On a recent day, two teens chuckle in the back corner of a classroom full of students. A young man of African descent walks by and sees what the two are so hysterical about: another Ebola joke on Instagram.
One way that some teens and others have learned to deal with their fears is through amusement. However, to other teens -- especially those with recent roots in Africa -- the Ebola gags are not funny.
“I mean, they are ignorant,” says Kadidiatou Bah, 16, from the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, whose family is from Guinea,“but it is what it is.” After the outbreak of Ebola, Augustine Ubah, 16, says some family members in Nigeria had stopped getting education because they shut down schools to halt the spread.
“It is a little extreme that people over-exaggerate and think all Africans have Ebola,” says Ubah, who attends Health Careers Academy and came to the US from Nigeria in 2012. “The fact that I don’t have Ebola means the stereotypes don’t affect me.” Teens say they understand why nervous youth may kid around about Ebola but feel that at some point, enough is enough. Joseph Getachew, 16, from Hyde Park, whose father is from Ethiopia, says: “I think that the jokes are getting annoying.”
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ComicCorner_MelanieBaez
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Brainwash Me, Brainwash Me Not (Series)

Since birth, girls are bombarded with subliminal messages from the media, from the community, and from family members about how they should look, how to speak, how to feel, what to wear, and who to be. While these messages might sometimes seem innocent, they have effectively brainwashed women into falling in a lattice of lies -- causing them to lose a sense of self. Teen Voices Rising participants explored the effects of societal messages and wrote about what it would mean to unlearn them.
      Every day the girl wakes up scared. Scared that her boyfriend would abuse her. Scared her sister would get caught up in a gang. Scared that when she went to school, she would be made fun of. Scared that her life would end at any given point.   Every day she asks herself, “Why?” Why is their violence in this world? Is it because of the rap songs they listen to? Is it the gangs? Stress? Drugs? Insecurity? What makes them act this way?   Every day she says to herself, “What if?” What if she could change this world? End the violence, or save some of the dying people? She knew it wouldn't hurt to try, by speaking up about it. Stop it when it happens. Set an example. Take a risk just to try, so people see she’s a strong minded individual who cares about the people around her and can change this world.    
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It was not one of those nights of slight breezes and cups of hot chocolate between family. Instead, it was a dark and eerie night. It was not one of those nights of sharing tales in the yard. No, it was a night full of intrigue. On November 7, 2010, at 9:13, I witnessed a real-life 3D version of a PlayStation war game. Action. Danger. Fear. Cars spinning out, screeching loudly. Then, shocked neighbors running in slow motion -- as if it was their last chance in the game. Not a minute later, bullets hailed down. The Dominican sky lit up like fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Hearts raced with the rhythm of the shots. “Oh great power of God, don’t forsake us,” my mother cried out. I was only 13, with two pigtails, biting my nails down to the cuticles. Even though my heart wanted to escape from my body, I tried not to let it show. The chaotic scene was unfolding at a mansion surrounded by bulletproof walls and barbed wired. It was only two houses away from mine. It was owned by a mysterious man known only as Isidro. He always tried to hide his face. No wonder. He was the biggest drug trafficker in Bani, my hometown. A rival had come to fight Isidro over money. It lasted 30 minutes until the police stopped them. When my family and I tried to stand up, our legs didn't work. A month later, we moved to the United States. Six weeks after that, there was another big shooting in my hometown. It has become a habit. I owe it to my town to make something of myself here so that one day I can rescue those that have had to remain in the game. I plan on bringing those pleasant and peaceful nights back to my family and friends.
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Arnold Castaneda, 17, from Boston Latin Academy, says he feels frustrated since he is part of “The Walking Dead” TV series fandom but can’t find others at his school who share the same interest. Fandoms are defined as being fans of something, but they are more than that. Whether it be music, television programs, or sporting events, audiences play a significant role through their participation. Fandoms exist both online -- communicating through forums and discussion boards -- and in real life, as more outspoken fans sometimes organize “meet-ups” through social media, and bond through their love of the topic at hand. Samantha Shave, 16, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, knows what it takes to be a true fan.
“Being a fan,” says Shave, “means consistently knowing what’s happening and admiring the work put into whatever the subject is.” For Veronica Boggie, a junior at the O’Bryant, TV shows have become the new reading-for-fun. She keeps up with several programs with popular followings, such as “Dr. Who” and “Sherlock,” but knows where to draw the line. “Fans make the show,” says Boggie, “but at the end of the day, it’s the creation of the writers and it belongs to them.”
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