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.

  • Confidentiality at the core of harm reduction in youth programming

    by Mariel García-Montes

    Youth and privacy in the Americas: Head and Hands/À deux mains, Canada How do youth allies promote young people’s critical thinking on privacy, in informal learning contexts in the Americas? This blog post is part of a series showcasing the work of different organizations at the intersection of youth development, digital rights, and online safety. Quick facts Who: Andrea Clarke from Head & Hands/À deux mains What: Medical, legal and social services Mission/vision: To work […]

  • Life After the Fire

    by Emiliano

    Hearing about all the horrible fires in California is reminding me of what it felt like when the house I grew up in burned down.

    I was a sophomore in high school when the fire happened.  My family was forced to move out, with little money.

    As a teenager, I needed personal space. I needed time to listen to music in peace. Really, I just needed to be alone — and that wasn’t easy. We were stuck in one hotel room with two beds shared among four people and a dog. I spent a lot of time at friends’ houses or wandering around hotels. After a while, my family started to separate. My mom and I moved into a nice house and my grandma moved in with her sister.

    While my friends thought growing up is reaching a certain age, or hitting puberty, for me, the fire is what ended my childhood. I learned that things can be taken away from me without warning. So I value time with my family even more than before. Because the fire could have taken any one of us. Still, it changed my family forever, and I do grieve what we have lost.
    The post Life After the Fire appeared first on YR Media.

  • Meet The Teen Poet Whose Love Letter Is a Call to Action

    by Chaz H

    Leila Mottley, a native Oakland writer, is the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. The Youth Poet Laureate program was founded by the Oakland Public Library and other community organizations and is a citywide effort to celebrate literacy through poetry.

    Mottley’s poem, “Love Poem to Oakland,” offers a look at the changes she sees in her city. Watch the video to see Leila read her poem and to experience the Oakland sights and sounds she references.

    For more about the Youth Poet Laureate Program: https://www.oaklandlibrary.org/teens/events-programs/youth-poet-laureate-program
    The post Meet The Teen Poet Whose Love Letter Is a Call to Action appeared first on YR Media.

  • #GOALS: Actor Marcus Scribner

    by Davey Kim

    Black-ish Actor Marcus Scribner goes hard on camo and the HBCU vs. PWI debate.

    Actor Marcus Scribner, aka Junior from Black-ish, is now an almost adult on the TV Screen and IRL. YR Media’s Merk Nguyen and Nyge Turner make him dance with questions about interracial dating and historically black colleges and universities.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media’s Adult ISH podcast (episode 5 – Race ISH).

    Nyge: Could you describe what you’re wearing right now?

    Merk: Is it an original Marcus design?

    Marcus: It’s original Marcus by Marcus. I’ve got on camo pants. Some nice camo green Pumas. Then, we’ve got this nice camo green and navy denim blue button-up top which is very weird describing it. But if you saw it, you’d be like, “Oh it works!”

    Nyge: Okay, so camo on camo on camo.

    Merk: Where’d Marcus go? He’s so camouflaged.

    Marcus: Yeah, exactly. You guys couldn’t even find me in the studio [in Los Angeles] if you were here. But green is my color. I love green.

    Nyge: But real talk though, are there any similarities between you and your character in real life?

    Marcus: Not as much as a lot of people tend to believe. I’m definitely a nerd. I love video games, comic books, superheroes, anime, all the such. But then there [are] a lot of differences between me and Junior. In fact, I feel Junior’s extremely gullible and he lets people push him around and sometimes I’m like, “Come on, Junior! Get out! Do something!” And I’m like, “Oh yeah. It’s a character.” Junior’s also very flexi with the colors. I feel like my style’s a little more chill and reserved. I go with the beiges, the wine reds. You know what I mean? 

    Merk: The chardonnays.

    Marcus: The chardonnay, the concord grape.

    Nyge: Can chardonnay be red?

    Marcus: Can it? I don’t even know about alcohol. I’m 18.

    Nyge: I feel like I’m your old uncle….like, “Shoot! Look at Junior!” Anyways, now it’s time for you to win the Nobel Peace Prize on our advice segment called GOALS.

    Merk: And since we’re talking about race ISH, let’s start with interracial dating or friendships. So I’m thinking about the episode where Junior brings home a white girlfriend. Your TV mom doesn’t know how to feel about it. I’ve had a similar experience, but I want to know from you. What are some tips you have about introducing someone new to your folks that might not come from the same background as you?

    Marcus: I think it’s really important obviously to let them know that you’re happy. It’s not about skin color. It’s really about the person and the connection that you share with them. If you’re happy and your parents can’t accept that, tough luck.

    Nyge: I remember I was in high school and I brought this girlfriend home. She was Mexican and Dominican and my mom was like, “Oh…Hi…” And I just remember my mom was talking to me like I was like two years old. She was just like, “Oh, so…do you like black women?” Yes I do!

    Marcus: Yeah. It’s definitely a conversation starter.

    Nyge: On the episode Black Math on Black-ish, Junior gets accepted to Stanford University and Howard University, which is an historically black college, or HBCU. Then Dre [your dad in the show] isn’t really feeling it because you aren’t even considering going to Howard. Then Dre takes you on a campus tour that ultimately ends up going wrong because it makes it seem like HBCUs don’t really prepare you for “real life”. Long story short, Twitter went off and everybody was so upset because HBCU students felt misrepresented.

    So what I want to know, if you could break it down for people in the same situation about to go into college, what are some of the pros and cons or misconceptions about HBCUs versus non-HBCUs? Or PWIs, predominantly white institutions.

    Marcus: What I want to get straight off the bat is I feel like a lot of people misinterpreted the episode. I think it was definitely Dre’s perspective that he thought HBCUs don’t prepare you for the real world from what he previously experienced. I think we tried to make it obvious from going on the tour of Howard that Junior was really enjoying his experience.

    One of Dre’s past employers was like, ” What’d you learn at your HBCU? Black math?” “No! I learned math, homie!”  Believe it or not, there are black people with different views than you. We’re not all the same. Mind blowing, right? 

    There are definite benefits to both. At an HBCU, you get to experience your culture with other like-minded black individuals. That definitely cultivates a different experience, and anybody who says that HBCUs don’t prepare you for the real world — [that] is probably the dumbest statement I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Everybody is there to learn. Just touching on one of the moments in our episode, one of Dre’s past employers was like, “What’d you learn at your HBCU? Black math?” “No! I learned math, homie!”  Believe it or not, there are black people with different views than you. We’re not all the same. Mind blowing, right?

    Again, it’s really what you feel is right for you. Make the decision that’s smart for you.
    The post #GOALS: Actor Marcus Scribner appeared first on YR Media.

  • 5 Songs Off Anderson .Paak’s Oxnard You Need to Listen to

    by Yared Gebru

    It’s been two years since Anderson .Paak’s last project, Malibu, and fans have been itching for more ever since. Executive produced by Dr. Dre, Oxnard notes the evolution of Anderson .Paak, the album contains a unique sonic experience incorporating definitive elements of funk, disco, jazz, and gospel. Engulfing listeners with warm percussion, plush-sounding choirs, and .Paak’s signature raspy voice. The album includes guest appearances from Pusha T, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, J. Cole, and many more. The album’s lead single, “Tints,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, is only a glimpse of the sound .Paak chooses to orchestrate this album with. Running at almost an hour long, we put together a list of our favorite records from .Paak’s latest, Oxnard.

    The Chase (feat. Kadhja Bonet)

    The opening track features Kadhja Bonet’s soothing jazz-derived harmonies then swiftly transitions into an uptempo 70’s-inspired jazz record. A solid intro that sets the scene for the rest of .Paak’s funky renaissance album.

    Tints (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

    This song is a certified classic, Anderson .Paak graced us with the talents of many stars on Oxnard and Kendrick is probably the most exciting one. Kendrick adds reassurance with a brief feature, bringing about a shift in feeling, it’s almost as if Kendrick is personally hyping you up. This song is special because if you’re from the Bay Area, you know how relatable it is to constantly see tinted windows mobbin’ around the city.

    6 Summers

    “6 Summers” is a hymn for the streets. Augmented with a catchy hook and fast-paced rhythm, “6 Summers” covers controversial topics like gun control, politics, and Trump’s love child. Lyrically, it’s one of the strongest tracks on the album and .Paak boasts that it’s going to “bang for at least six summers,” and it probably will. It has a timeless sound to it, and lyrics that will continue to incite listeners even after the very first listen.

    Saviers Road

    9th Wonder pays tribute to the Latino culture that dominates Southern California. It features old-school Tito Puente-type soft guitar riffs, and a dope-sounding keyboard that transitions to a nice, old-school hip-hop kick drum. This song made me realize that the world needs an Anderson .Paak and Kali Uchis collab in the future.

    Brother’s Keeper (feat. Pusha T)

    This track stands out for many reasons but mostly because of its funk-like approach. This song sounds like a soundtrack for the streets of the Bronx in 1977. Anderson .Paak and Pusha T rap about what it means to be “your brother’s keeper,” over a hypnotic bassline that makes it feels like it’s a crime to be sitting while this song plays.
    The post 5 Songs Off Anderson .Paak’s Oxnard You Need to Listen to appeared first on YR Media.

  • Keeping the Professions Alive and True to their Mission: Lessons from the Netherlands

    by Howard Gardner

    by Howard Gardner and Danny Mucinskas
    For those of us who believe that the professions are a remarkable human creation, worth maintaining and even enhancing, these are depressing times.
    On the one hand, so-called professionals, equipped with titles, prestige, and generous income, all too often behave in ways that are embarrassing, if not patently illegal. To mention just a few examples, we have recently seen medical researchers who hide support from drug companies from the public and then provide the results that the companies seek, and educators who falsify test scores in order to receive higher salaries.
    On the other hand, powerful and “intelligent” digital applications perform many of the major tasks once handled by trained professionals, in ways that are quicker, more accurate, and far less expensive—and these trends are guaranteed to continue and intensify in the years ahead. “Intelligent” programs can now diagnose melanomas more accurately than physicians, and at least half of the routine work done by lawyers can now be done more efficiently and less costly by digital applications.
    When Howard and his colleagues began a study of “good work” a quarter of a century ago, involving both traditional professions like law and medicine, semi-professions like journalism and education, and non-professions like theatre and philanthropy, we had already begun to sense these trends. In studying journalism, we already saw disruptive forces at work—and fully one third of the one hundred journalists whom we interviewed were ready, even eager, to leave the profession altogether. (We interviewed an equal number of researchers in genetics, and none of them even considered leaving their jobs). We also interviewed five kinds of lawyers and found that those in the developing arena of “cyber law” were among the most energized.
    The purpose of our project was to understand how people do “good” on the job, what their values, motivations, and responsibilities were, and how they handled vexing situations as they arise. Researchers often heard interviewees talk about the supports or lack thereof within their professional domains and associations that supported or hindered their ability to carry out “good work.”
    But members of the Good Work Project (which has now morphed into the more expansive initiative known as The Good Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education) were unprepared for the speed and decisiveness of the decline of the professions over the past two decades—at least in the United States, and, as we have learned from the writings of Richard and Daniel Susskind, in the United Kingdom as well. Since the appearance of the Susskinds’ important book The Future of the Professions in 2015, our team has made diligent efforts to voice our concerns and to seek partners, but on American soil we have had modest success. Still, we persevere and are grateful for our collaborators. For example, legal scholar John Bliss of the University of Denver has used our frameworks and tools with law students to explore their professional identities; and colleagues at several educational institutions over the years, such as tGELF in India, have used our GoodWork Toolkit as a part of professional development activities for teachers.
    In one of our most fruitful associations, as early as 2009, we were in initial contact with a group of scholars and practitioners in the Netherlands. Led by Thijs Jansen of Tilburg University, members of this group shared our concerns and hopes for the professions today. They created the Professional Honor Foundation (PHF). This organization is dedicated to the study of the professions and professional identity and, to the extent possible, their revitalization in the current social, economic, political, and technological environment, all of which continue to rapidly change in the 21st century.
    Over the years, thanks particularly to the efforts of Wiljan Hendrikx, we at The Good Project in Cambridge have kept in touch with the individuals who are spearheading the many activities of PHF. In addition to exchanging messages, papers, books, and regular updates, we also had a very useful gathering at Harvard in October 2016, bringing the two teams together face-to-face for an exchange of ideas and a reaffirmation of our common enterprise.
    Recently, as part of our continuing contacts, Howard travelled to the city of Utrecht and spent several hours with Thijs, Wiljan, and a number of their colleagues, all of whom are studying and attempting to refashion for the better different areas of professional practice.
    Howard’s visit came as the Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro had just won the 2018 election in his country, as the U.S. mid-term elections were a mere week away, and as worrying political trends were all too salient across much of the globe, from the Americas to Eastern Europe to East Asia.
    Yet, within just a few hours, Howard’s spirits were lifted, and he felt a new surge of hopefulness.
    Why this renewed optimism? Because on several fronts, PHF has made genuine inroads. To be specific, here are some of the promising developments:

    In work in the profession of accounting, their recommendations have been widely discussed and at least partially adopted in the Netherlands on a national level, with promising signs as well in the United Kingdom, customarily a bastion of neo-liberal thinking in the erstwhile professions.
    In the management of local municipalities, several teams of civil servants have met regularly to discuss the rights and responsibilities of those who need and should merit public trust. These teams have drawn on the Good Work Toolkit, which PHF has used and further developed over the past 7 years.
    Teams of medical workers—physicians, nurses, aides, and more—have convened to sort out their individual and joint responsibilities and to reconsider healthcare management practices. Some of the results are described in a book on the medical profession.
    Most dramatically, in education, our own field, a fledgling effort to raise the position and stature of educators around the world has picked up considerable support in several countries as a component of the Global Educational Reform Movement (GERM). This movement started with the book Flip the System, published in 2015. As the title signals, this book put forth the radical notion of turning the education system upside down. In lieu of the top-down bureaucratic approach currently dominating the sector, this movement puts individual educators at the heart of good education. The particular foci in this case are decent salaries, respect for professional judgment, and popular support from the public.

    Why, in comparison to the United States, have these efforts been crowned with more success? We can suggest a few possibilities.
    First of all, while The Good Project is largely the effort of trained social scientists, PHF draws on several disciplines (e.g. philosophy, management) and on expertise in several professions (as noted, medicine, accounting, management, teaching). Rather than focusing on general processes and practices that ostensibly travel across the professions, most of the efforts of PHF have been directed at specific professions, and their work may therefore be more directly applicable.
    Second, rather than depending largely on conceptualization, exhortation, and scholarly writing, PHF has devoted efforts to developing hands-on interventions with practitioners, which begin with the practitioners concerns and involve co-development over time of effective sessions, practices, and policies. A PHF-developed version of the Good Work Toolkit has been quite helpful in facilitating these interventions.
    Third, the materials developed by PHF have been directed largely at specific professions—for example, attending (and even convening) conferences and authoring short pieces in profession-specific publications.
    Our final “takeaway” is the most speculative. When individuals think of the professions, they typically envision law and medicine. That is understandable, because these are the best known and most attention-grabbing professions. But they may also be the most difficult for outsiders to influence; they are large, powerful, well-protected, and equipped with strong justifications and rationalizations for current practices and malpractices (consider the mammoth United States ABA and the AMA, basically lobbying organizations).
    A possible lesson for The Good Project and others lies therein. Instead of focusing on trying to impact those more established professions that have been around in essentially their current form for centuries, begin instead with less visible and less powerful (and therefore less defensive) professions like accounting, K-12 teaching, and municipal management, leaving law and medicine for a later day.
    Two possible candidates come to mind from the United States. First, the principles of good work are crucial in engineering. Our colleague Richard Miller, President of Olin College of Engineering, has been a champion in this respect, and to our knowledge, no one has had as much success in conveying the central role of ethics in the professions in the U.S. and abroad as Miller and colleagues, and their work has spilled over into higher education more generally.
    Second, almost invisible to many of us, information technology professionals, who “serve” our computers, networks, and digital systems, have tremendous power, and we trust them to act in a professional way, even when we find out that this is not the case (as the recent firestorm of allegations against Facebook would indicate). Wouldn’t it be the ultimate irony if those whose work has done so much to disrupt the professions could end up serving as a model for professional behavior in the 21st century?
    As The Good Project’s team looks ahead to the future and the opportunities we may have to influence professional practice in the United States, we see there is much inspiration to take from the dedicated work that PHF has done and continues to do in the Netherlands and beyond.

  • My School Was a For-Profit College. Now It’s Closing.

    by Shawn Wen

    I’ve been attending The Art Institute of California at their San Francisco campus for the past year and a half.

    My school has been through a lot of turmoil. It was owned by a for-profit parent company called Education Management Corporation. A few years ago, this company settled a 95-million dollar lawsuit with the federal government for misleading students. Last year, the school was sold. Now it’s closing.

    I feel embarrassed to say this, but I didn’t know the school’s history when I signed up. This may seem naive, but I enrolled in the Art Institute to pursue filmmaking. It’s been my dream since I was 12. As a kid, I loved watching movies like Jaws and Hook.

    I knew getting into college wasn’t going to be easy. My high school GPA wasn’t the best, and I’m not great at standardized testing. So when I researched schools, I singled out ones that didn’t care about your high school transcript.

    As someone who struggled academically in high school, finishing college is a monumental achievement in my eyes. It never occurred to me that a school would financially screw me over like this.

    Tuition is an extreme concern. I even considered joining the military, so I could pay for school with the GI bill. But I didn’t want to put off my dreams. To make it work, my dad and I took out several loans. But I don’t want to leave these debts on him. So I’m determined to work hard and put myself in a position to earn some real money.

    I’m transferring to the North Hollywood campus of the Art Institute to try to salvage the money that I’ve already sunk into this. I’m worried because I wasn’t planning on moving.

    There’s no way to know whether I’m making the right choice. A career in the arts is a gamble. I didn’t think that my education would be one, too.

    But I’m also optimistic. I’m determined to work towards the career I want. I don’t want to be another statistic in the narrative of student debt. I acknowledge the uncertainty, but I won’t let it cripple me.

    The post My School Was a For-Profit College. Now It’s Closing. appeared first on YR Media.

  • Special: Slam Poet Ashlee Haze

    by Davey Kim

    Ingredients you’d need to get to poet Ashlee Haze status: Missy Elliott, believing in your beauty and abilities, lace and corsets

    Ashlee Haze, a two-time finalist for the Women of the World Poetry Slam, talks to YR Media’s Nyge Turner and Merk Nguyen. Ashlee brings down the house by digging into the details of her Missy Elliott poem and sharing an exclusive piece. The three dive into the inspiration and meaning behind Ashlee’s work. Let’s just say it includes letting thoughts marinate over time, valuing self-worth, and a combo of doing body rolls in a corset.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media’s Adult ISH podcast (episode 5 – Race ISH).

    Nyge: We wanted to start off by asking how you got your start in poetry. Were you just born a wordsmithing pro?

    Ashlee: I’ve been known to be dramatic, but I’ve been writing since I was about 10. I started writing in church and I’ve just been doing it literally ever since.

    Merk: There’s a poem you wrote for Button Poetry during the prelims at the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam. It’s called For Colored Girls (The Missy Elliott Poem). It’s partially a throwback of you discovering Missy Elliott and a reflection of how she made a difference in your life. How’d she change your worldview?

    Ashlee: My view of the world was super limited [when I was 10] and limited to whatever I saw on TV. I remember TRL on MTV. They had all the popular videos like ‘N Sync, the Backstreet Boys, Britney [Spears], and Christina [Aguilera]. When I saw Missy Elliott’s video, that was the first time I saw somebody who looked like me — a plus-sized black woman who defied the gender binary and was unapologetically gangsta. At that moment, I realized it’s possible to be in this body and be whoever I want. Representation is important because it shows us what we have the possibility to be. And it’s very difficult to know what you can be if you don’t have an example of it.

    When I saw Missy Elliott’s video, that was the first time I saw somebody who looked like me — a plus-sized black woman who defied the gender binary and was unapologetically gangsta. 

    Nyge: Were you always in love with your identity?

    Ashlee: I’m a fat black girl. No! I was bullied for a lot of years. I look like my dad and my brothers and wasn’t girly when I was a kid. That was a struggle because you have to tell yourself what [other people are] saying isn’t true about you.

    Merk: I can relate to that. Not only do I look like my dad, I’m a woman with a darker complexion. I struggled with my skin color. Colorism definitely exists and I felt like I wasn’t pretty because of it. I don’t think that anymore, but I feel like there are people out there who do struggle with this today. Anything you want to say to them?

    Ashlee: The truth is that you’re worthy. You’re enough. You’re absolutely gorgeous the way you are. I hate to say cliché stuff, but you need to believe it.

    Nyge: Even though my boss is a bit of a hater because he wouldn’t let me read an original poem of my own, I do write a little. What’s your writing process like? 

    Ashlee: [I have] this theory about my writing. That I have my own set of muses [and] I spend a lot of time waiting for [them] to show up. I’ve actually [been] quoted, “Sometimes them hoes don’t show up.” Sometimes I’ll write everything straight and then come back to it and edit it.

    Nyge: Do you have anything in the vault that you can perform right now?

    Ashlee: I have a new book coming out early in 2019 and this is my newest stage poem from it called Hymn. I wrote this for black women, women of color, and for the ways in which they always show up for me.

    Nyge: You got me [almost] crying. Every time you were like, “Come through,” I was like “Come through, Ashlee.” You killin’ it!

    Merk: I just want to say thank you for that ’cause you just spoke to my soul. Especially toward the end. I just appreciate you for really being able to capture being a woman of color. You just spoke the truth right there.

    Ashlee: That’s why I do this work.

    Nyge: It’s really just a gift whenever you start your poetry. You can just tell it just comes from such pain and such pride. How do you channel all that when you start writing?

    Ashlee: When I sat down with this poem, I was angry because I feel sometimes as a black woman the only people who show up for me is black women. It’s the best feeling in the world to know these capable women show up for me emotionally. But it also sucks to have to show up all the time. Like when do we get the opportunity to say, “I’m not doing this today”? It still needs to get done though. There’s got to be a gift for that. And if nothing else, I can say to the women who do the work, “I see you, sis and you make it look good.”

    It’s the best feeling in the world to know these capable women show up for me emotionally. But it also sucks to have to show up all the time. Like when do we get the opportunity to say, “I’m not doing this today”? 

    Merk: Snaps to that. Isn’t that a poetry thing too? Snapping?

    Ashlee: Poets wake up in the morning and are like, “Snaps for breakfast.” 
    The post Special: Slam Poet Ashlee Haze appeared first on YR Media.

  • Momma I Made It: Comedian Ronny Chieng

    by Davey Kim

    Comedian Ronny Chieng lovingly talks sh*t about other sh*t talking Asians.

    Not only is he a senior correspondent on The Daily Show, Comedian Ronny Chieng also played the fly a-hole cousin in the summer blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians and recently dropped Ronny Chieng: International Students, a sitcom on Comedy Central based on his experiences as a Malaysian international student studying law in Australia. In an interview with YR Media, he tells Merk Nguyen and Nyge Turner about sh*t talking Asians and how his Singaporean/Malaysian accent helped him book his role on Crazy Rich Asians.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media’s Adult ISH podcast (episode 5 – Race ISH).

    Merk: You have a segment called Everything Is Stupid on The Daily Show and there is one bit where you rip your shirt open and you have leeches on your chest to show that this might be the new pet fad. Were those real leeches?

    Ronny: No, we tried to get real leeches and we got stopped by lawyers…Unfortunately, SAG union rules prevent us from using real animals that draw blood on set.

    Merk: Let’s talk about this summer in three words: Crazy. Rich. Asians. The first Hollywood film to have all-Asian cast since 1993 — Joy Luck Club. What kind of feeling does that bring to you knowing that you were part of this monumental point in Asian representation history?

    Ronny: Yeah, this is the sequel to Joy Luck Club. (That’s a joke, so don’t take that seriously.) Obviously, it’s awesome to be part of a project that is representing something I really believe in. Telling Asian stories without being heavy-handed about it. It shows Asian people in a position of power and strength that I don’t think is normally shown…I mean, forget the diversity angle. I would say: don’t watch it because it’s Asian, just watch it because it’s a cool movie.

    It shows Asian people in a position of power and strength that I don’t think is normally shown…I mean forget the diversity angle. I would say: don’t watch it because it’s Asian, just watch it because it’s a cool movie.

    Merk: Yeah, I was able to go watch an advanced screening of it and sitting there in the seat I just had a lot of moments of like, “Dang! I love this movie because I see people who are like, ‘Yo! Constance. She’s got my side profile!'”

    Ronny: Don’t underestimate the power of symbols.

    Nyge: How did you get involved with Crazy Rich Asians? Did you just go and audition for it?

    Ronny: Basically the director, Jon Chu, said he was having trouble casting the movie because he was looking for authentic accents. I was like, “I have a shot here. It’s the only accent I can do.” It’s a story set in Singapore and I grew up there. My parents live in Singapore. I grew up with these people. I know this story. So I was like, “If you give me an audition, I’m pretty sure I can book this.”

    Merk: You got it, lah.

    Ronny: Nice Singlish attempt there.

    Nyge: Your new show, Ronny Chieng: International Student, is based on your real life as a law student in Australia. Can you give us the rundown?

    Ronny: It’s about Asian international students studying in an Australian University, which is what I did. I thought would be a cool story that hasn’t really been told yet. But it’s very relevant to everybody in a weird way because I feel like that’s how the East and West interact in college a lot of the time. Also, it’s a multibillion-dollar industry. I’m sure you both saw international kids at college.

    Merk: I did. My college at Washington State University (GO COUGS!) was in a rural town and it was predominately white. But I lived in a dorm where there were mostly international students. It was weird because I’m an American-born Asian versus like Vietnamese-born Asian.

    Ronny: It’s an obvious distinction, but it hasn’t been explored. Not just the differences between Asian-Americans and Asian people from Asia, but even when we say Asian. There are a lot of different types of Asians and they all usually hate each other.

    Merk: They talk so much shit! It’s crazy.

    Ronny: Yeah! But people lump us all together, right? So having a show that even addresses that I think is interesting. We kind of segregate ourselves because culturally we tend to be in our own circles, but we’re both actually awful people. If we only got to know each other, we would have bonded over how awful we all are. I feel when white people watch the show, they see an Asian show. But I feel like when younger people watch the show, they just see a college comedy.

    We kind of segregate ourselves because culturally we tend to be in our own circles, but we’re both actually awful people. If we only got to know each other, we would have bonded over how awful we all are. 

    Nyge: I feel like you really gave ignorance a voice with the U.S. international student character on your show. That’s so important when you’re doing any type of educating anybody about your culture.

    Ronny: Yeah, I think knowing the fine line difference between ignorance and racism is important. Merk, you are from Vietnam and I feel like Americans don’t really know Southeast Asia. That’s not me calling anyone out. Like why would Americans know about Southeast Asia? It’s on the other side of the planet. You have never watched our TV shows. So in the show, we talk about topics like colonialism in Southeast Asia and we do it in a way that I feel isn’t blaming anyone for not knowing.

    Nyge: If you could tell your less adult-ish self a piece of advice in a sentence or two, what would it be?

    Ronny: Don’t be afraid to take your time to grow up. I was too anxious about trying to be an adult when I really wasn’t.
    The post Momma I Made It: Comedian Ronny Chieng appeared first on YR Media.

  • Adult ISH: Race ISH

    by Davey Kim

    Actor Marcus Scribner, aka Junior from Black-ish, dances with questions about interracial dating and HBCUs. Comedian Ronny Chieng, aka the senior correspondent on The Daily Show and fly a-hole cousin in Crazy Rich Asians, lovingly talks sh*t about sh*t talking Asians. Ashlee Haze, a two-time finalist for the Women of the World Poetry Slam, shares an exclusive piece and dives into the inspiration behind her work. Let’s just say it includes valuing self-worth and a combo of doing body rolls in a corset. Yow!
    The post Adult ISH: Race ISH appeared first on YR Media.