Speaking on the importance of ethical journalism, intersectionality, and power of self-determination, Ernest Owens supplied the WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media interns a toolkit of memories to cherish for a lifetime!
written by: Nabrayah Jones; Media Arts Summer Intern
I had the honor of being Youth Press Correspondent on behalf of The Attic Youth Center for the 5th Annual BlackStar Film Festival. When I walked into the International House where the festival had taken place on August 7, 2016, located on Chestnut Street in West Philadelphia, the ambiance was more than welcoming. A beautiful woman who wore a tag labeled “BlackStar Volunteer” directed me to a table where I was given my very own ticket to one of the best films shown at the festival, “Free CeCe.”
Free CeCe is a documentary film directed by Jacqueline Gares and co-produced by trans actress, writer, and LGBTQ+ advocate Laverne Cox. This film is about the life of then 23 year old CeCe McDonald; a young transgender woman of color who survived a brutal attack around 12:30am on June 5th, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota while walking to the supermarket with a group of friends. While in route they passed a local bar, The Schooner Tavern. A group of white, cis-gender males and females were standing outside the bar and began yelling transphobic and racist slurs at CeCe and her friends. They called them ‘f*ggots,’ ‘n*ggers,’ and ‘chicks with d*cks.’ CeCe chose to stand her ground and fight back. The situation at hand did not turn out pretty. One of the men who attacked CeCe and her friends, Dean Schmitz, was stabbed and later pronounced dead at the scene. A pair of scissors CeCe pulled out for protection had been determined to be the murder weapon. Not only did she leave the scene with glass in her cheek [from one of the female attackers smashing their drink into her face] but CeCe left in handcuffs. She was taken to the hospital after her arrest where she received 11 stitches. CeCe was left in a room alone for three hours waiting to be interrogated then placed in solitary confinement in Minnesota Correctional Facility-St. Cloud; a men’s prison. CeCe refused to accept a first-degree manslaughter charge, so the prosecutors charged her with second-degree intentional murder which held a 40 year sentence. With the help of her legal team and protesters, CeCe was able to accept plea bargain of second-degree manslaughter; a deal that only held a 41 month prison sentence. CeCe, as said in the film, “had to do what she had to do.” Fortunately, CeCe served only 19 months in prison and was released on January 13th, 2014.
In this film, I learned about CeCe McDonald’s struggle with being mistreated in the justice and penal system. Her act of self defense against a man who was presumed to be a racist, violent, and transphobic turned into an unnecessary trial. The community came together without hesitation forming protests. Chants and signs reading “Free CeCe” and support for her spread worldwide; Berlin, Paris, Italy, Bangalore, India, Glasgow, Scotland, and Canada, were truly inspired by CeCe’s story.
I was very eager to see the film and hear the full story from CeCe herself aside from what I researched. Watching this film drove me to think more of the lives of trans women and understand the law enforcement's lack of understanding and respect for transgender citizens. It was eye opening to see the lives of trans women of color and trans people in general being brought to light . In the film political activist, scholar, and author Angela Davis spoke with CeCe McDonald and stated “Trans people are caught in violence between binary genders.” As said on the official Free CeCe documentary website http://www.freececedocumentary.net/, “FREE CeCe! is hugely significant for its indomitable spirit and bold confrontation of the systematic injustice that lingers throughout America (and the rest of the world).” Thus, the one concern I had with the film was the lack of conversation on allyship; more information on how to adequately support and educate each other on how to improve the institutional oppression of the trans community.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to ask CeCe McDonald questions because she had to rush to another event. If given the opportunity I would ask, "With the way she sees trans woman’s murder cases handled, if she had been murdered that day, would the perpetrator have gone to prison? Why or why not?" I also wanted to ask more about her experience in the men’s prison. The film talked about the way they wouldn’t let her wear certain clothing and dictated the way she wore them. I wanted to know if she received transphobic slurs from the correctional officers or other inmates and how that made her feel. My last question for her would have been, “When she found out about the worldwide protest that was going on, how that made her feel? Did that release a great amount of depression and stress off her shoulders?”
In light of trans lives not being supported in the media, I strongly feel everyone should educate themselves on transphobic cases they may hear about to help spread awareness. People should actively support not only the lives of trans women of color but all trans lives and work on better understanding the oppression that trans women face. I’d like to thank The Attic Youth Center Media Arts facilitator TS Hawkins for selecting me as the Youth Press Correspondent; giving me the opportunity to see the mind altering, Free CeCe film, and giving me a new point of view on the unfair imprisonment and injustice for trans woman.
*More about CeCe McDonald
Chrishaun ‘CeCe’ McDonald born May 26th 1989 is an African American Trans Woman from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her name came to light after her inspiring story on an attack she survived but received unfair treatment within the criminal justice system. CeCe and her story intrigued many activists such as Laverne Cox, Angela Davis, Janet Mock, Marc Lamont Hill for Ebony.com and many others.
The Media Arts Summer Interns presented their episodes to a pitch panel. Each episode needed to display high marks in Storyboarding, Research, Improv, and Teamwork! Interns learned very quickly that the more information they had on a subject, the better the pitch and the possibility of their episode making it to the production table.
Congratulations to the 2 episodes that made the grade!
Here is a sneak peek of what is on the immediate horizon!
The WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Interns at The Attic Youth Center want to celebrate all their hard work. So, come and #WERQYourGender with them WEDNESDAY, June 15th from 6-8PM at Temple University Tuttleman Learning Center (rm 301AB). The event is FREE but RSVP necessary! CLICK HERE TO RSVP YOUR SEAT!
"The Attic’s youth programming focuses on assisting youth and young adults develop essential life skills in the areas of job readiness, academic and educational enrichment, youth leadership, arts and culture, and health and wellness. Whether you are interested in dance, cooking, art, fashion or leadership; want to talk to a therapist about coming out to your friends and family; need help finding a job, writing a paper or studying for a math test; or just want to meet other LGBTQ youth, at The Attic you will find a caring community that will support you in meeting your goals while also encouraging you to be yourself." READ MORE
“For me, the importance of afterschool is being able to have something to do. All that I partake in after school keeps me busy. It does get hectic at times, but it keeps me focused. It helps me clear my mind.”-A. Branin, Youth Radio Intern at the Attic Youth Center
“Here [at the Attic Youth Center], we are learning to develop our voice. I appreciate that it is letting me acquire these skills.” He notes that it is important learn to become a confident public speaker: for professional presentations, conducting interviews with others, as well as for job interviews. -J. Kleiner, Youth Radio Intern at the Attic Youth Center READ MORE HERE
written by: Lucas Borschell, Angelica Owens, Jabrea Reid and Christian Williams of the Gender Benders Squad in the WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Internship at The Attic Youth Center
On March 30th, 2016, from 4-5:30pm, we, the WERQ/Radio Podcasting Youth Media Making Interns at The Attic Youth Center, had a private press conference with Nellie Fitzpatrick, the City’s Director for LGBT Affairs in Philadelphia. The conference took place in the Mayor’s Office of City Hall. The purpose of this meeting, curated by our internship facilitator, TS Hawkins, was to help us develop strength of character, as well as to learn how to utilize our voices from a high profile figure in the world of rainbows. She was also happy to answer any questions we had about what the office does, how it works, and about things we can do to have a voice in our daily lives.
Some of the discussion topics that were tossed around had to deal with the accomplishments of the office, such as Directive 152; which lays out what an officer is to do upon confronting a transgender person. When asked about her involvement within the police force, she told us it was because she previously was a prosecutor as an Assistant District Attorney in the city. During her time as a DA, she says she handled many abuse cases, including ones involving infants. She is now using that experience as a driving stimulus for work in the police force, even setting up GOAL (Gay Officers Action League) and helping those LGBT in the police force with coming out. Though, this is not the extent of her ambitions, as there are plans for proclamations to the city as well as to improve acceptance of LGBT in our school systems. She even offered herself as a resource to us. We feel that her perseverance to help those who are abused or discriminated is an inspiration, and should be present in all walks of life. “Change comes from within” she says, and we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
We also wanted to learn more about her and how she got to this position, so we inquired about what challenges faced her in becoming Philly’s Director for LGBT Affairs. “Properly moving forward and keeping to goals was a challenge” she says. Nellie didn’t even know if she would be able to keep the position as Director past the last year of Mayor Nutter’s final term. Though they voted to keep the office permanently, Nellie is still shown to be persistent by doing as much as she could that year to make an impact regardless of how long she would hold office. Which is a great goal for work ethic, if you think about it.
Later in the conference we discussed the condition of our schools in regards to LGBT, as well as what we can do about it. Nellie says that school is a very big project, and has to be done right. To accomplish this, she says that impact is key, and it has to impact both students and teachers. Eight out of ten LGBT youth say they’ve felt severe isolation, which makes this all that much more important to face head on. Youth are too often made to advocate to be themselves in school, which takes away from time they could use focusing on graduating. Nellie says, “Graduating is a student’s full time job, not educating educators on how to educate them”. No statement has ever been so true!
Overall, our conference with Nellie Fitzpatrick had us engrossed in discussion and left us feeling more informed, comfortable, and motivated. We’re so happy to have had this opportunity to speak with another person like us reassuring us that politicians understand the struggles of LGBT youth in society. Through speaking with her, we have a new sense of power in our schools with demanding our needs. We have gained more motivation with informing others on the issues LGBT face in school and in politics. We have become role models for other youth around the city knowing that they have other people backing them up!
written by: Jack Kleiner, Damien Walker, Lanier Bradshaw & Adrianna Branin of the K.N.D. Squad in the WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Internship at The Attic Youth Center
On March 30th, the Attic Youth Center W.E.R.Q/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Interns gathered at City Hall to meet the Director of LGBTQ Affairs, Nellie Fitzpatrick. We had a private press conference with her and was given the chance to ask questions plus share concerns about the LGBTQ community. We settled in easily and quickly, immediately feeling comfortable in her presence; this was anything but a run-of-the-mill political interview. We had a blast picking her brain about different areas in the law and legal rights of the LGBTQ community. Additionally, Nellie shared apprehensions she has seen throughout the community and her future plans for the community.
As queer youth, we felt it was important to sit down with one of the queer representations we have in Philadelphian politics, and we were not disappointed. One of the questions brought up by fellow intern Lucas Borschell was, “I’ve noticed that a lot of your work is focused on the police force, and I wanted to know why?” In response, Nellie stated that she began working as a defense attorney for sexual assault victims, some even infants. This past motivated Nellie and helped her do her part in improving the judicial system. Nellie explained that she, along with Joe Mason, are in the works of collaborating with the police force to help LGBTQ officers find acceptance in G.O.A.L; the Gay Officers Action League, a national organization which brings together LGBTQ police officers.
Our interview with Nellie wasn't just about the hard hitting questions, she also took time to answer personal questions such as “when you were younger, did you have trouble coming to terms with your LGBT identity?” As honestly as she could, Nellie responded, “It was just kinda hard to express it.” We at The Rainbow Experience know all too well this feeling, and we commend Nellie for sharing that piece of information. This was significant for us because as queer youth, expression can be one of the hardest parts of life.
All in all, the interview with Nellie was one unlike any other. Consisting of thought provoking questions and comedic remarks by both the interviewee and W.E.R.Q. interns, it was one of the most interesting experiences for us. We gained valuable insight on what our voice means and how we should use it, as well as what specific ideas we want to communicate to people with said voices. Meeting Nellie was truly an honor and something invaluable to us all. Without a doubt, we would love to interview with her again; consume more of her insight and views as one of the few LGBTQ Philadelphia politicians who is currently working to help the community. She is truly one of the most unique advocates and politicians we have seen!
From Scalp to Toe: The International Beauty Show, NYC
written by: Damien Walker of the WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Internship at The Attic Youth Center
Professionals from all over the world gathered at the IBS Beauty Show in NYC to see the latest trends, products and tools in hair care, hairstyling, hair color, hair extensions, spa treatments, cosmetics, nail care and sunless tanning. The beauty show started on Sunday, March 6th and ended on Monday, March 8th. The show started promptly at 8:30AM and once that clock struck, the Jacob Javits Center was already packed in the matter of seconds. The moment you walk through the doors you are dazzled by the new gadgets and products that were being showcased this year. Everyone had a chance to see live demonstrations of the newest hair curlers, nail polish, teeth whiteners, and even some makeup. IBS had famous hairstylists make special appearances to the show such as Kim Vo, Ted Gibson, Dwight Eubanks, and many more. While walking through the event you are able to purchase all new products at a show price that makes everything hectic; everyone loves a good sale! Ted Gibson released his new product line “Starring”, which will hit stores this spring. “Starring was created to star YOU. I wanted to create a line of styling products that would allow for anyone to be able to effectively and easily create whatever look they desire – to be able to feel confident enough to be the star of their own moment and life.” said Ted Gibson during a interview. Ted Gibson wasn’t the only person to drop a new product; a new trend was dropped by the IBS Beauty Show. “Thee Glitter Lips” are a company that took the event by storm with their inventive glitter lips. They created a paste that stays for 8-10 hours through everything such as eating, and drinking. Everyone wanted glitter lips to a point they sold out in the first four hours of the show. The IBS Beauty Show isn’t all just glitter and weave; there is something for every consumer. For example, there was a whole section dedicated to male grooming products such as shaving cream, and clipper heads. Additionally, there was another area dedicated to spa care where they offered free massages that are a must have for the season. With all these departments there is something for everyone to enjoy and it was never a dull moment!
For the ninety-nine years IBS has been in existence, each year it gets bigger and better for patrons and artists alike. The experience you get from attending the show is unreal and a blast of fun; I am so thankful I was given this opportunity to live it myself!
Youth Respond to Temple University Social Justice Panel
article written by: Adrianna Branin, Damien Walker, and Jack Kleiner of The K.N.D. Squad in the WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Internship at The Attic Youth Center
On Feb. 10 we were invited as press to attend The Social Justice Panel at Temple University. The Social Justice Panel was created by Nick Palazzalo and the POWER Internship. The panel consisted of TS Hawkins, Kashara White, Ociele Hawkins, Ismael Jimenez, and Dr. Anthony Monterio. The Social Justice Panel handled the social topics such as erasure of black people, standardized testing, and Black Lives Matter.
During this social justice panel, erasure was one of the larger topics discussed by the panel. The first question discussed the whitewashing of African American History, posing, “How do you resist whitewashing as a teacher?” Ismael Jimenez, an African American History teacher at the Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School, responded with several points about how we don’t learn about the five years between Martin Luther King, Jr's I Have a Dream speech and his assassination. Additionally, he states that we also seem to only learn about slavery being a long time ago, Martin Luther King, Obama, and racism being “over.” We believe that this was an incredibly important point to make because people, especially youth, are not being properly educated about how racism still exists as a system of oppression rather than individual prejudices, even after Martin Luther King, Jr’s I Have a Dream speech.
The Temple University Social Justice panel consisted heavily of the struggles which people of color face in modern society. TS Hawkins, an internationally known performance poet and author, spoke heavily on the intersectionality the concept of examining the interconnection in the oppression of groups of people rather than viewing them separately of being black and LGBTQ. Furthermore, she objected to the term “modern slavery” and how slavery is not “modernized” as it never left, explaining that the system just changed its appearance and language.
An extremely memorable discussion in the panel was Dr. Anthony Monterio’s answer to the question “Why are people of color born suspects?” He explained that the behavior and notions toward brown bodies stems from what blackness symbolizes in society and how the one drop rule, the idea that if
you had an African American family memeber up to four generations back, you were considered black, has allowed certain privileges and separation for the white population. He concluded with the factors of how we’ve come to identify individuals as white, giving people this identity because of the belief that “I’m white because I’m not black.” To clarify, many people may identify as white because they were never involved with the oppression and image of blackness, “that whiteness only exists because the government needed to separate those that would’ve been called slaves from those that would’ve been slave masters.”
In all, the panel was extremely educational and informative, giving the attendants and listeners knowledge that is not often learned in a traditional classroom or by authority figures. Moreover, it included the struggles and documentation from our ancestors and our own experiences today. Marginalization, or social exclusion, was a heavy topic thrust upon the entire panel. What it means to be generalized and silenced as people of color. We, as The K.N.D. Squad, feel as though the Social Justice Panel at Temple University informed us, as well as other people, and youth in the room that topics such as these should be taught on a daily basis, and these topics should be discussed even outside of the traditional classroom and in society in general. Thank you Nick Palazzalo and the POWER Internship for having us as do press coverage at this wonderful event.
article written by: Angelica Owens, Jabrea Reid, and Lucas Borschell of The Gender Benders Squad in the WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Internship at The Attic Youth Center
On February 10th, 2016, we (the Attic Youth Center WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media interns) attended a Social Justice panel at Temple University. It was hosted by the POWER Internship. The panelists included TS Hawkins, Ociele Hawkins, Ismael Jimenez, Kahsara White, and Dr. Anthony Monteiro. It was moderated by Celine Martin and Rolando Barbon. The program, POWER, is a young people's project that does videos about social issues. The subjects that were discussed include race, gender, etc. The panelists were discussing the issue of race in America and how it affects the things that we need to survive as people.
Celine Martin started addressing the problem by posing the question, “why is power important”? When it comes to the concept of power, we immediately think of social issues, such as the unfair advantage white people hold in America and the rates at which school funding is being cut. The concept of “modern slavery” is also a very interesting one. TS Hawkins stated that “slavery was never gone, so it can’t be considered “modern”. Whether people know it or not, slavery is still happening. This generation is just beginning to tackle the bull head on. White people are unaware of the ongoing struggles of people of color because the system is built to cater to people who are melanin deficient. They can be so blind that they don’t even see how slavery is still happening around us. Ismael Jimenez said “In some ways, society has always enslaved and will continue to do so. Whether it be socially or economically or other.” This strikes a strong ember about the social conditions today, which must be brought to light. When people bring these problems to the light they so desperately needed, there is also the problem of finding ways to express the concern without being overpowering.
JK Rowling once said, “understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery”. This is extremely reminiscent of the opening poem at the Social Justice Panel, “They’ll Neglect to Tell You”. The poem which was written by TS Hawkins, talks of all the things society will not tell you, and that it can be hard to get to the truth. The truth of the situation is the ongoing challenges that face our (black and brown) youth today as TS stated. A black LGBT student misses school once or twice a week because of fear of discrimination. They were taught to exist, but not to accept because of erasure; erasure being the tendency for groups to ignore the existence of minority. This dehumanizing act has profound effects on people who are the minority racially. We lack acceptance in the world, which is part of the reason why LGBT youth are four times more likely to commit suicide, according to the Trevor Project.
Power is important because it is the thing that turns racial prejudice into benign racism, the privilege which can be used to discriminate and cause the societal problems. Societal problems that are not new, but have always existed against these groups of people, as stated in the discussion about “modern slavery”. This is an extremely important subject to discuss, which is apparent in the panelists. Dr. Anthony Monteiro told us about the wide spread of the issue by informing us about the “One Drop Rule”. The One Drop Rule is, if going back four generations, there was someone who was a slave, you were Black. Anybody who was a slave was supposed to be a slave because they’re African and “must serve” other races. The emphasis put on the subject with this is staggering. Though, the panelists did explain how we can fight these societal problems. “You don’t have to go to college to fight” says Isamel Jimenez. He continued, "in fact, you can start right now, as youth!" A positive message is all that is needed to empower youth and allow them to start the fight, that hopefully with time will allow us to solve the problems plaguing this society.
POWER Panel Awaken Youth!
article written by: Lanier Bradshaw, Skylar James, and Christian Williams of The FAQ Squad in the WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Internship at The Attic Youth Center
On February 10, 2016, we at the Rainbow Experience were invited to a social justice
panel at Temple University Ritter Hall in the Walk Auditorium.The panelist included TS Hawkins
renowned international author, Ociele Hawkins a loveable youth organizer involved with the
Philadelphia student union, Kashara White, a revolutionary black writer, Ismael Jimenez a
educator in the Philadelphia community for the past 10 years and Anthony Monterio who taught
African American studies at Temple University for 10 years as well. The panels topics included
the Black Lives Matter movement, identity erasure, the educational system, and a prevention of an 800 million dollar prison. The main message being, "why is power important"? This simple question exposed how the system is against minorities with topics like the school to prison pipeline, which Ociele touches on a lot with his continuous mention of his prevention of an 800 million prison.This panel in our opinion was assembled to awaken ignorant young minds to the ongoing social issues. Several hot topics were introduced as questions were asked by the moderators. The question that stood out the most to us was “how’s our condition as Black and Latino people today modern day slavery? Why are minorities born suspects?” To this TS Hawkins was quoted saying “For me it’s no such thing as modern day slavery; slavery never left”, which we thought was such a powerful and truthful statement.
Others on the panel gave some serious insight on the ongoing struggles of the black community and all its factors within a white supremacist society. Kashara is a panelist we would like to focus upon, as she adds on to the concept of modern slavery with “to be involved in the situation but be excluded and victim to that situation, yes we’re still in slavery”. She also talked of how our oppressors are no more intelligent, creative, or capable than we are in fact we are the only tools we need for our liberation; her vision and spunk inspired us to make a difference and change the social stigmas of the Black community set by white oppressors. It is evident that a lot of Latino and Black youth are blind to the systematic racism and modern slavery, to which the panelist were asked at what point did they become “awake”? Kashara giving a small story in response to how she wasn’t political growing up, was middle class and not conscious of Black issues. We believe this is typical and usually expected. Kashara continues to say that she’s very goal oriented and mainly focuses on solutions than just letting the issue be existent. She's quoted saying “injustice radicalized me” she continues “we’re insane to think the same system that oppresses us, will help us” ,“A lot of people think radical they have ideas and theories but don’t do anything.” She isn’t called revolutionary for no reason and in our opinion she’s completely right. Modern day segregation with African Americans is prevalent; we do it to ourselves with #teamdarkskin and #teamlightskin just how it was 400 years ago we’re
segregating ourselves. If we’re all one community then why separate ourselves by the tone of brown we are?" This ties into a question that was offered up to the panelist "how do we rebel against the oppression? Which they collectively answered with “bring the black community together, all aspects of it”and “be aware of black people with white supremacist agendas”. A follow up question posed by youth audience member Damien Walker was “how do I bring people together that simply don’t want to listen” which the panel answered with “there’s a step by step process to which the ignorant want you to go through to avoid resistance; push on regardless”. Ultimately we loved this performance of “radicalness” and it feels great to see a display of awaken,committed , and proud black people speaking up against their oppressors.
The WERQ/Radio Podcasting & Youth Making Media Interns
had their first day in the field as youth journalist for
the University Community Collaborative's SOCIAL JUSTICE PANEL
hosted by Nick Palazzolo & the POWER Interns!
About the Panel:
The panel, organized by the POWER Internship program of the University Community Collaborative, will include community leaders, activists, and educators who are working towards a vision of social justice in Philadelphia.
Moderated by the POWER interns, this panel will cover a range of issues including
identity erasure, standardized testing, police violence, and Black Lives Matter.
Mock Journalist Debate with the WERQ/Radio & Youth Making Media Interns
Guest Moderator: Di "the ComeDIan" Hargrove, host of The DI-cent Show
Facilitated by: TS Hawkins
What's the Debate:
One of the city’s oldest traditions paraded in 2016 with some high stakes questions around comedy, satire, and the freedom of expression. During this mock debate, the WERQ/Radio interns will showcase what it means to take a stand and how to get their voices heard!