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Extra!!! Extra!!! Teen Tops Ticket!!
AFH Art // Andrew Chaupetta
Say you were elected the first teenage president of the United States. What would be your top priority? 
Sixteen-year-old Rayven Heath, from Dorchester, believes first and foremost that the brazen misuse of guns poses a colossal threat to America itself. 
“As soon as I step into office,” says Health, “I’d institute a standardized state test where the person has to follow a specific protocol -- otherwise they face unfavorable consequences.” 
Heath wants intense, ongoing scrutiny of the potential gun owner, including questions about why the person needs the weapon, and training for that individual about when and when not to shoot. 
Penalties ranging from gun-license revocation to prison would be levied on those -- both civilians and law enforcement -- who betray their stated intentions of firearms use, says Heath. 
Of course, as far as any teen actually topping the ticket, Article II, Section 1, of the US Constitution clearly states: 
“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” 
Putting constitutional constraints aside -- as some of the major party candidates have seemingly already done in their quests for the White House -- teens say that by raising serious concerns about the future of the country, many youth have displayed more maturity than at least several of the clownish, adult contenders. 
For 19-year-old Abbie Williams, of Mattapan, job one would be to repair the shredded state of race relations in America by putting those who feel left out and left behind on more equal footing with those who hold a superior power standing in society.
“Adults and children should see role models who have a high status, who have influential positions, and more importantly, these people should look like them,” says Williams. 
Part of that could be accomplished, teens say, through heavy educational investment. 
Sixteen-year-old Maya Alaoeasheg, from the South End, feels that building high-quality schools would help level the field for kids from different backgrounds and give them the same opportunities to advance. 
“America has numerous disadvantage gaps between the rich and the poor,” she says. “In my opinion, the education gap is most detrimental. It’s expanding and it does concern me. I would build the best high schools all over the country and have the best certified teachers enlightening future generations.”

Here are other major issues on the minds of American teen members of Generation Z who were polled in 2014: 
  • • Equality for all; 
  • • Universal, free healthcare; 
  • • The right of everyone to become a US citizen regardless of where they were born or how they came to the country; 
  • • More college affordability; 
  • • Being better educated about personal finances; 
  • • Commanding their own futures. 

Source: Northeastern University

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AFH Photo // Kim Han
Back in June, actor Jesse Williams won BET’s Humanitarian Award and gave a powerful speech addressing the issues of police brutality, cultural appropriation, and simply the unfair treatment of black people. He received very supportive responses from people everywhere. However, there were some who had interesting criticism for Mr. Williams.

Daytime talk show host, Wendy Williams, commented that, “National speeches like this will always rub people up the wrong way, just like, you know, white people might be offended because Spelman College is, you know, a historically black college for women.”

In saying this, she is promoting the idea that racism is not an issue and that people of color, or more specifically women of color, are supposed to appreciate the limited opportunity they have in a country that fails to acknowledge their struggle.

As a woman of color in an industry that is largely filled with people unlike her, Williams might be expected to understand the impact of what she said. But she continued: “What if it was the National
Organization for White People only? There’s the NAACP.”

Only later did Williams apologize for these statements, saying, “I was wrong.”

Meanwhile, Stacey Dash, famous for costarring in the hit ’90s film “Clueless,” also decided to put in her two cents. On her blog, she called Williams “a HOLLYWOOD plantation slave!” and said the Black Lives Matter movement has “planted the seed of segregation and no longer want to live in ‘perfect harmony,’ like the old song wished.”

When a black woman speaks like this, it only validates the continuation of prejudice in our society.

We should applaud all those women of color, from Lupita Nyong’o to Zendaya, who use their platforms to create positivity and shed light on troubling issues in our society.

I find it heartbreaking to see people who  have the potential to do so much good  with their positions fail so miserably
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AFH Photo // Janna Mach
I think there should be drug testing in Boston high schools because I hate seeing students coming to class wasted and acting like fools. Schools can find out which students are using drugs and also give them a reason to quit or resist peer pressure to even start.

Some students believe that drug testing shouldn’t be allowed because they don’t want to feel that their schools are being turned into police zones. Also, they think it invades their privacy.

But what about my privacy? Don’t I have the right to study in peace and not have class be disturbed by druggies?

If parents don’t want their kids subjected to drug exams, they should just make sure their teens are clean.

Having school officials drug-test every two weeks wouldn’t be too disruptive and it would enhance the learning environment.

According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, by 2008 some 16 percent of all school districts in the US had instituted some form of drug testing.

Boston should join them.
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AFH Photo // Cuong Huynh
Prison is a scary reality that many people brush aside as not their problem. But it is very much everybody’s concern.

The current criminal justice system is awful and outdated. Prison is not a place to go, make amends for mistakes, and come out a better person. Rather, it is a spot to rot and have your mind -- and often your body -- broken down.

When people are sent to prison, they are not dispatched with the intent of making them change their criminal behavior by providing resources to help them craft a better future.

Even taking into account that certain crimes are worse than others, there can be rehabilitation for most people in prison because if empathy is shown to criminals there might be a drastic change in their outlook on their transgressions.

The biggest part of rehabilitation is the need for the perpetrators to ask for forgiveness and to atone. If people in prison deeply regret their wrongdoing and are willing to do many good deeds in the world to repay for the harm they’ve created, they should be given a chance.

Placing human beings in a cell the size  of a bathroom and expecting a miraculous  makeover is never going to happen if the  problems in front of them are neglected.
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AFH Photo // Gaida Alzabier
Africa, Africa, Africa. Oh, sweet Africa. A continent with more than 50 countries -- and many more misconceptions. 

Often, the perception of a land with so many different cultures, languages, and religions  can be imbecilic. Many people envision a homogeneous place, at times thinking Africa is just a country. 

This viewpoint can have detrimental effects. 

Africa is rich in resources and accomplishments, yet the media tends to convey a sense of perpetual poverty and pity. There are those nonstop TV ads, for example, showing African kids drinking dirty water and asking people to donate. 

A lack of education sustains this one-sided narrative. Many schools in the US lack intelligent African studies courses, so misinformation is rampant. Schools need to teach students about Africa when they are younger so people will have a bigger understanding of the world, and this trend of sad stereotyping can be reversed. 

Perhaps, then, much of the negativity surrounding Africa will be replaced by a fuller understanding of a proud and unique continent.
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