AFH Photo//Mariana Melara
What viral posts do you see on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds? Do you see memes involving drama, relationships, confrontations, celebrity gossip or derogatory jokes? More and more often, we see African-American influencers uploading videos and photos that are meant to be funny and entertaining, but end up degrading women and reinforcing stereotypes about black culture. 
Some black influencers get famous through hostile and inappropriate behavior. For example, BlameItOnKway, a black Instagram comedian with 3.1 million followers, posts videos and photos where he is dressed as a girl with bright colored wigs and reinforces the stereotype of the “angry black woman.”  BlameItOnKway is just one of many black men who do comedy sketches and crossdress as “ghetto distasteful” black women. These videos get thousands of likes, comments and shares, despite the fact that they victimize dark-skinned women. 
This isn’t just a trend that exists on YouTube. Reality shows such as “Love and Hip-Hop” and “Basketball Wives” also reinforce this stereotype by showcasing black women who are constantly cursing, fighting, wig snatching and acting aggressively. This is problematic because it’s sending the wrong message to younger people. Many viewers see this behavior as cute or funny, but actually, it’s degrading and doesn’t highlight the professional work and talent that black women have.
However, this problem isn’t easy to solve. In Citizen, Claudia Rankine writes, “In order to get your voice heard, you got to be loud and angry.” It seems like for a black person to become famous, they have to act promiscuous or have a lot of attitude. To gain the attention of white audiences and black audiences, they have to adopt these derogatory narratives. Black Youtubers who actively combat the “angry black woman” stereotype—like Lovelyti2002 and Chrissie—don’t get as many endorsement deals for their videos. Their videos are clearly not as popular as the videos where black women do adopt the stereotype. 
This is where we come in as viewers. It’s time to be conscious of positivity and knowledge. Know whose work you’re supporting. Look for black Youtubers who are giving a lot of information, making truthful videos without degrading content or black stereotypes. If someone shows you a video that features these stereotypes, ask them: “Is this who we are?” or “Is this really funny?”  If we start this conversation, maybe one day all black girls and women could successfully share authentic content YouTube. 

Read more…
AFH Art//Leon Dorsainvil
What's going on in the world today,
We lost another person to 
this stupid ol’ gunplay.
What happened to people staying in their own little blimp,
Now these young boys are picking 
up guns, talking about busting a clip. 
Too long we watched in silence, 
As our young brothers and sisters die 
from this gun violence.
When will it ever stop, 
I'm tired of watching the news and seeing 
another teen gets popped.
Don't they see the scars and pain that they leave? Trust and believe 
You're not hurting just one person 
You're hurting the whole community.
This violence has got to stop.
Picking up a gun doesn't make you a man,
That's a stupid plan.
Killing is not the way,
It could never lead to a brighter day.
Every time a young brother or sister falls, 
The black community stalls.
It seems like nobody values life anymore. 
Please think before,
you pull that trigger,
Cause life is so much bigger.
than what you see before your eyes,
It's like a black man is just happy to make it to 25.
When did that become a goal in life? 
Devote your time and dedication to 
moral values and education.
Gain knowledge, for knowledge, is power,
Ignorance is milk that's sour.
It's time to put away the guns, 
Killing each other isn't fun. 
I'm done watching in silence, 
Brothers and sisters, please stop the violence.
Read more…
AFH Photo//My Vu
It is the beginning of English class. You walk towards your familiar seat, but before you are able to sit down, your teacher announces that your class will start a new project  based on the book you just finished reading. You sit down, unzip your backpack and search for your pen. All of a sudden, your body stops and you can feel your heart drumming in your chest. Everything goes silent and you start to panic internally. Why? Because your teacher just said the forbidden “g” word: Group. 
Yes, you were assigned a group project! If you don't like working in groups because you're an introvert or afraid of doing all the work, I'm sorry, but you have a severe case of grouphobia. Don't worry, it is not contagious, but it is hard to overcome. 
Throughout high school, teachers encourage students to work in groups. Working in groups has been proven to have many positive effects on students. According to The Center of Innovation in Research and Teaching, students are able to “develop communication and teamwork skills” and “plan more effectively and manage their time.” 
However, not many students are able to see or experience such benefits and do not enjoy working with others. Wanjing Li, a senior at John D. O’Bryant, does not like working in groups. “In most of the groups that I have been a part of, it has been very awkward since we are all strangers,” she said. “No one really knows each other, so it’s hard to communicate with the other group members.” Li feels that familiarity with group members is key. “If I am in a group with a friend, then I will do what I need to do with ease,” she said. “There are no complications since I am able to communicate with other group members through my friend. I am not alone.”
Michelle Cho, a senior at John D. O’Bryant, remembers a time when her group project derailed thanks to lack of communication. “There was a time in physics class when we was assigned to give a presentation using Google slides, and the other members of my group changed my slides without permission and didn’t tell me about it til the day of,” she remembered. 
Now the question that most people with grouphobia have is: Why do I even have to learn to work in groups? Well the truth is, group work doesn’t go away when you graduate high school. Alexandria Fischer, a pre-vet sophomore majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry at Northland College in Wisconsin, says that group projects still happen in college. However, she also says it’s a little easier to manage tricky group situations when you have strong relationships with your teachers. “If you have a problem with a group member not helping or doing bad quality work, you can bring it to your professor and talk about with them,” she said. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that in high school, Fischer suggests trying to take charge of your group.  “To students who usually have to do all the work on a project, just do your best work,” she said. “I've also found that if I ‘assign’ aspects of a project to others in a group and hold them responsible for those parts, it's a lot less stressful.”
So, those of you with grouphobia, fear not—there are solutions that can make group work a little less painful. There’s no need to fear the “g” word when you have clear strategies in mind. 

Read more…
Tobin Middle School
For Tobin Middle Schoolers, the Costs of Homework Outweigh the Benefits
AFH Photo//Jenny Mui
Almost all students don’t want to do homework. Many parents don’t like the homework policy because their children are doing school work on a daily basis, so they don’t get to spend time with them. Some parents say that homework doesn’t let a kid be a kid.
According to a study in Health, when students were asked if homework is a stressor, “less than 1 percent said it wasn’t...Others said it is a stressor, and that homework affects them...Students reported lack of sleep, headaches, exhaustion and stomach problems.” Another study by the National Education Association cited in CNN says homework is “not beneficial to children's grades or GPA.”
I get out of school at 4:10 pm, and I’m already tired because I’ve been doing work all day with no break and no free time. Class after class. Then, it takes me about an hour to get home because my mom picks me up and then she has to drop off my sister at work. Sometimes I even fall asleep in the car. When I get home, my mom makes food. I eat, then finally I start my homework at 8 pm. I have to read and annotate, do math (even if I don’t understand it), make posters and write essays. By the time I’m done with all that, it’s almost 11 pm. So then, I eat a little more, go back upstairs, and go to sleep. At 7 am the next day, it all starts again.
 Homework takes up too much time from your sleep and daily life. I think the Maurice J. Tobin school should give less homework. Tobin can change the homework schedule so that instead of getting homework all week, we only get it on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. There should never be homework on Fridays because Fridays are when the weekend starts, when you should finally relax or have fun. Since there are four classrooms and four days of homework, each class should get one day. For example, Monday we could have civics homework, Tuesday we could have science homework, Wednesday we could have math homework, and Thursday we could have E.L.A. homework. 
If you agree with my opinion, you should write a letter to the Boston Public Schools superintendent Tommy Chang ( It’s time to make a change. 
Read more…
AFH Photo//Yvonne YanYing Chen
For people who do not fit the norm, prison can be hell. Faced with regular abuse, assault, and a systematic erasure of identity, the LGBTQ community suffers greatly in the prison-industrial complex. From having higher rates of homelessness pre-incarceration to the injustices they suffer as inmates, they are disproportionately disadvantaged every step of the way.
The school-to-prison pipeline — the way in which youths from poor and minority neighborhoods disproportionately end up in the prison system — is often contextualized by race; however, it sweeps up gender and sexuality non-conforming individuals as well. According to the True Colors Fund, LGBTQ youth make up 20-40 percent of the homeless despite making up less than 5 percent of the population. Many are thrown out by their families or drop out of school to avoid harassment. “Going back, I’ve had my share of being in the closet and being afraid to come out, with gender identity and sexuality alike. And there were many times I’d have to lie about being cisgender because I felt I wouldn’t be accepted otherwise,” said Rebecca Patsenker, a Wayland High freshman.
This uncertainty can leave kids on the streets early in life. They struggle to get services and space in shelters, so many turn to illegal activities for survival. In Out of the Concrete Closet, a study done by Black and Pink, an LGBTQ inmate advocacy and prison abolitionist organization, 39 percent of inmates stated they have traded sex for survival.
Instead of aid, many find themselves targets of “quality of life” policing, in which law enforcement criminalizes practices that might be necessary for survival. Sex workers, drug dealers, and addicts face a variety of risks, but most are afraid to go to the police for help. 
“The fact that there is a vested economic interest for society to have lots of prisoners...ensures that the system cannot truly be just, because the system is not about helping society or ending crime,” said Felix Flax, a Newton South junior. “A working criminal justice system should lead to less criminals, not more.” 
Discrimination ensures that even innocent people will see the inside of a jail cell. According to a 2012 study by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 47 percent of black trans women will have been arrested at some point in their lives, many on the basis of not having an ID that matches their gender presentation. 
 Just Detention reports that 59 percent of transgender women were sexually abused in men’s prisons, as opposed to 4 percent of cisgender inmates. Coming Out of the Concrete Closet has shown that LGBTQ inmates are strip-searched at higher rates. Moreover, regulations on recognizing gender can vary across prisons, meaning it can be difficult to build legal cases to be transferred to a prison of preferred gender. 
85 percent of LGBTQ inmates will spend time in solitary confinement. While this measure is sometimes presented as necessary for the protection of those individuals, it is almost always more harmful as the alternative. Being denied human interaction and variety in scene in activity is extremely harmful to a person’s mental health. A study done in California showed that inmates held in solitary confinement are 33 times more likely to commit suicide. It has been denounced by the UN as torture, yet it remains a common practice in US prisons.
In addition to physical abuse and extremely harmful punitive practices, transgender prisoners are faced with the  systematic erasure of their identities. 
“Policies regarding respectful treatment of transgender prisoners vary widely across states; the vast majority of policies are awful,” said Black and Pink’s Reed Miller. “Trans prisoners are more often than not placed in facilities that don't align with their gender identity, aren't allowed access to clothing, hairstyles, and accessories in alignment with their gender identity, and are often denied requested hormone treatment therapy. Abuse, harassment, and physical and sexual assault are commonplace.” 
`“It hurts, like trying to move after being beaten up hurts,” said Flax, of having to hide one’s identity. How can we expect broken people to be able to make positive changes in their lives?
Ultimately, there needs to be a major set of prison reforms. There must be a shift of focus from retaliation to rehabilitation and a movement to respect all inmates’ identities. Countries such as Norway, which have shown their prisoners respect, have seen outstanding results. 
“A lot of people's mindset on prison is to make sure that criminals are away from other people, but we also have to make sure that prisoners, after they leave prison, have good morals and are not planning other crimes,” said Elisa Mezhirov, a Lexington High junior. In this sense, rehabilitation centers are a very important part in the purpose of the criminal justice system and prisons.” 
Unfortunately, the public often ignores the imprisoned population. They are out of the spotlight and there is a sense that we have less moral responsibility to those that have already done wrong. Most people have some idea of what the prison system should do, but many do not understand the reality of the situation, and this ignorance and lack of advocacy on behalf of our nation’s more vulnerable people is doing real harm. 
“Students can raise awareness about the prison industrial complex and the school to prison pipeline,” Miller said. “I became an activist in high school and organized campaigns — you all can too!”
We need to have these conversations with our friends, our classmates, and our families. You can volunteer with Black and Pink here in Boston, and educate yourself. Someday, those slighted by the justice system should be able to count on a support net of educated, passionate activists.

Read more…