Lights, Camera, Action! Putting The Spotlight On Paloma Valenzuela
In the pilot of the popular web series “The Pineapple Diaries,” we are introduced to Maite, a young Afro-Dominican woman, who picks up the phone to hear her mom reminding her to wish her abuela a happy birthday, and not to forget to send her money. This expands her busy schedule and leads her running around Jackson Square trying to fulfill her seemingly endless list of errands. In the midst of this, we are introduced to her group of friends: a mix of 20-year-olds trying to find their footing in today’s society.
 In a world where women of color are often not showcased on television, or reduced to sidekicks for their white protagonists, it was comforting to see women of color take control in telling their own stories. I spoke with the series creator, Paloma Valenzuela, to inquire what inspired her to create this underrated, yet groundbreaking, series.
What was the inspiration behind the creation of “The Pineapple Diaries?”
I was definitely inspired by a lot of other artists and writers that were using YouTube as a platform. I was totally inspired by Issa Rae and “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” I knew I wanted to create something of my own, and I wanted to try writing a television series. What inspired to me to create the show based on these subjects, this feeling of like, lack of seeing an honest portrayal of something I could relate to on television. I wanted to write stories that felt relatable to me and hopefully could relate with other women of color, with other Dominican-Americans, with the Latino community, and that’s what really drove me to want to tell these stories.
Why do you think it was important to set the show in Jamaica Plain?
I was really excited to have the show set here because I feel like I am just realizing how much of this neighborhood is a part of me, how much being a Bostonian is part of who I am.
The other reason I wanted to do it is because Boston has a certain profile in terms of how it’s portrayed on TV and the movies, and that doesn’t fit the profile of what I experienced. I thought to myself, Boston isn’t just Southie, it isn’t just white Bostonians or Irish Bostonians. And it certainly isn’t just this Mafia storyline—which is a great storyline, and those stories can keep coming—but it shouldn’t be the only thing coming out of Boston. We have Latino communities as well, we have Latino neighborhoods and there are diverse communities here in Boston that I wanted to highlight in the show, so that was important to me.
Your show features of a lot of Afro-Latinas. What aspects of the Afro-Latina identity do you hope to showcase to your viewers?
That there is one. For a long time, black Latinos were playing African-American roles in movies because nobody understood the concept that within the Latino community, we are all different shapes, sizes, colors and hair textures. It’s important that any actor is able to play the roles that they can play, but also be able to represent where they really come from. If we continue to perpetuate that, the people won’t understand there are afro-communities within the Latino community. We need to be knowledgeable about that, and be inclusive, because if you’re Afro-Latina and you don’t see yourself on TV as the Latina that you are, how can you feel a part of it? It is important for everyone to see themselves in magazines, on television, in the news, in politics, in the government. It’s important because we all need to feel like we’re a part of these communities.
Do you think the absence of Afro-Latinas in media leads to uninformed opinions as to who they are and the diversity of their experiences?
 I think that black Latinos have all the right in the world to feel just as black as all other black people. A light skin Latina has a different experience from a black Latina. It’s important to understand that. I think people are not informed enough about the racial diversity within the Latino countries. We’re all so different. We can’t all fit in one box, and we shouldn’t have to, and we should see those characters in all those layers reflected in our entertainment, for sure.

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Imagine winning a Congressional seat by one vote, or something even crazier—a tie that is settled by drawing a card. These are the circumstances that landed Democratic candidate Charles B. Smith of New York a seat in Congress in 1910 and Republican Randall Luthi a seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives in 1994, respectively. These instances demonstrate the power of one ballot, one voter and one voice in changing who leads our country.
Yet, here we are, with only 56 percent of eligible American voters participating in the 2016 election, compared to the voter turnout rates in Belgium (87.2 percent), Sweden (82.6 percent) and Denmark (80.3 percent), according to the Pew Research Center. What’s even more disquieting is an analysis done by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement that discovered that only about 50 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 to 29 voted in the 2016 general election.
Why don’t young people vote? Because many believe “My vote doesn’t matter.” This dangerous assumption leaves huge portions of our population voiceless in government. Sadly, many young people believe their one vote would not make a visible impact in a huge population.
“Some people may believe their votes do not matter because they have lost hopes in their ability to change the programs they are voting for or against,” said Anilda Rodriguez, an 18-year-old student from Dorchester who will be a first-time voter this November. 
Just imagine the policy shifts the U.S. would face if all young people voted in every local, state and federal election. It is with this mindset that many young adults are entering the upcoming elections. A recent survey by the Harvard Institute of Politics found an increased enthusiasm for political participation, especially among Democrats. It seems as though the chaotic administration in the White House may have a reckoning on their hands. 
The significant changes that would occur if young people voted in huge numbers will be unforeseen in the history of U.S. elections. The issues and problems we fight for in our daily lives will be in our hands, and we can have a real chance of upending those of the older generation. 
“I believe in youth power and I think that by allowing teens to vote, we are able to elect those who will actually help make the world a better place,” said Sonny Mei, an 18-year-old student from Dorchester who will also be a first-time voter. “I also believe we [young adults] are more open-minded and will be able to tackle issues that are often ignored—issues that affect minorities and the less privileged groups around the country.”
In light of the current political state, it is more important than ever that young people vote. Major political issues are making headlines, and for real, long-lasting results to occur, young people need to be engaged and politically present.

Make Your Voice Heard 

Where can I register to vote?
You can register in-person at the Department of Motor Vehicles, armed service recruitment centers, and public assistance offices [SNAP/Food Stamps, WIC, Services for the Disabled].
The Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, William Francis Galvin, also has an online forum that makes it easy and simple to register or pre-register to vote at www. sec.state.ma.us.

How do I know when to vote?
To keep up with all the upcoming elections, visit turbovote.org, where you can subscribe to alerts about all the elections happening in your district.

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It’s my second period. When I walk in to my history classroom, the teacher announces what we’re going to be learning about today: the Civil Rights Movement. Immediately, I stop paying attention—I’ve learned about this a million times.
The history of African-Americans has been told many times and prevents other minority groups’ histories from receiving the recognition they deserve. In high school, we can open a textbook and read about the African-American Civil Rights Movement, but not about Japanese internment during World War II or the 1960s Chicano Movement. These events happened within decades of each other, but we only learn about one. 
African-Americans’ stories were oppressed for many years, which gives them reason to be so widely discussed now. However, this means we are neglecting the publicity other minorities should be receiving. When the history of minorities is oversimplified to include only the narrative of black victims and white villains, everyone suffers. 
Teachers seem to be obligated and expected to go deeper into black history than all other topics; it is as if this is the only historical narrative they are required to teach. However, according to Jessie Gerson, Chief Academic Officer at WriteBoston, teachers do have the freedom to structure the content they want to teach. 
“Educators can't do anything they want, but they do often have a lot of leeway when it comes to designing the learning experiences of their students, including what students read, and I think that flexibility is a net positive,” she said. 
Teachers have the opportunity to make their lessons culturally diverse; however, it seems that they do not take advantage of their freedom to teach all of the different narratives. 
We need to make it so that all ethnic struggles in history are presented equally. If we start to hear the stories of all cultures, we can see that at one point every minority has struggled and contributed to the struggles of others. 
The resolution to this issue is to put regulations on classroom lessons. Teachers should not have so much freedom in how they want to teach their classes and instead, have some regulations that require them to equally represent different historical struggles. The textbooks we use should have equal chapters on different minorities. There should be unified lessons across all Boston Public Schools so that students are learning about all minorities to the same depth, similar to Common Core State Standards. There should also be training that teachers must attend to assure that they are eliminating all biases when they are designing their lessons.
The way that we can possibly stop giving the wrong amounts of recognition to one race and expand our definition of history begins with teachers and lessons. The leniency given to teachers needs to subside. We need a more focused structure to get everyone to have an open mind towards all historic struggles. 

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For decades, the high-fashion industry has been obsessed with the appeal of the affluent class who have certainly made this world their own. They have dominated the fashion capitals of the world and inspired countless designers to pay homage to their opulent lifestyle. Along with gracing rows of magazine covers, little has seemed to change. Not until recently at least. 
Along the storefront windows of Newbury St., an area comparable to New York City’s modish SoHo district, we can see bijou boutiques and mainstream luxury brands taking on a more “modern” facade. With pop-culture influencers tapping in on the once underground fashion community, the modern face of high fashion is creating a generous spot for streetwear to sit besides it. 
 Away from the mainstream lies a massive culture containing a distinct style: streetwear. They hold anti-corporate sentiments and often go against what the larger brands stand for. Often not receiving much spotlight from the public, this underground community noted for their interest in streetwear fashion has maintained their roots for many decades. They spur revolution and encourage youth to step away from the detriments of capitalism and authority, all the while being a place for free thought to flow without intervention from the control of money. Brands such as Supreme were once small shops that found their roots leading to skate culture, which many believe is where streetwear draws inspiration from. 
Ferguson Herivaux, CEO and founder of OneGig, Boston’s skate apparel shop, has felt the true impacts of streetwear on mainstream fashion. 
“Streetwear has always ruled fashion and always will,” he said. 
For someone like Herivaux who has been in the business for nearly two decades, it is apparent that there are traces of urban style in luxury fashion. While for the rest of us, it is not too clean cut.
 In recent years, more attention is being shed on streetwear as celebrities and social influencers who have once been a part of these communities are now rising to fame and bringing these styles with them. A staple of streetwear clothing is: sweatpants. Previously a garment worn for athletics, it can now be seen on teens as they shop along Rodeo Drive. 
A trailblazer for this change can be none other than Kanye West. When he launched his Calabasas sweatpant line, they sold out within the first day, attesting to their appeal. Where money goes, the larger corporations follow. These larger brands are picking up on the success of this untouched realm of fashion and are beginning to incorporate it into their looks. A notable example is Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Supreme, which caused major headlines.
 Jayda Dang, a teen who is well-versed in this new fusion of streetwear and luxury brands finds the brand’s intentions to be very one-sided. 
“Luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton began dipping their feet into the streetwear culture to satisfy their young and ‘hype’ affluent consumers,” she said.
Connor Morgan who is a stylist and selling supervisor at Gucci acknowledges the rise in attention towards this once unknown community. “Since streetwear doesn’t seem to be on any decline any time soon, Gucci will be keeping up with that specific trend by making its unique streetwear style stamp on the fashion world while it is so popular,” he said.
We continue to see this trend as even Anna Wintour herself has announced the Nike x Vogue AWOK Air Jordans collaboration. Chase Elliott, an advertising sales associate at Vogue believes them tapping in on this new style is “not a matter of staying relevant, but rather, it is about leading the next wave.” 
 With streetwear lines succumbing to capitalism, their prices rise with their popularity. Athletics brand Champion was once available in Walmart, but as demand for the style grew, it entered pricer shops such as Urban Outfitters. 
Some teens find this impractical, such as Legacy Thornton who, “would rather thrift shop then feed into expensive materialism.” Although some teens do hold the same values as Thornton, the truth of the matter is, a majority of teens still feed into this frenzy that is creating a multibillion dollar industry. But this issue goes beyond money and into a discussion of preserving a community that once fostered creativity and comfort from the large corporations.
With these streetwear brands finding a spot within the high fashion industry which is going against their initial sentiments, the question of whether these underground communities will continue to exist, and remain safe havens for anti-capitalists, comes into question. When streetwear rises to becoming a lucrative trend, they lose their authenticity and contradict what they have been preaching for decades.

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Opium, warfare and teenage slang all have something in common: tea. This drink has sparked revolutions, evolved to accommodate our changing tastes and altered the way we communicate with each other. 
Tea has become the most consumed beverage after water, according to the Tea Association. Tea is not just a fad; it has been prescribed to patients to help ease their pain for centuries, all the while being a drink that has led to the bloodshed of others. 
While tea is often linked to relaxation, considering its impact throughout history, historians would say otherwise. As Americans, we are no strangers to the American Revolution, and one of its prime symbols was tea, popularized by the Boston Tea Party. Decades after the American Revolution, the British introduced opium to China to exchange it for silver to be traded for tea. This thirst for tea spiraled into a war, leading to the birth of a nation and impacting culture for generations, as mentioned by the National Army Museum. 
The impacts of tea are still felt throughout Boston, as desire for this drink remains strong. Gen Sou En, Boston’s first modern Japanese tea house, proves popular amongst younger generations who find this to be a tranquil setting to enjoy tea and unwind. 
Noticing America’s growing interest in tea, Gen Sou En, which is the second largest tea producer in Japan, decided to break into their market. Chelsea Brewster, the general manager, mentioned that their new menu includes bubble tea, after overwhelming demand for this drink, a variation mixing milk, tea and chewy tapioca balls. 
The influx in bubble tea shops has demonstrated the future generations’ interest in tea, albeit with a sweeter spin. Beyond being an indulgent beverage, bubble tea shops foster comfortable hang out spots that fit youth lifestyles. 
“Bubble tea shops add to the social aspect of my life by providing a place for my friends and I to hang out and talk,” said Carolyn Diaz, a senior at the John D. O’Bryant. “Being able to get delicious drinks is a plus.”
Along with catering to youth through a sugary concoction, tea has also found a place in contemporary slang. As noted on Merriam-Webster’s site, the first variant of this word was the letter “T” for “truth.” The term later evolved to “tea” as the social context of tea became fitting, as tea time was when one would discuss the latest drama. This can be seen in modern teenage vocabulary.
 “My friends and I bond over tea while we’re spilling juicy tea in conversation,” said Mageney Omar, a Simmons College freshman.
From this single word, it has further evolved to being entire phrases from “spill the tea” to “no tea no shade,” attesting to how tea is woven in our social fabric and culture.
With the long journey tea has taken to cross the Pacific, remember the trail it has blazed before it burns your tongue.

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