Rap music is inspiring to those who can relate
Jana Sabeth
Rap music can affect people in many different ways. Rap lyrics can be relatable to a current life situation, they can help motivate people or they can provide a sense of hope. Because of the stay at home advisory, everyone is now at home and probably listening to music. Due to these current circumstances, now is a great time to bring up the debate of whether or not listening to rap music is harmful for youth. 
A lot of people think that teens who listen to rap can become more aggressive, violent, or even participate in gang violence. There is a concern that teens idolize rappers who engage in risky behavior, like drug abuse and violent crime. Many, such as the Council on Communications and Media, believe that adolescents exposed to these actions in lyrics and music videos may be at risk for taking part in the same actions. 
Certainly some teens see rappers talking about being in a gang and think it’s cool. They may want to be in one so bad that they start acting out, becoming more violent, or start doing drugs. When asked if he thinks rap music is beneficial or harmful for teens, South Middle School student Lucho Rosa said, “I think it’s good for teens especially for someone who plays sports but can influence kids to do things they’re not supposed to do.” While casual listening has its benefits, the possibility of influencing teens to do something out of character might be possible.
Overall, I disagree with claims that listening to rap is harmful to teens. Many teens who think of a rapper as a strong influence in their life may just be inspired by their music or hope to make similar music some day. Others may enjoy listening to music because it helps get them through a tough situation or matches the kind of emotions they feel. Listening to music does not mean teens will want to be in a gang or be violent or use drugs. 
A study conducted at Emory University, “Exposure to Rap Music Videos and African American Female Adolescents’ Health,” concluded students in their study who listened and watched a higher amount of rap music were more likely to get into a fight, to get arrested, or to take part in risky or illegal activities. The small sample size of only 552 teens in this study hardly seems like enough data to draw conclusions about teen behavior. Many teens, including my friends and myself,  listen to rap music and are normal kids who live a normal lifestyle without all of the claims this study is finding. While some teens may listen to rap and pretend they are about that gang life when they are not, most teens don’t want to participate in this harmful subject matter. 
In a 2006 NPR broadcast, “Rap Music Linked to Alcohol, Violence”, Professor Denise Herd from the University of California Berkeley and Professor David Jernigan from Georgetown University talk about how teens who listen to rap are more likely to abuse alcohol. They believe that the many references to drugs and alcohol made in rap music can put teens at greater risk to start using at a young age. Again, I disagree with this claim. Even though rap music does frequently mention drugs and alcohol, young people are not guaranteed to think much about lyric meanings. Instead, I believe they are more likely to sing it out loud and enjoy the beat. According to a teen from Joseph Plouffe Academy, Aujane Lewis, when asked how many times she actually thought about the lyrics she said, “Never.” More often than not, Lewis is just enjoying listening to music, not dwelling on what it’s saying or its deeper meaning.
I think rap music is beneficial because it’s a way for teens to relate to someone. In an article entitled “Rap Music as a Positive Influence on Black Youth and American Politics,” Santa Clara University scholar Natalie Wilson argues, “ rap music...serves as an outlet, both for listeners and artists, for understanding the hardships of growing up within the struggles of inner-city life caused by institutional racism.” Wilson believes rap music can be relatable for youth who face certain hardships on a daily basis, specifically citing African Americans who face racism to this day. 
Wilson goes on to say, “Rap artists who became famous and escaped inner-city life understand first hand the sufferings that Black Americans face and are an inspiration for Black youth to also escape the inner city.” Here, teens can see and know about someone out there who went through similar problems and hardships and were able to get through it. Most rappers who were poor and raised in bad neighborhoods and became famous for their music talk about the hardships they had to go through to be successful. While some rappers might be affiliated with gangs or did violent things in the past, it does not mean teens should not be able to appreciate their music and the success that came from their talent. In this way, rappers who found fame are able to inspire youth and provide hope for a better life. 
Polo G, a popular artist and one of my favorite rappers, makes a lot of good music about his life experiences, and covers deep topics in his music such as making sacrifices, family losses, and going to jail. These experiences are relatable to a lot of people in similar situations. Polo G has discouraged gang affiliation and believes it should not be idolized. In one of his songs, “Lost Files,” he mentions fake people, people who idolize gang lifestyle, his discouragement of gang life, and the importance and depth to making sacrifices. 
Some argue that listening to rap can even help teens with their overall mental health and wellness. An article published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities speaks to Hip-Hop based interventions being a helpful and beneficial method to improve well-being in teens. The article states, “hip hop interventions have been developed to improve health literacy, health behavior, and mental health,” showing how listening to music can be helpful in a variety of ways to teens.  
Overall, I believe that rap music is mainly beneficial for youth.  For rappers, it’s like an outlet to share stories of family loss or personal gain or hardship. For teens, it can be a source of inspiration and motivation to get out of a rough situation, to create music of their own, or as a way to understand and improve their wellbeing and identity. 
Read more…
Treat yourself to homemade baked goods
Cakes, muffins and other sweet pastries and drinks you get at the bakery or supermarket all hit your sweet tooth just right. In my not so many years of baking, I've discovered that the time you put in will come with a reward. In my early days, I relied on boxed cake mix because it was quick, easy and did the job. Now, I’ve come to realize it all tastes better from scratch. I think my first homemade cake was chocolate and it was amazing. Even though it was my first try it worked out. The feeling that you hand-mixed the batter from scratch and incorporated it with your own tips is great because it truly felt like I put my blood, sweat and tears in it. Again no hate toward the boxed mix — it walked so that homemade baked goods could run.
When we look for a recipe, we tend to see the three main options and click the one with the highest rating. In reality, research makes the dream work.  When looking for recipes for whatever your craving, you should check several and see what you do and don't have available. Most recipes use most of the same ingredients, but use different ratios so how much flour or sugar you have on hand is important. 
Since we all have time on our hands, here are my recommendations for things to make during your probably uneventful quarantine: 
  1. Mug cakes can fill in for a quick and sweet treat made in less than five minutes. The cake consists of the main ingredients found in a regular cake, but in smaller amounts at the same ratios, except for baking soda and/or baking powder, which are lessened because it’s made in a microwave. Check out the recipes from Land O’Lakes, which is my favorite for when I feel extra enough to add some sprinkles, and AllRecipes, which is a trusted site used for most of my baking. The site also offers a video version to help guide you.

  1. Dalgona coffee, though I have not actually made it, has made its way into my family’s cups every now and then. If you use TikTok or any social media platform, you’ve seen this whipped coffee everywhere. The whipped mixture uses an equivalent ratio of 1:1:1 instant coffee to sugar to hot water, but this treat will give you a workout as you have to whip the mixture too. My recipes tend to come from TikTok, but here is one on a website instead of a 15-second video. The site also lists ways to modify the recipe and answers to frequently asked questions. You may see it as a reversed cappuccino. Before mixing the whipped coffee is quite bitter, and it’s extremely important to use instant coffee too. Though I don't drink coffee much there are many things you can whip, such as strawberry and chocolate powder in heavy cream. 

  1. Cookies, though they may look easy, all taste different. Cookies come in many varieties like the classic chocolate chip, double chocolate, and oatmeal raisin, which does not deserve the hate it gets. Most cookies start with the basics of making a dough. My go-to is an oatmeal-raisin recipe from a blog called Sally’s Baking Addiction. This is a stellar recipe that can be made in under an hour. She also provides a guide, and many reasons why they're just AMAZING. A close second is Bon Appétit’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie. We’ve all seen a BA video on YouTube, and we all want to eat and display something that looks so aesthetic. These crispy cookies hit just right when you're craving the OG cookie.

I give these recipes a great review and hope that these three sweets will fill your time during quarantine. Though you might not have kneaded it (haha get it “kneaded it” :) you can always fall back to these whether you're still in quarantine or not. 
Read more…
How to upgrade your home-crafting experience with resin
Being home around the clock means being bored out of your mind. There is nothing to do, and nothing seems to entertain you as much as it used to do. You’ve watched all the Snapchat stories and refreshed your Twitter timeline until there were no more new tweets. What to do now? Learn to make resin! 
Resin is a liquid compound that when mixed with a hardener will form into a solid. Once mixed, you can add alcohol dyes, glitter, dried flowers (my personal favorite) and pour the mixture into molds, where it ends up drying into a sturdy solid material. The process is sort of like baking — sorting out ingredients, making sure the ratios are on point (who wants a gooey cookie or a gooey resin project?) and waiting 24 hours to see the final result. Resin is used for cool arts and crafts, household items, furniture and more. But when it comes out gooey and deformed, it doesn’t look super pretty. 
Dealing with liquid resin isn’t the most pleasant experience. The resin and hardener give off a strong smell that can get to your head if the area isn’t well ventilated. The liquid is sticky and hard to get off your hands and the work environment you’re using. And, if you mess up the ratio of 1:1 of resin and hardener, or it's not properly mixed, it won’t harden. Trust me, I’ve been there. 
To complete a resin project, you must have: 
-- Resin (I use epoxy resin from ArtResin)
-- A paper cup or bowl
-- Measuring utensils, wooden or plastic to stir
-- Fillers (glitter, flowers, charms, whatever solids that you want in the final art piece) 
-- Gloves, because sticky hands aren’t it
-- Molds! You need to put the mixture in somewhere to harden
-- Tweezers or  toothpicks. You can use these to pick up the fillers and place them in the mixture. 
Once you have all of your materials, you can get started on your resin project! With your measuring utensils, pour a 1:1 ratio of hardener and resin into the paper cup. Then take your stirrer and slowly mix it. If you mix it too fast and aggressively it will get bubbles, but if you don’t mix it well enough then the resin will not cure. 
After mixing the resin mixture for five to 10 minutes, place it down on the table and grab your fillers. I usually use fine glitter and pressed flowers. Take the fine glitter and slowly mix it into the cup with the mixture. 
With the glitter resin mixture, get your mold and pour the resin into it. Then, take your larger fillers and with the tweezers, place them into the resin inside the mold. This is when I put my dried flowers in. 
Once you're done pouring your resin and adding the fillers, take your mold and place it in a leveled location that won’t collect too much dust. Wait 24 hours for it to cure and then tada! 
Resin is difficult to get the hang of, so don’t worry if it comes out deformed, bubbly, uncured or ugly looking the first time around. Practicing means that you’ll get better at it. Resin can be used for small crafts like charms and earrings, or bigger projects such as trinket dishes or filling in wood crafts. Taking time to learn a new hobby, or investing more time into the ones you usually practice gives us a sense of accomplishment. Happy crafting! 
Read more…
Marc Ignasio
My candlelight grows,
Urging me forth,
My weakening desires
with purpose,
with strength.

My candlelight flickers,
Yet stands tall
Against the approaching
They bow down
To the endless strength
That my candlelight

When clouds
Encase me
In their
Harsh grip,
My candlelight
shines through,
growing brighter
with each
Harsher moment,
I’m free.

My candlelight
I would fade,
Unrecognizably torn,
I disappear,
A wandering soul,
without a guide.

I need you here,
My candlelight.
Read more…
Free Write
Everyone's a Loser
Nobody likes losing. Whether it’s an 8-year-old playing in a game of town soccer or a professional basketball player in the NBA Finals, everyone can agree that nothing is worse than coming up short. In the long term, however, nothing is better. The fire that failure ignites burns brighter than that of any success or victory. We are motivated by the emotions that we associate with our past deficiencies and are determined to avoid them. Defeat is like getting a shot—temporarily painful, ultimately necessary. The lessons that I’ve learned from defeat have been better than those I’ve ever learned from any mentor or coach. In fact, almost all of my achievements have been the result of previous failures.
I’ve played sports for as long as I can remember. Since both of my parents are from Germany, it’s only natural that I started playing “Fußball” almost as soon as I could walk. Some of my earliest memories are from J.P. Youth Soccer, either stumbling around with the ball or waiting until practice was over so I could finally go to the candy store on the way home, a request which my dad rarely denied. 
As one of the better players on my town soccer team, I expected to be among the top of the BLS boys soccer team. Within the first 10 minutes of the junior varsity tryouts, however, I could sense that my chances of making the team were extremely slim. My 5’2” scrawny build and basic footwork simply couldn’t compare to the seemingly massive sophomores and juniors contesting my spot. Accordingly, I was hardly even held in consideration during the candidate selection, and barely secured a spot on the freshman team. I was crushed. My world was flipped upside down. But I took the indifferent words of coach Jason Miller and I used them as motivation. Now, 4 years later, a BLS JV soccer captain, I’m glad I failed. 
Aside from soccer, I was also an avid young tennis player. I attended the Brookline Tennis Camp every summer with my brother, where my love for the sport first blossomed. The first tournament I ever participated in went quite poorly for me. Not even placing in the top 3, I was given a medal for my participation rather than the much more attractive trophy. “I don’t want a stupid medal”, I said indignantly as we drove away from the courts. I couldn’t believe that I, the Roger Federer of 6-year-old tennis players, had been bested by random children. That medal, however, has been my motivation for the last 10 years, not for its intended purpose, but rather to serve to remind me of what arrogance and a lack of preparation brought me: nothing. Now, a BLS varsity tennis player and a proud member of the United States Tennis Association, I’m glad I failed. 
Although it definitely is important to lose, there’s no doubt that failure hurts. Because of this, we’ve tried to take away some of the pain by declaring everyone a winner and giving people an award just for taking part. These participation awards are more detrimental than beneficial; while they may lessen the blow of a loss, they take away from the lesson that comes with failure. Children need to learn that defeat is a part of life, that once they grow up, there won’t be anyone to give them a trophy for trying or even to pick them up if they fall. 
As gratifying as it is to win, it’s important to face the occasional defeat. If knowledge and experience are the goals, then the constant winner is also a loser.
Read more…