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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: 35 min 49 sec ago

How The Performing Arts Helped Me Overcome My Shyness

March 3, 2019 - 8:00am

Growing up I was known as the quiet, shy girl. The performing arts helped break me out of my shell, into who I am today.

I used to be super-shy. I remember asking a friend how I came across to new people. She told me I seemed distant, uninterested–and maybe even a little rude.

When I was five, my parents enrolled me in classes for piano and theater. And I loved it. Now, I continue to dance, sing, and play the guitar. For more than a decade now, I’ve consistently performed in front of hundreds of people.  

The shyness didn’t go away overnight. But music and theatre gave me opportunities to put myself out there and be vulnerable.

When I get in the zone, the audience disappears. I am focused on my task at hand. After the shows, complete strangers come up to congratulate me. Once you’ve performed in front of a crowd, speaking to strangers doesn’t seem so daunting.

So often, in school, there’s emphasis placed on the core curriculum over the arts. But my time performing has given me life skills that are just as valuable as anything I might learn in school.

The post How The Performing Arts Helped Me Overcome My Shyness appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Bay Area Gen Zers: What We Want From a 2020 Presidential Candidate

March 2, 2019 - 5:30am

While Election Day is well over a year away, the 2020 presidential race has already begun. And it seems to be growing more crowded by the minute: 15 hopefuls have already announced their candidacies in the past month, from high-profile senators like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, to Marianne Williamson, Oprah’s “spiritual guru.”

Despite politicians’ attempts to appeal to every last voter, there’s one demographic that is often neglected: young voters. In 2020, that blind spot could be costly. Young voter turnout skyrocketed in the 2018 midterms, with a 188 percent increase from the 2014 midterms.

So, who does Gen Z — the people born from 1997 on — want to lead them into the future? Here’s what five young people from the Bay Area, ages 15 to 17, had to say.

1) They Want a President Who Works for the People

In general, these young people want to know that their politicians care about their constituents’ well-being and can relate to everyday citizens. This can often mean connecting to people outside their own racial and socioeconomic circles.

Hannah Cornejo, a 16-year-old from Berkeley, California, says she wants a candidate who exhibits “compassion” and can focus on issues that are “important for everyday people.” Benicia resident Chris Weldon, 17, agrees. He wants someone who is “kind, respectful, willing to listen to others, has a big heart and takes in all the facts.”

2) They Value Human Rights and Want the Same from Their Leaders

Gen Zers were quick to say what they didn’t want in a president: “A racist. And a homophobe. And a woman-hater,” said Mila De La Torre, a 16-year-old who lives in San Francisco. After hearing hateful comments from politicians in the past, many young voters are looking for a change.

Young voters tend to be more diverse than older generations, according to the Pew Research Center. Almost half of Gen Z is composed of racial or ethnic minorities. They want politicians to represent them, not just respect them.

Aaron Jackson, 17, from Oakland, California, remembers how excited he felt to see his identity reflected in Barack Obama. He hopes to see another black candidate win.

3) Immigration is a Major Priority

Immigration and border control have been touchy subjects for years. After so many alienating debates, young voters want tangible change. For the teens we interviewed, this doesn’t mean a wall.

Oakland resident Victoria Bella, 15, criticized the current president’s rhetoric, which condemns many undocumented immigrants as criminals, when they statistically commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born citizens. “We shouldn’t be deporting people who have family in America,” Bella said. She wants elected officials to have compassion for immigrants. “People come to America to have a better life,” Bella said.

4) They Don’t Want Divisive Politics 

“Things I don’t want in a presidential candidate?” Weldon asked. “Scandals, lies, … illegal contributions.”

After years of polarizing politics, young voters are tired of political division. One thing they noted was negativity: instead of tearing down others because of differing opinions, young people want a president with a positive platform who can bring us together.

Bella is looking for a candidate “who isn’t trying to divide us, but really trying to make America better as a community.”

5) Identity Politics Don’t Matter as Much as You Think

While many young people would prefer to see more women and people of color in office, most are more focused on a particular candidate’s commitment to equality.

At the end of the day, these young voters say they care more about policies than identity politics. “I don’t think it really matters, as long as they actually show that they’re passionate about helping all people,” De La Torre said.

6) They Want a Change from 2016

While they may be young, Gen Z voters still remember the polarizing presidential race of 2016. Many remember a slew of sensationalized debates, Twitter feuds and scandals. In 2020, they want to focus on the policies, not personal attacks.

“I hope that [both political parties] take a deeper look this time and endorse the right candidate,” Weldon said. “A better candidate.”

“I don’t want it to be focused around who can be the most sensational and who can make [a] media circus, instead of focusing on the issues and what’s really important,” Cornejo said. “And I don’t want Russia to hack it.”

The post Bay Area Gen Zers: What We Want From a 2020 Presidential Candidate appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Striking Teachers Aren’t Being Paid. How Do They Make It Work?

March 1, 2019 - 1:19pm

*Since this post went out, a tentative agreement has been reached between the Oakland teachers union and the school district.

Teachers from Oakland Unified School District went on strike last week, after working without a contract for over a year. Negotiations between the school district and the teachers union are ongoing.

Teachers are demanding higher wages, smaller class sizes and more support for their students. After only the first week, however, many are already struggling financially. They’re faced with the paradox of the strike: to fight for higher wages, they’re striking without pay.

Here’s what four OUSD teachers told YR Media’s Lucy Barnum about the financial struggles of being a teacher.

Elena Martyn, 30, math teacher at Life Academy

“I’m just lucky in the sense that I don’t have any student loans. Most of my money goes to cost of living. Which is paying for car insurance, paying for groceries, paying for rent. So I have been able to save some. I’m in the unique position where I have enough saved for maybe a month or two, but I don’t also want to have to dip into savings. Beyond that, I will have to take out loans. And I really hope that it doesn’t come to that. If we can’t afford to live in our own communities, then it’s hard to stay here.”

Mitch Singsheim, 35, science teacher at Castlemont High School, married to a fellow teacher

“We can pretty much no longer afford to live in Oakland, so this is our last year teaching in Oakland Unified School District. We’re moving to Southern California this summer. It was a very easy decision, because we just didn’t have any other options. We both love Oakland — my wife has lived here for over 10 years, I’ve lived here for 15 years — we’ve definitely built a huge community here, we have tons of friends. And so we don’t want to leave. If we didn’t have to we wouldn’t leave. Our two teacher salaries are not enough for day care 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. It makes literally no sense to stay here.”

Aly Kronick, 32, English and academic literacy teacher at Oakland International High School

“Given the cost of living in Oakland, it’s pretty impossible to do the work that we do, and do the work that our students really deserve. My partner is also a teacher at Oakland International, so we’re in it together, which I think is helpful. We both understand the struggle that we’re in and figure out how to make it work together. But at the same time, it’s really difficult because we both have the exact same salary. I felt confident that I would be okay without a week of pay. But beyond a week, having additional assistance is necessary.”

Revaz Ardesher, 38, history teacher at Hillcrest Middle School

“I decided that I was not going to live in Oakland this year, that I was going to live close to my hometown in Concord and not deal with rent this year. It’s bittersweet. I want to be a teacher who works and lives in Oakland. … I mean, that’s my plan. But I’m critically looking at it because it’s hard to stay in Oakland. You can get paid more in San Leandro or in Berkeley or in Marin or Redwood City or anywhere else. [Oakland] is a deeply special city — that I think a lot of us grew up in — and it’s a place that’s starting to maybe not feel so much like home anymore.”

These interviews were edited for length and clarity.

The post Striking Teachers Aren’t Being Paid. How Do They Make It Work? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Living Paycheck to Paycheck Sucks. Here’s How to Save.

March 1, 2019 - 5:30am

If you missed two paychecks, would you be able to pay all your bills? If not, it might not surprise you that nearly 80 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, according to a CareerBuilder report.

But there’s a better way. Financial advisor Jasper Smith has tips for how to build wealth now — even if your paycheck isn’t as big as you’d like — by creating a balanced budget. Watch the full video to learn how to stack your chips.

The post Living Paycheck to Paycheck Sucks. Here’s How to Save. appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Remix Your Life Artist Spotlight: Hanif

February 28, 2019 - 7:11pm

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

Categories: Blog

Colorado Might Require Sex Ed That Covers Consent

February 27, 2019 - 5:21pm

The Colorado Senate will hold a hearing Thursday on a bill that requires public schools teach kids about consent and bans abstinence-only sex education. The bill, H.B. 19-1032, also mandates lessons about consent, gender identity, the use of gender pronouns, and what relationships between heterosexual, bisexual, gay and trans people can look like.

“Sex education should include all forms of sex. Not just sex between a man and woman,” said Reece Norberg, 17, a senior at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado. “We also cannot ignore the fact that people have sex. Abstinence is not something that should be taught anymore.”

If passed, the bill would affect state-wide sex education curriculum as early as Dec. 1, 2019.

Thirty-seven states require schools to cover or emphasize abstinence in their curriculum, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Compare that to the only 13 states that require sex ed to be “medically accurate.”

But as the #MeToo movement has gained traction over the last two years, a new conversation has emerged within schools about whether sex ed should teach consent and appropriate sexual behaviors. If the Colorado bill passes, it will be the ninth state in the country to require that consent be taught in schools.

But some parents and students are concerned about the bill. Under the legislation, Colorado charter schools would lose the ability to apply for waivers from the curriculum, a right these schools currently have.

Parents can still take their children out of a sex education class on an individual basis, but some are concerned about bullying if they do so.

“I really don’t think schools should be involved in [sex education] at all. It is the parents’ right to teach their child what they believe,” said Weston Imer, 15, a ninth grader who is homeschooled and who was the co-chair of President Trump’s 2016 campaign in Jefferson County, Colorado.

“My young cousins will be affected by this and it could cause problems when they grow up,” Imer said. “They could become sexually active at too young of an age and being taught these things in school could lead to inappropriate behavior in them.”

The bill includes language requiring curriculum to be “age appropriate,” but opponents like Imer say it’s too vague.

One of the biggest opponents of the bill is Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila. In a Jan. 27 letter that was read at Catholic masses around Denver when the bill was first introduced, Aquila said the new sex-ed curriculum “contradicts human nature and is inconsistent with Christian values.”

“We know that God made us male and female, in his image and likeness, but the comprehensive curriculum route which most schools will likely adopt teaches innocent children this is not true,” Aquila wrote. “Public schools would have to promote abortion as an equal option to life, and parents wouldn’t be notified before lessons were presented on gender-identity and sexual orientation. Each of us must do our part to fight this legislation.”

Several students testified in support of bill last month, according to the New York Times, including Clark Wilson, 15, a high school freshman in Denver. In his testimony, Wilson recalled a lesson in his eighth grade class, in which his sex-ed teacher rolled a piece of tape on a table until it lost its stickiness. Wilson told the Times the lesson was that “people are like tape and once they have sex they’re dirty and can’t have meaningful relationships.”

After a heated 10-hour House debate in January that was attended by hundreds of people, the bill passed 39-23. If it’s passed by the Senate, it’s expected that Democratic Gov. Jared Polis — the first openly gay man elected governor in U.S. history — will sign the bill into law.

The post Colorado Might Require Sex Ed That Covers Consent appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Do Oakland Principals Support the OUSD Teachers Strike?

February 26, 2019 - 5:06pm

After more than a year without a contract, the Oakland teachers’ strike for higher wages and improved classroom conditions kicked off last week. Negotiations between teachers and the school district are ongoing.

For school administrators, however, the strike poses a difficult question: do they side with the district or stand with their teachers?

The day before the strike officially began, 75 Oakland principals signed an open letter to show their support for the striking teachers. Some administrators also drove to Sacramento to lobby for their teachers at the California State Capitol. They asked the state for three things: to increase per-student spending, to forgive OUSD’s $100 million debt to the state (the result of a 2003 bailout), and to review and revise charter school legislation.

YR Media’s Lucy Barnum talked to Cliff Hong, the principal of Roosevelt Middle School, about the challenges of leading his school during the strike.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Lucy Barnum: Why do you support the teachers’ strike?

Cliff Hong: Actually, I share the position of most principals in Oakland — if not all principals — which is that the most important worker in our district are the teachers. And we need to make sure that the turnover rate of our teachers is low so that teachers can stay and build their craft and their skills [and] our young people are able to thrive. For us, a big part of that is their wages. All teachers want a wage that insures that they can pay rent in Oakland and buy a home, and right now the wages that they’re earning [do] not let them do that.

LB: Has teacher turnover been a big problem?

CH: In middle schools, in general, the turnover is higher than in high school and elementary school. At Roosevelt, we have one of the lowest turnover rates out of the middle schools in OUSD, and still, it’s half a dozen or more teachers each year.

LB: How does that turnover impact students?

CH: Well, schools are not supposed to be factories, schools are communities. When you have turnover like that, it’s hard to build those relationships and trust within the staff. And for the students, they’re looking for stability and familiarity, especially students who experience trauma — there’s many in Oakland. To have new faces every year can add to that trauma. It’s definitely a big problem that we’re trying to address.

LB: What was it like to talk to state legislators in Sacramento about public school funding?

CH: It was great. I was really proud of my colleagues. We’re not just facilitating learning for students, but today was a giant learning experience for us, too. I mean, none of us have done lobbying work like this before, and so we were all really taking a learning stance ourselves and learning how the process works.

LB: How are you holding your school together during the strike?

CH: You know, nobody knows what’s going to happen. I just have faith that we’re all on the same page. We’re all on the same team, all the educators and students and families in Oakland. At the end of the day, we all want the teachers to get a healthy pay raise and we want the students to be safe and to be thriving. We’re really happy that the vast majority of our staff are exercising our rights to strike and we hope that there’s a good resolution.

LB: Are you going to be on the picket line?

CH: I’m not sure. It kind of depends on the number of students. If all 575 students show up and I’m the only person in the building to take care of them, I will probably have my hands full.

LB: What do you think your biggest struggle will be during the strike?

CH: I don’t want the teachers to be soured by the process. I hope that it’s an empowering thing for them, as opposed to something that makes them feel like the school district doesn’t care about them. That’s something that I think about.

LB: Are most administrators like you, standing with their teachers?

CH: I don’t know. My sense in talking with my fellow administrators is that they do support the teachers. They recognize that we were all teachers, too, at one point, and we dealt with the same low wages as well. I think the principals want to see our teacher colleagues being able to have more stable lives as well.

The post Do Oakland Principals Support the OUSD Teachers Strike? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

This “Black Panther” Actor Was Undocumented

February 26, 2019 - 12:29pm

You might know that at the 2019 Oscars ceremony, “Black Panther” went home with three Academy Awards. But you might not have known that one of the film’s actors was undocumented and is now protected by DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

If you’ve seen NBC’s “The Good Place” or the opening scene of “Black Panther,” where T’Challa kicks the asses of a group of bad guys, then you’ve come across actor Bambadjan Bamba.

In late 2017, Bamba came out as undocumented and a DACA recipient. This was around the time President Trump pushed forward his plans to terminate DACA, an Obama-era policy that grants temporary legal status for two years to some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States when they were children.

These undocumented people have sometimes been called “Dreamers” and could qualify for citizenship under specific circumstances set out in the DREAM Act, a bill that has been in the works since 2001 but has never passed.

“I realized that I couldn’t stay quiet anymore, especially now that I have a daughter who at the time turned 1,” Bamba said.

“I was like, ‘Man, am I just going to sit here in fear and just wait for this thing to be terminated and be separated from my family?’” Bamba said, referring to the DACA program. “That’s when I had to get some guts … and use my platform to help make a difference.”

Bamba said some people warned him against talking about this part of his life out of fear that Trump could take specific action against him. But he didn’t let that stop him.

Other famous people who’ve also made headlines for being undocumented include rapper 21 Savage and journalist Jose Antonia Vargas. “Orange is the New Black” actress Diane Guerrero knows the pain of being separated from one’s family, as her parents were deported.

Actors like Bambadjan Bamba help show that the DACA community is wider than people likely think, and that other DACA recipients aren’t alone.

“Ultimately I was at peace with that decision [to talk about my status]. I took a leap of faith. Thank God I’m still here,” Bamba said.

The full interview with Bambadjan Bamba will be featured in Season 2 of YR Media’s podcast, “Adult ISH,” which is dropping in late Spring 2019.

The post This “Black Panther” Actor Was Undocumented appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Bay Word of the Day: Green

February 25, 2019 - 6:48pm

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

Categories: Blog

Beautiful Drawings of Black History Heroes

February 25, 2019 - 3:43pm

In honor of Black History Month, The kNOw, a Fresno-based youth media outlet, has been releasing illustrated profiles of black changemakers. The Instagram project balances a mix of well-known figures like jazz singer Billie Holiday and baseball legend Jackie Robinson, with more obscure figures like Marsha P. Johnson, a New York drag queen and gay rights activist, and Charles Drew, a scientist who made important discoveries about blood transfusions.

Ruben Diaz, the 16-year-old illustrator behind the project, said he first started drawing because he was bored in his bio class.


Diaz credits The kNOw for helping him discover he’d like to pursue illustration and graphic design as careers. A comic artist first, Diaz said he draws to entertain people and likes to put a positive spin on real life.

Besides Oprah, Barack Obama and Jackie Robinson, Diaz said he wasn’t familiar with many black changemakers before he started the project. So he came to know about many of the figures he drew for the first time.

And he gained a lot of respect for the people he featured, which include chemist Alice Ball, who developed an early treatment for leprosy, and Frances Albrier, a civil and labor rights activist who fought to become a welder at a shipyard during World War II.

Diaz said he “admires the perseverance, endurance and motivation” the people he drew had to demonstrate in order to make a positive change in their communities and in the world.

Check out Diaz’s illustrations below.

The post Beautiful Drawings of Black History Heroes appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

After a Gunshot On Campus, My School Went Into Lockdown

February 24, 2019 - 8:00am

In 3rd period English class, there was an announcement over the intercom: “Lockdown, we are in lockdown.” I looked up to see the fear in my teacher’s eyes. When I heard the stress in his voice as he told us to get down, I knew this wasn’t a drill.

I sat in the far corner of the room, my back pressed against the wall. My hands were shaking as I texted my parents. I told them we were in lockdown and that I loved them. That I didn’t know what was happening, but I loved them. I can’t count how many times I said that in those next few hours.

My classmates and I sat on the floor and watched a livestream of the local news from someone’s phone. We watched police cars pull up, and helicopters circling overhead, and cops storming the campus with giant rifles.

Another classmate downloaded a crime app. Every couple minutes it sent us updates about video surveillance showing the suspect removing his red hoodie, and paramedics tending to an injured victim on campus. Finally, we heard a voice on the intercom, “We are about to evacuate the building. Please be ready.”

We were a jumbled stampede fleeing campus. Outside, crowds of parents waited for us. Several news trucks and police cars were lined up down the street. I ran to my mom and hugged her and let out a cry. I’ve never been so relieved.

Returning to school the next day, especially to my English class, made me anxious. I kept looking back at the corner where I sat during the lockdown. Just 24 hours ago, I had been gripping my phone, not knowing how the ordeal would end.

Since that day, we learned that there wasn’t an active shooter threatening the student body. The gun went off accidentally. But even that accident created a lockdown and led to someone getting injured. Now I have a new feeling of vulnerability that pervades everything. It feels like anyone can carry a gun, anywhere. No place is safe.

An abridged version of this commentary aired on KCBS.

The post After a Gunshot On Campus, My School Went Into Lockdown appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Playlist: Settling into a New City

February 22, 2019 - 6:07pm

At this time in my life, it’s been bit hard to create a new sense of home for myself. These songs have each given me memories of home in a comforting way, providing the optimistic headspace I need to navigate a new environment. I kept it eclectic to cover the different moods new cities can stir up.

Patrick Paige II – On My Mind / Charge It to the Game

Patrick Paige II writes this song to his sister in a heartfelt song, with both sadness and love coming through. The emotions are heavy for such a vibrant track.

Travis Scott – AstroThunder

Travis Scott collabed with the insanely talented Thundercat on this one, and it’s definitely my favorite track off ASTROWORLD. It brings me memories of the countless times I slapped it to death while driving around the Bay.

Tierra Whack – Dr. Seuss

Tierra Whack an album with a run time of like 30 seconds, but this song def stood out to me the most, and is worth you looping it.

Kadhja Bonet – Mother Maybe

Kadhja Bonet is a damn star and I’m so glad to have stumbled upon her music, cause this track brings funky throwback vibes, and she’s from Richmond!!

Michael Seyer – Show Me How You Feel (Eros)

Michael Seyer brings a calm and collected mindset with this track that helps me relax and unwind!

Beach House – Lemon Glow

Beach House does sad but great new wave-type music like no one else honestly, and this album has many gems. This song in particular resonated with me very dearly though.

Ruthven – Hypothalamus

Ruthven is a new product of the “Paul Academy” which is Jai and A.K Paul’s lovechild. It’s beautiful. Just listen, and it gives a little taste of the very-much-missed Paul touch.

Noname – Part of Me

Noname actually sat me down with this song and props to her for still building her artistry. And sound. This song is dope.

Blood Orange – Saint

Blood Orange is that weird blend of pop, 80s and ambience. Listening to this song helped put me in a different headspace to be a little introspective! I remember listening to this in the Bay and now linking it over to a new city just feels right.

Mac Miller – Objects in the Mirror

When Mac Miller tragically passed away it actually shook me a bit more than I thought it would. This track was always my favorite from him and I think its profound, sad lyrics mixed with Pharrell production keeps it on repeat for me. This was one of the first albums that actually captivated me off of production alone when I was just learning to make beats… Even though I didn’t listen to him a lot in general, respect to him and this beautiful song.

      I hope this list provides you with some musical comfort no matter where you are. I believe it’s important we satisfy ourselves with a soundtrack to our moods, because being in touch with yourself and your feelings is how we are going to overcome our anxieties. Remember to make memories with your music, so that you always have a taste of home wherever you are.

The post Playlist: Settling into a New City appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Where Do Elementary Students Go During the Oakland Teacher Strike?

February 22, 2019 - 4:37pm

Many Oakland families are supporting the Oakland Unified School District teacher strike by keeping their children out of school. “Our families will not cross the picket line,” Michael Viola, the parent of a second grader, told KPIX.

During the strike, high schoolers can support teachers by not going to school, and joining marches or picket lines instead.

And even younger elementary school students have been absent during the strike.

The vast majority of students at Garfield Elementary of East Oakland haven’t been in school since the strike started Thursday. Leslie McLean, a literacy coach at Garfield, estimates that of the roughly 680 students who attend Garfield, 80 were present on Thursday, and only 35 showed up Friday.

McLean wanted to clear up rumors suggesting that students might be punished for skipping school during the teachers’ strike. “Students will not be suspended or expelled for participating in the strike,” she said. She blamed the confusion on mixed messaging from the district.

Parents in favor of the strike have the option of sending their children to solidarity schools, which are informal childcare spaces geared towards elementary-aged kids. Ivelisse Diaz of YR Media visited the solidarity school at Mosswood Park, which has portable classroom spaces and playgrounds. Mosswood served students from Emerson Elementary and Piedmont Avenue Elementary. 

Nell Schafer, Ben Muchin and Maya Ades were three students from Oakland Technical High School who spent the second day of the OUSD teacher strike volunteering at a solidarity school. (Photo: Shawn Wen/YR Media)

On Friday, about 50 children were in attendance at Mosswood, where they were supervised by a group of parent volunteers and high school students from Oakland Technical High School.

“I’m here because I know that during the strike, the community needs all the help it can get,” said Ben Muchin, 17, an Oakland Tech senior. Muchin was looking after a group of younger elementary school students, where he helped with snack, recess and general play. “We need to chip in where we can,” he said.

The post Where Do Elementary Students Go During the Oakland Teacher Strike? appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Students Join Picket Line of Oakland Teachers Strike

February 21, 2019 - 6:34pm

The Oakland teachers strike kicked off on Thursday — and it’s not just about higher salaries. Teachers and their student supporters are demanding smaller class sizes, more support staff and charter school oversight.

YR Media reporters Ivelisse Diaz, Georgia Kingsley-Doyle and Will Flattery-Vickness spoke about their first-hand experience as OUSD students.

Almost no one was inside at Oakland Technical High School on Thursday, according to one student Flattery-Vickness spoke with.

View this post on Instagram

See what it’s like at an Oakland public high school as Oakland teachers go on strike. YR Media’s @wfvisuals, a student at Oakland Tech, reports from the picket line. #ousdstrike

A post shared by YR Media (@yr.media) on Feb 21, 2019 at 12:22pm PST

The school district recently recently offered teachers a seven percent salary increase, falling short of the 12 percent the union asked for.

View this post on Instagram

The hardest part of the job for this striking teacher? Not being able to give students one on one attention because her classes are too big, she told #YRmedia. The teacher, who preferred not to be named, was one of hundreds at a rally today in downtown Oakland. #ousdstrike

A post shared by YR Media (@yr.media) on Feb 21, 2019 at 3:07pm PST

The strike has already gotten the attention of multiple celebrities on social media. W. Kamau Bell showed up at a rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland on Thursday.

Seen at the #OaklandTeacherStrike in downtown Oakland: comedian and TV host @wkamaubell. Oakland public school teachers are striking for better pay and smaller class sizes. #OUSDstrike pic.twitter.com/ofWAk7YiAu

— YR Media (@itsYRmedia) February 21, 2019

Nearly all of Oakland’s 2,300 teachers decided to strike, according to multiple news outlets. The length of the strike is still unknown. Teachers say they’re prepared to strike until their needs are met.

The post Students Join Picket Line of Oakland Teachers Strike appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Meet 5 Milwaukee Artists Putting on for Their City

February 21, 2019 - 5:01pm

When you’re thinking about music from the US, a couple of markets come to mind, LA, NY, CHI and ATL. These cities have produced music acts that consistently dominate the national spotlight, but many artists still find it hard to break out of their region.

Chicago artists have long dominated the Midwest’s eclectic music scene, birthing notable acts such as Kanye, Chief Keef and Chance The Rapper. Alongside Chicago lies Detroit, another blue-collar city that also produces national acts semi-regularly, such as Tee Grizzley, Dej Loaf, and Big Sean among others.

However, just a shy 90 miles north of Chicago lies Milwaukee, an active music scene underrepresented in the national spotlight. Many of the region’s acts participate in the art of sing-rap, a rapping style that was was popularized in the early 2010s. As everyone’s eyes focus on the Detroit and Chicago drill scene, many don’t know these Milwaukee artists who are pushing their city into the national conversation.

Jay Cash – Get Down Or Lay Down

Jay Cash casually flexes on all the haters on this fast-paced bass-boosted record. Cash nonchalantly invites people to test him on “Get Down Or Lay Down.” His unique flow and use of auto-tune paired with gritty lyrics provide the perfect contrast to the songs upbeat melody.

Mari Boy Mula Mar & Mari Boy KP – Wise

The Mari Boy Mula Mar and Mari Boy KP collab is a slow-paced banger. Although the vibe is a little bit more on the softer side, the message, “Don’t think broke, think wise,” definitely sticks. The subtle flaunting of name brands keeps you pulled in especially if you can relate. Alongside the catchy ad-libs, autotuned harmonies and occasional switch up of flows, you definitely don’t want to miss out on the wave.

FBE Savage ft. Solowke & LBM Oneway – 1st to the 3rd

Any collab from this dynamic trio is bound to slap. In “1st to the 3rd” we witness LBM Oneway, Solowke, and FBE Savage trading straight bars. The track is produced by Milwaukee native Mech and definitely will have your phone trembling courtesy of the 808 slapping way too hard. 

Cap Drive Montana – Old Kobe Pt 2

Cap Drive Montana also known as “Big Homie Montana” delivers once again with a part two to his original song “Old Kobe.” This time around Montana draws us in with a soft hook while exercising his use of playful metaphors and similes that show us how truly creative the Milwaukee music scene is. In his Detroit-style drill banger, the artist references the 2006 movie featuring Keke Palmer, “I can spell it out for ya, Akeelah and the Bee.

Solowke ft. LBM Oneway, LBM Lil Joe & Jay Ballin – Federal

Solowke, LBM Oneway,  LBM Lil Joe and Jay Ballin flip back and forth between bars delivering us straight fire. The three borrow a Detroit style of conversation-rap to show us what a day in the life looks like. Although this is a common storyline/message in many rap songs, their Milwaukee slang helps differentiate it from others making it a truly unique listening experience.

The post Meet 5 Milwaukee Artists Putting on for Their City appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Latino USA’s Sayre Quevedo Talks Trump, TPS and More

February 21, 2019 - 3:48pm

Sayre Quevedo has become a bit of an expert in Central American affairs, driven in part by his quest to understand his own Salvadoran identity. Through his work with Latino USA on “The Quevedos,” he tackled the issue of finding his own long-lost family in El Salvador. In “The Return,” he told the story of Javier Zamora, a Salvadoran poet forced to return to a country that’s become foreign to him. His stories intertwine important social issues with powerful storytelling.

Quevedo was a keynote speaker at a conference hosted by YR Media that brought together almost 100 young journalists, many with backgrounds similar to Quevedo, who himself was a youth journalist at YR not that many years ago. They represented diverse ethnic communities from across California, from Del Norte to the Central Valley to San Diego. 

YR Media reporter Emiliano Villa sat down with Quevedo before his keynote to break down some of today’s most pressing headlines, and discuss Trump, TPS and other issues related to immigrant communities.

EV: Trump refers to MS-13 to justify the wall. Do you think people have misconceptions of El Salvador?

SQ: People have the misconception that it’s a war zone, which is a complete falsity because there’s a spectrum like in any country. The landscape is more reflective of what life looks like in the U.S. than I feel most people would be comfortable admitting. It’s not just an impoverished country that had a civil war, it’s also a country that has trade relationships with China. It’s much more complex than I think Western media often gives it credit for.

EV: Trump recently declared a national emergency in an attempt to fund the wall. What do you make of this?

SQ: There are these very simple ideas about why people leave and what causes that, so the wall is just a simple answer to what they think is a simple question. What we need is complicated answers to a very complicated question, as in: why do folks leave?

I personally think that it’s related to the history of U.S. intervention in Central America. That’s not something that is being addressed by any politician. Western media also plays its role in really simplifying stuff down without giving proper historical context. Trump sees people as these very simplified versions of themselves, whereas in real life they’re actually way more complicated.

Our job as journalists is to add layers of complexity and to show that there are many different narratives behind what we may think of as one large story. Our job is to help them all individually tell these stories, so that we can recognize that it’s a mosaic of motivations and life experiences, not like a singular life that’s just being repeated over and over again.  

EV: What’s it been like watching the debate over TPS unfold?

SQ: It’s difficult because you have this situation where people have built their entire lives in the U.S. TPS has been around since the 90’s, so think about someone who was 3 years old [when they immigrated], they’re like 23 now. Their whole life has been in the U.S. They’re not taking into account that some people don’t have lives or family members in their countries of origin. There’s also the complication that TPS holders — and DACA recipients — are either being ignored or used as political pawns for both parties, and not being treated empathetically by politicians in any shape or form.

EV: You told Salvadoran poet Javier Zamora’s story in “The Return.” What challenges did you face telling such a personal story?

SQ: One of the biggest issues was the amount of time it took to produce. We did like eight hours of interviews, so it’s hard when you’re sharing people’s life experiences to whittle it down to one thing because that’s not how we live. Your feelings about certain things that happen in your life may be way more complicated than a single thought or emotion you could say in a sentence… That was hard. In Javier’s story, he brought up issues of misogyny, of homophobia and transphobia. Every single one of those issues is important and should be talked about, but unfortunately — especially in audio – the audience has such a limited attention span that it can be hard to delve into stuff.

EV: In your work, you focus on a lot of hot-button issues like racism and immigration that may incite some people. How do you deal with any backlash you get?

SQ: I haven’t gotten much backlash, but it’s normal at Latino USA. We’ll put something on Twitter and of course there are MAGA trolls. You just have to ignore it, because it’s not like those people are making a sincere effort to begin a conversation. They don’t want a response, they want a reaction and I don’t have the energy or time to give anyone a reaction.

EV: Most of your work chronicles your roots in El Salvador, but would you ever do a piece on growing up in the Bay Area?

SQ:  I’d like to eventually come back here, and I do feel like there are a lot of really interesting stories. A piece of advice that I got was to focus on one thing and then become an expert at it, because that’s how you get a job.

I feel like I’ve taken that pretty seriously and it’s worked out really well. There are lots of people who can skip around different issues and learn very quickly what they’re about, but it gives you a certain amount of depth to do bigger picture things like “The Return” when you have the historical context of a place and what it’s been through. I also feel like a more confident reporter going into a story like that. You can speak with a certain amount of confidence about things. Like I’ve been studying this for five years, I think I know what I’m talking about.

To see more of Sayre Quevedo’s work, check out his website.

The post Latino USA’s Sayre Quevedo Talks Trump, TPS and More appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

How To: Pick the Right Distribution Company

February 19, 2019 - 5:24pm

As the music industry continues to evolve, independent artists are making more and more noise in mainstream music. As an independent artist, it’s essential to find the right distribution company to upload your music to streaming platforms. There are many companies that assist you in putting your music out worldwide. All distribution companies have certain characteristics that distinguish them from one another, which is why it’s necessary to find the one that works best for you. Each company comes with certain positives, however, there are also negatives that could possibly affect you and your career. Here, I’ve laid out significant pros and cons that come with each service as well as my analysis of why one may work better than the other for the project you plan to drop.



-You keep absolutely all of the sales made from your project.

-TuneCore has an administrative publishing arm which will help track down your songwriter royalties (TuneCore Publishing) which is great because you won’t have to go through the hassle of getting in touch with songwriters or producers in order to give them their cut for whatever they contributed to your project.

-TuneCore offers advances (money) for future revenue projections (this can help fund future projects e.g. studio time, mixing, etc). They will literally pay for you to make music if you have already had an account with them for two years, and if you are able to bring in an above average amount of streams.

-TuneCore offers physical distribution on top of digital distribution which means they can distribute actual CD’s and vinyls for anyone who wants a physical copy to slap in the whip.

-They offer mixing and mastering services for a better/cleaner sounding song for as little as $10 a track.


-TuneCore charges a fee for adding new streaming/distribution outlets like iTunes, Spotify etc. if you don’t add them to your original order. Either pay $2 per outlet or an additional $10 per release to automatically add all new outlets (streaming platforms).

-There are no mechanisms in place to help new artists. For example they offer no marketing support, playlist plugging, etc. which can be very helpful to new artists because it can get them discovered by a bigger audience.

-TuneCore doesn’t provide updated notifications as you work with their platform to upload music, they only send a notification when everything is fully uploaded.

-Fees include a $9.99 charge for each single if you want to upload it individually, and $29.99 fee for an album upload  (covers the album being live on platforms for a year). After that first year it costs $49.99 a year. There is also a 5-year option which costs $207.

-TuneCore’s music publishing fee is $75.00. On top of the upfront cost, they also charge a  15% overall commision fee and 20% sync commission fee for services that are generally offered for free with other distro companies. The added service you pay for includes them collecting your royalties for you and providing sync pitching where they pitch your songs for placement in TV, movies, and more (this is offered for free on CD Baby).

My Professional Analysis: TuneCore’s high prices aren’t worth paying for the stated pros above. Money adds up and next thing you know, you’ll go broke trying to get rich. The only real positive is that you get to keep 100% of your sales. In my opinion, they don’t have enough pros for me to be paying about $50+ dollars a year just on uploading music.

Related – How To: Upload Your Music Using Distribution Companies DistroKid


-The cost is only  $19.99 a year. You only have to pay this fee once annually and you can upload as much music as you want.  Compared to other companies this is a small price to pay for unlimited uploads.

-You keep absolutely all sales revenue made from streams.

-DistroKid gives discounts!! Which is great if you’re on a budget… or not. They often offer promotional deals like 20% off sign-up fees and more, so keep a lookout.

-Unlike TuneCore, users receive an email with updates on every step of the way until songs are successfully uploaded to Spotify, iTunes, etc. This keeps you updated on the process and how long it will take to upload your music. It’s also helpful because you’ll know when your music is fully uploaded so you can properly promote it on social media, and more.

-You have the ability to download the songs you’ve uploaded. DistroKid stores everything you upload, and if you need to download the wav/mp3 file of your song because your hard drive crashed, you can log into your account and download it. It’s a great back-up plan if you’ve lost or lose files!

  • They give an option to pay a one-time legacy fee of $30 which means your music is live on streaming platforms forever (you won’t have to pay any annual fees to make sure your music is still live).


-They charge a $0.99 fee per year per release for your music to show up on Shazam, which is a FREE addition with ALL other services. Also, DistroKid doesn’t disclose up front that this is not included for the yearly price. If you distribute an album of 10 songs, it will cost you an additional $10/year for that album to show up on Shazam. Why is Shazam important? As an up-and-coming artist trying to gain engaged listeners you want to have access to Shazam so people can identify your music if they just happen to hear it playing somewhere and don’t know the name or artist. It is definitely a great tool to have.

-There is no administrative publishing partner to help collect songwriter royalties for you, which means you have to do it yourself (other sites offer this service).

-They automatically remove previously uploaded music if you stop paying the yearly fee of $19.99 and if you opt out of the $30 legacy fee option.

My Professional Analysis: I’ve used DistroKid in the past and I believe it’s the right company for me. They keep you updated on everything pertaining to your music, and sales. The prices are nice and cheap for the essentials you need which is really just being able to upload as much music you want and getting to keep all of your sales. Even though some of the extra options that come along with it are a bit pricey (still not as much as TuneCore), they’re worth it in the long run and their pricing options make up for what they are lacking by not offering some other services (sync, publishing, etc.).

Related – How To: Plan Your Own Event CD Baby


-No yearly fees and you pay just $9.95 a single (each individual song), and $50 for an album (usually seven songs or more). This means a one-time fee and your music is live forever. Other distro sites usually make you keep paying fees annually to have your music stay up on the various platforms you choose.

-They collect the money made off of your projects (royalties) and give them to you either via check (there is a $103 minimum balance for checks to be distributed), PayPal, or EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer). To get paid, artists just have to sign up for SoundExchange, which is an organization that distributes your royalties for you so you won’t have to go through the hassle of tracking down producers, songwriters, etc. to pay them their share of the royalties.

-They offer physical distribution which means they can distribute CD’s and vinyls for anyone who wants a physical copy to slap in the whip.

-CD Baby offers promotion services to get your music to fans who could potentially be interested in you. For example, they promote (via pitching music to podcasts, blogs, etc.) to people who are into the genre of music you make.

-They give free sync licensing! This means they pitch to companies to license your music for commercials, tv shows, games, movies and YouTube channels, all of which get you paid.


-You don’t get to keep 100% of your sales, they charge a 9% commission fee that goes to them, you keep the remaining 91%.

– You have to pay $10 for a each single uploaded or $50 for an album which is very pricey compared to other companies.

-The bigger audience you have and the more money you make from streams, the more you have to pay CD Baby.

My Professional Analysis: CD Baby offers great services, one of the best being free promotion. Although their prices don’t seem as reasonable as some of the other distro sites, and you don’t get to keep all of your hard-earned cash, it may be the right company for you due to the extra promotional specials,  if you don’t mind paying the price.

Related – How To: Collaborate with Other Artists on New Music Stem


-No annual fee — they just take five percent of whatever you make in streams.

-Stem offers the ability to edit (in terms of mixing/mastering) songs that are already distributed (uploaded) without having to take down and redistribute the songs.

-Stem gives data on how much money you’ve earned from streams. This is a great tool for indie artists to track their progress.

-Stem handles splits for you. Meaning they will handle the pay out of any earnings that need to be distributed to other people involved on your project for you. For example, they can split the overall earnings from a song with a producer or songwriter who were also involved in making it.


-They have a payment threshold  of $50 which means you have make at least that much in order for them to pay you your streaming revenue. They also make you put an initial $50 in your Stem account as collateral in case your music doesn’t meet that minimum.

-It’s invite only! If you don’t have a invite you have to fill out a form telling the company about yourself and then they approve or decline your request to upload music through them.

-They only distribute music to 12 outlets and streaming platforms. And they don’t distribute to Asia.

-There’s no administrative publishing partner to help you collect your songwriter or producer royalties which means you have to do it yourself.

My Professional Analysis: Although they can offer convenient services like edits (mixing/mastering) and splitting earnings with others, their cons outweigh the pros in my opinion. Even though there isn’t an upfront annual fee like other sites, they are still taking five percent of your overall earnings and making you front a $50 fee just to get access to your streaming sales which doesn’t seem reasonable. The invite-only aspect as well as the rest of the cons just make the company unappealing… but hey if you’re down, go right ahead, every artist is different.

In order to build exposure as an independent artist, producer or songwriter, distribution companies are vital to helping gain access to larger fan bases. Although most distro companies may seem almost identical to one another, each has its own pros and cons which cater to different peoples’ needs. Every artist has different needs, therefore certain companies are more ideal for certain types of artists. All companies require funds (as seen in the pros and cons above) in exchange for exposure; the more money you put into your own career the greater the chance of more exposure.

The post How To: Pick the Right Distribution Company appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Why Gender Pronouns Matter: Two Teenagers Share Their Stories

February 19, 2019 - 5:30am

These essays are part of our ongoing coverage by non-binary teens: In Their Own Words

When Teachers Use the Wrong Pronouns

By Jenifer Abigail Chavez

“Yes ma’am?”

That’s the phrase that almost landed me in middle school detention. I was in eighth grade and my teacher had just called me ma’am to answer a question. There’s just one problem.

I’m not a ma’am.

I’m non-binary, which means I use they/them pronouns and don’t fall into either of the two genders assigned at birth. 

As far back as fourth grade, I had a picture of what I wanted to be that didn’t include sticking to any of the gender norms. “Why don’t you dress more like a girl?” people were always asking. I felt like a lab rat being poked by pesky scientists.

So I’m always a bit hesitant to speak up about my pronouns. Sometimes I don’t correct my teachers or classmates when they misgender me because I fear being rejected. But this year, I wanted to start fresh and stay true to my identity and myself.

So, with my classmates all staring at me, I forced a smile and said to my teacher, “Uh, I’m not a ma’am.”

He frowned, crossing his arms against his chest and looking at me.

“Stop wasting my time,” he said. “This is nonsense. Don’t waste my time or you’ll get detention.”

I felt suffocated, like all the air had left my lungs.

Suddenly I was in fourth grade all over again, surrounded by bullies. And here’s the thing — being hassled for your gender isn’t like a “Mean Girls” spinoff. The kids who tormented me back then were big into the anti-bullying message at my school. It’s like they didn’t even know they were doing anything wrong.

I get that it takes people time to get used to a new concept. My teacher lectured us all the time on justice and equality while judging me for correcting my pronouns.

When teachers don’t recognize different sexualities and genders, they make it OK for students to do the same. My advice? Respect your students, respect their pronouns. If you don’t know, ask or just use a student’s name. And try using gender neutral terms like “everybody” instead of assuming I’m a ‘ma’am.’

I Am Me.

By Felix

As a young child, I loved to dance. Sometimes I would swing my hips with sassiness. Other times I was more dominant, guiding girls in duo dances with my hands on their hips. Others would say the way I moved would change from being feminine to masculine, and sometimes both. When I felt like both, I would combine my dancing styles, sassy and dominant.

Back then, I didn’t have words for my gender identity, but it’s like my body always knew. Even so, I used to try to ignore my gender identity, wearing large amounts of makeup and a long fringe to hide what my face actually looked like. This put me in an extremely dark place.  I now know, as much as I try, I can never change who I am. 

I recently came out as gender-fluid. Some days I felt like a girl, other days a boy, somedays both but also neither. Day to day, I would identify as a different gender, but my personality did not change.

One day at home, while preparing to bind my chest, my mother walked over and said, “You know, on the days you say you’re a guy, you act really different from your normal girl self.” I want to respond to family members when they make comments like this, but they are my elders and I need to respect them. If I could, I would rip my head open to show them the storms in my mind.

I originally came out as gender-fluid to convince my family that I still had a bit of femininity left in me. I wanted them to be proud of me and not disappointed that their little girl was gone. But two months ago, I came out again, this time as transgender (female to male). I was hesitant, because I knew people would say fluid gender identity is just a phase.  But repressing who I am was hurting me mentally. When people close to me deny who I am, my self-esteem drops down like a thermometer on a cold winter’s day.  

I just wish the other people around me could understand what my brain and heart are telling me.  One of my dreams is for my family and peers to address my pronouns correctly — for people to understand that it’s not always just one or the other, it could be both or neither. I know I’m not the only one in this world going through this situation. Knowing others are fighting by my side makes me feel less alone.

These essays were produced in collaboration with ZUMIX in Boston.

The post Why Gender Pronouns Matter: Two Teenagers Share Their Stories appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Bay Word of the Day: Slide

February 18, 2019 - 11:00am

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

Categories: Blog

How My Grandfather’s Death Helped Me Look Past Politics

February 17, 2019 - 8:00am

My grandfather died this past summer. While I honor our relationship, my memory of him is complicated by our political differences.

My grandfather lived across the country, so I only saw him twice a year. It never seemed like enough.

I remember sitting on his lap. I’d hold his old globe as he spun it until the countries blurred together. He mesmerized me with stories of his travels.

As I grew up, I became increasingly aware that my grandfather’s political opinions contradicted mine. In recent years, we couldn’t even watch the news together.

We never fought out loud. But our differences fractured our relationship.

This summer, my grandfather passed away. I was overwhelmed with heartache. He was gone, and our relationship could never be pieced back together.

For years, I looked at my grandfather and saw only our differences. Now that he’s gone, I’m trying to look past our rift to see our larger relationship, and the real person he was.

Now, when I think of him, I remember how he taught me to be curious, generous and kind. In the face of death, I learned not to forget his faults, but to see past them.

The post How My Grandfather’s Death Helped Me Look Past Politics appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog