Cover Story
Teens in Print's First Youth Conference
Photo by Michael Rivera
On Saturday, September 30, through the generosity of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, we at WriteBoston hosted our first ever youth conference, Looking Back & Looking Forward: Writing to Defend Democracy. This student-led and student-centered event was held at the Bruce C. Bolling Building in Roxbury for approximately 50 Boston teenagers, educators, parents and community members. The full-day event consisted of immersive student-led workshops, participatory art & writing projects, “pop-up magazine” performances by teens, and a resource fair of community partners.  In the words of WriteBoston executive director Sarah Poulter, the event was seized by teens as an opportunity to “write their own narrative, speak back to power.” 

We have therefore dedicated this edition of the Teens in Print newspaper to you, conference-goers—together, you wrote hundreds of stories on journals, sticky notes, walls, Snapchat, and papier-mache globes and chairs. You’ll find snippets of that writing sprinkled throughout this spread, some by seasoned TiP journalists, and some from newcomers who were inspired by the day’s events. In publishing this wide array of writing, we aim to remind all of you once again that every voice matters—that no matter your age, race, sexual orientation, or writing experience, it’s crucial that you #writeyourtruth. 
 
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Would you listen to your pores if they spoke? Our skin is exposed to bacteria, sun, weather and dust every day, so I’ve decided to take care of it. I have oily skin. The first thirty minutes after washing it is the time span of my experience with “normal skin” (neither too oily or too dry). After that, my pores start their machines and my skin becomes oily again. Blotting sheets are my best friend; these little packs of grease absorbers are the best squares of paper you’ll need. Heads up: Oily skin reacts weirdly during the winter—dry in the morning, oily the rest of the day.  
Moisturizing is the best thing that can happen to skin. You’re feeding the skin and smoothing the lines. The skin on your face is thinner and more sensitive than the rest of the body, so the products you use for the rest of the body will be too harsh for the face. During spring and summer I use a liquid based moisturizer, but during the colder seasons I pull out the balms and thicker creams. During the winter season, I don’t feel like my best self having dry, reptile skin. Out in the cold the skin on my face becomes tight, and with every gesture and expression it feels like it cracking and peeling.  
Winter feels so solemn, like a time of mourning. Applying lotion and inhaling its fragrance is a short five-minute trip back to summer. The relaxation of putting on a face mask once or twice a week feels like the first breath of air after surfacing from the pool. Tapping on toner, smearing on serum, and staring in the mirror gives a sense of self-assurance, a period of meditation.  
Sumeya Ali, an 18-year-old O’Bryant student, says she needs to moisturize more heavily  during the winter season. She replaces tea tree oil with shea butter. She finds it’s easier to care for her skin during the summer than winter. During the summer she picked up the habit of drinking more water, and getting more sleep.  
Another student at the O’Bryant, 16-year-old Cypress Wilson, also notices that his skin gets drier during the winter season. To prevent this, he washes with African black soap, and moisturizes with cocoa butter. Everybody has different skin textures and conditions, so speaking to a dermatologist will help you figure out the skincare routine that matches you.  
After getting the opinion of numerous students, it seems there is a consensus that heavier moisturizing is preferred during the winter season and that skincare becomes more complicated. The sun isn’t blessing us the way it does during the summer. You will definitely catch me stocking up on lip oils and oil serums. Anything with the word serum on it will definitely be gold for the skin. I’ll be glowing so brightly that you might mistake the season for summer.   
 
 
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On Saturday, October 16, CNN News reported “The YPG women’s unit takes back the city of Raqqa from ISIS.”  
The YPG women’s unit (often abbreviated as the YPJ) is the all-female brigade of the YPG, also known as the People’s Protection Unit. The YPJ fight for the rights of citizens in Syria, where a violent civil war has been raging for five years. According to Maxim, the YPJ has had several victories over ISIS over the years, the greatest being when they regained control of the Syrian city of Kobani from the jihadist group in 2015. Sarya Mahmoud, a YPJ trainer and commander who was featured in Reuters, said, “Female fighters give hope to women in the towns they liberate, because we’re going to free them and give them the volition they lost years ago, not just from Daesh, but from the male mentality and the government mentality.”  
The women of the YPJ decided to fight for the rights of Syrian citizens even if it meant putting their lives on the line. These women fighters know that, if captured, they will likely be raped and killed; therefore they fight knowing they must succeed in battle.According to the New York Times,ISIS fears the YPJ because they are “ashamed” to be killed by a woman.  
When Asya Abdullah, a politician who advocates for the YPJ, was featured in the Independent, she said “The hallmark of a free and democratic life is a free woman. ISIS would like to reduce women to slaves. We show them they are wrong and we can do anything.” She also emphasizes the creation of the YPJ is a fascinating development in a region where women’s rights are often repressed. 
Although the YPJ are a unique phenomenon in the Middle East, they receive relatively little media coverage, as does the plight of Syrian women in general. However the YPJ women stand to defend themselves. The Kurdish Project wrote, “Thanks to their role in liberating Kobani in Syria, the YPJ have captured the attention of both socialist and non-socialist feminists around the world.”  
 
            
Sidebar: Reporter’s Reflection 
The women of the YPJ represent what feminism should look like in the 21st century. Women should be given equal opportunities in society when it comes to jobs and political positions. Teenage girls should know they can contribute a lot to society; they can fight for their rights when they are degraded. Every girl has the right to an education. Girls should grow into brave and courageous women who are not afraid to take on any task, just like the YPJ women are not afraid to speak and fight for the rights of all women. Like the YPJ, we as young girls should continually fight for our presence in society—but the war we face is sexism in our everyday lives. 
 
 
 
 
       
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the only thing 
stopping us 
humans 
from achieving  
the american dream, 
is our own  
confining minds; 
we set 
limits, 
boundaries, 
rules, 
margins, 
borders, 
ranges.  
we say 
“impossible” 
but the only  
thing needed 
is to stop. 
and let ourselves 
be free 
 

cheating 
is like 
fire. 
with the warmth 
of companionship, 
and secret 
desire 
from  
far away, 
but 
when you 
get too close 
and see through  
the flames, 
Everything 
burns 
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Summer rain, 
She lost her words as she rapidly stormed in her thoughts 
Her sweet big brown eyes drizzled with loss 
Fixed her plumped lips and  
Her soft voice roared like a lion in agony. 
 
Summer rain, 
Her blooming rose which grew on its own 
Soft and fragile but she knows 
Each petal and catastrophe the wind blows. 
 
Summer rain, 
 Chants of forbidding droplets 
 Every drop that landed, hard as comets  
     Hold on to your roots, for the growth that was promised. 
 
Summer rain, 
  Her blooming rose reclaiming its ego 
 All tender and shy, your wasted beauty that once was sowed 
  Regrets and shame, with nothing to blame 
 Keep flying around in hopes to grow. 
 
Summer rain, 
 She wants to hold your hand in hers 
        The love that was placed internally, shockingly ached 
            She will teach them to see, all this wasted beauty as she escapes her thoughts 
A silent background, with just few remains. 
 
 
 
                  
 
 
 
  
 
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Power, Authority, Respect 
Only for men they say 
Submission, meekness, well-bred, ladylike 
Only for women they say 
Don’t talk to me like that 
I am not your tool!!! 
 
Standing for Truth, Equality, Power and Authority 
I am human 
Not your gizmo 
Not a limbo 
I’m a Girl 
Lion-hearted, Undaunted 
A phoenix blazing with fire  
So nonplussed, it makes you perspire!! 
 
Wait, 
Just stop. 
Don’t judge 
It is not my fault 
Not a defect 
It is my Identity. 
 
Overdosing on pills and potions 
I am not afraid to swallow 
So I write and I write, I print 
Liberation, Emancipation, 
Integration not Segregation. 
 
When I ring the bells of doom 
Don’t be deaf  
Listen, just listen 
Don’t be afraid  
It’s just Feminism 
Not Fetishism, Meninism 
It’s just Progressivism 
 
Wait, don’t judge 
It’s not a DEFECT. 
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He’s nothing but a bully he doesn’t truly understand that he mistreated me fully  
He constantly called me names doesn’t care about my pain he can catch me in traffic switchin’ lanes 
 He spits on me  
I was too little to fight 
My future is bright 
The most unkind person I’ve ever known 
Placed me in a trash can  
I was 7 years old 
He showed me no respect 
Always makes me upset  
Nowadays I’m stressed 
I suggest that I lay down in bed and get some rest 
Honestly it’s really hard to forget 
Such a disturbing event  
  
He’s a Happy Meal kid at McDonald's 
Don’t bother to apologize because it’s too late 
Bullies like him give me a headache 
So painful  I can’t think straight  
Messing with me gets you flipped like a pancake  
For now I’ll take a coffee break 
He’s done too many bad things to me 
Spat on me when I was on the ground 
I would like to say thanks because it made me stronger 
Now I am the king of my own world 
 
 
 
 
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