Cover Story
Hope
Elebetel Assefa
AFH ARTWORK
Despite a rampage of foreign and domestic troubles, Mageney Omar, a sophomore at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, says she is confident about tomorrow -- and the days after.
“I’m still very hopeful about the world we live in because I know that we have built a strong foundation that cannot be torn down easily,” she says. “The US has strong leaders who are not going to fail the people.”
Barack Obama appealed to many young people in 2008 with his candidate’s message of hope and change.
However, much has changed on the hope front since Obama became president:
ISIS and their bombings and beheadings. Doomsday displays of North Korean nukes. Unrelenting climate unrest. Crazier than ever, out- of-control college costs.
Donald J. Trump.
“I’m not hopeful because no amount of hope will change the bad things happening,” says Kiana Mclean, a sophomore at the O’Bryant.
Yet many teens and their peers say they remain fervent in their faith about the future.
A survey last year of young people born between 1996 and 2000 discovered that 65 percent of these so-called Generation Z members, from 46 countries, felt at ease going forward, according to the global research firm Universum.
Of course, other surveys say, these are not the wide-eyed, teenage optimists of yesterday but, rather, more of a group of eyes-wide-open realists.
Their gritty, tough-it-out attitudes can be seen in a 2014 Northeastern University report that found: Even as the financial burdens of future education weighed heavily on teens, 65 percent understood that the value of a degree was worth the monetary sacrifice.
Many in this generation say they believe that positivity can go a long way in dealing with devastating current events, a position that, observers say, also manifests in the youth’s maturity and insistence on equality for all.
“You can focus on the bad stuff but that isn’t everything in your life,” says Alejandro Melguizo, a sophomore at the O’Bryant. “If you can see the good, you can survive.”
For many students, the realization that there’s a big, bad ball of misery out there doesn’t terrify them.
It just makes them want to change things up.
“I know there are people that are homeless, starving, or in a worse condition than I am,” says Rayven Frierson, a sophomore at the O’Bryant. “Yet I live life with a positive mind-set. I have faith that the world will realize their mistakes and fix it.”
This article was prepared in collaboration with 826 Boston.
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Culture Club
Hey,Buddy.... (In Other Words, I’ve Forgotten Your Name)
Rosa Sanchez
AFH photo by Vanessa Vo
As someone who can’t remember names all that well, my life has been pretty nice.
I can’t, however, say the same for my friends.
It must have been hard having a friend like me who couldn’t recall your name throughout three years of middle school -- only to nally summon it in the second year of high school.
I guess I just don’t like to characterize people by their names. I tend to remember them by small details, such as their faces and how they dress.
However, many aren’t that lucky.
Since these people call out to me saying, “Hello, Rosa,” they must know me.
But how do I respond?
Often, I just invoke substitutes, such as
“Hey, girl,” or “Hey, homie,” or “Hey, cutie,” or “Hey, sunshine.”
Alternatively, I might go with simple greetings, like “Buenas,” or “Long time no see,” or even, “How’s life treating you?”
Finally, there’s the tried and true catch-
all “Helloooooo,” stretched out forever so it sounds familiar but also distracts friends from noticing that I can’t for the life of me extract their names from my brain.
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Culture Club
The Double Lives Of Twins
Daliyah Middleton
Growing up, my mother dressed my fraternal twin and me in similar attire to emphasize that we were twins.
But I’ve come to realize that we don’t have to wear the same clothes to be labeled as twins. Society already perceives us as one person.
Twins have to encounter constant misconceptions about our lives.
People still refer to my brother and me as “the twins,” as if we are one entity.
An algebra teacher once asked how my brother and I had received such di erent grades on an exam.
After I signed up for volleyball, people wondered what my brother was doing for sports.
Although twins share a strong bond, the questions never stop: “Are you going to get sick because he’s sick?” and “Do you feel what he feels?”
Not everyone realizes the absurd stereotypes placed on twins, but I hope they come to see us as separate rather than one.
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My redemption from weed is something deep for me to share. I used to smoke it but I stopped not long ago.
Although it was hard to quit, I had help from someone special: my girlfriend. She was there every time I wanted to start smoking again to tell me that my life would be better if I didn’t do weed.
I was 14 when I first experienced smoking marijuana. I felt like I was on the moon and that I could just stop time and forget about everything.
The first week I spent without smoking was a struggle not to go back. I got headaches and felt like I was going to faint in the middle of my classes or on the street. I was most of the time in a bad mood and just wanted to be left alone.
But my girlfriend put up with all the attitude and told me that she only wanted the best for me.
The reason I stopped smoking weed was because I realized that I wasn’t doing any good to the people around me -- especially to my girlfriend. I never paid attention to her because I needed to be high most of the time. That wasn’t what I really wanted; I just wanted to be a good person. Marijuana wasn’t letting me do that and I felt like I had to change.
My biggest regret in smoking weed was the time I lost while I was high because I was always sleeping and eating. People used to tell me I looked so happy because I was always laughing and smiling. But I was actually not because I used to smoke just to escape my feelings, including wanting a father figure -- someone to call dad -- and knowing that the only person who could’ve made that happen was never there.
But now that I’ve stopped, I’m better than before because at least I can manage to spend time on things that are beneficial to me. I want teens to know that weed may not seem bad at the beginning but it can really mess up your life.
The author’s name is being withheld for privacy reasons.
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AFH Photo by Romsthernise Bobo
When I was nine, I moved away from my mom in New Mexico to live with my aunt in New York City.
At the time, I was dealing with the changes and fears that a young girl going through puberty 1,971 miles away from her mom can undergo: I began developing breasts, I got my first period, I had night terrors during which I relived a traumatic episode I’d experienced as a child.
I was vehemently grinding my teeth at night, much to the chagrin of my dentist. That’s when it became evident that I needed guidance. But I was utterly lost as to where to and it.
Coming from a family of artists, I was brought to museums from the moment
I could walk. Yet despite art being a constant through my life, I had never truly understood it.
Regarding Warhol, for example, what was all the commotion over a Campbell’s Soup can?
Then, during the year that followed the move to New York, I spent a week-long trip with my mom visiting Florida. While there, she felt it was important to take me to the Dali Museum.
I approached the museum no differently than any other I had encountered before. Yet what I gained that day left me with much more.
Salvador Dali’s intricate paintings were strange, whimsical, and slightly o -kilter, and I was able to nd myself in all of it.
Surrealism, Dali’s style, was an avant- garde movement that was influenced
by the work of Sigmund Freud, whose writings on the importance of dreams and imagination, for example, persuaded the art world to pursue the subliminal pieces of us -- fear and other emotions -- that society had cast away.
Looking at the works of art, I felt my burdens slowly being lifted. The desires I was taught to regard as shameful were replicated on canvas and being praised from people everywhere.
The parts of me that I had suppressed were now understood. The anger I felt no longer isolated me.
For many, the power of art is constrained by the notion that it is no more than an aesthetic pleasure.
It’s not that art gives us a set of instructions to behave by. Instead, it can slow us down, allowing a space for re ection and for confronting our thoughts head-on.
Now, whenever I feel con icted and in need of resolution, I can find what I need within that precious place.
This article was prepared in collaboration with 826 Boston.
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Culture Club
The Hoverboard: A Bumpy Ride
Katherine Bernardez
Joab Ramirez, 15, who lives in Dorchester, believes that the controversial hoverboard should be available for sale.
“It is cool for teenagers,” he says “and they are actually safe, in my opinion.”
These battery-powered, sideways skateboards have been trending topics since 2015 and range in price from hundreds of dollars to more than $1,000.
But just as quickly as they appeared, many entities have moved to ban them, from cities like New York to schools like Boston College, citing dangers including hard falls, sidewalk collisions, and batteries that can burst into flames.
In fact, Boston officials say they have targeted a hoverboard as the source of a re that damaged an apartment house in the North End earlier this month.
Phillip Wilkerson, 15, from Dorchester, thinks that hoverboards are, indeed, potentially perilous.
“You are risking life when they blow up in flames,” says Wilkerson, adding: “They’re too fast, and sometimes too fast for individuals, who end up falling and getting really hurt.”
But 15-year-old Amarii Steward, from Dorchester, feels that a teen has the right to purchase a hoverboard.
“If you paid for it, then there should not be a problem,” Steward says. “You know what you are doing, so if you want to buy one, then it should not be taken away.”
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Janna Mach / AFH Photo
Mascara and menstrual cycles. Being objectified and harassed.
“I get catcalled and...grabbed,” says Irline Perrin, 17, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science.
Being a female teen presents stressful challenges every day. Since the beginning of time, a woman’s role has been differentiated from that of a man.
Today, they are the ones who are expected to look good all the time while balanced on heels, pursue athletics only at their own peril, work hard in school but not expect the same future wages as a man.
“People think that girls are weak, they are not strong, they can’t enjoy certain sports because they are only for men,” says Ruth Rincon, 17, from the O’Bryant.
Sheldia Papa, 17, from the O’Bryant, says she constantly feels that it’s a man’s world in which women are held to a higher standard.
“The daily sense of the day,” she says, “is that girls have to be nicer and happier and quieter, not make too many jokes, stand up straight.”
This article was prepared in collaboration with 826 Boston.
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