost in Privacy

Lastly, Facebook’s suicide prevention feature begs a few interesting questions for users concerned with the network’s reputation for mishandling personal data. After a long two years of privacy-related scandals emerging from the network, Facebook users might reasonably wonder whether the status of their mental health might be used to advertise to them, or leaked to nefarious third-party analytics companies.

“I think this should be considered sensitive health information,” said Natasha Duarte, a policy analyst at the Center for Democracy and Technology, in an interview with Business Insider. “Anyone who is collecting this type of information or who is making these types of inferences about people should be considering it as sensitive health information and treating it really sensitively as such.”

Unlike other aspects of Facebook, this isn’t something a user can opt out of. When either a user or an algorithm detects a possible suicide threat, “a trained member of Facebook’s Community Operations team reviews it to determine if the person is at risk,” according to another post by Facebook’s Card on the subject.

A reminder that for better or worse, what gets said online has consequences.

The post 4 Reasons You Should Care About Facebook’s Suicide Prevention Tool appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

When Clueless Parents Smoke Weed: An Illustrated Explainer

January 25, 2019 - 5:30am

We should have seen it coming, right?

Recreational cannabis is legal for adults in 10 states plus the District of Columbia, and first-time weed buyers are hitting dispensaries all over the country in droves. If your parents are over 50, like mine, they’re in one of the fastest growing  groups of cannabis consumers in the United States.

Still, it’s confusing to keep up with the changing world of legal weed, even for seasoned burners. No worries, man: read on for all your parents’ weed questions (and maybe some of your own) explained.

You know, you’re not wrong… But dabbing in the context of cannabis means something completely different. A “dab” refers to a small amount of cannabis extract. Extract has many nicknames, like shatter, oil, wax, or rosin. Dabs can test at more than 90% THC.

Cannabis concentrate. (Stay Regular via Pexels.com)

The dab is placed onto a hot quartz or metal surface and inhaled, usually using a special bong (a “dab rig”) or another type of filtration system. Some companies add extra terpenes (the aromatic chemicals found in cannabis plants) that enhance the flavor and smell of their extracts.

“Vape” isn’t a substance-specific term. There are two main types of vaporizer: “herbal” vapes and vape “pens.” Both can refer to either cannabis or nicotine devices.

If the device has a metal or wire mesh chamber for dry materials, it’s a herbal vape. This type produces very little visible vapor and often lacks a detachable battery. Some are built for tabletop use, others are handheld. These are basically for pot, but technically you can use them to vape dry tobacco as well.

A dry herb vape with cannabis inside. (The Vape Guide via Flickr)

Vape pens are used for liquids, like cannabis extract and nicotine “e-juice,” which are tricky to tell apart. Both can be yellow-golden or reddish-brown, but cannabis extract is thick and resinous (or even solid at cool temperatures) and produces moderate amounts of harsh vapor when heated. Nicotine liquid is made from runnier liquids —  glycerin and propylene glycol — that create a dense, foggy vapor. E-juice also usually has added flavoring.

(Lindsay Fox via Wikimedia Commons) (Stay Regular via Pexels.com)

The top image is a common disposable vape cartridge, pre-filled with cannabis extract. The bottom one is a common e-juice tank. Notice how they’re being held at the same angle, but the air bubble is “stuck” in the thick cannabis extract? Finally, pay close attention to black rectangular vapes. Certain cannabis vape brands mimic the discreet look of JUUL e-cigarettes, making them very hard to distinguish.

Cannabis taxes aren’t just super high, they’re super confusing. Take California, which has a 15% excise tax on pot and its products. This tax is based on the average market value of a product, not its sticker price. On top of that is ordinary sales tax, which is applied to almost everything you buy at any store, and varies depending on where you are. For example, in San Francisco, sales tax is 8.5%. These taxes alone can generate a 25% additional charge in some counties.

And it doesn’t stop there: localities in California sometimes enact their own taxes. Last year, San Francisco passed a recreational cannabis tax to be imposed on pot businesses grossing more than $500,000 a year. Yet despite (or perhaps because of) the steep rates, tax revenue generated from recreational cannabis sales was smaller than expected in 2018. Total sales dropped half a billion dollars after legalization, suggesting many pot consumers are seeking cheaper black market alternatives.

What’s the deal with weed packaging these days? You used to find cannabis in glass or pop-top plastic jars at dispensaries. It wasn’t uncommon for pot shops to store their buds in large containers and package amounts to-order. But when recreational laws passed in California, so did a bunch of strict packaging regulations. Now, all cannabis products have to be in resealable child-proof containers even before they arrive at a dispensary. Bad news for grandma’s arthritis.

While it’s now easy to find really strong weed, there are plenty of other options for folks who don’t want to be knocked out. One of the advantages of buying legal cannabis that didn’t exist back in the day is that the law mandates lab testing, so users can know how strong their pot is. A good bud-tender can recommend specific products, depending on a customer’s tolerance level.

Sorry, I think you’re on your own with that one. Good luck!

The post When Clueless Parents Smoke Weed: An Illustrated Explainer appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

After Viral Video, Young Kentuckians Confront Racist Legacy

January 24, 2019 - 3:54pm

by Caitlin Cummings

My social feeds went crazy this weekend over the viral video of a tense moment between some Kentucky teens and a Native American elder.

Watching teen Nick Sandmann standing directly in front of Native American elder Nathan Phillips’ face smiling blankly…it’s uncomfortable.

Because I live in Kentucky, it’s even more uncomfortable. Racism is a problem America is facing, not just Kentuckians.

But most of the media coverage showed the teens from Covington Catholic High School — a few hours from where I live — acting horrible. Provoked or not, they were shown as racist and disrespectful.

Kentucky has always faced stereotyped portrayals of our culture and people.  How the Covington teens reacted and behaved, only reinforced those stereotypes. 

That’s not the Kentucky I was raised in. I was raised to treat everyone equally.

The Kentucky where I grew up includes memories that are nothing like that viral video. Memories of my parents taking me to my gay uncle to get my haircut and him telling me to always love everyone. Memories of me and my gay best friend staying up at night watching documentaries about drag queens and doing makeup on one another. Memories of meditating in the woods with my friends asking for a better world. 

To see such hate spewed from people that are in the same state as me is really difficult because that’s just one picture of the place I live.

While the country is a having a conversation about politics, race and left vs. right, here’s the conversation happening where I live.

(Image courtesy of Kyra Higgins/Appalachian Media Institute)

Kyra Higgins, 20, Redfox, KY

Watching that video I felt anger and humiliation. There was such blatant disrespect and ignorance. This is Kentucky’s representation in the media. That is what people see as our legacy. I have conversations with people from different areas of Kentucky sharing the same sentiment as I do from all walks of life: young, old, African-American, white, Latino, working class, education professionals, organization leaders, college students and high school students. I wish that was recognized more and highlighted more. I cannot say there are not people like these [Covington Catholic High School] students young and old in Kentucky, but there are also people who live here doing good work that goes unnoticed. I often wonder what it would be like if people experienced Kentucky through the eyes of young people that I encounter daily full of hope, curiosity about others, intelligence, kindness and depth.

(Image courtesy of Olivia Harp/Appalachian Media Institute)

Olivia Harp, 24, Hazard, KY

Growing up in Eastern, KY all my life, I have been subjected to many stereotypes. Most of the time I accept and appreciate my roots. Racist ignorant hillbilly is one I refuse to accept. That stereotype has created a stigma for many Appalachian people. People like Kim Davis and the Covington Catholic High School [teens] are not what we represent. Kentucky is going to gay bars and singing Dolly Parton at the top of your lungs…Kentucky is wanting to learn Spanish so you can talk to your cousin’s husband in his native tongue. Kentucky is not what the media has [portrayed] us to be.

(Image courtesy of Dustin Johnson/Appalachian Media Institute)

Dustin Johnson, 19, Hazard, KY

The hive mentality of this hateful, spiteful, area is one of generational bias. Though we’re all human, no matter the race, sex, gender or nationality, there are people who still feel as if they should preach hate for their own selfishness. I believe in the fair and equal treatment of all. #StompOutHatred

This story was a collaboration with the Appalachian Media Institute

The post After Viral Video, Young Kentuckians Confront Racist Legacy appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

7 R&B Acts We’re Excited About in 2019

January 24, 2019 - 12:28pm

The beginning of a new year is always an exciting time. Most people use it as an opportunity to ditch old habits while others seek new ventures. If you’re a music lover like me, a new year means new artists to explore. As a woman, I know what it’s like to be overlooked because of my gender. Even though there is a fair amount of powerful women in the music industry, it’s well known that the opportunities for women to excel are sparse and harder to conquer than they are for men. It’s no different than any other job field; women have to be exceptional and fly to get what the average man can walk to.

For this reason, I always look to support women in music, especially those that are newcomers in the industry. Over the past couple of years, SZA, Ella Mai, Alessia Cara and Cardi B have made huge waves, becoming some of the most prominent and successful acts in the industry, but in 2019 we can do better. Here is my list of seven women/women-led acts that are on the verge of breaking out in 2019.

Summer Walker

Summer Walker has already begun to carve her own lane in R&B at only 22 years old. LVRN’s singer-songwriter is a skilled guitarist and draws inspiration from Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu in her music. Songs like “CPR” and “Girls Need Love” have already garnered her some buzz, with the latter’s music video getting 20 million views in just four months; her debut project “Last Day of Summer” solidified her as a force to watch out for.

Mahalia

Hailing from across the pond, this U.K. singer-songwriter is the breath of fresh air that R&B needed. Traces of alternative and soul can be heard in her music, as she cites Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill as some of her biggest influences. She first signed with a major label when she was only 13 years old and has since released an album, three EPs and 16 stand-alone singles, including her breakout single “Sober” from 2017. As of late, she’s nominated for the BRIT Awards 2019 Critic’s Choice Award, with past winners including Adele and Sam Smith. It’s safe to say she’ll be an artist to watch in 2019.

Spellling

Sacramento native Spellling is a true underground artist that deserves mainstream attention. Her first project “Pantheon of Me” was released in 2017 and was entirely self-written, recorded, and produced in her apartment in Berkeley, CA. Her music can only be described as ethereal, unique and mesmerizing. She’s received critical acclaim from national and local publications alike, the future is bright for the self-made songstress. Pitchfork called her first project “one of the most compelling debuts of the year.” Her followup “Mazy Fly” is set to be released this February!

King Princess

Currently signed to Mark Ronson’s label Zelig Records, King Princess dropped “1950,” her first single, last February and since then she has accumulated over 10 million views on YouTube. It might’ve also helped that singer Harry Styles tweeted the lyrics to the song back in March. A multi-instrumentalist producer as well as a singer-songwriter, she is skilled in playing guitar, bass, piano and drums. King Princess identifies as gay, and it’s not something she shies away from, with the topic being a recurring theme in her music.

Ravyn Lenae

The Atlantic Records signee was born and raised in Chicago, and at 20 years old she’s already on her way to becoming the next big thing. She toured with SZA and Noname on their respective tours and her latest EP “Crush” was produced entirely by Steve Lacey, who has previously worked with Solange and Kendrick Lamar. “Crush” is an old-school inspired R&B piece that is not only fun but soulful as well. 

Raveena

Indian-American R&B singer Raveena has been compared to the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae and Sade, with her delicate vocals carefully sung over gentle, rhythmic instrumentals. Her COLORS video for “If Only” has garnered over two million views. Raveena treats her songbook like a diary, with each song framed as a piece of her soul. Her music is open and honest and aims to empower women of color, making her an exciting artist to watch this year.

Radiant Children

This three-piece London-based band Radiant Children are comprised of musicians Tyler Acord, Marcos Bernardis, and lead singer Fabienne Holloway. Their debut single “Life’s a B***h” was featured on HBO’s “Insecure” season three premiere, giving the group much deserved exposure. Radiant Children’s music can be described as soulful R&B with a thin veil of alternative-pop, making their appeal captivating to many different audiences.

The post 7 R&B Acts We’re Excited About in 2019 appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

First-Generation Fashion

January 24, 2019 - 11:20am

Style can be about more than just what’s “on trend” — it can also be about expressing who you are and where you came from.

We checked in with three first-generation style mavens to see how they use fashion to tell a bigger story about their families and cultural identities.

Yasir Althami

“My parents worked too hard to get me here for me to ever be ashamed of who I am and where I come from”, says 17-year-old Somali Yasir Althami.

Althami says the greatest values that his Somali and Muslim cultures have instilled in him are a love and respect for family.

Yasir’s outfit is a nod to the Macawis, a sarong typically worn by Somali men.

Senait Hagos

“My culture means unity,” says Senait Hagos, a 16-year-old whose parents are from Eritrea. “In anything we do in our culture, it’s together. In my culture and my country, you always have people to lean on.”

During a span of about 22 years, about a third of Eritrea’s population, including Senait’s parents, were forced to flee the country because of poor living conditions and the outbreak of two civil wars.

“In my country, each tribe has a distinct clothing piece, distinct hair type, distinct jewelry, so I think fashion plays a major role in my culture”

Senait is wearing a traditional Eritrean dress called a Zuria as well as gold jewelry, a commonly worn accessory.  

Valasi Alailima

“My culture is who I am and it shapes the way I live. My culture is deeply rooted in Christianity. I’ve been raised in something called the ‘Fa’a Samoa’ or ‘the Samoan way,’” says Valasi Alailima, 16.  

Valasi is wearing a dress called a Puletasi. It is most commonly worn to church and formal cultural events.


Valasi says she’s very excited to be able to pass the practices of Fa’a Samoa on to her children and future generations to come.



The post First-Generation Fashion appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Review: Toro y Moi Looks Inward for “Outer Peace”

January 23, 2019 - 6:46pm

Toro y Moi (aka Chaz Bear) is back with a new album, “Outer Peace,” and it couldn’t be a better reintroduction. It’s been two years since his last project, “Boo Boo,” and while away, Chaz Bear took some time to tour and even explore other forms of art.  It would be unfair to box this Toro y Moi album to one genre, as he explores funk, electronic, R&B and pop music, to create one cohesive sound.

According to a press release by Carpark Records, Toro y Moi’s “‘Outer Peace’ is duality. It embodies whatever form you choose to inhabit in the  moment.” Check out our five favorite songs from Toro’s latest below. 

Ordinary Pleasure

First released as the album’s second single, “Ordinary Pleasure” is playfully cool as he tells listeners “Nothing can make it better, maximize all the pleasure.” The track opens up with rhythmic bongo-playing while introducing synthesized vocals, and a mesmerizing bassline throughout the song. You wouldn’t think that funk, techno, alternative and pop would mesh so well on a track together but Toro y Moi makes it work.

Baby Drive It Down

“Baby Drive It Down” is one of my favorites off the album, despite the track being three minutes long, it feels like it’s over way too soon. Beware, the replay value on this song is very high, it manages to be a psychedelic upbeat yet mellow track.

Who I Am 

“Who I Am” comes in towards the end of the album, with a contagiously fun beat that is for sure going to make people want to dance. Toro blends retro-futuristic 80’s synth-pop with a tinge of 70’s disco-funk. He gets real existential as he contemplates ideas of self- worth and his place in the world.

Monte Carlo (feat. Wet)

Toro doesn’t shy from his chillwave roots, everything about the song is hypnotic, from its breezy beat to its background harmonies that fill the track. The singer recruits Wet for a brief hook, but the melodic vocals from lead singer Kelly Zutrau are enough to steal the show.

50-50 (feat. Instupendo)

The singer cited this collab with Instupendo as his favorite song on the album, because it came with a challenge, pop music. Toro y Moi has been hesitant to create pop music in the past, but in this track, he takes pop music and put his own spin on it, and just like the rest of the tracks on the album, it turned out to be very rewarding.

The post Review: Toro y Moi Looks Inward for “Outer Peace” appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Found Sounds: All Episodes and Complete Track List

January 23, 2019 - 5:31pm
Full Episode List Episode 4: Urban Ore  Episode 3: Oakland Library  Episode 2: Open Cafe Episode 1: Latham Square Complete Tracks

The post Found Sounds: All Episodes and Complete Track List appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

What To Do If Instagram Makes You Feel Bad

January 23, 2019 - 2:25pm

If you’re like most people, you probably spend a lot of time scrolling through social media. But do you ever wonder if it’s good for you? 

Instagram can be pretty fake, so how does it affect us when people try and pass off their embellished lives as reality?

YR Media reporter Hannah Cornejo talks with Harvard researcher Dr. Emily Weinstein to find out how social media affects young people, and whether we’re searching in the wrong place for realness.

Weinstein is a researcher at Project Zero, a center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She studies how how social technologies shape the lives of kids and teens.

The post What To Do If Instagram Makes You Feel Bad appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

The Facebook Group Subtle Asian Traits Just Gets Me

January 23, 2019 - 11:18am

Have you ever come across a meme that is so hilarious you get those deep belly laughs, you’re crying tears of laughter and sharing the heck out of it? Yeah, I feel you. And in the prime age of Twitter and Instagram, it’s hard not to stumble upon these comedy gems every once in a while.

But let’s not forget about Facebook. There lies the home of a group that brings me so much joy: subtle asian traits.

A group of Asian-Australian friends in their late teens and early 20s started the group, inviting users to join and “add all your Asian friends :).” As it’s a “closed group,” only approved members can view the content.

Incredibly, subtle asian traits reached one million members worldwide in December 2018, and its membership is growing daily. It has also expanded onto Instagram.

A meme featuring Surprised Pikachu posted by the admins of subtle asian traits when it hit a membership milestone on Dec. 21, 2018. (Photo: subtle asian traits)

One of my cousins sent me an invite to join the group a couple months back and I’m so glad she did. Not only do I come across posts that have me clutching at my sides with laughter (while simultaneously trying to tap the “like” button), I see so many Asian people I know IRL in the group. That gives me a true sense of community.

There’s the obvious reason for how I feel: I’m Asian and the group was made primarily for an Asian audience.

Sauce packets like these, pictured in a post on Jan. 16, 2019, are commonly found in Asian instant ramen packages. (Photo: Giovanne Lagas II/subtle asian traits)

Then there’s the subtle reason: the group just gets me. Mind blowing, right?

I find memes here especially captivating, because they express the nuances of what it was like to grow up with immigrant parents as a first-generation Asian-American. Sometimes, certain memes even zoom in to what it was like to grow up in a Vietnamese household like mine.

A meme posted to subtle asian traits on Jan. 18, 2019, references how fish sauce, also “nuóc mắm,” is used in many Vietnamese dishes. (Photo: Maya Verónica/subtle asian traits) A post on Jan. 18, 2019, points out how some Asian dads are known to be strict — and blunt — about their disapproval when their kids stay out late. (Photo: Brandon Jiang/subtle asian traits) A hilarious and pretty accurate description of what’s inside fridges in many Asian households, posted on Jan. 17, 2019. (Photo: Vicky Chang/subtle asian traits)

I grew up in a suburban city about 15 miles north of Seattle (shout-out to anyone from Lynnwood!). I went to a high school with a predominantly white population. That meant I spent a lot of time telling people how to pronounce my last name, fielding requests that I speak in Vietnamese on cue, and explaining why the lunches I brought from home looked “weird.”

Though this was an often isolating experience, what made a difference for me was my group of friends, who are Asian for the most part. The parts of myself other classmates found it hard to wrap their heads around didn’t need to be explained to my friends, because they understood. Simply put, they got me.

A Jan. 17, 2019, post features chicken feet, which are a familiar Chinese dim sum dish. (Photo: Amy Ong/subtle asian traits)

I’m really fortunate to have a group of friends who’ve been there for me since middle (and elementary) school, but a few months ago I moved to New York City, far away from my childhood buddies. I still have yet to find a squad that truly understands me in the way they do, but subtle asian traits is definitely a start.

The post The Facebook Group Subtle Asian Traits Just Gets Me appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

What Happens When a Teen Activist Turns 20?

January 21, 2019 - 8:20am

For the past few years, I’ve built a lot of my identity around being a teenager — or more specifically, a teen activist. But now, I’m turning 20. And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what that means for me.

When I was 16, MTV News ran a story about the nonprofit I started, which is aimed at empowering teens to disrupt the status quo. They titled their story: “This Muslim-American Teen Turned His Suffering Into a Full-Fledged Battle Against Stereotypes.”

There’s a whole world of kids like me, teen activists and entrepreneurs who have been continuously celebrated for our youth. There are many of us, young people who have become spokespeople for certain causes: gun violence, education reform, drug decriminalization. We are listened to, at least in part, because we are young.

I think people love stories about young people mobilizing because of the novelty of it all, but also because the next generation is always associated with hope. When young people give presentations, we are often told that we reignite people’s belief in tomorrow. The reality is that young voices have an opportunity to be heard because we are received as exciting, powerful and refreshing. The public wants to believe in the next generation, naturally.

As I’ve come of age as a young American-Muslim, I’ve leaned into “teenagerness.” I gave a TEDxTalk titled, “Our Age Does Not Limit Our Activism” in 2015. Later, I founded a consulting firm, JUV Consulting, with the aim of teaching brands how to better market to Generation Z. As I moved into the lane of youth advocacy, my “teenagerness” became a massive part of who I was, the work that I did and how the world saw me.

I’ve leaned into the idea that people have listened to me more closely because I’ve been young. But as I turn 20, I’m thinking now about what happens next.

I realize that I’m not suddenly old because I’m 20. My ideas were no more valid when I was 19 than they are now. I’m grateful to have been given a platform while I was so young, and my hope is to continue to use my platform responsibly to focus on issues that matter.

I’ve been tremendously lucky that my teens have been so good to me, but I’ve also been so non-stop in my “hustle” that a part of me does feel like my teens have just passed me by. There are moments where I worry that sometimes I’ve forgotten just to take a moment and enjoy my youth. So as I think about growing up into a 20-something, my goal is to savor these years.

As I get older, I feel committed to passing the mic to many other young people, especially those organizing to make tomorrow better. I will also continue to be enormously proud to be of my generation — and to support those younger than me as they claim their seats at tables.

As I think about what’s next, the answer is simple: the work. The fact that I’m 20 doesn’t change my passions, so leaning into my purpose irrespective of my age will be an anchor for this next decade of my life.

And I hope people are willing to listen, even if “20-something” isn’t as catchy as “teen.”

The post What Happens When a Teen Activist Turns 20? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

From Our Oakland Teen Desk: MLK’s Legacy in 2019

January 21, 2019 - 8:05am

America celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day today.

MLK sparked a social movement in the 1960s that addressed civil rights issues in America, emphasizing the barriers people of color face.

To see how MLK’s legacy continues today, we talked to some of the students and interns at YR Media’s headquarters in Oakland, California. (YR Media provides after-school programs and internships to a diverse group of young people from around the Bay Area.)

Martin Luther King “motivates me to do better in school and do what I believe in,” Anthony, 17, said.

Given that messages of white supremacy and racism are still all around us — from Rep. Steve King’s recent comments in defense of white nationalism, to the alt right and Charlottesville, Virginia — what would MLK do if he were still alive today?

The post From Our Oakland Teen Desk: MLK’s Legacy in 2019 appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Listen to ADP.FM: City Cat Radio MLK Episode

January 21, 2019 - 8:02am
The freshest DJs in the bay spinning live from a street-level studio in downtown Oakland, California.

Happy MLK Day! This is an episode of City Cat Radio with DJ Henroc, airing from All Day Play FM. We hope you enjoy the show in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and continue to create his dream.

The post Listen to ADP.FM: City Cat Radio MLK Episode appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How Much Do You Really Know About MLK? Take Our Quiz.

January 21, 2019 - 8:00am

How much do you really know about the man behind the iconic initials, MLK?

To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, or if you’d just like to show off to your friends, take our quiz below.

Are you up for the challenge?

Photos of Martin Luther King Jr. courtesy Wikimedia Commons and the U.S. National Archives.

The post How Much Do You Really Know About MLK? Take Our Quiz. appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Finding Comfort in YouTube Hair Tutorials

January 20, 2019 - 8:00am

Last year, I decided to grow out my kinky, curly hair for the first time. But there was no one in my family that I could turn to. YouTube came to the rescue.

In my immediate family, I’m the only one with kinky hair. I’m mixed race —black, white, and Filipina. My mom has loose curls and my dad’s hair is straight. I didn’t have anyone to look to for guidance.

Time and again, I wandered through the natural hair aisle—feeling lost. When I decided to grow my hair out, I realized I needed some real advice. So I turned to YouTube.

Immediately, I discovered tons of girls online that faced the same hair challenges. I didn’t feel alone anymore. Through these videos I was able to try out new products and styles. I feel less intimidated in the beauty supply store now.

I often hear about social media and the internet hurting more than helping teens. But in this case, I was able to discover a community that wasn’t available for me in person.

Watching people talk about their natural hair made me feel more confident about mine. Now, I consider it one of my best features.

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Categories: Blog

I Went to the First Women’s March and I’m Still Excited

January 19, 2019 - 6:45am

This weekend is the third anniversary of the Women’s March. Two years ago, I was on a plane flying from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., to join thousands of women on the National Mall. I was traveling with my two best friends at the time, along with our moms.

After we arrived in D.C., we stayed in my friend’s aunt’s apartment, anxiously preparing for our protest by cutting out felt letters and gluing them to blankets we could wear during the march. Mine was a pink snuggy that read, “My Body, My Future, My Choice.”

In the days leading up to the march, we’d sit on the balcony of the apartment and observe the people passing by. There were several smaller rallies leading up to the march, as well as some celebrations for the inauguration of Donald Trump. We watched pink pussy hats and red MAGA hats bob down the street below us, more than we could count. It was both uplifting and upsetting to see the mix.

On the day of the march, we entered a giant sea of people. I have never felt this sort of energy — the amount of love, anger and passion that moved through our group captivated me. I distinctly remember two guys standing up on top of a raised ledge wearing Trump shirts and MAGA hats. They stood there, drinking their beers and watching all of us. A woman stood next to them with a sign that just read, “Fuck this guy.”

We marched for seven hours that day. I never grew tired. Every moment that passed, every sign I read, every chant we yelled, seemed to make us stronger. We became a swarm (and were estimated to be around one million people), fueled by the energy we emitted. At the end of the day, we lay in bed and reflected on our day. I’ve never felt so empowered.

A stack of signs from the Women’s March left on the ground of a D.C. metro station on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo: Mila De la Torre)

Although I was encouraged by the event, the march received a lot of backlash. Even during the first march, many critics questioned its lack of intersectionality. They felt it was not inclusive of women of color and trans women, and they pointed to the white women who organized it in the first place. I can only speak for myself. As a young woman of color, I did feel that there was a place for me. Marching amongst so many people deeply impacted my outlook.

So on Saturday at the Women’s March in San Francisco, I’ll be attending with my close friend and I’m more than excited to feel that same sense of pride again.

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Categories: Blog

Woman to Womxn: New Women’s Marches Aim for Inclusivity

January 18, 2019 - 4:28pm

The Women’s March in Washington, D.C. — and marches around the country — are set to kick off again on Saturday, Jan. 19.

Since 2017, the march has become a kind of annual tradition, with thousands of citizens taking to the streets to protest President Donald Trump and his policies while giving voice to the largest traditionally underrepresented group: women.

With a record 131 women now serving in Congress, it’s tempting to point to the Women’s March as having had a profound effect on American politics.

But some believe the Women’s March hasn’t been inclusive enough of people of color or women from less privileged backgrounds. And critics point to controversial statements made by the lead organizers of the national March. 

Just this week the national Women’s March co-president Tamika D. Mallory was taken to task on the television show “The View” for support she’s shown for controversial, chronically anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan. The dust-up over Mallory is just one issue the central organizers have faced, which has prompted some activists to establish their own women’s marches.

The Womxn’s March in Denver is one such event. On Saturday, Denver locals will march a one-mile route near the state capitol. The name itself — Womxn’s March — has special resonance in Colorado, the first state in the nation to allow “X” as a gender identification on birth certificates and driver licenses.

“The ‘X’ in the Womxn’s March is one way of showing intersectionality,” said Brenda Herrera Moreno, part of the leadership for Womxn’s March Denver.

‘Intersectionality’ refers to how race, class and gender all play a role in discrimination.

“We’re showing a conversation that needs to happen. We’re showing a conversation that has happened and moving it into the lens of the Womxn’s March. So it doesn’t mean we are denying anyone to apart of the room, we’re really opening the door further to make sure everyone can be a part of that conversation.”

For the Womxn’s March Denver, that includes youth voices.

“Two of our speakers are high school students, and that was really important to the programming committee, to make sure that voices were represented from the next generation. I would say that we have work to do on including youth leadership,” said organizer Angela Astle.

Astle explains that the Denver Womxn’s March split off from the national group after the 2017 event. They currently operate under the umbrella of the March On group, a different nationwide organization that grew out of the original 2017 march.

“The difference between National and the March On movement is that National tends to have a top-down approach. National is really trying to like look at…this is what we want you to do and this is how we want people to show up and [this is] our guiding principles,” Astle said. “While March On was like ‘Do you, do what is good for your community, do what is good for your own backyard.’”

The national March On organization also puts an emphasis on getting local leaders elected. That focus on concrete change hasn’t necessarily taken root here in the Mile High City yet.

“People are really moved and motivated to be a [part of] the march itself, but then energy kinda [dips] and the next phase of actual action doesn’t always take place,” Astle said.

So the organizers instead focus on connection as the goal, acting as a platform for other organizations whose activism centers on issues such as domestic abuse, rape and marginalization.

“I would really love everyone…who attends to walk out with a different perspective on any anti-oppressive concept,” said Regan Byrd, another Womxn’s March Denver organizer. “Whether that is intersectionality, whether that is inclusivity, whether that’s gender non-binary. What those designations mean and what they are. I want someone to walk out learning something and understanding how broad this conversation is and can be.”

The Womxn’s March isn’t unique to Denver, as the split between the national Women’s March group and local organizers has happened around the country.

While Denver only has the Womxn’s March, cities like Seattle will host multiple events from different groups of organizers. To add a little confusion to the mix: in Seattle the march affiliated with the Women’s March uses the Womxn’s March spelling, while the group that has broken off calls their event Womxn Marching Forward.

The conversation takes to the streets on Saturday Jan. 19, with the Denver Womxn’s March beginning with a pre-rally at at Civic Center Park at 9 a.m. and the march proper starting at 10:30 a.m.

The post Woman to Womxn: New Women’s Marches Aim for Inclusivity appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Sick and Tired: Oakland Teachers ‘Sick Out’

January 18, 2019 - 2:06pm

Teachers from several Oakland schools staged a walk-out on Friday that’s also been billed as a “sick out.”

A social media post invited students and teachers to meet outside Oakland Technical High School at 8 a.m. and march to the Oakland Unified School District office.

On their way to the district office, the strikers marched down Broadway in downtown Oakland, shouting, “When I say cutbacks, you say fight back,” and, “Keep our schools open.” A flyer distributed at Skyline High School demanded the school district meet the teachers’ union’s demands for “fair wages, lower class sizes and Oakland’s public schools to remain open.”

Earlier this fall, OUSD announced that it would close or consolidate up to 24 schools in the coming years, as a result of budget shortfalls and declining student enrollment. 

Protesters chant, “Keep our schools open,” pushing against district plans to close schools, on Jan. 18, 2019. (Video: Georgia Kingsley-Doyle)

Georgia Kingsley-Doyle, 16, marched alongside her teachers. “If I went to school, they’d just put us in the auditorium with an administrator the whole day anyway,” she said. Kingsley-Doyle is a sophomore at Oakland Technical High School and has dealt with class size issues first-hand. “In my math class, we have so many students that there’s only enough seats if two people skip,” she said.

Kingsley-Doyle walked next to her Spanish teacher, Rebecca Padilla, who said, “We’re striking to protect public education and make sure Oakland has quality teachers.”

Arlette Sanchez, 16, is a sophomore at Skyline High School. She posted frequently to social media imploring her followers to join the teacher walk-out and to wear red in support of the strike. She said teacher turnover has personally affected her. “It’s important to me, because last year I lost almost a whole year of [math], not learning geometry. I was close to failing. We had no math teacher, because he left at the second week of school. I had a lot of subs,” Sanchez said.

Oakland teachers have been working without a contract for over a year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Friday’s walk-out is not sanctioned by the teachers’ union, the Oakland Education Association. SFGate has reported that negotiations between the district and the union have stalled, and the union is entering its final steps before a vote on a union-sanctioned strike.

The post Sick and Tired: Oakland Teachers ‘Sick Out’ appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Meet One High School’s First Trans Homecoming Queen

January 18, 2019 - 1:10pm

Oakland senior Luis Salas didn’t plan on being homecoming queen. The Castlemont High School student only threw her hat in the ring a day before the deadline to get into the homecoming queen race.

“I kept asking around…was there any homecoming queen that was trans
before? And everybody said, ‘No. If you run and you win, you’ll be the first,'” Salas told YR Media reporter Emiliano Villa.

Watch the video to see Salas’ complete interview and find out what it was like to win the crown. And check out the photos below of Salas on the day she won.

Luis Salas on homecoming. (Photo courtesy Salas) Luis Salas on homecoming. (Photo courtesy Salas)

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Categories: Blog

What It’s Like to Be on the Picket Line with an LA Teacher

January 16, 2019 - 2:41pm

It’s only Natalia Ramos’s first year on the job. But the 24-year-old high school music teacher is already taking part in a historic moment: the first teachers’ strike in Los Angeles in 30 years.

Ramos was one of more than 30,000 teachers who went on strike on Monday, demanding better pay, smaller class sizes and a pause in the growth of charter schools.

Ramos explained she doesn’t have the materials she needs to teach her classes, including up-to-date music and folders for sheet music.

The strike began after contract negotiations broke down between the teachers’ union — the United Teachers Los Angeles, or UTLA — and the school district. Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest in the country. More than 600,000 students are affected by the strike.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted that he’s “proud” of the teachers.

I am proud of our teachers. My greatest priority is the safety of our children. For the latest and most accurate updates about the teachers strike here in Los Angeles, please follow my mayor profile: @MayorOfLA

— Eric Garcetti (@ericgarcetti) January 15, 2019

“This impasse is disrupting the lives of too many kids and their families. I strongly urge all parties to go back to the negotiating table and find an immediate path forward that puts kids back into classrooms and provides parents certainty,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement on Monday.

The school district lost $15 million on the first day of the strike, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner told ABC7 News.

The post What It’s Like to Be on the Picket Line with an LA Teacher appeared first on YR Media.

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