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.

  • How To: Support Your Fellow Creatives

    by Noah

    Don’t you hate a “let-me-slide-in-for-the-F,” or a “let-me-get-a-verse-for-free,” type of person? These freeloading, transactional types annoy the hell out of creatives because they only hit them up whenever they want something, but don’t show love and support for the movement the artist is building. Please don’t be that person. Now, if for some reason, you are this type of person, I’m here to help you out.

    You must understand that artists put a ton of time, energy and resources into perfecting their crafts, so if you want to truly support — make sure you show an understanding for that part of the game. I’ve created a mini guide on how to properly support your fellow artists/creatives in ways that won’t turn people off and will help you build genuine relationships. You just have to follow these guidelines and wait for your time to shine because artists do notice these types of real supporters.

    Be an Active Social Media Supporter

    An easy follow, like, comment or re-post shows a lot of support to an artist. It only takes one second and shows that you’re paying attention. If you think about it, the average person is on their phone for about three hours a day, so you literally have no excuses to not show love to your fellow artists. At the end of the day, it’s the small things that go a long way so if your only supporting when it’s convenient for you — people are definitely going to notice.

    Don’t Be Cheap

    Keep in mind that up-and-coming artists put a lot of time and money into their craft. The last thing you should be asking an artist, producer or entrepreneur is for ANYTHING for free, just because. Especially if you’re not one of his or her Day Ones. Don’t be that person who only hits them up when they have a show or event that you want to attend for the F. Buy a ticket and show love! Pulling up to a show knowing you could have gotten in for free, but still bought a ticket anyways, shows real support. The artist probably has 100+ people hitting their phone to get in for free, which shouldn’t be what they’re focusing on. Their first priority should be their show and not accommodating you. Show real support and it will always come back around.

    Dealing with Clout

    It can be true that once an artist gets a little taste of clout they can turn into a d***head. However, that may not always be the case so try not to jump to conclusions. If you feel like someone that you’ve known for a while who is gaining some new success is changing or isn’t as present in your life — try and be patient and look at the bigger picture. They could have a lot going on and are preoccupied with responsibilities that come from building up their artistry. Just because you don’t speak to someone as frequently as you’re used to doesn’t mean they don’t FWU anymore. They might just be focused on getting their career to a solid place and grinding. Once artists pop off they tend to go through a lot of changes with money, relationships, and overall life shifts. Stardom can drive an artist out of their mind. As a friend and part of someone’s support system — it is your job to keep them on track and focused. Everyone needs to know they have real supportive people on their team. Offer ways you can contribute to their cause and likely they’ll return the favor when the time is right. Keep your mind on the prize and not the bullsh*t.

    Be Open to Collaboration

    If you are a fellow artist, collaborations can be a great opportunity to build on a relationship. But make sure you’re approaching it in the correct way. Don’t be the person who thinks you’re the s**t and everything needs to happen on your terms. Use collaborations as an opportunity to make genuine connections with other artists and be open to how they work too. You never know where a partnership can lead!

    Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

    Whether it’s buying merch, downloading/streaming their record, or buying tickets to their events — buy whatever your homies are selling to help build their brand. Showing up to a show and buying merch shows support as well as promotes his/her personal brand. The money raised from buying merch goes directly to the artists and their establishment. But the easiest way to put your homie on is to just slap their song — download it, stream it, keep it on repeat and run those numbers up. Slap their stuff at any party, kick-it spot, or in the car. If someone likes what their hearing, put them on! Tell them where they find his/her music.

    Now that I’ve given you all the insight, you have no excuse to not show real support to all the artists in your life. Take the game, move accordingly and be a real one.
    The post How To: Support Your Fellow Creatives appeared first on YR Media.

  • Rest in peace, Binyavanga Wainaina

    by Ethan

    Binyavanga Wainaina died last night in a hospital in Nairobi at the age of 48. We lost him far, far too soon, but Bin spent his brief time on earth remarkably well, and packed more insight and discovery into his time than many people who survive twice as long.

    Binyavanga Wainaina, photographed by Victor Dlamini for The JRB.
    Like many people, I learned of Binyavanga’s work first from his remarkable and cutting essay, “How to Write About Africa”, a compendium of clichés that infect a great deal of writing about Africa, especially writing by well-meaning, liberal white westerners like myself. We met in person at TED Africa in Arusha in June, 2007, where he gave a funny and rollicking speech that touched on the rapid changes Kenya was going through, and the need for an African literary scene not centered around London or New York. (TED recently released his talk from the archives – it’s a wonderful picture of his thinking and his passions at the time.)
    He and I found ourselves on the conference circuit together – searching around today, I found a video of us on a panel at PICNIC in the Netherlands in 2008. We got to know each other better that fall, when he came to Williams College – about ten miles from where I live – and was a scholar in residence for a year, and we met a few times for coffee and chats about politics. Looking back on his writing at that time, I can see his thinking move from the politics of the moment in Kenya to larger issues of the legacy of colonialism, the emergence of new pan-African identities, and the ways in which his own biography illustrated those themes. Writing in the Guardian, Helon Habila describes his autobiography, One Day I Will Write About This Place, as “subtle”, a coming of age story that helps explain how he became the brilliant and incisive commentator he was as a grown man.
    What Helon and other readers didn’t know was that Bin had left a key part out of that autobiography: his identity as a gay man. In 2014, he came out in a “missing chapter” from that book, a letter to his late mother titled “I am a homosexual, mum”. In it, he explains that it took him until he was 39 to self-identify as gay, and until he was 43 to come out publicly. His coming out was a deeply brave act, as homosexuality is not recognized under Kenyan law, sexual acts between men are a felony, and there are no legal protections against discrimination for gay citizens. Over the last few years, he’s been an extremely visible LGBT activist, using the combination of his ever-sharp wit and his increasing fabulousness to bring the issue of LGBT equality to new levels of prominence and visibility in Kenya. It’s a terrible irony of his death that the Kenyan high court is about to issue a ruling that may recognize rights for LGBT Kenyans.
    I sent Bin congratulations after his coming out, but the next exchanges I had with him were around his health, which took a sharp turn for the worse in 2015, with a series of strokes. Friends helped raise money for him to seek treatment in India, and he recovered well enough to tour and speak. Unfortunately, it was another stroke that felled him last night.
    I am reaching the age where I am starting to lose peers. Not lots of them yet, thank god, but enough that I have noticed a pattern. I search my email and look at what we talked about and when. With Binyavanga, it’s logistics: where might we meet up and when? There’s a long exchange about Kenyan musicians Just a Band and helping find them gigs at US colleges, thoughts on what US schools are good places to spend a semester as a writer.
    Today I realized that I am looking not just for memories, but for reassurance that I didn’t leave a last email unanswered. And while I’m glad that my last exchange with Binyavanga was one where he asked a question and I answered, I’m angry at myself that I hadn’t reached out in the last couple of years to ask him a question: how he was, what he was doing and thinking, his thoughts on the high court case.
    Binyavanga was an inspiration as a thoughtful, brave, colorful, provocative, passionate and wise man. His transformation into a fuller, happier version of himself as he became an avatar of queer Africa was remarkable to watch, and an inspiration to think about what transformations I want to make in my own life as a mostly het, cis-gendered, middle-aged white dude. I regret that I didn’t have a last chance to talk with Binyavanga, waiting as he rolled a cigarette, collected his thoughts and declaimed his truths.
    Rest in peace.
    Daily Active Kenya has a fine collection of photos and quotes from Binyavanga.

  • Trump’s New Immigration Plan Criticized by Advocates

    by Nancy Deville

    Immigration advocacy and legal groups are criticizing President Donald Trump’s latest plan that would increase border wall funding and decrease family-based migration.  

    His proposal, announced in the White House Rose Garden last week, consists of significant changes to America’s legal immigration system that would limit the number of visas given through family relationships or a random lottery and instead prioritize immigrants with high-level skills, degrees and job offers.  The administration said currently about 66 percent of green cards are given to those with family in the United States and 12 percent based on skills or merit.

    But under Trump’s plan, those selected on skill or merit would increase to 57 percent.

    “Under the senseless rules of the current system, we’re not able to give preference to a doctor, a researcher, a student who graduated number one in his class from the finest colleges in the world,” Trump said in his speech.

    While the proposal does not suggest there will be a reduction in the number of green cards awarded each year, it does seek to make English proficiency a requirement for the card. Right now, it’s only needed for citizenship. It’s a move that could “definitely change the racial makeup of who’s coming here,” said Peter Isbister, an attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Antonio Arellano, communications director at Jolt, a Texas-based Latino youth organization, called Trump’s proposed reforms “bigoted.”

    “We think that it is a race system in disguise,” Arellano said. “It is not appropriate for the nation that has been coined as the country of opportunity, immigrants, and freedom to be proposing or peddling this type of legislation that seeks to limit access to our country to the most vulnerable, like asylum seekers and refugees.”

    Trump’s new proposal also includes additional border wall funding and plans to decrease drug flow into the United States. Trump says there should be close to 400 miles of the wall built by the end of 2020.

    The president made no mention of DACA or any plans for the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. and individuals who have received temporary protected status.

    As of now, Trump’s proposed reforms remain just that — proposals. No member of Congress has put forward legislation containing the president’s most recent announcement.  Democrats would be unlikely to support the changes, and it’s unclear whether the proposal would receive support from all Republican lawmakers.

    “There needs to be a serious pushback from both political parties,” Arellano said. “I think Republicans know better, and if they seek to retain power and influence, they cannot back something so divisive and something that will clearly paint them as an anti-immigrant party.”

    Many are suggesting Trump’s proposals, as outlined, won’t reach his desk in a bill anytime soon and that they’re a tool for his 2020 campaign.

    “I think he needs to run on it, and those like me who think it’s a pretty good idea will run on it, and when we win the election, he can claim a mandate and hopefully get something done,”  Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told Bloomberg.

    But some immigration advocates are still concerned about the implications of the proposal, even if it doesn’t become law.

    “I worry about it creating a situation where Republicans believe we need to move to a merit-based system,” Isbister said. “I think that’s a dangerous place to be in particularly without any conversation about it because the family-based immigration system is so central to who we are as a country.”
    The post Trump’s New Immigration Plan Criticized by Advocates appeared first on YR Media.

  • Video: 16-Year-Old Climate Activist Takes On Politicians

    by Chaz H

    Fire. Floods. Drought.

    Today’s youth will have a lot to deal with as adults if politicians don’t step up to address climate change. 16-year-old activist Isha Clarke is leading the way to fight for change.
    The post Video: 16-Year-Old Climate Activist Takes On Politicians appeared first on YR Media.

  • 5 Things You Missed in Music Business News

    by Noah

    Things are constantly changing in the landscape of the music industry and it’s important to stay on top of trends and news updates, especially as an independent artist. We’ve got you covered with a weekly recap of the top stories you need to know.

    Kodak Black Faces 10 Years in Prison

    Kodak Black was recently released on $550,000 bail and put on house arrest. The Florida rapper faces up to 10 years for lying to the police. He could also receive a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

    Woodstock 50 Is Back On

    Even though there was talk of Woodstock 50 being canceled when a major investor pulled out, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that the investors did not have the right to cancel the festival simply because they were pulling their investment. Therefore, the festival will take place between August 16-18.

    Adidas x Kid Cudi

    Adidas just announced they’re welcoming Kid Cudi to the family. This partnership will include a collaborative collection featuring footwear and apparel pieces.

    Pledge Music Is Nearing Bankruptcy

    Pledge Music is on the brink of bankruptcy unless someone steps in to buy it. Pledge Music is a music platform that helps facilitate fan and artist interactions. It’s also used to distribute music, share music videos and promote concerts.  

    Rolling Stone’s Music Charts Delayed

    Rolling Stone’s highly anticipated music charts are said to be delayed due to unsecured data agreements. The launch was set for May 18th with the hype that it could surpass Billboard as the preeminent music charting service. 
    The post 5 Things You Missed in Music Business News appeared first on YR Media.

  • Oakland’s Pothole Vigilantes

    by Chaz H

    In a city where potholes are notorious for causing serious damage, citizens wonder why tax dollars aren’t being used to fix the streets. This duo decided to take matters into their own hands, dubbing themselves the “Pothole Vigilantes.”
    The post Oakland’s Pothole Vigilantes appeared first on YR Media.

  • Bay Word of the Day: Sum Light

    by Maya

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

  • My Little Brother’s Instagram Use Frightens Me

    by Youth Radio Interns

    Russian bots. Fake accounts. Catfishing. Social media is a minefield right now. To the point that this 17-year-old is concerned about the even younger generation.

    When I first signed up for Instagram, I was in the fifth grade. My mom and I argued regularly about how much of my life I was sharing with the wrong people.

    She’d sit on the couch, gripping my phone, and go through every single one of my followers. She grilled me on who I knew and how I knew them, and then deleted strangers and even friendly acquaintances one by one. At the time, I was super mad.

    But now, I’m in high school. And when I look at my little brother’s Instagram use — it frightens me. When I saw that he had 1000 followers — I was shocked — and even a little impressed. But then I realized, there was no way my 13-year-old brother knew one thousand people. Who are these followers? Are they even real people?

    I feel strange getting all protective of my younger brother’s Instagram. But now, in the Wild West of social media use and privacy restrictions — I guess my mom was right.
    The post My Little Brother’s Instagram Use Frightens Me appeared first on YR Media.

  • Ari Lennox’s ‘Shea Butter Baby’ is the Intimate Album We Need

    by Yared Gebru

    In “Shea Butter Baby,” Ari Lennox flourishes into an artist that is deeply personal and relatable. She embraces her emotions and spills her sadness on the record. Before, Ms. Lennox marketed herself as “the singer” from Dreamville, continuously trying to prove her singing ability on her mixtape, “PHO.” Considering that Dreamville is made up of rappers, it’s easy to see why she did this: to create her own lane among her peers.

    “PHO” established Ari as an artist to watch in different ways: her musical sensibility, her soulful voice, and in the way her voice rode different flows. She showed that she could undertake any type of R&B beat, and even showed that she was capable of spitting a few bars if she wanted to.

    Now, on “Shea Butter Baby,” Ari showcases her growth as an artist and an individual. She’s fed up and bares it all on wax, spilling all post-breakup feelings, which is a vulnerable subject for any artist to explore. Her ability to share an intimate moment with her fans is the testament to her growth. It affirms that “Shea Butter Baby” is a beautiful triumph as Ari sheds old skin; the record amends Ms. Lennox’s songwriting skill, singing ability, and ability to get personal. Here, she is growing into herself as an artist.

    I Been

    “Shea Butter Baby” is sprinkled with gems and “I Been” is definitely one of them. Ari takes her vocals to new heights, not only by coming in strong but by also keeping that powerful momentum throughout the whole song. Ari sings about trying to forget about an ex and mentions conversations that occurred in the relationship, even bringing up the subject of emotional abuse during the outro.


    A sweet, sentimental song that caters to a generation that was brought up seeing love become slowly blighted by the superficial. A common thing I hear from people my age is that true romance is dead or at least on its last legs, with the rise of dating apps, people have a casual outlook on love. But in “Static,” Ari sings about finding someone perfect for her without things like appearance or clout meaning much to her. She compares her beloved to an old radio of a lesser quality but expresses that she prefers it over something more “high definition” any day. The instrumental is just as charming as the lyrics, with a melancholy trumpet in the background adding the nostalgic jazz elements on an upbeat R&B song.

    Whipped Cream

    Released as the first single to the album, “Whipped Cream” marks the first time Ari gets intimate with her audience. She reveals her insecurities, her envious-nature and how it leads to the downfall of her relationship. “How I’m agin’, degradin’ when I give it like this / I’ve been cryin’ at night, holdin’ bullet tight / Hopin’ I meet someone different, but it’s true that I don’t.” The beat is simple; a thumpy bass guides the listener through Ari’s confessions as she weeps. The heartbreaking lyrics contrasting against raw production is what makes it strikingly beautiful. The listener is forced to listen to her heartbreak. “Whipped Cream” is a testament to Ms. Lennox’s emotional prowess. This track will help you face reality after an intense crying session.


    “BMO” is Ari Lennox’s “Rude Boy” moment, not only is she audacious with her sensuality, but also with the production itself. Unlike the other laid-back R&B songs on “Shea Butter Baby,” “BMO” is funky and a just bit dirty. The production heightens the song’s sexiness, it’s almost as if the beat is tip-toeing over Ari’s rap-like melodies. “BMO” samples Galt MacDermot’s “Space”— which uses a creepy guitar riff, synth and bass to guide the listener through Ari Lennox’s fantasy. Ari tells her partner how she wants it, “Break me off / And gitchi gitchi yaya, when the lights is out / I’m summertime crushin’, put that game on pause / And do it how I like it, baby, nice and slow,” she sings in her provocative style, demanding her partner to please her. Ari wants to make sure that you know how to break her off.

    New Apartment

    You know that feeling of freedom once you’re out of a relationship? When you don’t have to seek approval from anybody? When you can be yourself? Well, Ari Lennox is familiar with that feeling too, especially in her song “New Apartment.” The song exposes the best part of being single, the freedom of not meeting anyone’s expectations. When you’re free to do whatever you please. The production is smooth, allowing for Ari’s slick voice to glide over the laidback instrumentation. The best moments of this song comes from how relatable it is, “I just got a new apartment / I’m gon’ leave the floor wet / Walk around this bitch naked / And nobody can tell me shit.” A new apartment represents the liberty that comes along with being single. We are all comfortable with the feeling of being free in our home. With that in mind, Ari reminds us that our best moments come from home.
    The post Ari Lennox’s ‘Shea Butter Baby’ is the Intimate Album We Need appeared first on YR Media.

  • A Teen’s Obsession with Security Cameras Developed into a Full Business

    by Youth Radio Interns

    The combination of tech and business is dominated by the young. Just look at Mark Zuckerberg who started Facebook in his college dorm or the founders of the online payment company Stripe, who are two college dropouts. Young entrepreneurs are proving that with the right idea and business model, they can have success.

    But no one thinks a security system company would be run by a kid. Nick Petrie is a senior in high school in Vallejo, Calif. At just 19 years old, he is the founder of Petrie’s Electronics, a home and commercial security business. Petrie’s interest in alarm systems started at a really young age. His family traveled a bunch, staying in lots of hotels. Seeing the types of cameras and technology used in hotels got Petrie interested in safety and protection.

    He says everything he knows about his business he taught himself. He is a one-man show. Petrie runs the daily operations, goes to sites and does all the installations. He also does all the computer coding for his systems.  

    YR Media’s Chris Weldon caught up with Petrie to talk about the benefits of owning a business, his successes and his passion for safety.

    This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

    Chris Weldon: How and when did Petrie’s Electronics launch?

    Nick Petrie: My business has been legally owned and operating since I was 16, but I’ve been doing security system work since I was 12. After a hotel security tour, I purchased my first small surveillance system. I then began learning about the industry and started experimenting with it. Once I felt confident with my work, I started working for family members who then started spreading the word and everything just picked up from there.

    CW: What kinds of security do you offer to customers?

    NP: I mainly install security system cameras, either commercial or residential. My jobs can range from Ring video doorbells to full blown security systems with an alarm to disarm and cameras protecting the entire perimeter of a building or home. My rates vary from job to job but a general price for a new camera install is $180 per camera for labor plus materials costs. Profit varies each job — it all depends on how many cameras they want and how complex the security system is. I’m trying to get into the smart home stuff where I can do the digital thermostats and everything driven off of Amazon and other tech companies.

    CW: Why do you think people hire you over the larger companies?

    NP: It can be difficult having companies like ADT or Bay Alarm as competitors. But I think people hire me because they like that I am local and have a true passion for the work I do for my company. They usually hire me by word of mouth from other satisfied customers.

    Nick Petrie installing new parts for a client’s security system. (Photo: Chris Weldon)

    CW: What kinds of support did you have when you first started?

    NP: Not much, really. Everything is in my name. I didn’t know you can get a business license at 17, but they gave it to me without a question. The only issue I had was before I was 18, I didn’t have a credit card. So I was purchasing everything with my debit card. I was able to make big purchases very early on, thanks to a client I’ve had. He fronted the money and made an investment in my company to help me grow it. I wouldn’t have been able to get my business to where it is today without him.

    CW: What kinds of challenges have you experienced?

    NP: I’ve definitely taken some jobs where in the beginning I had no idea what I was doing. I’d be watching YouTube videos trying to figure out what to do and calling different people that have the experience, but I never turned down or quit a job. I’ve always been able to figure it out and finish the job. My clients appreciate that, and they like the ambition and work ethic I have.

    CW: How do you market your business?

    NP: So I don’t even advertise. It’s all word of mouth. I got very fortunate with a big client in Vallejo — Buck Kamphausen. I ended up going up to his house and got a whole contract. He owns many cemeteries including Skyview Memorial Cemetery in Vallejo. He was one of the bigger clients I started with, and still currently work for. I mainly install security cameras at the cemeteries and the car museum he owns. 

    Petrie working at one of his job sites. (Photo: Chris Weldon)

    CW: How has owning a business impacted your life thus far?

    NP: I was taught as a kid growing up to be self-motivated — don’t let everything kind of be handed to you. So I just wanted to have my own job, make my own money, and this is what made it happen. You get to make your own hours. You don’t have someone telling you what to do. And since I’ve launched, I’ve gotten a lot more involved with my local community.

    CW: What do you see for yourself and your business in the future?

    NP: So I plan on becoming a law enforcement officer for my main career, but I still want to have this business on the side to make extra money. I definitely plan on having this business for a long time.CW: What advice would you give to others interested in starting their own entrepreneurial journey?

    NP: Keep pushing. Don’t let something set you back a minute. If you try to do something and you don’t know how, just keep going.

    Petrie running through coding for a system. (Photo: Chris Weldon)
    The post A Teen’s Obsession with Security Cameras Developed into a Full Business appeared first on YR Media.