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.

  • Breaking Down the Duke Professor’s Racist Email

    by LaToya Tooles

    I want to take the time to break down a recent incident that made it to the news.

    It’s important to name the specific forms of racism that we see and experience. For those of us who experience racism, having words to define what happened makes us feel less crazy. And it invites others into a conversation that can have real solutions because we are all on the same page.

    Also, I like to make use of the ethnic studies classes I took in college.

    Here’s what happened: An email sent to graduate students in a Duke University medical school program urging them to speak only English on campus was published online and quickly made headlines.

    The email’s author, Prof. Megan Neely, said that two faculty members came to her complaining about students speaking Chinese in the student lounge and study areas. These faculty members, who remained anonymous, wanted to identify the students to avoid working with them in the future, she said.

    “To international students, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep these unintended consequences in mind when you choose to speak Chinese in the building,” Neely wrote in the email. She followed this by saying she had the “upmost (sic.) respect” for them.

    What is this fresh nonsense? This is not the email that needed to be sent.

    What this is, is racism. Not allyship.

    It’s called hegemonic paternalism. This happens when people (white or otherwise) offer to “help” people of color become better white people. This might show up as people encouraging you to take off your hoop earrings or to change your hair to be more professional. It’s “Charm School,” that old MTV show that tried to show reality stars how to “act right.”

    First off: hegemony is the natural human instinct of wanting people to follow an agreed upon set of cultural norms. Parents do it, teachers do it, even friends do it. It becomes a problem when a “ruling class” or race dominates everyone else, demanding their assimilation at the expense of their own identity. Think “Brave New World.”

    For a real-world example, consider Native-American boarding schools. Children were forcibly taken from their parents and placed into Christian boarding schools where their names were changed, speaking their first language was forbidden and indigenous religious practices were demonized. This was done in the name of “civilizing” Native people. The cultural, psychological and economic effects of these schools are still widely felt by Native populations today.

    The paternalism — or in this case, maternalism, because it was a white female professor who sent the email — applies when people in the ruling class act as if (and sometimes actually believe) they have your best interests at heart when they correct your behavior or beliefs.

    Here’s the thing: when the university professors overheard the international students speaking Chinese in the break room, and threatened to exclude them from professional opportunities, it was a terrible thing that happened. The demand to speak English is ridiculous and discriminatory in a country that does not have an official national language.

    Neely was correct in recognizing that something was wrong here. Her allyship goes awry when she thinks the solution to the problem is to warn students that speaking their native language was unprofessional, rather than address the professors who were wrong in the first place.

    Neely has since been removed from her post as the director of graduate studies for the biostatistics department. But she is still teaching. And nothing has been said about the original wrongdoing of these bigoted professors. I sincerely hope Duke University doesn’t stop at Neely, but digs deep into the culture of their university to ensure they welcome international students, and not exclude and chastise them for the ability to speak more than one language, which is very much an asset.
    The post Breaking Down the Duke Professor’s Racist Email appeared first on YR Media.

  • Who Should Really Give the State of the Union? DC College Students Have Ideas

    by Paula

    After being invited to give the State of the Union, then dis-invited from giving it, then re-invited, President Donald Trump is now set to speak to our nation a little later than expected, on Feb. 5.

    But does anyone even watch the State of the Union? YR Media talked to D.C.-based college students from different political perspectives and campuses about what they think the state of our union really is — and who, if anyone right now, is most qualified to give the speech.

    The State of the Union would have actually happened today, but that was before the government shutdown led Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to dis-invite Trump from giving the speech until the government re-opened. So when Trump announced on Friday that the government would re-open, Pelosi re-invited him, but for a slightly later date: Feb. 5.

    Here’s what students thought about some of the will he or won’t he drama.

    Joe Lazzari, 19, Catholic University (Class of 2021)

    “The State of the Union is a good reminder that no matter
    how tough things are, it will all work out in the end.”

    Have you ever watched the State of the Union (SOTU)? Yes.

    Do you think Nancy Pelosi should have postponed the SOTU? No.

    Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.” Is that true this year? Even though 800,000 government workers were out of a job, it’s still not a majority of people. I still think there is good going on in the country. Not even just politicians, the economy is doing well … and the positives outweigh the negatives.

    Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have addressed the nation? Although he isn’t alive, I would say Ronald Reagan. I think he was one of the best presidents we have ever had.

    Lizzie Martinez, 18, Catholic University (Class of 2022)

    “I think the state of the union is very divided, especially this year between the two parties.”

    Have you ever watched the SOTU? No.

    Do you think Nancy Pelosi should have postponed the SOTU? I do not think so. If this is something that happens yearly, there are things that happen every year that must be addressed.

    Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.”
    Is that true this year? What is the state of our union to you? I think the state
    of the union is very divided, especially this year between the two parties.

    Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have addressed the nation?  I would love to see Sonia Sotomayor deliver the State of the Union.

    Nile Hodges, 21, Howard University (Class of 2019)

    “I am fortunate enough to be at Howard where I do not have to deal with too much of the division. But I know out in the world, there is a stark division between people of different views.”

    Have you ever watched the SOTU? I have not watched the State of the Union since President Obama left office. I haven’t been the most interested.

    Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.” Is that true this year? What is the state of our union to you? To be honest, I do not think the state of the union is strong. It is honestly very divided. I am fortunate enough to be at Howard where I do not have to deal with too much of the division.

    Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have address the nation? I would listen to, of course, Barack Obama, but someone like Nancy Pelosi would be more intriguing than hearing what our current president has to say, in my opinion. She would provide us with what’s actually going on, versus what she wants it to be.

    Crimson Duckett, 23, Georgetown University (Class of 2020)

    “With President Trump being president, it’s hard for me to watch, because I think he isn’t serious about his position and I don’t agree with what he has to say.”

    Have you ever watched the SOTU? Yes, the only ones I ever watched (were those given by) President Obama because he was an inspirational figure to me. Ultimately, I was inspired and a lot of the things he discussed were focused on change and that was empowering to me. With President Trump being president, it’s hard for me to watch, because I think he isn’t serious about his position and I don’t agree with what he has to say.

    What do you think of the drama surrounding the State of the Union? I am disappointed.

    Presidents always say the “state of our union is strong.”
    Is that true this year? What is the state of our union to you? The State of
    The Union to me is a message that keeps citizens informed. I do not think the
    current state of the union is strong and there is a lot of work that has to be

    Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have address the nation? I would love to see President Obama give the State of the Union one last time. We are struggling under President Trump’s reign.

    Joya Grillo, 21, Howard University (Class of 2019)

    “I think President Trump should take accountability for the current state of our union.”

    Have you ever watched the SOTU? Yes.

    Who out of all the national political figures would you want to have addressed the nation? At the end of the day, Donald Trump is our president, and he is responsible for delivering this speech. Although I do not agree with what he has to say, I think it’s important that he is the one that addresses us because he is the one responsible for everything happening in the United States of America.
    The post Who Should Really Give the State of the Union? DC College Students Have Ideas appeared first on YR Media.

  • How To: Collaborate with Other Artists on New Music

    by stoney

    As an artist, it’s important to understand the value in collaboration and the advantages it has to offer. Whether you’re a singer, rapper, producer or a writer, collaboration is necessary in order to find success in your field of work. Although you may not have trouble in creating your own art, collaborating with other artists allows you to discover new techniques, network with other artists and get feedback on your music from other talents. Additionally, collaboration will help you develop your sound into something you may not have imagined it could be, allowing you to be more versatile with your style.

    Get to Know the Artist Before Going into the Session

    If you’re collaborating with an artist for the first time, be prepared by doing your homework. Even though you’ll be going into the session without ever working with the other artist, that doesn’t mean it has to be the first time talking or interacting with her/him. When collabing with artists, it’s important to get to know them before going into the studio in order to avoid any awkward or uncomfortable discourse. Watching a movie or spending a whole day with the artist is never necessary, but it is essential to chop it up or grab a coffee before working.

    Prepare Your Ideas Beforehand

    Although you may be eager to start fresh on a new track when you get in the studio, coming into the session without any forethought may not be the best strategy — especially if it’s your first collaboration session. Before coming to the session, it’s in your best interest to brainstorm ideas of chord progressions, song topics, or even songs that you are inspired by. These ideas may not be the main focus of your session, but if the session starts to get dry, you will always have something to fall back on. Even if you don’t use the ideas in the session, the process of brainstorming will help you get a better understanding of your sound and how you want to implement it into the session.

    Photo: Frankie Cordoba/ Unsplash

    Be Open to New Ideas

    Although you may be working with an artist with a similar sound as yours, it should be expected that you will encounter new ideas and styles of work in the session. Whether it resembles your personal style or is completely foreign, it’s important to keep an open mind about it. Even if you aren’t feeling the idea at first, you should attempt to work with it before you disregard the effort completely. By being more open to new ideas, you allow the sound to be heard in more than one perspective. Therefore, you will be able to produce a more unique and creative track.  

    Photo: John Hult/Unsplash

    Don’t Force Ideas

    Because working with another artist is fairly different from working on your own, you may not be able to create using the same process. This could possibly cause you to get stuck trying to force your ideas. If your attempts at producing a new track are significantly derailed, there is nothing wrong with coming back to it later on. It’s better to let fresh ideas flow, rather than forcing an idea on a track that isn’t coming naturally to you. By allowing your ideas to flow naturally without forcing anything on the track, you will develop a more organic sounding product.

    Don’t Be Discouraged If Things Don’t Work Out the First Time

    Coming into the session, you may have already imagined how it would play out, assuming different circumstances and details of the collaboration. Maybe you expected to finish a song or you expected the other artist to do something differently. However, as much as you’d like to predict how the session will go, things may not always play out how you expected. Even though your session might not go as planned, it’s important to accept it as a learning experience. Despite the outcome of the session, it’s critical that you follow up with the other artist in order to maintain your relationship with her/him.

    The post How To: Collaborate with Other Artists on New Music appeared first on YR Media.

  • I Hope It Won’t Be Like 2016: Voices from the Kamala Harris Rally in Oakland

    by Paula

    An estimated 20,000 people lined up around several city blocks in downtown Oakland, California, on Sunday morning, hoping to catch a glimpse of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Harris officially launched her 2020 presidential bid from the steps of City Hall on Frank Ogawa Plaza.

    Before the public was allowed on the plaza, a long line
    snaked around several Oakland city blocks. Some Harris supporters weren’t let
    into the plaza, and went into neighboring bars to watch the senator’s speech on
    the television or on their smartphones.

    Harris is among several Democrats who have announced that
    they’re running for president, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
    and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

    Much of the cheerful crowd were excited to see Harris — the former California Attorney General-turned-national politician — kick off her campaign in her hometown. But a few people came out to protest, saying her policies will “suppress the middle class” and criticizing the former prosecutor for not sufficiently addressing mass incarceration and systemic racism.

    YR Media talked to people in the crowd. Some said they’re all in for Kamala, while others are still shopping. The first Democratic primaries for the 2020 presidential race won’t take place until next year.

    “I’m really excited that a woman of color is running. She’s awesome,” said Selina Xie. “I think it’s going to be a close race and I hope it won’t be like in 2016. I hope the Democrats won’t be at each other’s throat, but are able to unite. They need to unite.”

    “This is the beginning of my self-education process when it comes to the candidates for the 2020 elections,” Eva Johnson said. “I need to stay more in tune with what’s happening in the political landscape. So the coming two to three months, I’m going to see what the others have to offer. I’m not a die-hard Kamala Harris supporter, but I love the energy here and the ‘pro rights’ undertone.”

    “I worked with congressional campaigns before, and I think Kamala Harris is the right candidate for positive legislation,” said Isaiah Cane. “You can see that from her history as a prosecutor.”

    “I’m with the Democratic Socialists of America and I’m here to speak the truth about Harris’ policy. She hijacks leftist words and phrases and makes it seem that she’s with the people, while she’s against them,” said Dina Asfaha. “Kamala Harris, like the other candidates, are just corporate clowns.”

    “I want to see a woman as president. That’s why I’m here. I want to learn more about Kamala Harris and at the same time want to be part of something bigger,” said Jenny Weik.

    “This announcement really excites me. There are a lot of people around the country who are hurting and I think Kamala Harris is the right person who can stand up for those people through her policy. It’s going to be a very crowded primary election and I hope this won’t divide the Democrats, the way the diverse set of candidates did back in the 2016 primaries,” said Noam Haykeen.

    Yesterday’s crowd was reportedly bigger than when President Barack Obama announced his candidacy in 2007. At the time, 15,000 people braved the winter Illinois cold to see the then-junior senator lay out his vision for winning the White House.

    During a speech at Sunday’s rally, Harris promised that she would fight for Medicare for all and would deliver the “largest tax cuts for the working and middle class in a generation.” But before she can do that, there’s still a long way to the official nomination.
    The post I Hope It Won’t Be Like 2016: Voices from the Kamala Harris Rally in Oakland appeared first on YR Media.

  • Learning to Accept My Jewish Identity

    by Denise Tejada

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Looking back, I feel ashamed of the moments when I turned my back on my faith. Now, I am proud of the way we continue to preach compassion, even among threats and hate crimes.
    The post Learning to Accept My Jewish Identity appeared first on YR Media.

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

    by Noah Nelson

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Potential Upside

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

    The Dowwnside: Computers Are Flawed

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

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

    The Danger of False Positives

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

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

    The Cost in Privacy

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

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

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

    A reminder that for better or worse, what gets said online has consequences.
    The post 4 Reasons You Should Care About Facebook’s Suicide Prevention Tool appeared first on YR Media.

  • When Clueless Parents Smoke Weed: An Illustrated Explainer

    by Lissa Soep

    We should have seen it coming, right?

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

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

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

    Cannabis concentrate. (Stay Regular via Pexels.com)

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

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

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

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

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

    (Lindsay Fox via Wikimedia Commons)

    (Stay Regular via Pexels.com)

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

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

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

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

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

    Sorry, I think you’re on your own with that one. Good luck!
    The post When Clueless Parents Smoke Weed: An Illustrated Explainer appeared first on YR Media.

  • After Viral Video, Young Kentuckians Confront Racist Legacy

    by Rebecca Martin

    by Caitlin Cummings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (Image courtesy of Kyra Higgins/Appalachian Media Institute)

    Kyra Higgins, 20, Redfox, KY

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

    (Image courtesy of Olivia Harp/Appalachian Media Institute)

    Olivia Harp, 24, Hazard, KY

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

    (Image courtesy of Dustin Johnson/Appalachian Media Institute)

    Dustin Johnson, 19, Hazard, KY

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

    This story was a collaboration with the Appalachian Media Institute
    The post After Viral Video, Young Kentuckians Confront Racist Legacy appeared first on YR Media.

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

    by Yared Gebru

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

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

    Summer Walker

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


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


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

    King Princess

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

    Ravyn Lenae

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


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

    Radiant Children

    This three-piece London-based band Radiant Children are comprised of musicians Tyler Acord, Marcos Bernardis, and lead singer Fabienne Holloway. Their debut single “Life’s a B***h” was featured on HBO’s “Insecure” season three premiere, giving the group much deserved exposure. Radiant Children’s music can be described as soulful R&B with a thin veil of alternative-pop, making their appeal captivating to many different audiences.
    The post 7 R&B Acts We’re Excited About in 2019 appeared first on YR Media.

  • How Automated Tools Discriminate Against Black Language

    by Anna Woorim Chung

    Filtering Rudeness on Social Media One of my favorite aspects of social media is coming across amazing work by activists, creatives, and academics. I get especially excited to see work by fellow women of color, whose perspectives are often left out of mainstream media and activism. So naturally, when I discover that posts by women of color are being filtered out of my feed, I am 1) skeptical, 2) upset, but also 3) not surprised. […]