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.

  • Narrative Objects: Sexual Healing

    by alexishope

    Note: This post includes content about sexual trauma. This is the first in a series of posts about Narrative Objects: physical artifacts — from the speculative to the functional — that tell new stories about the world we live in. Sexual Healing is a collection of sensory objects for people who experience sexual problems after a traumatic experience, focusing on individual agency and the reclamation of pleasure, rather than clinical treatment. These objects are meant to be functional at the […]

  • What Happens When a Teen Activist Turns 20?

    by Shawn Wen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And I hope people are willing to listen, even if “20-something” isn’t as catchy as “teen.”
    The post What Happens When a Teen Activist Turns 20? appeared first on YR Media.

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

    by Ajani

    America celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day today.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Listen to ADP.FM: City Cat Radio MLK Episode

    by stoney

    The freshest DJs in the bay spinning live from a street-level studio in downtown Oakland, California.

    Happy MLK Day! This is an episode of City Cat Radio with DJ Henroc, airing from All Day Play FM. We hope you enjoy the show in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and continue to create his dream.
    The post Listen to ADP.FM: City Cat Radio MLK Episode appeared first on YR Media.

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

    by Paula

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

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

    Are you up for the challenge?

    Photos of Martin Luther King Jr. courtesy Wikimedia Commons and the U.S. National Archives.
    The post How Much Do You Really Know About MLK? Take Our Quiz. appeared first on YR Media.

  • Finding Comfort in YouTube Hair Tutorials

    by Emiliano

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

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

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

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

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

    Watching people talk about their natural hair made me feel more confident about mine. Now, I consider it one of my best features.
    The post Finding Comfort in YouTube Hair Tutorials appeared first on YR Media.

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

    by Shawn Wen

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

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

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

    A woman holds a sign protesting Trump supporters who were surveying the Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo: Mila De la Torre)Author’s friend Natasha Jensen-Albo marches with her in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo: Mila De la Torre)

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

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

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

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

    So on Saturday at the Women’s March in San Francisco, I’ll be attending with my close friend and I’m more than excited to feel that same sense of pride again.
    The post I Went to the First Women’s March and I’m Still Excited appeared first on YR Media.

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

    by Noah Nelson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The conversation takes to the streets on Saturday Jan. 19, with the Denver Womxn’s March beginning with a pre-rally at at Civic Center Park at 9 a.m. and the march proper starting at 10:30 a.m.
    The post Woman to Womxn: New Women’s Marches Aim for Inclusivity appeared first on YR Media.

  • Sick and Tired: Oakland Teachers ‘Sick Out’

    by Shawn Wen

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

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

    Flyers circulated in person and on social media, inviting students and teachers to join the walkout. Flyers circulated in person and on social media, inviting students and teachers to join the walkout. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Meet One High School’s First Trans Homecoming Queen

    by Paula

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

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

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

    Luis Salas on homecoming. (Photo courtesy Salas)

    Luis Salas on homecoming. (Photo courtesy Salas)
    The post Meet One High School’s First Trans Homecoming Queen appeared first on YR Media.