YPP Network Description

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.

  • Playlist: March Madness

    by Noah

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

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

  • Let Me Keep Going: Life After Youth Incarceration

    by Shawn Wen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I tell other girls in the system: “Your life is still going. This is not a stop, not a pause.” I didn’t ever say, “Let me restart my life.” Because my life was happening in juvenile hall. Instead, I told myself, “Let me keep going.”
    The post Let Me Keep Going: Life After Youth Incarceration appeared first on YR Media.

  • Like A Girl: Angel Rios Makes Wrestling History in Colorado

    by Alex Espinoza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I don’t think gender has anything to do with her success,” said Rios’ coach Ruben Lucero. “She’s worked hard her entire life and hard work paid off for her this time. She’s a competitor. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. She works her butt off at her craft and she never gives up.”
    The post Like A Girl: Angel Rios Makes Wrestling History in Colorado appeared first on YR Media.

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

    by Denise Tejada

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

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

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

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

    Let’s stop and recognize that queer people and people of color face hate all the time; their stories are just not publicized to this extreme. If I take anything away from Smollett’s case, it’s that I would like to see queer people, who aren’t celebrities, get more support when they decide to come forward and report a crime.
    The post Opinion: I Stood By Jussie Smollett. Now I’m Not So Sure appeared first on YR Media.

  • Aligning Your Data and Methods your Mission

    by rahulb

    This blog post is based on a keynote I gave recently at the 2019 SSIR Data on Purpose event. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about data as a tool for good in the world? Over the last few years I’ve seen the shift in answers to this questions. People used to answer “optimistic”, but now most people indicate some mix of emotions. You’ve probably seen the Gartner hype cycle with its suggestion that a technology receives inflated […]

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

    by LaToya Tooles

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

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

    Hell no.

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

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

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

    Chance the Rapper

    Photo: Julio Enriquez/Wikimedia

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

    Mychal Denzel Smith

    View this post on Instagram Behind the scenes at @freshspeakers photo shoot A post shared by Mychal Denzel Smith (@mychaldenzel) on Jan 19, 2016 at 10:24am PST

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

    Frank Ocean

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

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

    Barry Jenkins

    View this post on Instagram Nice shot by friend and filmmaker @mattmorrisfilms #35mm #contaxt3 A post shared by Barry Jenkins (@bandrybarry) on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:21am PDT

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

    Stephen Curry

    Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

    At 30, Steph Curry is already considered the best shooter in the history of the NBA. But even off the court, Curry has continued to lead the culture. A frequent collaborator with President Barack Obama on the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, Curry has leveraged his platform to encourage mentorship, faith and community service. I’ve always revered Curry’s quiet leadership and his ability to prioritize family and service even as a superstar.
    The post Opinion: 5 Men Who Are Better Role Models Than Donald Trump appeared first on YR Media.

  • Undocuqueer: Life in Photos

    by Denise Tejada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    To see more of Beto Soto’s work, visit his website, www.betosoto.com
    The post Undocuqueer: Life in Photos appeared first on YR Media.

  • Bay Word of the Day: Chonk

    by Noah


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

  • Closing the Gap: Black Girl Therapy

    by Lissa Soep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Mental Health Enigma: One Size Does Not Fit All (Part I)

    by Howard Gardner

    By Wendy Fischman
    The state of mental health on college campuses has become a major topic of conversation. In recent months, media outlets ranging from The Chronicle of Higher Education to Foreign Affairs have featured stories about how campuses have been inundated with reports of students’ personal problems.
    When we began our study of higher education in 2012, we detected traces of concern from participants on our two pilot campuses; but soon thereafter, nearly every participant across the eight other schools—including students, faculty, administrators, parents and trustees—acknowledged a mental health problem. Indeed, the majority of individuals participating in our study indicated that mental health was the biggest problem on campus, and that was in comparison to other well-known problems, such as academic dishonesty, alcohol and substance abuse, peer relationships, and safety. Among students, our largest constituency, both mental health and safety—described as violence and sexual misconduct—are the overwhelming choices. In this and in succeeding blogs, I discuss our own preliminary findings about mental health in higher education.
    By now, we are prepared to hear ample discussion of mental health on any campus that we visit. Indeed, we’d be surprised if we didn’t! However, we have also learned that the prevalence of mental health concerns across disparate campuses, with varying student populations of all kinds, needs closer examination.
    To begin with, we might have expected to hear about more about stress and anxiety from first year students. After all, they are onboarding to college—and so they have to deal with academic pressure from an unfamiliar environment, the experience of attending large lectures with hundreds of other students, the challenge of forging social connections with peers.
    Surprisingly, though, we find that an even greater percentage of graduating than first year students designate mental health as the biggest concern on campus. Moreover, the challenge occurs across the range of campuses. According to our data, mental health is an equally big concern whether students are on residential or non-residential campuses, and whether they attend highly selective or non-selective schools. When we began our study of higher education, we did not intend to be writing about mental health issues. But this is a topic that we can’t ignore, especially when it distracts students from engaging with academic and other aspects of campus life.
    Although the concern about mental health, broadly speaking, is equally strong across various kinds of campuses, interesting and important differences are associated with the more and less selective schools, and residential vs. non-residential campuses. (And we note that in our study, more selective schools are residential; less selective schools are not; hence these factors are confounded.) These differences provide useful insight, while also complexifying the general issue. In unraveling the enigma of mental health issues across disparate college campuses, “one size does not fit all.”

    Students encounter different problems.

    As described by adults on campus, there are some discernible patterns in the kinds of problems students experience. Students at the more selective campuses tend to seek support for issues relating to maintaining a high standard of academic work, balancing academics with campus activities, and handling complicated peer relationships. The more selective institutions in our study (primarily residential), are often comprised of more affluent students, as well as more financial aid for those who are in need. In contrast, students at the less selective campuses tend to seek help to deal with traumatic family situations and balancing academic work with paid work. Their limited time on campus can prevent these students from connecting with peers.
    These different causes of stress lead to different kinds of recommendations. At more selective campuses, mental health professionals believe that students need to develop more resilience when confronting academic imperfection and vulnerabilities exposed by relationships with peers and adults. Their counterparts at less selective schools report that the students that they see exhibit plenty of resilience, but need help developing meaningful relationships with others. Put differently: perhaps as a result of navigating traumatic situations and/or finding ways to make the financial ends meet, students at less selective schools can handle “imperfection” and “failure;” but they need to feel more comfortable confiding in and relying on others.
    For students in both settings, living apart from parents is described as an important factor in mental health, but plays out in different ways. Students at more selective and residential campuses—those who may be accustomed to daily familial support—find that balancing personal needs (laundry, cooking, shopping) away from parents for the first time is stressful. But students at less selective and non-residential campuses—those who may not have not been raised by their own parents, or who are the first in their families to go to college—find the separation difficult in another way. According to one mental health director, “first gen” students have a hard time talking with parents who don’t have an understanding of the value of higher education, especially when not directly linked to a job or financial outcome that will support the family.

    Students seek help (or don’t) in different ways.

    According to mental health providers at the more selective schools, students tend to take the initiative in seeking help. At the less selective schools, fewer students go to the mental health center on their own. More often, students are referred to mental health services by faculty and student life administrators who observe suffering in some way.
    There are a few possible reasons for these differences. First, the more selective campuses have stand alone, independent centers, with little to no connection to other departments on campus. They are labelled and recognized as such. At the less selective campuses, mental health services are more closely tied to other administrative and programmatic departments, such as academic advising, tutoring, and inclusion and diversity offices. Accordingly they may well be less distinctive. Second, on the whole, the less selective campuses are bigger campuses, those in which mental health services may not be as widely known. On smaller campuses, as the saying goes, “everyone knows everything.”
    A third consideration: Knowledge about and connection to individuals who can help may be closely connected to the larger concept of belonging, whose three varieties are described in an earlier blog. If students feel a sense of belonging to academics, to peers, and/ or to the institution as a whole, the likelihood is high that they would have a faculty member or advisor, a friend, or awareness of centers on campus, where they might seek help. Those who feel alienated may not know to whom or where to turn. On an initial analysis, at the less selective schools in our sample it appears that higher percentages of students feel alienated from academics, peers, and/or the institution.
    Regardless of size, type, or availability and accessibility of mental health services, students who tell us about seeking help complain that there are not enough services or counselors. Students lament long waits (weeks) to be seen or a limited number of sessions per academic year. In an earlier blog, we reflect on whether campuses should ramp up mental health services or help students become “hardier” by using techniques on their own—for example, those learned from cognitive behavioral therapy.

    Mental health providers have different goals for students.

    Though all mental health providers and directors clearly want to help students overcome personal issues, they tend to have different goals for students.
    For those students at the more selective campuses who struggle with academic pressure, stress about jobs and careers, and/or problems from being overscheduled, mental health professionals hope that students will focus on these problems. But they also prompt students to investigate larger questions about their place in the world and how they might eventually contribute to a larger society. One mental health director states, “I would like [students] to leave with the sense that they are not the center of the universe.” In other words, the goal is for students to focus on contributing to a wider society, not just harping on their own personal challenges and achievements.
    With respect to students at less selective campuses who come for help with trauma (losing a parent, fear of safety), the focus is on helping students become stable and productive—going to class, completing work, and staying in school.  As described earlier, these students tend to be more resilient based on what they have already gone through; but in the words of, one director, “when they fall apart, they fall apart.” The clinicians’ emphasis is clearly on helping individuals cope with the particular challenge being faced—learning humility or engaging in public service are left for another day.
    In future writings, we expect to take a closer look at other topics relating to mental health: for example, particular words used by students to describe “mental health” challenges (even if they aren’t their own challenges); correlation of students’ preoccupation of mental health with other key concepts of our study, such as mental models, “higher education capital,” called HEDCAP (formerly LASCAP for liberal arts and sciences capital), and belonging; and the range of approaches to mental health carried out across schools in our study.
    © 2019 Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner