High brow content with a low brow attitude.

Why Are There So Few Minority Characters In YA Books?

Representation in all walks of life has been in the spotlight recently. And one area that is full of controversy is what young people are exposed to in books that often help inform them during some of the most important years of their lives.

A study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that out of the 3,400 books that they received for 2015, 106 were by Black authors and 269 were about Black characters, and 58 were by Latino authors and 82 were about Latino characters.

Malinda Lo, a YA novelist, has been following the uptick in LGBT+ YA.

According to Lo, “In 2014, mainstream publishers published 47 LGBT YA books. This is a 59% increase from 2013, when only 29 LGBT YA books were published by mainstream publishers.”

Yes, these statistics look optimistic, but they are still not what they should be.

So what is the damage done when proper representation can’t be ascertained?

All groups suffer because such lack of representation fails to encapsulate the differences between different people; essentially, one person is not the whole.

“I think the tendency has been to reduce Latino characters as this one thing or Asian characters as this one thing, Muslim characters as one thing, and the fact is that we’re people,” Meg Medina, a Cuban-American writer of YA books and an Advisory Chair for the group We Need Diverse Books, said in a interview with RISE NEWS. “And all of those very specific identifiers and experiences shape how we move. It’s what makes us people.”

Meg Medina, a well known Cuban-American YA author. Photo Credit: Meg Medina/ Facebook.

Meg Medina, a well known Cuban-American YA author. Photo Credit: Meg Medina/ Facebook.

Read More: #IfMenHadPeriods Is Well Intentioned But Also Very Flawed

The effects of poor representation of minority groups are not limited to people of color.

Alex Gino uses the singular they pronoun and wrote George, a YA book about a trans girl that won the 2016 Stonewall Book Award.

“It’s important to remember that each trans experience is unique and different the way that each cis experience, the way that each trans experience, the way that each gay or queer experience is unique,” Gino said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “And so I wouldn’t even say that one trans story can cover it, or one gay story would cover it. There’s nothing quite like finding someone like yourself in a book.”

Leaps and bounds have been made in representation, however, despite this work, there are still advances to be made.

For example, Lo estimated that 1.9% to 2.4% of YA books published in 2013 had LGBT+ characters or dealt with LGBT+ issues.

YA author Alex Gino at a book signing in 2015. Photo Credit: Alex Gino/Facebook

YA author Alex Gino at a book signing in 2015. Photo Credit: Alex Gino/Facebook

“There is a lot of work to be done. I think that we only started to drill down into the many experiences that make up being a young person,” Medina said. “I think there are lots of questions in publishing now, like who’s writing these stories? Are they authentic, are they not authentic, are they written from sort of an outsider point of view, people imagining what it’s like to be x y or z, are they generally writers of color? I think when we have many people at the table with many points of view, the books that get published are richer, are more nuanced, are truer stories of real peoples’ lives.”

Gino seemed to agree with that sentiment.

“I think that we are scratching the surface of the stories that are available to be told, and the stories that are available to read,” Gino said. “I think that we need more books by diverse people and we also need more diverse groups of people publishing the books, so that stories that are being picked have more things to offer.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Amber McKinney/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

#IfMenHadPeriods Is Well Intentioned But Also Very Flawed

By Courtney Anderson

On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, the hashtag #IfMenHadPeriods started trending on Twitter.

The intent of the hashtag seems simple enough: it appears that it was designed to give people who have periods a space to ventilate and make jokes about how those who don’t have periods would react to them.

Here’s a typical example:

After all, periods are no joke.

In addition to the 4-7 days of blood and the inevitable cramps, some people can experience extreme pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and feelings of depression and anxiety as a part of their menstruation.

Not to mention physical disorders such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome that make menstrual cycles even more hellish.

And it’s pretty well-known that periods are treated as dirty things that women do that make them irrational and overly emotional.

So it would be nice to have a hashtag that called out those attitudes and discussed issues involving menstruation and sexism.

But #IfMenHadPeriods, like so many things, is well-intentioned, but very flawed.

The hashtag #IfMenHadPeriods erases many of the men who do have periods.

Read More: Black-Listed-How Discrimination Forces Transgender People Of Color Into Poverty And Prostitution

Pre-transition female-to-male trans men, as well as many other masculine-presenting people who do not follow the gender binary, are people who identify as men and have menstrual cycles.

And because they are men, they are often left out of conversations that involve menstrual health, menstruation products, vaginal and uterine health and other issues associated with having a period.

Transgender writer Mitch Kellaway spoke to his experience as a trans man who menstruates in the article, “Here’s What It’s Like to Have Your Period When You’re a Trans Man.”

“As a trans man, I am so used to not being considered in any conversation when it comes to menstruation, anything having to do with vaginal, cervical or uterine health,” he said. “It’s a symptom of a larger thing where I’ve become very used to people being unaware of the possibility of the fullness of my existence.”

Kellaway made this comment to while explaining his response to a trans-inclusive advertisement for Thinx, a brand that specializes in creating underwear people can comfortably wear while they are on their period.

It was the first time he saw a menstruation product that was inclusive of men who menstruate.

The hashtag is unintentionally exclusive, and participates in the form of sexism: cissexism, wherein being cis gender is the “norm” and anything else is the deviant.

Read More: Everyone Should Read This Incredibly Powerful Poem A Man Wrote To His Transgender Sister

If the hashtag had been #IfCisMenHadPeriods, it would have avoided this erasure.

It is a point several Twitter users brought up while the hashtag was trending.

Social media does not exist in a vacuum.

#IfMenHadPeriods is indicative of a larger problem many trans people have with certain forms of feminism.

Trans antagonism and the exclusion of trans people in the name of radical feminism is a problem that is still all too prevalent.

Whether accidental (like this hashtag) or intentional (as in the case of trans-exclusive radical feminists, a.k.a TERFS), feminism that does not include the liberation of trans people is incomplete at best and perpetuates the transphobia in patriarchal society at worst.

The article “Why the Feminist Movement Must Be Trans-Inclusive,” provides a straight-forward reason.

“Transgender people face institutional discrimination, oppression, and violence as a result of transphobia as well as sexism – due to a structural obsession with the gender binary, with a cultural and political policing of gender roles, and an overall devaluation of feminine qualities,” the article’s author, Laura Kacere, writes.

The most effective form of feminism is one that analyzes an oppressive society through an intersectional lens and advocates for all marginalized people.

It will advocate for people of color, LGBTQ people, people with physical disabilities, mentally ill people and anyone else who is oppressed.

And the best feminist hashtags make sure to denote the difference between a cis gender man and every other man that’s out there.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Ted Eytan/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A Response To The Article “Only White People Can Have Racist Friends”


Aren’t racism and race hatred the same thing?

Actually, no they aren’t.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, in order for one to be a racist, he or she must possess the belief that “all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”

If that is true, then the racists of the world form a rather big tent, consisting of two main camps.

In the first camp, there are those who can be considered racists on the grounds because they take racial stereotypes into account in their thought process, and therefore may subconsciously think one race is inferior than another because its members are unable to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes.

In the second camp, there are those who harbor an actual hatred for other races and seek to undermine and/or destroy them, because they believe that races are inherently designed to function as if they were countries, forming alliances with and against one another.

Although most people don’t stop for a moment and realize these distinctions when thinking about racism, it is important they do.

There are many good people out there who view racism as a cancer that needs to be eradicated.

However, it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that the commonly accepted strategy to combat racism isn’t working.

A few days ago, I read an article written by my fellow RISE NEWS contributor Courtney Anderson titled “Only White People Can Have Racist Friends.”

The multiple uses of the absolutist word “only” to describe the traits of certain races (“Only one of us can actually experience racism, and it isn’t him;” “The only people with societal power are white people;” “White people are the only people who are not negatively affected by racial stereotypes;” “They are also the only ones who can safely have “dialogue” with racist individuals.”) is a perfect example of how a good-natured person can be racist without realizing it.

While Anderson is (hopefully) not trying to portray white people as an enemy, she is relying on stereotypes to make her point. Let me ask you two questions.

1) Is it possible for white people to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes of people who are unable to experience racism, hold societal power, are not negatively affected by stereotypes, and are safe to have dialogue with racist individuals?

2) Is it possible for other races to break free of the mold that forms the perceived stereotypes of people who do not hold any power and are not safe to have dialogue with racist individuals?

The answer to both of these questions is “yes.”

It is possible for white people to experience racism?

Any white person… sorry… any person who read that article technically did, due to the presence of absolutist language that creates stereotypes.

Is it possible for someone other than a white person to hold power?

Let’s ask Barack Obama.

Is it possible for white people people to be negatively affected by stereotypes?

Yes, because stereotypes are relied upon by race haters who seek to construct a narrative regarding the nature of what they consider to be monolithic entities whose members are incapable of dissenting, and therefore cause every single person who is a member of the races perceived to be at war to have weapons aimed at them, whether they know it or not.

And finally, is it possible for minorities to have dialogue with racist individuals without risking harm to themselves?

As previously stated, by writing her article, Anderson has displayed a racist trait, right here on RISE NEWS.

And that’s okay.

Because racism is such a broad topic, and there are different kinds of people who can be classified as racists, whose overall natures range from friendly to malevolent, the best way to attack racism and make it a thing of the past is to start at different levels.

Let’s ask ourselves a question.

Which racists are the most problematic?

The most harmful to our society?

The ones that are calling for open warfare between the races. Groups like the KKK, neo-Nazis, the New Black Panthers, etc.

These groups are willing to balkanize this country and cause it to descend into lawlessness in the name of their agendas.

Most people who like to crack jokes about racial stereotypes because they like politically incorrect humor, and most people who refer to racial stereotypes when issuing grievances about the state of our society, don’t want to see that happen.

In that case, those of us who do not abide by stereotypes in our mindsets, need to offer an olive branch to those who do but still want peace, law, and order, and vice versa. And those of us who do abide by stereotypes need to do the same with others who abide by stereotypes of our own race (and perhaps play “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” by Avenue Q on our phones when talking to them).

This suggestion may sound ridiculously stupid to you, but this approach has been made before. And the last time it was, it saved the country.

Let’s not forget that during the Civil War, when this country was on the edge of descending into oblivion, Abraham Lincoln forged alliances with Congressional Democrats who supported slavery but opposed secession, and even named one, Andrew Johnson, as his Vice President when he ran for re-election in 1864.

Hell, even Lincoln himself had some racist tendencies, having advocated the resettlement of freed slaves back to Africa and saying that his motivation for freeing the slaves was to protect the union and allow African-Americans to enjoy the fruit of their labor as opposed to them being entitled to universal human rights.

But yet, he knew what must be done. He put aside his feelings and acted according to his duties as Commander in Chief and as a citizen of the United States.

Another question that you may be asking now is, “is the state our society as grave as it was 155 years ago, that we must follow this course of action?” I say “no. Not yet.”

Our political climate is changing.

Prominent voices on both sides of the political spectrum are arguing that the current system isn’t working.

We have people like Bernie Sanders saying, “we must be more like the European Left.”

And we have the alt-right saying, “we must be more like the European Right.”

Both the European Right and the European Left are serving as destabilizing forces that are fueling the collapse of a once-promising economic bloc and the rise of ethnic nationalism and separatism. Some view this decay as the prelude to war in the region.

In that case, if our politics begins to resemble Europe’s more and more, shouldn’t we have the same fears as what will happen at home as well as abroad?

I have no doubts that if civil disorder or civil war breaks out, self-proclaimed “racial warriors” will be at the forefront.

If they are indeed planning what I suspect they are planning, they need to be stopped, and they need to be stopped sooner rather than later.

We need all the allies we can get. We need to put politics, religion, gender, age, differences on political correctness, etc aside. No more talking about “privilege,” “wealth,” or “power.” And no more talking about who needs to do it either.

Talk about government, and you will alienate potential conservative allies. Talk only about how we as a community are going to act on the individual level. Act peacefully. Engage in dialogue. Get those whose hearts are immersed in darkness to see the light. Only fight back when attacked.

Our country doesn’t have much time for infighting between those who love peace, freedom, and security.

Those who fought and won the Civil War realized this.

And I pray to my God that we do, too.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Daniel Lobo/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

GB: A Unique Hip-Hop Hopeful Hailing From Boca

When I first met GB three years ago, I didn’t know at the time of his ambitions and goals nor of the immense level of talent he had.

I only knew him as a young man looking to get initiated into the fraternity that I was advising at the time.

Flash forward three years later and he’s on the cusp of reaching the next level.

GB is the definition of a millennial artist using the resources at his fingertips to put his music out there and take advantage of the open web to leave his mark. It was important for me to use the platform I have elevate GB to a larger audience.

I remember distinctly hearing GB play his guitar here and there and I thought, man this kid has talent. Of course I didn’t know what was yet to come. From performing at sorority philanthropy events to performing at actual nightclubs for the first time, his future is brighter than ever.

I asked GB, who is now in his senior year at Florida Atlantic University if he wouldn’t mind me speaking with me to share his story, his ideas and his passion.

RISE: First off, tell the readers something you want them to know about you?

Something you should know about me is that I do my best to keep out negative energy. Positivity is the answer to life, you can do and be anything in the world. If you believe in yourself and set your sights on goals that incorporate your passions and talents, you will be successful.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.12.20 PM

RISE: When did you know you wanted to pursue music?

I knew I wanted to pursue music the day that I turned 20. I released my first album “Phenom” along with 20 tracks that featured my rap and singing debut. I could feel in my heart everything seeming to fall into place, each time I write, reminisce or think up something new. Music is truly my love and passion, no matter what comes out of it, I feel accomplished in knowing that.

RISE:When you dropped your first album “Phenom” what did that feel like?

It felt nice dropping my first album “Phenom” with 20 tracks because it was [and is] something that rarely anyone is doing. The doubt of my peers really pushes me harder and harder everyday, support definitely builds you the most though. I released my second album “The Bakery” with 21 tracks just to prove to people I could do it again and come even hotter. With my third album release “TRILLA G,” it was all about capturing the best aspects of my artistry. I released 8 tracks that all pushed for futuristic style and vision. My main goal now is to just keep pushing singles in hopes of making that one hit song that everyone falls in love with.

RISE:Who are your musical influences?

My biggest musical influences at the moment would have to be Bryson Tiller, Jeremih, Chance the Rapper & Frank Ocean. My passion for music started with John Mayer but I really enjoy listening to music that enhances my ear for R&B influenced hip hop.

RISE:Who are you listening to right now?

I am really selective with what I am listening to, I have been listening to Frank Ocean’s new album “Blonde.” I am in love with the pop influenced vocals; With this type of sound coming back into the mainstream, as well as influencing myself, my own music is being taken with ease to listeners of all genres.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.12.06 PM

RISE:Who would be your dream collaboration?

I would love to make a dope R&B influenced track with Bryson Tiller or a party influenced hit with Chance the Rapper.

RISE:Who are other up and coming artists that you have worked with in South Florida that you hope make it big?

My favorite artists in Boca Raton are Mansa, Vaughny Vo & Ali Embry. I have worked with plenty of producers & engineers that deserve credit too: MaClean Studios, Influence Studios, Lykia, Equus & more. They have all been big parts of my evolved sounds and I appreciate all their efforts and advice. Other than that, I have worked with so many artists, going on 100 hip hop songs in the past two years. I really enjoy working with people and making music that people can enjoy and possess as their own as well. That is what it is all about.

RISE:Tell me about what it’s like working with other people who are also trying to break into the music scene?

It is great finding those artists that have the same mindset as you. A lot of people are really only focused on breaking into the music scene and don’t have the talent or work ethic that comes with that success. The best collaborations are when the music comes from the heart, you should take each confrontation and learn from it. Each artist I have made music with has taught me something whether it be what to do or what not to do.

Listen to one of GB’s songs: 

RISE:How would you describe your sound?

The sound that I am consistently working towards in my own mind is a mix of positive catchy lyrics, a marketable theme throughout, hard-hitting instrumentals topped with impressive pop vocals that could impress any listener with soothing melodies. I am very persistent on my new sounds being based around my singing.

RISE:How often do you go into the studio to record?

I record at least a couple of times a week. I have 4 studios in Boca that I flip flop between and make my music at. When it comes down to it, I built my own recording studio in my room and I am able to record literally at any moment of the day. Whenever I am feeling something heavily, I will not wait around, I definitely feel at home in the studio.

RISE:Do you ever feel creatively stifled? If so how do you combat that?

Most definitely, it happens to the best of us. Whenever I am feeling stuck on something, I will just put it away and work on another topic. It always seems to brighten a new light when I come back to something at another time with a fresh mind and full attention.

RISE:What is the headspace you put yourself in when you go into the recording studio?

I really just put it in my head to be comfortable. You never want to push it too hard or blurt something too loud, studio recording is a lot different than singing live. By the time I get in the studio I know the lyrics so well that I really try and focus on the pronunciation of every word and melody.

RISE:If you wish you wrote any one specific lyric or bar, what would it be and why?

There are countless lyrics that I love to be honest? In every song there is something that I probably enjoy most about it, but when I first started rhyming I said “Like a foreign student way he study abroad, know the heavens must be the real the way she shaped by the gods, GB must stand for Gary Blessed…” and that was how I was stuck with “Gary Blessed” being the acronym for my initials GB. Before that song, GB just stood for Gary Baker.

RISE:What was it like to take the stage truly for the first time at Crowbar in Tampa, your hometown?

It felt so nice to be on stage performing the sounds that I had been working so hard on. I had been on stages before considering I have been making music since I was 16 and played in my own band in high school, but this was definitely the first time it was 100% my music. It felt like the start of destiny.

RISE:What is your end goal with your music?

I have really grown an obsession with music, my first end goal started out just getting a feature with my favorite rapper at the time, Cam Meekins. My ultimate end goal would be me as a major recording artists, the executive of my own label, have a few businesses that incorporate my own brand and different lifestyle aspects, and consistently release music that is noticed and perceived by the world in a positive way. In the least, I want to be recognized in the music industry and make a living from it.

You can check out all of GB’s music here:

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: GB/ Instagram

Just Being In A Fraternity Doesn’t Guarantee Career Network Advantages

I am a member of The Sigma Chi Fraternity. I have been out of college for 3 years going on 4 and I still say “I am” a member of my fraternity.

Too often we hear about joining Greek Lettered organizations and the so called “benefits” of networking and career advancement that comes along with membership.

As an individual who pledged myself to a fraternal organization I can say that is true, but with a caveat.

The member has to put in the effort to take advantage of the network available to him.

Do you know the old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink?”

That 100% applies to your undergraduate career.

I have encountered numerous brothers who have the resources at their fingertips but forget the crucial step of TRYING.

Call it entitlement, call it laziness, call it sheer stupidity or ignorance, but unless you put in the effort, the rewards and benefits are not going to be given to you.

During my 2.5 years as an undergraduate member of my local fraternity chapter, it was up to me to make the most of my membership and expand upon it.

I knew that I would be held to a higher standard academically and as a member of the college community.

I pushed myself to do better in my classes and I also pushed myself into taking on responsibilities I probably would have laughed at had I not joined a fraternity.

Student Government, Homecoming, Greek Council, Pre-Law Society, Hillel, and the list goes on and on of the places I spent my time volunteering, taking leadership positions not only to gain valuable life skills, but to network with those who shared similar goals, values and ambitions with me.

There were plenty of positions and opportunities I did not get because there were more qualified candidates and that was okay as well. It taught me to work harder and it also showed me to be an example to the other guys in my chapter.

The opportunities at my feet were presented to me because of my work ethic.

When I spoke to new potential members as they came through recruitment every semester, I proudly talked about the benefits of joining and the career advancement and network of brothers across this nation who would be willing to help them, as long as they helped themselves.

I know in my fraternity alone, there are bountiful opportunities for networking and job placements on the numerous Facebook career pages that have been set up by older alumni looking to hire from within, the within being the fraternal order we all took an oath for, that bonds us together for life.

The Delta Gamma House on the University of Oregon campus. Photo Credit: Rick Obst/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Delta Gamma House on the University of Oregon campus. Photo Credit: Rick Obst/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The brothers both old and young who are looking for new careers, entry level jobs in fields they are trying to break into, it is all their at their fingertips.

I cringe every time I hear someone say that their Greek Lettered organization didn’t do anything for them in terms of their career because it means they did not try hard enough.

I recently was featured on the television show “Tomi” and when I was done and the clip became available to me to share, one of my fraternity brothers, not from my own chapter, but one who had been almost a mentor to me, asked if he could share my video with the larger brotherhood in the international page.

I was so blessed by the responses, both good and bad because I knew that would open up even more doors for me to further my job and career prospects.

The Greek Lettered organizations that are on college campuses across the country are regularly under fire for a small sample of people behaving poorly, and those members who are making positive strides on campus often get overshadowed.

Members of fraternities and sororities are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, they are Presidents of the United States of America, they are doctors and lawyers, activists and hometown heroes.

The only thing that separates them from their peers is that they took advantage of their connections and the networking skills that were afforded to them and made something of themselves.

I am so grateful that I decided to join a fraternity because it taught me to work for what I wanted and that hard work brings great reward contrary to popular belief.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Evan Guest/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

1ne Bullet: The BLM Inspired Non-Profit Working To Prevent Others From Becoming A Hashtag

A Miami-based nonprofit foundation is working to raise awareness about police brutality and anti-black racism through affordable t-shirts.

“Truth is, we’re all one bullet away from being a #hashtag,” is a quote that’s been making its rounds on social media ever since 2014.

It can be seen written on cardboard signs at #BlackLivesMatter protests across the country.

It’s also the quote that inspired Marcus Spady and Paul “JoJo” Ghartey to call their foundation “1ne Bullet” when they established it in July of 2016.

The name is the perfect way to emphasis how quickly black lives seem to end.
If the name isn’t enough to generate interest, then the website certainly will be.

The first thing you notice when you visit is the black and white protest photos, most of which are pretty famous on social media.

You can click through and see photographs of a protester with a chain around his wrist.
Another photo shows a woman holding a sign reading, “Who do you call when cops murder?”

The second thing you’ll notice is that Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” is on auto play, and starts blasting after a few seconds on the home page.

“We are at a time where we must unite in order to bring changes to a system that targets and systemically oppresses Black people in America,” the about us page reads. “America has never been a safe place for Black people and due to recent events, we are at a time of necessary action and a consciousness shift.”

The plan is to unite people through the #ItCouldveBeenMe (ICBM) shirts. The shirts are black and have a very simple design: the wearers’ name on the front with a hashtag next to it and the phrase “It could’ve been me” on the back.

Each shirt is customized to who purchases it: you have to specify a name when you place the order. They are available in sizes small-3XL.

The shirts are $15 flat.

Since 1ne Bullet is a non-profit, the price only covers the cost of manufacture and shipping. According to the 1ne bullet website, any proceeds that could be gained will be donated to charities and families of those who have been affected by police brutality.

Spady and Ghartey, the two men who are guiding the one-month-old foundation, are pretty young themselves.

They are both recent graduates of the University of Miami.

1ne Bullet’s own, co-founder, Marcus Spady with Sybrina Fulton (Trayvon Martin’s Mother) 

A photo posted by 1ne Bullet Foundation (@1nebullet) on

They are also both members of the black Greek organization Kappa Alpha Psi, also commonly referred as the Nupes.

They are two black men in their 20s—a demographic category that is often highlighted in discussions surrounding police brutality and its victims.

“Outraged with the tragedies surrounding the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of the police, we saw these tragedies as something that we could easily become a victim to, and we wanted a way to give the community a platform in order to reflect on what it means to be Black in America,” the site reads.

The two are common features of the University of Miami’s Kappa Instagram page, and have been photographed alongside members of the University of Miami administration, including university president Julio Frenk.

Spady even has a picture with Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin.

He met her at the Back to School Extravaganza hosted by the Trayvon Martin Foundation.
“Ms. Sybrina loves the idea!” the photo’s caption reads.

Although 1ne Bullet’s social media accounts are still pretty new, it is the main way the word is getting out about the shirts.

The Instagram accounts features a photo of a young woman who had purchased the shirt and customized it with her full name, a sign that the 1ne Bullet team is taking the right steps forward.

There’s also word-of-mouth: another way for Spady and Ghartey to tell as many as possible about their mission.

And if their mission statement rings true, they will be telling the world about 1ne bullet.

“We cannot stand and let one of us become another #hashtag,” the last line reads. “The time is now.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Why Tomi Lahren Has Pierced Through My Democratic Heart

I love America.

I appreciate and cherish the rights and liberties afforded to me by those who fought for them throughout time.

I also believe in justice and what is fair.

As I grew up and learned who I wanted to be and what I wanted to believe in, I realized that in this post 9/11 world I was living in, there was so much hate, so much injustice and so much sadness that it would be impossible to align myself my ideal system with those who didn’t believe in equality for all across all spectrums.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a registered Democratic voter and a staunch supporter of all things that were supposed to be deemed “Democratic.”

As I spent time around those who didn’t grow up in the privilege bubble I lived in and exposed myself to other ideas and opinions, I started to question everything I had once believed true.

The 2016 Presidential Election has been the most divisive, abusive and zany political experience I have encountered in my very short time as an educated voter.

The rhetoric, the antics and the very pointed “journalism” by both sides to discredit the other has been extremely off putting.

Then I saw a Tomi Lahren video.

The first time I saw a Tomi Lahren video it was on my Facebook newsfeed and it was “liked” by one of my many “friends” on the social media platform.

I took the time to watch the brief two minute video of Ms. Lahren expressing her opinion on the Black Lives Matter movement and the radicalization of it’s members.

Her delivery was sharp, her tone was unapologetic and furthermore she was not afraid of whatever backlash was to come to her.

She wanted her audience to know her “Final Thoughts” on that topic and shed light on what she felt was the truth.

For those of you who don’t know who Tomi Lahren is, she’s a young Conservative political commentator who rose to prominence in 2015 over her remarks about the Chattanooga shootings.

Since November 2015, she has been working for The Blaze, owned by the one and only Glenn Beck, known for his very staunch Conservative views.

She’s gained quite the following among the Republican base both old and new and brings a millennial feel to the Conservative movement.

On a daily basis on her Facebook page she has new content of her show “Final Thoughts” usually about a topic that is in the headlines that day, whether it be the Dallas shootings, the 2016 election, or her thoughts on what’s going on in the world at the time.

READ MORE: Here’s The Ugly Truth About Conservative Talk Radio

She doesn’t hold back and her segments back it up.

Video after video I’ve watched, often times binging if I’ve missed a few, I find her words resonating with me because she brings a different look at headlines, often times forcing viewers to think outside the box, strip away the big media machine telling you what they want you to hear and laying out the facts.

Yes, she is a Republican.

Yes she often says things I don’t agree with, but I also identify with the views she so often shares with her viewers.

She takes her targets to task for their actions, specifically the Black Lives Matter movement, the Clinton & Trump campaign, our government officials, and those who can often times be so one sided.

Her intent is to get viewers thinking, to be engaging in civil discourse about issues that matter.

While her tone and her rhetoric may often be described as subjective rather than objective, she also backs up her pieces with fact, whether it’s statistics or it’s video clips or reports.

She’s a woman who understands accountability.

Her intent isn’t to incite a riot, rather it’s to awake her demographic from the mainstream media news cycle we’ve grown accustom to.

It is because of her I’m able to further engage in conversations with my peers about the issues in our community as well feel confident enough to ask questions and do my research and take an interest in subjects I may not always feel so comfortable with.

If anything, I’m grateful for Tomi Lahren because she allowed my bleeding blue Democratic heart to be challenged and force my hand to continue to learn.

Take a moment, regardless of your political beliefs and view one of her videos and then think about all the issues you weren’t actually thinking about before you watched her.

That is the magic of Tomi Lahren.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

The Cruel Reality Of Finding Love While Studying Abroad

By Caitlin Roberts

Our love was easy.

Our love was what both of us had always been searching for, and when I left him in the Paris Metro station that day, I really believed that the two of us would survive a year apart, but it was not that cut and dry.

It soon became this messy cluster of depression, missed phone calls, and living in this constant state of missing each other.

It destroyed us from the inside out and it led to him saying to me, “I think that we may have run our course.”

What I ultimately learned over this past year and some change, is that a long-distance relationship, with an ocean standing between the two of us, could be one of the worst decisions either of us have ever made, yet neither of us regret any of it.

Almost every girl dreams about going abroad and having the cliché, tall, dark and handsome man sweep them off their feet, but I never thought it would actually happen to me.

Something like that only happens in dreams, right?

So, when I arrived in London to spend a semester abroad, the last thing I thought would happen was to meet the love of my life.

When I met him, I had only been in the city for six days.

Hell, I had only gone to one class.

I just kept asking myself, “How is this happening to me?”

Our first conversation was about drinking tea and discussing history like we were invited by Catherine the Great of Russia to one of her salons in the 1700s.

That just completely knocked the wind out of me.

Not only did I meet a handsome English boy six days into my trip, I met one that loved history as much as I did and wanted to discuss it with me over tea.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven and that was only the beginning of the best, and simultaneously the worst, thing that has ever occurred in my life.
Just when I thought things could not get any better, January 24, 2015 happened.

We spent the whole day shopping, eating lunch, flirting and just enjoying each other’s company.

It was that day when I realized that I was in love with him.

I was head over heels, for lack of a better term, in love with him.

Only two weeks had gone by and we were almost inseparable and I honestly thought I was crazy for feeling this way.

How could I know for sure after only two weeks?

Later that night, after we had way too much to drink with his friends and I was successful in having them all yell “Roll Tide” when we took tequila shots at a bar in Clapham, we were standing out in the cold air drunkenly goofing off waiting for our Uber to arrive.

I had said something completely ridiculous and he responded with a jovial laugh and said, “This is why I love you,” and pulled me closer to him.

Without hesitation, I responded by laughing and saying, “I love you too.”

For the first week after that night, we were very noncommittal with “I love you,” because we were both wary about saying it too soon, but it felt right so finally we said it.

We both put it out there, even though we were not sure who actually said it first on the street a few nights before or whether that one counted.

We said it sober instead of just texting the uncertain “I <3 you” and decided to embark on the greatest and most fulfilling relationship either of us had ever had.

The next three months were filled with too much netflix, The Simpsons, debating over whether or not putting Nesquik in milk was considered a milkshake, and going on dates to places like the Churchill War Rooms.

I felt so alive.

A Creperie in London. Photo Credit: Davide D'Amico/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

A Creperie in London. Photo Credit: Davide D’Amico/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

I felt so safe and sure of myself.

Being with him gave me so much confidence to just be me and go after what I wanted.

He supported me and was genuinely interested in everything I had to say, even if I did talk about my love for Kate Middleton too much.

He loved me for me and wasn’t asking me to change a thing.

I didn’t feel like I needed to be someone I wasn’t, just to make him stick around.

My friends back home quickly noticed my change in demeanor.

I would light up whenever I would talk about him.

I was not trying to find faults that would allow me a way out, like I had done with every other guy I had ever been romantically involved with in the past.

This time was different and I really thought that this one was going to stick.

Fast forward to May of 2015, and my friends had arrived for our month long trip through Europe.

We checked off our eight days in London and the next stop was Paris.

He joined us for the last three of our five days and when I had to say goodbye to him on the afternoon of May 14, you could have thought that one of us was dying or that we were never going to see each other again.

The second thought could have honestly not been too far off.

We had only spent four months together, which has never seemed like a lot in retrospect, yet we both felt as if we were losing someone we had known for years.

We felt like we were losing a part of us and we didn’t know if we were ever going to get it back.

We stood there in the metro station, holding each other while constant waves of tears rolled down the shapes of our faces.

For me, no one else was there.

It was just the two of us, cherishing the last time we would physically feel our love for each other for half a year.

Then, it was over.

We both went our separate ways and embarked on the dreaded long-distance relationship that so many people avoid at all costs.
“I have searched so long for the perfect girl for me,” he said. “And now that I have found her, I’m never letting you go.”

The next six months were awful in the sense that I was alone most of the time even though I was surrounded by friends who were constantly trying to cheer me up.

None of it seemed to work.

My body was constantly bogged down with an overwhelming sadness and I sunk into a state of depression that I had seen in others, but never experienced myself.

Facetime sessions, phone calls, and texts that read “I miss you,” and “I love you,” were becoming too much.

I was not only sad, but I was angry.

I couldn’t understand how I could find someone that I thought was perfect for me and I wasn’t able to be with them.

I was becoming bitter and angry because I was just so sick and tired of missing him.

Things on his end, 4,300 miles away, were just about the same.

We wanted so badly to make this thing that both of us had searched for, for so long work, but it seemed like it was only getting harder everyday.

November 14 is when he left Alabama after coming to visit me for two weeks.

After that date, nothing seemed to be going right.

Sweet, loving conversations turned into screaming matches over things that did not matter and times when both of us would spend half of our day angry at one another because we were six hours apart in time.

We began to rip apart what was left of this, piece by piece like animals.

Then, my visit in March, marked the end.

Something had been off for a really long time and it had driven a wedge between us.

Our Titanic hit the iceberg and started going down fast, but unlike the original, there were only two casualties this time.

Now, I have to ask myself, “How will I manage to get over him?,” because I never imagined that this would be the outcome.

I imagined it lasting for much longer, and possibly forever, but now I am seeing that some things are not meant to last, no matter how much you want them to.

I still love him with every inch of me and I can’t say I regret us, because I would be lying.

Part of me hopes that when I move to London later this month, our timing will be right this time.

Maybe in this version of the Titanic, Jack and Rose survive the turmoil and overcome everything that is thrown at them, but I absolutely cannot throw my life away by putting all that I have onto a sinking ship.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Black Lives Matter Group Plans Protest Outside Of Graceland During Elvis Week

By Courtney Anderson

Why Graceland?

Memphis,TN residents and the city’s chapter of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens have planned a Black Lives Matter protest outside of Graceland during Elvis Week.

It’s a bold move that has many questioning its appropriateness.

After all, Graceland is a major tourist attraction for Memphis.

Tourists, both national and international, pay good money to travel to Elvis’s home and participate in Elvis Week impressions, tours and vigils.

Protesting in front of it could potentially cause an economic hit to the attraction.

But maybe that’s the point.

According to a statement released by the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, the protest is a demonstrative rally against the “social injustice, police brutality, and socio-economic disparity” in the city of Memphis.

The socio-economic disparity felt by many in the city is a major concern for local leaders.

According to the group, that’s why Graceland is an appropriate place of action.

“Graceland was chosen as a protest site because it demonstrates one of Memphis’s most common forms of financial inequity,” the group’s statement reads.

Graceland is located right in the center of Whitehaven, a predominantly Black and almost entirely working-class neighborhood.

And while the museum brings in a lot of money, many citizens of Whitehaven don’t see that money being reflected in the state of roads, housing, and places of employment surrounding the house.

Whitehaven is victim to unevenly paved roads with potholes, empty buildings lining the streets and low-wage jobs moving in and only employing a few people.

The city of Memphis has made a promise to revitalize the area.

According to a report from WMC Action News 5, the Memphis City Council advanced a $43 million plan that would “expand and enhance the Whitehaven community.”

“This is Whitehaven, and the people of Whitehaven care about their community,” councilman Harold Collins said during that meeting in 2012.

The reconstruction is set to take place on Elvis Presley Blvd and includes new restaurants, businesses, new light fixtures and repaved roads.

There is also supposed to be a gate to Elvis Presley Blvd from the interstate.

So far, the only project that is underway and near completion is a new 450-room “Guest House” at the Graceland Hotel.

According to WREG News Channel 3, the Guest House cost $92 million and is set to open on October 27, 2016.

A recent Memphis Daily News editorial also claimed that $38.7 million of that money came from a “5 percent tourism surcharge on Graceland tickets and other Graceland items.”

The Graceland estate released a statement saying that those claims were false, and that the Graceland project has not received any money from the city or county.

“All financial risks associated with the construction, completion and continuing operations of expansion projects in Whitehaven will be borne by Graceland and related entities, not the taxpayers of Memphis and Shelby Count,” the statement reads. “The tax incentives for the project are based solely on Graceland’s performance and are site-specific, limited to the Graceland campus.”

Members of the coalition remain skeptical of the benefits of the Guest House to the larger community of Whitehaven.

“Project developers and city officials promised Whitehaven residents the project would be an economic boon to the community but, as has been case for decades, residents have seen little if any of that money ‘trickle down’ into the middle-class neighborhood’s economy. This is not an uncommon story,” the coalition’s statement reads.

That’s why the Graceland protest, named #OperationBlueSuedeShoes, is still a go for 6 p.m. on Monday, August 15, 2016.

Stay with RISE NEWS as we bring you updates to this story as it develops.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: Lindsey Turner/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A Tale Of Two Sara(h)’s: Why SaraBeth And Sarah Dunn Are Two Of Country’s Rising Stars

While they may be from two different regions in the United States, there are two young artists who are shaking country music up and making the millennial generation proud too.

They are Sarah Dunn, from the Sarah Dunn Band and SaraBeth.

They have a lot in common, including the fact that both just released their latest works in the past few weeks.

The Sarah Dunn Band released their album “Wild Wild Heart” and SaraBeth released her EP “Full Speed Ahead”

Sarah Dunn Band and SaraBeth thank social media for giving the greatest push in obtaining their “trending” status in the country music scene.

BUT they come from very different walks of life.

Sarah Dunn is from Monett, Missouri, where she grew up on a small farm along with her father and mother.

Musical talent ran in her family as she saw her father perform musically often while she was a little girl. Her great grandfather also played the fiddle.

WATCH: Sarah Dunn Band’s song “You or the Whiskey” 

And, it was that musical family that taught her all she knows about music.


Because that is all the training that she had.

“There was a time in my life that I was working two regular day jobs, and it seemed like there was never enough to make ends meet,” Sarah Dunn said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “This situation made my path difficult but it also made me stronger.”

READ MORE: Up And Coming Country Star Mitchell Tenpenny Is Proving Nashville’s Relevancy

On the other side of the equation, we have, SaraBeth.

Growing up in the suburbs in Dallas, SaraBeth decided to dip into her toes into the country music scene after being pushed by her brother’s success in baseball.

WATCH: SaraBeth’s “Nowhere With You” 

“My younger brother got drafted to play for the St. Louis Cardinals, and, being able to see my little brother accomplish this dream by battling all the negative thoughts and comments in his path, that inspired me to follow mine too,” SaraBeth said.

Interestingly, SaraBeth went on to study entrepreneurship at Baylor University.

After that, she went to the epicenter of country music, Nashville to start her career.

And then, success came, and their worlds collided.

READ MORE: New Jersey Girl Lacey Caroline Tries To Break Into Country Music Scene

Sarah Dunn Band and SaraBeth have performed in the same concerts before and have mutual respect for each other.

“Sarah Dunn and her band are absolutely amazing. They are very genuine and those are the types of people that you want to be surrounded in this industry,” SaraBeth said. “We both are in an industry that is usually connected to money, success and ambition, and Sarah Dunn and her band feel like home when you are surrounded by them.”

Sarah Dunn had positive things to say about all the artists hustling in the musical world, including SaraBeth.

“In the society that we live now, it is extremely important to be uplifting to others. I don’t really view them as competition because everything is unique and shines on their own light,” Sarah Dunn said. “There is so much opportunity to grow and help grow each other. We have to celebrate each other. That is a wonderful thing.”

For more about each artist, you can visit:

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: SaraBeth/ Facebook

Scroll to top