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SUMMER 2014

VOL. 21, ISSUE 4

V0X

VoxTeenCommunications.org

ATLANTA’S ONLY CITYWIDE NEWSPAPER CREATED BY AND ABOUT TEENAGERS - CELEBRATING 20 YEARS

SpongeBob’s Life Lessons, page 4 | E-Wasting Away, page 7 | Girls’ Voices, page 12


ABOUT THIS ISSUE

VoxTeenCommunications.org

hey readers, As the school year finally comes to an end and summer approaches, VOX waves goodbye to all our seniors and wishes the best to Danielle P., Divanna, Danielle K., Jade, Clarke and Mahmood, all who wrote for this edition. We know they will apply their writing skills and what they learned at VOX to the real world. We have various stories to get you around Atlanta, including Clarke’s story on the opportunities in Atlanta to get closer to her dreams, and Nancy’s story about the amazing Centennial Park, the location of the 1996 Olympic Games, with its beautiful waterfalls, cool breezes and surroundings attractions. Reading these stories can make you proud of living in Atlanta and make you more aware of the advantages here.

V0X ISSUE COORDINATOR Manuel Portillo, North Atlanta Christian Stallworth, North Springs SUMMER ISSUE CONTRIBUTORS Caro Addams, Howard Vanessa Alva, Cross Keys Kaleb Anderson, B.E.S.T. Vashti Aveirls, Georgia Connections Jolisa Brown, Westminster Sania Chandrani, Parkview Daysha Corzine, Decatur Vaughn Cyrus, North Springs Divanna Eckels, Brandeis Jade Eckels, Brandeis Sharmaine Fisher, Lovejoy Dallas Gordon, KIPP Alyssa Harris, Homeschool Jelani Harris, Riverdale Agustin Jimenez, North Atlanta Kelsey Johnson, Riverwood Danielle Kreger, Woodward Karestiah Lawson, Chattachoochee Rachel Li, Walton Christina Lucas, Milton Clarke Martin, Riverdale Keana Martin-Sanders, North Springs Lydia Mathis, Tri-Cities Arlena McClenton, DeKalb School of the Arts Isis McDowell, North Springs Renatta McNary, Redan Safiya Miller, North Atlanta Rashah Neason, Woodland Danielle Patrick, Southwest DeKalb Lauren Polk, Arabia Mountain Jamaya Powell, Coretta Scott King

VOX teens did their best to touch on the best things about Atlanta, so check them out. In our culture section, you can find personal stories about trips abroad, issues with gun safety, gay athletes, SpongeBob love, and being honest with your parents about who you want to be. Renatta talks about homosexuality and being yourself in the different world of college regardless of what others think, which is similar to Kaleb’s heartwarming story about standing up for himself to his grandfather. International correspondent Tara explores France as a student and describes its beauty firsthand, while Dylan shows us the ugliness of guns and explains to us the dangerous, yet empowering, feeling of holding a gun in your hand, which causes many teens to forget Nancy Ramirez, Cross Keys Mac Rowe, Academe of the Oaks Madison Smith, Paideia Tru Spann, Grady Tyler Sutton, Arabia Mountain Kennedy Thedford, Mount Zion Austin Thomas, Woodward Mahmood Thompson, Atlanta Tech Mikael Trench, Wheeler Alexandria Wilson, North Atlanta Zaria Young, Lakeside

THE REST OF THE VOX TEEN STAFF Anna Hall, Akil Harris, Alexes Harris, Amy Pan, Assata Muhammad, Brianna Curtis, Chad Gordon, Christina Onuoha, Cole Sullivan, Courtney Farmer, Crystal Hodge, Curtis Jones, Dawit Trench, Edith Courtney, Eric Murphy, Erica Peek, Hallie Hartley, Ilana Ander, India Anderson, Jalil Shareef, Jalyn Buster, Jenny Changnon, Kenny Hurd, Kofi Adams, Lucy Rodriguez, Miles Turner, Morgan Copeland, Morgan Johnson, Nicole Zhu, Nile Hines, Noni Warren, Raanaa Wooden, Randi Mobley, Sachin Swami, Sara Islas, Sara Wren, Shalom Lane, Shalom Maurer, Sia’ Richards, Simone Lewis, Tajah Thomas, Zani Nobles, Ziggy Oby

VOLUNTEERS/MENTORS Lindsey Knox, Turner Broadcasting System; Alyssa Lasseter, Habitat for Humanity; Kimberlee BeAnka Tate, Emory University and VOX Alumna; Christina Westpheling, The High Museum

VOX BOARD OF DIRECTORS Jessica Casey, Jones Day Todd Cregar, Historic Oakland Foundation Brianna Curtis, Booker T. Washington High School Whitney Deal, Kilpatrick Townsend Elizabeth Faist, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP Andrew B. Flake, Arnall Golden Gregory Sharina Harris, Hilton Worldwide Mary Hinkel, Community Volunteer Alcide Honore, Hooper & Honore, LLC Catherine Jefferson, InterContinental Hotels Group LaTonya Keaton, VOX Parent, PNC Financial Group Jimmy Kim, VOX Alumnus, Weissman Nowack Curry & Wilco Lindsey Knox, Turner Broadcasting System Karestiah Lawson, Chattahoochee High School

about gun safety. Danielle P. gets personal and passionate about her admiration for SpongeBob, a childhood favorite, and shows us how she has applied lessons from the show to real life situations. Finally, in the special Girls’ Voices section, which touches on self-esteem, confidence and love for who you are, you can find poetry and various other liberating stories that will bring up selfesteem and confidence, no matter who you are. No matter which portion of the newspaper you choose to read first, we promise that you will be engaged and interested in what we teens have to say. What are you still doing here? Go explore!

Table of Contents

VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

— By Christian Stallworth / VOX Staff COVER DESIGN BY ALEXANDRIA WILSON | VOX STAFF Clarke Martin, Riverdale High School Ellen Mendelsohn, CohnReznick Nadia Rahali, Loudermilk Center Marc Rice, Southern Company Mac Rowe, Academe of the Oaks Cole Sullivan, The Paideia School Alexandria Wilson, North Atlanta High School Scott Woelfel, Armchair Media

VOX ADVISORY BOARD Kristina Christy, Turner Broadcasting Matt Crenshaw, Mother Nature Network Jocelyn Dorsey, WSB-TV Amy Glennon, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Cathy Hampton, City of Atlanta Hank Klibanoff, Emory University Stanley Romanstein, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Ron Thomas, Morehouse College Dona Yarbrough, Emory University Center for Women

VOX ADULT STAFF

FB.com/voxrox, @VOXROXATL on Twitter + Instagram, and YT.com/229voxrox

PAGE 2

Jeff Romig, Executive Director Rachel Alterman Wallack, MSW, Director of Strategic Initiatives/Founder Katie V. Strangis, LMSW, Director of Media and Programs Richard L. Eldredge, Associate Editor Susan Landrum, MSW, Manager of Development and Outreach Josie Footmon, Program Intern

All rights reserved. © VOX Teen Communications, Inc., 2014. This paper is printed on recycled paper using soy ink. Please recycle!

Centennial Park’s Olympic Legacy, page 18 The City of Dreams, page 19 Atlanta’s Hispanic Life and Culture, page 20 Hangout Spots in Atlanta, page 22 Let’s Go, Bravos, page 23 Living and Studying the Arts, page 24 The Real(er) Housewives of Atlanta, page 25 Community Service for Atlanta Teens, page 26 Eat Your Iron, page 27 Garden State Grows a Peach, page 28 Finding Beauty in ATL, page 29 Humans of Atlanta, page 30 Atlanta Treasures, page 31 The Masquerade’s Metal Mania, page 32 Edgy Locals Prep for Next Steps, page 33 Atlanta: the New K-Pop Hub? page 34 Underground Atlanta, page 35 Hip Hop History Lesson, page 36

CULTURE + PERSONAL STORIES Life According to SpongeBob, page 4 Tennis Court, page 5 Everything Weeps, page 6 E-Wasting Away, page 7 Bang! Bang! page 8 Pro Gay Meets Gay Pros, page 10

EXTRAS

VOX is an independent newspaper and website produced by and about Atlanta-area teenagers. VOX is distributed by VOX Teen Communications, Inc., a nonprofit youthdevelopment organization. The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect VOX Teen Communications, its Board of Directors, Staff or Supporters. VOX Teen Communications 229 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 725 | Atlanta, GA 30303 404-614-0040 | editor@voxteencommunications.org voxteencommunications.org

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Comics & Extra Extra, page 3 Reviews, page 10 Girls’ Voices, page 12 The Wall, page 37 Horoscopes, page 39 Donors, page 39 VOX Teen Reader Survey (Win Cash Prizes!), page 40


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WORD OF MOUTH PAGE 3

VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Extra Extra Shooting at Fort Hood On April 2, 2014, troops stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, suffered a second shooting spree in five years. Military officials say Spc. Ivan Lopez killed three soldiers and wounded 16, before he committed suicide. The shooting happened around 4 p.m., in an administrative office. Lopez’s motives are still unclear, but according to witnesses, Lopez requested a leave form, which lets soldiers be away for some time, and was told him he would have to return. Miliary officials say Lopez then opened fire in that office after an argument. He then got in his car and went to another administration office. Lopez, who had been on two deployments, had a history of depression and anxiety, according to medical records. A previous shooting at the same Army base occurred in 2009, which leaves people wondering how the same tragedy could repeat itself.

COMIC BY MIKAEL TRENCH | VOX STAFF

SUMMER 2014

Paying students apply by May 31!

At VOX Media Cafe, teens will use 3 weeks to:

+ EXPLORE DOWNTOWN ATLANTA + PUBLISH MULTIMEDIA PROJECTS + MEET DIVERSE TEENS + WORK CLOSELY WITH MEDIA PROFESSIONALS

More information, including schedule, cost, application and scholarship information, at: VoxTeenCommunications.org/MediaCafe/Schedule.aspx ...or call 404.614.0040 for more information

First Integrated Prom A school holding its first integrated prom would make headlines in the 60s, but not in 2014. However, that is not the case for a small high school in Wilcox County, Ga. The 400 students at Wilcox County High School had not been able to experience an official prom in decades. Instead, their parents organized private parties that were racially segregated. Last year, students organized an unofficial integrated prom, which received support from many people through social networks. The donations went toward paying for the prom. This year, the school officials decided to make their integrated prom official and open it to every student. This story shows how social media can have a big impact, and how change can happen.

— By Vanessa Alva, VOX Staff


MY STORY

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VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Life According to SpongeBob Life lessons from the happy yellow sponge under the sea By Danielle Patrick VOX Staff

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ll I really need to know, I learned from watching “SpongeBob Squarepants.” He has been my baby-sitter, my friend, my entertainer, and, most importantly, my life coach! I’ve been watching “SpongeBob Squarepants” since I was a toddler. I learned a lot from SpongeBob. Everything from how to tie my shoes to how to use my imagination, I learned from him. Some people quote Shakespeare — I quote SpongeBob. Many shows have come and gone, but it has only been SpongeBob that has held my attention for so long. Perhaps it’s his optimistic attitude or his love of humor that connects me. I’ve yet to meet anyone with SpongeBob’s infectious optimism. For years, I've been watching the bubbly, yellow sponge for laughs and giggles for my daily amusement and edification, and I’ve learned some important life lessons in the

as a fry cook under the cheapest, most disrespectful boss Bikini Bottom has to offer, Mr. Krabs. But that doesn’t stop him from being the best that he can be. He starts almost every day with the slogan “I’m ready, I’m ready!” Ready to face any obstacle the day throws at him. Although some of his friends (Squidward) may find his cheerful spirit annoying, I find it quite inspiring. Whether the other characters know it or not, his bubbly spirit has affected all of them. Sure, they try to stay angry at him, but there’s something about SpongeBob’s optimistic outlook. The other characters just can’t stay mad at him. If we approached the day with his “I’m ready, I’m ready!” attitude, just imagine all the things we could accomplish! Nothing could set us back, because we’ve already determined at the start of the day that we are ready!

Be Yourself

process.

 Positive Attitude One character trait that makes SpongeBob stand out above the rest is his positive attitude. SpongeBob has plenty to be upset about, from being disliked by many citizens of Bikini Bottom to working

SpongeBob also encourages individuality and originality. In the episode where Patrick is jealous of SpongeBob because of his award for “Outstanding Achievement in Achievement,” Patrick often tries to mimic SpongeBob's actions and style in hopes of getting an award like SpongeBob did. At the end of the episode, Patrick ended up with a trophy. But it wasn't because he imitated SpongeBob's style — it was for what he did best (which is nothing). Another episode promoting the merits of being yourself focused on SpongeBob trying to show Sandy and the rest of the beach goers that he’s a super-strong body builder who can win the strength contest. Since he physically wasn’t able to act the part, he thought he could get by with just

looking the part. So he blew up a couple of fake muscular arms, but when it was time to prove his strength in the contest in front of all of the beach goers, he couldn’t do it. Instead, he was embarrassed, and reality set in. He wasn’t able to perform and instead of telling the truth, he tried to cover up his lie by trying to be someone he wasn’t. The bottom line is, be yourself! Since acting like someone else doesn’t come naturally, it’s a lot of hard work to maintain. Trying to be someone you aren’t almost never works out, so how about trying to be the best you can be?

Perseverance and Determination SpongeBob has a “never give up” attitude. Since the early episodes of “SpongeBob Squarepants,” he has been on a quest to receive his boating license. From writing an essay on what he learned in boating school to even testing his skills on the road, he just doesn’t seem to get how to drive. His boating teacher has even been taken to jail for SpongeBob’s dumb mistakes. But time after time, SpongeBob comes back into his boating class to give it another try. This recurring event teaches us about perseverance and determination. No matter how many times he has failed, he has never thrown in the towel. There have been many times in my life where I‘ve wanted to give up after so many tries and failures, but episodes like this remind me that I must keep going. We can’t let a couple (or many) failures keep us from reaching a goal that we have set for ourselves.

Loyalty and Friendship Loyalty is another character trait SpongeBob displays. One thing you know about SpongeBob is that he is loyal to all of his friends. Most of us have been in a situation where we have to choose whether we wanted to be liked by everyone or stay true to the ones who

SPONGEBOB continues on page 5


MY STORY

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SPONGEBOB continued from page 4

have stood the test of time. In the episode where SpongeBob got a gig as the Krusty Krab’s new comedic entertainment, his new material was all the rage to the citizens of Bikini Bottom. Well, all except one: his best friend, Sandy Cheeks. You see, although his jokes received a lot of laughs, his material contained offensive jokes that poked fun at Sandy and the fact that she is a squirrel. SpongeBob had to decide whether to keep his title as the hilarious comic or keep his friendship with Sandy. In the end, he made the right decision to keep his friendship with Sandy, because he believed that it was better to keep an old friendship than to risk it for fleeting laughs. But that’s not all. No matter how many times one of SpongeBob’s friends insults or does something mean to him, he is there to help them in their time of need, no matter what. In one episode, for example, SpongeBob was willing to act like a complete fool for Patrick’s parents in order to make his best friend look like a genius. If that isn’t true friendship then I don’t know what is! Now, I’m not saying to go act a fool just to please a friend, but his great lengths to please his best friend shows dependability and trustworthiness, which are the characteristics that make a true friend. Though SpongeBob is just a television show character, intertwined in the entertainment are life lessons. Persevere, be optimistic, be true to your friends, and, most importantly, be true to yourself. Who says you can’t learn anything from watching television? Danielle, 18, is a senior at Southwest DeKalb High School. She created the art on page 4.

VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Tennis Court One teen’s quest to follow his passion and do what makes him happiest By Kaleb Anderson VOX Staff

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he bright red digital car clock blinked 9:49 p.m. We were on our way home from the school science fair. The window was slightly open to let the cold, crisp wind blow across my face. Every time I thought about bringing it up, my hands got sweatier and my knees became more anxious to dance. When he noticed my Power Rangers pajamas bouncing up and down, my grandfather asked, “Kaleb, what’s wrong?” “Um, I’m fine, Poppy,” I replied. “Just thinking.” “Well, I’m so proud of you winning first place for your science fair project on dyslexia,” he told me. “You are growing up so fast. I can’t believe that you are 12.” “That’s what I want to talk about with you,” I stated. Every time I took a breath, I felt as if my heart was trying to transform my true feelings into words. I will forever remember that last breath I took before I let him know. “Poppy,” I began, “I feel like I am not passionate about science anymore. I’ve been writing a lot of poetry and short stories. I love watching the news, and journalism has become interesting to me.” I watched as his face swelled up, and his forehead formed wrinkles of disbelief. This was the face of a mechanical and electrical engineer who had given his grandson physics textbooks in hopes that he would follow in his successful footsteps. He responded, “Kaleb, you want to sit

in front of a computer, posting blogs and scratching and climbing, and hoping to be good enough to be on TV? Really?” I immediately felt my heart drop and my breath shorten. I put my head against the window and began to cry. I couldn’t believe that he would not approve of what I wanted to be. But something in my mind told me, Kaleb, you are speaking who you truly are, and don't let anyone disappoint you because they disagree. Be yourself. No one can take that away from you. I sat up in my seat, wiped my tears, and I responded, “Yes. I want to sit in front of a computer and post blogs, and I hope to God that one day millions of people will tune in to see what I have to say. And Poppy, I hope that you will be one of those millions.” Trying to conform ourselves to what people think we should be versus what we as teens want to be can be mind-boggling. As adolescents, standing up for yourself is tricky. Our parents always tell us to be confident and to protect ourselves, but the reality is that we don’t know who or what we are standing up for. Yet. Our developing personalities, capabilities, sexualities, passions and goals are always under attack by the people around us and the outside world. The real battles are with the people forcing an image on us. Parents, teachers and anyone else who knows you are trying to coach you through a tennis match between you and your destiny. Family, friends and religious beliefs play major roles in how we present ourselves, and suddenly, life isn’t just about whether

PAGE 5 you got the new Jordan sneakers or that new Trukfit sweater. As we grow up, what our family does and who they are become a great part of who we are or are supposed to be. Friends and family often believe that they know you best and think they find something in you that you cannot see. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to follow their life plan for you or that you have to rebel against what they believe is right for you. It just means that the choice becomes yours about who and what you want to become in life. Imagine a tennis court where there’s a fierce match between perception and expectation. Both opponents are aiming for an unanticipated move, while the net is stationary and fixed. You are that net. You’re being coached on everything from what college you should attend, to what your major should be. But when you figure out who you are, you begin to give yourself goals that matter to you. Your promise to be yourself is what you are gambling for in this match. I have dreams of having my own political and entertainment TV show broadcast live all over the world. But I am still just scratching the surface of my future success. Writing is the biggest part of who I am. Feeling my fingers rapidly fly across my keyboard as I watch words flood the screen, words that I have merged together, sends an adrenaline rush to my body. That satisfaction of people reading my work, and relating to what I write about lets me know that I am living my purpose. My grandfather and I still do not agree on the direction in which I am taking my life, but I know that in my heart, I am doing what makes me happy. That conversation with my grandfather at age 12 is where the tennis match of my life began. And right now, I am winning. Kaleb, 15, is a sophomore at B.E.S.T Academy High School, who has trouble figuring out what pair of crazy socks he is going to wear for the day.


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VoxTeenCommunications.org VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Everything Weeps

Living abroad in France this year, a Westminster junior learns to let it go

By Tara Subramaniam Special to VOX

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ounging in my host family's living room and curled up in the chair I'd unofficially claimed as my own, I stumbled upon the following two words in Adam Gopnik's “Paris to the Moon” — “everything weeps.” Now, yes, Gopnik was talking about chestnuts, but I have to believe he meant to apply it to Paris and France as a whole. Sooner or later, everything weeps — with joy, with laughter, with flavor, with juicy details,

with aroma, with wit, with delight. In France, as in other cultures where rich food is viewed less as an indulgence and more as the norm, weeping is part of the day to day. Over the top and filled with something wonderful, everything weeps. And in my mind, nowhere is this more accurate than in France. For starters, just look at the food: éclairs, escargots, crêpes, chaussons-depommes, bouillabaisse, ratatouille — the sauce spills out, the broth sloshes, and the crème blissfully weeps. The sinful happiness of the food epitomizes the magic of being in France. A few weeks in,

the line between the ecstasy of relative independence and the crippling tendrils of homesickness starts getting a little blurry, granting the tears permission to flow over. Everything, including me, weeps. The tears fall victim to their surroundings and slowly shift into slick pearls of joy. Yes. Being more than an ocean away from old, familiar faces, all previous notions of normalcy and the comfort of the quotidian is hard. Flung into a foreign culture, the bits and pieces of home are like fleeting lifelines: the Macklemore song on the radio that follows multiple hours of screechy, wannabe-electronic noise (otherwise known as French pop), the so-called ethnic foods store that only sells hamburgers and fries, postcards from home, American holidays (that go by uncelebrated by the general French public), and even an ad featuring Robert Pattinson (in all his sparkly glory) on the side of a bus. But after a while, the sense of not belonging subsides to a dull ache and is shoved aside by a renewed penchant for adventure. Because, after all, this is France. For every time I miss home, a counterargument presents itself, from baking molten chocolate lava cakes with my host sister and Sunday afternoons in the park, to studying for a quiz on Roman and Gothic architecture and cooking Halloween dinner with my friends. In France, I’ve explored medieval castles with my 60 classmates, quickly stripped of the title of "strangers." The memories I already have of this year are unique and comforting, like getting a buckwheat crêpe after taking the SAT (because planning for college doesn't go away even if you move to France for a year) or watching French rom-coms and Disney sequels with my host family. The list goes on and on. So don't worry if I Skype home, weeping. On the contrary, consider my immersion successful. I'm in a country where everything weeps. Life in France is filled with so many wonderful memories

and experiences that, as they attempt to overthrow the occasional nuggets of sadness, some of the wonderful innards of my year abroad seep out. The emotions may ebb and flow, but my world, like a seat back after a long flight, will inevitably return to an upright position. Tara, 17, is a junior at Westminster who can speak four languages and counting! She took the food photos above. Photos of Tara taken by Rachel Rich, Seminole High.


VoxTeenCommunications.org By Rachel Li VOX Staff

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n our society, where changing iPhones is almost as common as changing hairstyles, it is rare to find peers who have not changed smartphones at least once. Our generation has become obsessed with the notion of self-image, a “newer is always better” double standard that contradicts some of the basic principles we hold for ourselves. Technology today has evolved to become more accessible and affordable. These technologies are the symbols we use to represent ourselves — a measure of our personal worth and our own individual characteristics. Showing off our high-tech regalia with the newest LED screens and scratch-resistant gorilla glass, we have unconsciously already chosen how society views us. When asked why she preferred the HTC One X over an alternative choice of an iPhone 4s, Walton High School sophomore Shannon Ke muses, “I didn’t like how so many people carried iPhones. Being another iPhone user would just make me conform to the majority. I wanted to have a different appeal.” The evolution of modern technology has not only allowed us to express ourselves implicitly but also in a creative new outlet. But how much of an improvement have we truly made to our lifestyles? With millions of obsolete computers and smartphones ending up in landfills, what we have involuntarily created is a threat of poisonous seepage from more than 100 chemicals —including lead, cadmium, barium and mercury. It is a threat to public welfare lurking in landfills across the globe. The American research firm Gartner reports the total number of smartphones sold in 2013 was close to one billion. Unsurprisingly, titanic mobile manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, and Nokia were relentless last year in the race to release new series of popular

CULTURE VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014 models. In 2013 alone, Nokia released two versions of the popular Lumia: the Lumia 925 and the Lumia 1020. Apple followed Nokia’s lead by releasing both the iPhone 5s and 5c. The iPhone 5s exuded sleek and refined elegance, though at a price tag of around $500 some consumers deemed unreasonable. However, what price are we really paying for such speedily replaced and interchangeable hardware? The possibility of lead, beryllium, arsenic, mercury, antimony and cadmium in

environmental science professor at Walton High School, Japan alone has thrown away more than 610 million cellular devices. She estimates worldwide, there is roughly 50 million tons of electronic waste disposed of each year. Ultimately, we are not only disposing of useless technological hardware, but also hundreds of poisonous chemicals into landfills. Although in our country, current Environmental Protection Agency

E-Wasting Away

ground water is, in fact, the price that we are paying now and possibly in our future — a price not paid through currency, but in a toll on health and wellbeing. “What’s a flip-phone?” is a question we will undoubtedly one day have to answer for our kids. In fact, some children are already starting to inquire about it. Needless to say, technological advances in our mobile industry have spurred the death of previous mobile technologies such as the notorious flip phone. Because questions like “what’s a flip phone?” will only continue to arise, we are faced with more and more obsolete hardware that requires disposal. According to Dr. Sharon Camp, an

standards outline a lengthy process through which electronic waste can be disposed of due to such disastrous health effects, including nervous system impairment from lead exposure, developing countries lack these same standards. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, or RCRA, mandates a system of “cradle to grave” management of hazardous waste. According to a 2008 report on the CBS News progam “60 Minutes,” through the global market, underground businesses disguised as innocuous recycling stations trade our electronic waste to developing countries — only to aggravate already poor living standards in the area. Low environmental standards, cheap labor, less stringent regulation on worker’s rights, and high-profit extraction of precious metals such as gold, silver and

PAGE 7 copper give incentive for this tradeoff. This “profit” is in fact more of a loss both to the general public and the developing country. Due to fewer restrictions in developing countries, landfills increase the risk of toxins polluting drinking/ground water. Burning of e-waste creates toxic smog in the air and acid rainfall, corroding infrastructure and public facilities. As for the community in the vicinity, mercury contamination leads to birth defects, inhibits mental growth and stunts the development of children, according to research from the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). Because of our constant consumption of the latest technology being marketed to us, and despite being thousands of miles away, we are drastically degrading the lifestyles of people we’ve never met or seen. As teens, we need to consider the impact we can make individually on this situation. The impact one individual can make in the face of 50 million tons of electronic waste appears daunting and minuscule. However, by sharing knowledge of the global impact electronic waste holds over us, we can provide an incentive for our tech savvy community to take a step forward and take the issue into our own hands. By recycling/reselling old electronics and smartphones to online resellers or even local stores, we are eliminating a portion of the risk that our electronic waste will end up in foreign landfills. Electronic shops such as RJR Electronics, Norman’s Electronic Inc., and Electronic Recyclers all offer money for used electronics. Keep Atlanta Beautiful offers a community recycling center for outdated electronic items. The cliché “together we can make a difference” could not possibly hold more truth. Rachel, 15, is a sophomore at Walton High School who likes manga.

ART BY SHANNON KE | SPECIAL TO VOX


CULTURE

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VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Bang! Bang!

Why gun safety for teens is critical By Dylan Shayne Special to VOX

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he cold metal of the gun feels heavy in my hands as I grip it tightly. The heavy barrel drags down and moves in little irregular circles. I feel the small beads of sweat popping out along my forehead and the back of my neck. Sweat invades my palm, making the handle slippery. My breathing is deep and hollow and has an irregular rhythm. But I’m a teenage boy and nothing scares me. I’m invincible, and everybody’s watching me here at the gun range. I got this. It’s only a bit of metal. What’s hard about that?

Impulse Control Like many boys, when I was a kid, I liked to play with Nerf guns, fake guns and play with gun-toting figures such as soldiers. I thought guns were really neat and fun. However, I soon realized after taking my first gun safety class last summer that guns weren’t toys like in the movies. Guns are dangerous and a real threat to people. So I decided to explore gun safety for people my age. The moment I held a gun for the first time, I felt its potential, what it could do. The moment I gripped that handle, I saw all

the scenarios of either the gun slipping or what I could do with it if I wanted to. So how does this relate to teenagers? Surely teens aren’t as dumb as small children, right? Well, we may be older and more intelligent, but we’re also more hormonal, we crave independence, and we think we’re more mature than we really are. Teenage boys in particular think we can be invincible. I know this because I am one. There are numerous stories in the news and online about teens showing off their parents’ guns to their friends, taking it out to the woods to test, or just to fiddle with it. You can’t tell a teenager to not ever touch a gun, because a lot of the time, they won’t listen. If they find a gun in the house, it becomes like the forbidden fruit for them, and the temptation to hold or use it can easily win. It’s not surprising why teen boys want to try guns or hold them. Guns are powerful. Holding them gives you an amazing adrenaline rush, which we all love to feel. And holding a gun can make you feel like your favorite movie or TV character.

Gun Accidents Initially, I was shocked doing some simple research on how many people are actually involved in gun-related accidents

The moment I held a gun for the first time, I felt its potential, what it could do. The moment I gripped that handle, I saw all the scenarios of either the gun slipping or what I could do with it if I wanted to. every year. By simply going on GunPolicy. org, I found that in 2012 there were 81,393 confirmed gun injuries in this country. What’s even more disturbing is how few warnings there are about self-inflicted gun injuries on TV and on social media. I see ads all the time about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. I see ads and PSAs all the time against drugs and alcohol, like the Georgia Meth Project, but never for promoting gun safety. When I said this to my friends, I noticed that the common thought was that guninflicted injuries are by-products of things like drugs and alcohol. This makes sense.

But drugs and alcohol aren’t the only reason for gun violence. Atlanta isn’t the most traditional southern city. Compared to the rest of Georgia, it’s more liberal, racially diverse, and arguably more forward-thinking. But it’s still in the South, where gun ownership is high and important to many families. And like everywhere else in the country, gun violence remains a concern. Whether it’s an urban or rural setting, the risk is always there. I decided to take a gun safety course in order to learn some more information and talk to some people involved in Georgia’s gun community.


VoxTeenCommunications.org

CULTURE VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014 The Wild, Wild West I took a class at Wild West Traders Gun Range in Marietta. Anyone can take the class, but if you’re under 18, you need to attend with a legal guardian. If anyone is thinking about getting involved with guns or owning one, a safety class is recommended. A class is not required; however, it is very beneficial to know everything from the different components of a firearm to how to hold or use one. I took my class with a man named Gunny Herren (yes, that’s his nickname), who’s in his 60s and has been carrying a gun with him since the age of 18. Gunny told us about his military background as well as how he grew up in a gun-toting family. Gunny knew everything about all types of guns. During the class, a man behind us asked Gunny about gun safety with young kids. The man said he had two young nieces who came over to visit every weekend and ran around the house being little menaces and exploring everything. The man said he wanted some sort of bed side box that would be kid-proof but accessible enough to where he could pull it out in a few seconds. This is a sentiment shared by many families — protection, but also safety.

I had read several online articles about gun-related accidents. The Houston Chronicle detailed the death of Jaiden Pratt, a 4-year-old boy from Houston, who found his dad’s gun and shot himself in the stomach, later dying. In 2013, CNN reported on a 2-year-old who found her dad’s gun under the couch and killed herself. The dad thought she wasn’t smart or curious enough to look under there.

Specialists Know Best I conducted a recent phone interview with a medical specialist who has been very active in opposing the National Rifle Association (NRA), who asked to remain anonymous. He’s a former chairman of a major Atlanta hospital and founder of a local injury center. When I asked if there was an age group most affected by gun violence, he said “teenagers” without missing a beat. He then quickly added that teen boys are even more at risk because of testosterone. He told me that testosterone can cloud judgment and spikes heavily when teen boys are doing something they shouldn’t, or doing something in front of their friends or girls. The specialist sadly confirmed my thoughts. He said that the Southeast United States was heavily affected by gun violence. Urban areas, such as Atlanta, have gang activity and the rural areas harbor homeowners who carry guns and use them in their daily life, such as for hunting. Nevertheless, the entire U.S. is under this danger. According to Justfacts.com, in 2010, 40-45 percent of all households in the U.S. had guns, meaning that theoretically if a teen slept over at three of their friends’ houses in a week, at least one would have a gun. This could have considerable consequences.

What Teens Should Know Now Teens need to know the following: You will most likely be in many houses with firearms and you probably already have been. Guns aren’t innocent or toys. They’re powerful weapons that cause one person to be killed every 17 minutes in the

PAGE 9 U.S. So be careful, be aware and realize that the threat is bigger than what you think. Teens can mistakenly believe they have things under control. But as Gunny mentioned during the class (and what I noticed when I started holding the guns at the range), the moment you grasp a loaded gun, your hands get sweaty, you get nervous and your mind spins a bit. If a situation arises where a gun is present, make sure you get away from it and that the person who has it is calm. Someone could be drunk, stoned or emotionally unstable, and calming them down and making sure they understand what they could potentially do is vital. If a friend suggests playing with their parents’ gun or going to shoot without supervision, say no, even if it may make you seem uncool. Don’t ever give a gun to someone if you’re not sure they’re ready or stable. Just realize that it’s serious and very dangerous. I plan to use this information very seriously and apply it for the rest of my life. I now know what can happen and what can go wrong in situations that involve guns, and I plan to be that person who avoids making that one foolish mistake.

Dylan, 16, is a sophomore at the Atlanta International School, who knows three languages. At upper left is the Wild West Range where Dylan takes his safety classes and at bottom left, Gunny, the instructor for Dylan’s safety classes. Art on page 8 by Nile Hines, VOX Alumnus.


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VoxTeenCommunications.org VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Pro-Gay Meets Gay Pros A high school athlete ponders the college and pro athlete experience for her questioning peers By Renatta McNary VOX Staff

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here are two minutes left on the scoreboard, and we, the Lady Raiders are down by four. Can we score the basket in order for us to win the championship? The Columbus defense is incredible, stepping up their game in the last two minutes. Everyone is on the edge of their seats, even me. Which team has the most heart to win this game? Score! Yes! Everyone is cheering, screaming, shouting. What just happened? The Redan High Lady Raiders have just won the Georgia High School AAAA State Championship game. It’s about time. Many of my Redan High School basketball teammates are gay. So, it hit home for us when University of Missouri football player Michael Sam recently came out, stating that he was gay. Last year, when NBA player Jason Collins also came out, we were similarly impacted. What does this mean for athletes who are gay? Many of my teammates will be going off to college this summer, where they may be shooting for athletic careers professionally. In my experience, identifying as gay is

the new thing that people at high school want to try so they can fit in. But others are actually gay. They know that’s who they are. When Michael Sam announced that he was gay, it just opened my eyes to realize that when I go off to college, there could be even more gay athletes on and

make it harder for a player to go pro, because many people still don’t accept gay athletes. It seems it is easier to be accepted as what people think you should be, rather than being who you really are. How will gay athletes handle themselves when they go to college? Will they stay “out,” or will they hide their sexual orientation just so they can make those judgmental people happy? In high school, I just talk to my teammates and play basketball with them. I do not judge them for who they are. When I get to college, I don’t know if I will be friends with gay athletes or not. For now, I will stick with my friends. They are fun, and we don’t judge each other on our sexualities, because it’s not about all that. We have fun; we play basketball; we are teammates; and we have formed a sisterhood that can’t be broken. That’s what it’s all about. It should not matter if you are gay or straight. As long as you have the talent that scouts and schools are looking for, then everyone should play the sport that they love. Michael Sam has opened

As a college athlete, one focuses on trying to get to the next level as a professional athlete, and being gay will make it harder for a player to go pro, because many people still don’t accept gay athletes. off the court. What happens when a gay person goes to college? In high school, it seems as if everyone is doing their own thing, and saying that they are gay looks like the acceptable thing to do because popular kids are doing it. What I’m noticing is that, in college, it seems like more judgment is passed on whether you are gay or not. As a college athlete, one focuses on trying to get to the next level as a professional athlete, and being gay could

the door for many gay athletes. He’s demonstrated that even if you are gay, you can play any sport. I say, “Who cares?” Michael Sam is starting to pave a way for all athletes who are extremely talented, but who may be scared to publicly disclose their sexuality. So we say, “Thank you,” Michael Sam.

Renatta, 15, attends Redan High School and is officially a state champion in basketball.

“Last Night I Sang to the Monster” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz By Lydia Mathis VOX Staff

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ast Night I Sang to the Monster” is a riveting descent into the brilliant and artistic mind of an 18-year-old boy named Zach. However, he is also an alcoholic in rehab, and he is desperate to forget how he got there. Actually, Zach doesn’t want to remember anything from his past. Zach refuses to really say anything meaningful to his therapist or in his group sessions. Nevertheless, if he ever wants to get better, he’ll have to face his problems and remember the very thing that put him in rehab and ruined his life. This 2012 novel is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. It is deep and a little dark. In Zach’s eyes, the world was a dark place that only knew winter. He was constantly thinking about death and his own self-hatred. The reader gets lost in Zach’s mind, and as the book unfolds, Zach’s mind gets darker and darker until the reader is left blinded by all of Zach’s personal demons. The novel deals with abuse, self-loathing, alcoholism, death


REVIEWS

VoxTeenCommunications.org and the failings of a corrupted mind. Sáenz’s writing style is unique in that everything feels like a profound question/ revelation that I suppose one might encounter while in rehab. Sáenz keeps this style throughout the entire novel. He opens the novel with “I want to gather up all the words in the world and write them down on little pieces of paper — then throw them in the air. They would look like tiny sparrows flying toward the sun. Without all those words, the sky would be clear and perfect and blue. The deafening world would be beautiful in all that silence.” Though the novel contains provocative language, the emotion and power never get lost. For example, Zach is again thinking over the faults of the world and he says, “This is the way I see it: if you get to know yourself really well, you might discover that deep down inside you’re just a dirty, disgusting, and selfish piece of s**t. What if my heart is all rotted out and corrupted? What about that? What am I supposed to do with that information? Just tell me that.” There are moments in the novel where you can see that Zach’s battle with the “monster” seems like it might kill him. Zach’s story is realistic, and it really is moving because there are people who are actually going through similar problems, and Sáenz expertly captures these real world problems in just 304 pages. Sáenz makes sure that you walk away from the book a different person, and I think that’s what books should do. Books should make you open your eyes so you can take in more of the world, and that is exactly what this book does. It is an inspiring read that lets you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I believe that everyone can relate to “Last Night I Sang to the Monster” because this novel shows that you, and only you, have the power to make your life better. This book is definitely worth the buy.

Lydia is a junior at Tri-Cities High School. Cover art courtesty of Good Reads.

VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

“Middlesex” by Jeffery Eugenides By Madison Smith VOX Staff

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he 2002 novel “Middlesex,” by Jeffery Eugenides, relates the undulating life of “Cal” or “Calliope” Stephenides, a person who was born with defective male genes, which caused him to be born with physically female characteristics. This story follows Cal’s journey from “Calliope” to “Cal,” but not before telling the momentous and fascinating history that led to his birth as a hermaphrodite. Cal explains his difficult childhood, describing how he was different from other girls, learning about his genetic mutation, and finally coming to terms with himself as a hermaphrodite. Cal’s Greek ancestry plays a leading role in this story, through the characters of his parents and grandparents. In some ways, the Greek culture enables the circumstances that led to Cal being born with a genetic difference. We see this role evolve clearly as Eugenides details the history of Cal’s paternal grandmother and grandfather who lived in Greece, and then immigrated to the United States during the Greco-Turkish War in the 1920s. Eugenides uses elegant style and is very precise with his words throughout the novel: “I feel a little like that Chinese princess, whose discovery gave Desdemona her livelihood. Like her I unravel my story, and the longer the thread, the less there is left to tell. Retrace the filament and you go back to the cocoon’s beginning in a tiny knot, a first tentative loop.

And following my story’s thread back to where I left off, I see the Jean Bart dock in Athens. I see my grandparents on land again, making preparations for another voyage. Passports are placed into hands, vaccinations administered to upper arms. Another ship materializes at the dock, the Giulia. A foghorn sounds. And look: from the deck of the Giulia something else unwinds now…” The reader gets the sense that every word has meaning and was chosen with care, lending an additional layer to the novel, further enveloping the reader in the depth of the story. His writing sometimes becomes laborious to read, though. I often found myself at the end of a page realizing that I hadn’t absorbed a single thing I had read, because I had been so entangled by the cadence and complex sentence structures of Eugenides’ writing. This drudgery improves vastly as the book progresses and the plot becomes more focused on Cal’s life as a teenaged hermaphrodite. Cal experiences an array of emotions: fear, confusion, sadness and loss, anger, and loneliness. These are emotions that many teens can relate to, and I found myself empathizing with many them. In addition to the emotional connection I felt, I learned an immense amount of information from reading this novel. The issue of hermaphroditism has always been something of an enigma

PAGE 11 to me. It’s the elephant in the room, the issue nobody wants to talk about. The thing people avert their eyes from and the topic that people change the subject away from when it comes up in conversation. Ignorance on the subject breeds fear and uncertainty. This book helped me to truly understand both the physical and medical side of hermaphrodites, as well as the mental and emotional conflicts that some hermaphrodites may face. Learning this, it is as if the taboo has been lifted off of a previously inappropriate topic, leaving me feeling enlightened: hermaphroditism is not as different and enigmatic as I had once thought, and there is no need for the social taboo surrounding the word “hermaphrodite.” Madison, 17, is a junior at the Paideia School, who loves the sound of a quiet forest. Cover art courtesy of Amazon.

Check out more music, movie, book and restaurant reviews throughout the summer on the VOX Blog at VoxTeenCommunications.org/Blog! If you’re reading a book, listening to an album, watching a film or visiting a local restaurant you think our readers should know about this summer, email us with your review or your review idea to editor@VoxTeenCommunications.org!


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VoxTeenCommunications.org VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Who Runs the World? Obstacles still abound for girls all over the world, but progress is happening and the world is a girl’s oyster By Arlena McClenton VOX Staff

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e’re all on a precipice. On the edge of glory, as Lady Gaga would say. Too often, between schoolwork, socializing, and planning for the future, we girls forget the big picture: that one day soon, we will be the ones passing legislation, editing journals and newspapers, campaigning for human rights, and discovering new cures for diseases, among other things. Though the future may seem foreign and faraway to freshmen and sophomores, and juniors and seniors are getting their first tastes of freedom, there are things we must remember. We’ll all be thrust into the “real world” with newborn souls, star-dazzled eyes and eager minds. But there will be people who will tell us that we can’t, and that women aren’t capable enough, aren’t smart enough, and are just too emotional to get the job done. The jabs can come from anywhere: managers, teachers, family, friends and even strangers. But we must remember that these things simply aren’t true. We live in a time and place where sexism isn’t as overt as it used to be, but it does still exist. For example, though I’ve never played a sport, I dislike the tradition of tacking the word “Lady” onto female sports teams. Why is there the need to specify gender? Calling a team the “Lady

Tigers” or “Lady Bears” just doesn’t have the same fierceness. The word “lady” has the connotation of dainty, delicate and polite creatures who sip tea with one pinkie up and try not to be a bother. The other team probably won’t be cowed by the Lady Bears’ implied table manners.

often cry — perhaps sometimes their lives get to them, or they could use emotion to increase support or invoke sympathy. When President Obama cries, the media (sources such as ABC News, CNN and The Huffington Post) state objectively that he cried, or they praise him for showing emotion. Yet, when a female politician like Hillary Clinton cries, she is seen as “trying to cry her way back to the White House” (New York Times). This is also true in my personal experiences. In mock trial, student attorneys are supposed to be assertive

The word “lady” has the connotation of dainty, delicate and polite creatures who sip tea with one pinkie up and try not to be a bother. Women can be just as competitive and driven as men, if not more so. There’s a time and place for everything, and being a lady isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps adding “Lady” implies that though sports are competitive, girls will always remain good sports about the competition, or somehow more genteel. Yet, I’ve never heard of a boys’ team asking to be called the Gentlemen Lions. If no one feels the need to more heavily imply that boys should always be gracious, then why is it different for girls? These differences aren’t just apparent in sports. Even today, assertive, intelligent women in business and politics are subtly ridiculed and insulted while their male counterparts are praised. For example, one may consider the fact that politicians

and forceful. When my male counterparts are assertive, the judges give them high marks. Yet, our coaches have advised the female student attorneys on the team to also be forceful, but not too much so. As lawyers, they’re aware of the gender bias and are trying to shield us from it. This isn’t right, but currently, this is our world. Fortunately, some organizations have noticed this gender bias and are responding to it. Girl Scouts of America has launched a campaign called “Ban Bossy” that encourages young girls to lead. It has many critics however; some people believe that girls should take ownership of the word “bossy” while others believe that being bossy isn’t associated with leadership, but with

bullies. Pointing out that children have the same dislike for both the words “leader” and “bossy” doesn’t prove any significant point or advance the cause for gender equality. These arguments are too focused on the negligible semantics of a campaign that is nobly trying to bring awareness to the fact that girls are often dissuaded from being leaders by their peers, and often at a young age. The threat doesn’t only come from the opposite gender. When girls internalize gender biases and use them to judge others, we become our own worst enemies. We can’t teach others how we want to be treated if we are divided within our own ranks. We must be bold, take smart risks, and speak up to make our voices heard. And whenever others try to make us unsure of ourselves, we mustn’t forget that the tiny, important things really matter: a compliment on an assignment here, a smile shared with a friend there, or even a moment of perfect understanding or achievement. We are all beautiful, capable beings, and when times get tough, we must draw support from our sisters, and continue making our mark on the earth. Even though there are now slightly more men than women on the planet, there are still enough women to challenge the status quo. We can’t let ourselves be content with the world’s subtle sexism and racism. We owe it ourselves to go out and change it. Because, even now, the world belongs to us.

Arlena, 16, is a junior at DeKalb School of the Arts.


VoxTeenCommunications.org Dear 30-year-old self, You are strong. You are beautiful. You are determined. Though you may have had some setbacks, I promise a major comeback is in store for you. Life may not always be easy, but it’s worth it. So I encourage you to “just keep swimming.” At 16, right now I have to teach you these lessons, so I’m sure by 30, you’ll have it down pat! I’m sooooo excited for what’s in store for you: a lovely career, a husband and maybe some kids. But I’m sure you’re still telling yourself, only time will tell. Your dreams will take you anywhere. How’s Cali by the way? I know you have made some awesome films, and you can’t wait to go to the premiere! Make sure you hashtag #younglaurentaughtmethat on the instagram picture. Wow, at 30, we’ve come a long way. One thing I advise is don’t let the same stuff get you down. Because in 2014, there have definitely been some downers, but you always bounce back. You go, girl! Also, honey, don’t worry about how many friends you have, how many people like you, etc. That is so irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Try not to twerk in the middle of the grocery store or “Nae Nae” at a visit to grandma’s. Baby girl, you’re awesome, and you’re gonna rock the world. Make yourself proud and put yourself first. Love ya girlie, Yourself, Lauren Polk, 16

Dear 26-year-old Vashti, I hope you’re doing great. Being 16 is pretty boring, but I’m hoping something special will happen soon. I know that you’re already successful in whatever it is that you’re doing. You’re probably ready to settle down in your own house (which means you’re watching A LOT of HGTV). Are you married yet? If so, did you go with the theme that you always wanted? I know your Tiffany blue table scapes were to die for. I hope he makes you happy and makes you feel beautiful. Kids! Remember that you wanted your

GIRLS’ VOICES VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014 when you’re trying to be better than children to achieve more and love more Oprah? than you did. Let them know that it is You need to understand that college important to be passionate about things is a new chapter in your life. PUSH and passionate about people. Your THROUGH. Don’t get extremely lazy like husband should be just as passionate about SOMETHING. Your dad probably you ALWAYS do, because then you’ll drop still hasn’t moved back to South Carolina out and work at Taco Bell forever. Also, try to start his bed and breakfast. He’s just not to isolate yourself too much. And even so happy here in Atlanta. Is your mom though we HATE change, it’s a part of life. happy? I hope so. She deserves so much College will be a new and fun experience. more, and I hope you’ve helped her get Make new friends. Don’t cry too hard at what she wants. How about friends? I just graduation, even though I know you will. know that Ashanti is still your best friend. Crying too hard will make you look ugly She is just so awesome now so I know she in all the graduation pictures the fam will won’t change. Be open to explore new be taking. KEEP IN TOUCH. With all your things and friends. Even places. And though we never forget will grow where apart. you came Keana, I from and believe in WHO you you. You will came from. truly flourish Anyway, I at whatever won’t hold college you. I know you go to! you’re Hopefully happy and it’ll be even if Howard you aren’t, Girls write their grown selves advice, predictions University. cheer up and love in heartfelt letters Continue Charlie. to be the Every day amazingly is a new awesomely chance to make smart and a change. beautiful person you are. Love you! Be Extraordinary, Sincerely, Keana! (16 years old 16-year-old YOU 3/21/2014)

Letters to Our Future Selves

Dear Keana Chontel Martin-Sanders (18 years old), KEANA! You are about to graduate high school and go to college. TURNUHHH! You need to remain focused because college is legit … like if you fail, that’s basically it. You’re grown now (even though you have been since 15). YOU are paying for your education this time. Don’t f*** up. Don’t get too caught up in boys or partying because that will lead to pregnancy, and who has time for that

Dear future self, Oh. Hey. Didn’t see you there! Well, I do not know where you are right now in your life, but you are probably happy. I know this because as a teen, you could always be positive and know that God has your back. You are not the same person, but you can take what you learned from your teen years and apply it now. If you are not beaming with joy, then just know that it will get better. Do not give people your emotions and

PAGE 13 energy, if they are not doing the same. I realize that you are emotional, but overreacting and spending time being sad over something you cannot change is a lost cause. Even when you and a person are on the same page, think about your priorities, as well as theirs. I bet you remember few things from high school, junior year, such as the stress of school, the heartbreaks, and the emotional roller coasters, but look at where you are now! You made it through! I know, I know. You only made it through that, and you are now going through something else, but here’s what I say: BUMP THAT! Girl, you are strong, and if God brought you through that time, he will bring you through this. Do not underestimate his power to make you feel better, take control of your situation, and teach you lessons. Know that nature is your friend. If you ever feel alone, mad or sad, just go outside and feel the breeze. Look up to the beautiful sky, whether it’s dark or light outside, and show your straight, white teeth to anyone walking by! It could be worse! You are beautiful, and do not forget to use music as a weapon against negativity that may bring you down and cause you to doubt your abilities to do great. Use those to express your feelings, instead of running your mouth to people that may not care as much. I love you, OK? And at the end of the day, you have God and I to fall back on. Keep your head up, and try to not let the little things affect you. Learn how to LET THINGS GO! Please! That’s what got you in trouble before. Do not make the same mistakes. Teach your children how to love and make them feel comfortable talking to you by showing them love and being 100 percent real. Be cool but not too cool, and spend time with them doing things they want to do. Do not suffocate them, though, because when you give them space, they will hopefully come to you. K. Bye. Sincerely, Anonymous


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VoxTeenCommunications.org VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Portrait of A Lady

Using painted self-portraits with encouraging words from their peers, girls express their inner beauty

Images, this page, left to right: Jamaya Powell, 17 Alexandria Wilson, 16 Nancy Ramirez, 16 Keana MartinSanders, 16 Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Vanessa Alva, 16 Daysha Corzine, 16 Alyssa Harris, 16 Christian Stallworth, 17 Lauren Polk, 16 Jade Eckels, 17

More Letters to Future Selves... To the 100-year-old Jamaya, HAAAYYY GIIIRRRLL! I hope that made you roll your wise eyes. I know you are happily satisfied with life. I, the 17-, soon to be 18-year-old, Jamaya, am going to do everything to the best of my ability to live a completely fulfilled life. I hope you have made awesome documentaries (unless we changed our major or something). Have you been able to help end the Palestine/Israel conflict? Have you exposed the U.S. government and their corruptness? I pray you have made an impact on the world so, when you die, not only will your name resonate

off of people's lips, but Westboro Baptist Church will boycott your funeral. I saw that today on Twitter. Is Twitter still cool? I know you have married the man who makes us happy and could make my super romantic self happy. I hope your children are happy and satisfied with the love and lessons you gave them. For example, did you tell them about these "knuckle-headed little boys" (quoted from our mother)? Do you teach them to be humble and kind to people? Now, most of the people who we credit our success to, like our parents, will be dead (unless they found the Fountain of Youth or some type of pill), but never forget what they taught you (which is a lot). Still, I know we have never forgotten where we came from, and thank you for achieving the goals that I dream of today. God bless and twerk on. #YoungMeAndOldMeChillinLikeVillians #BossLife

Sincerely, 17-year-old (about to be 18-year-old) Jamaya P.S. I love you!

P.P.S. I'm writing this at VOX. (Did you donate a lot of money to them yet?)

Dear future self, Right now you are getting ready to graduate high school and go away to college. I hope you remember all of the people that are important to you from high school. Even though everybody says that they do not keep in touch with their high school friends, I hope you do, because you have met some pretty awesome people. Also, I hope you do end up becoming a pilot. Not only would that be the best job ever, but it is also your dream. I know it seems like it may take forever to get there, but remember, “Nothing good ever comes easy.” If things get difficult along the way, please push

through; I already started promising people flights when you get your fancy commercial or private pilot job, so I need you to persevere! Never stop doing things that you enjoy! Reading, playing tennis, and writing have led to you meeting lots of friends who have the same interests as you and connecting with them. These things have also made you into the person you are today and who you will be in the future. Finally, I know that people around your age start trying to rush and get married or be in a relationship. Don’t feel pressured to get married or be in a relationship; just be happy, go with the flow, and let everything play out on its own. Remember your family will always be there for you. Keep calm and carry on, Clarke


VoxTeenCommunications.org

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VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

The Good Things We Girls Have By Christian Stallworth VOX Staff Beauty, we all have it. Sometimes we cannot see it, but it’s there. Reach out and grab it. Understanding and caring, we are. Lovely and amazing, we are. We fall, but we realize that happiness is not far. Chocolates. We have an excuse to eat them. Period. We can take stuffed animals to bed no matter what age. Nails painted pretty colors, eyelashes that flutter. Independent and worthy, attractive as scholars. We can skateboard, play football and still be spirited. We can flaunt our pretty rings when we just got engaged. Diamonds are our best friend. We get attention even when we’re at the bus stop. We can share our feelings all day, nonstop. And there’s no limit to how much money we can spend. At dead ends, we fight. We love shaking our back ends. Best places to dine and to hang, we recommend. Slumber parties, pajamas, pillow fights too. Half shirts, jewelry, and for friends, we come through. I could go all day when it comes to good things we have. Starting with cute clothes in our shopping bags On to all the love that we hold within us. And creating little babies, that’s where I would finish.

Scenes from a Girls Group Lock-In

Each spring, VOX girls group spends the night at VOX for teambuilding, food and fun! Clockwise, from upper left: Nancy, Daysha and Alyssa enjoy a snack at the lock-in. Safiya stands next to her support drawing, where she identified the different support systems in her life. Girls group seniors enjoy a pancake dinner before the energizers begin.


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VoxTeenCommunications.org VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

BeYoutiful By Lauren Polk VOX Staff

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omen are beautiful, successful, creative and powerful. Women’s empowerment is important, and that empowerment starts with you. Loving and accepting who you are is the first step to a very successful future. When you look in the mirror, if you don’t see beautiful, you need to look again. Beauty is both physical and mental, and girls – we are beautiful in both! We are all very unique and have so many different characteristics, and that is one fact that makes us amazingly beautiful. Merriam Webster’s definition of beautiful is “whatever excites the keenest of pleasures to the senses and stirs emotion through the senses.” How beautiful we are sometimes gets mixed up when we look outside of ourselves to other people to comment on our beauty, rather than looking within ourselves and loving ourselves first. If girls stop looking to the world for approval, we can go far. Just because everyone doesn’t like what you do, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. That comes with loving yourself enough to believe in your ideas and stand behind them as long as you find worth in yourself, and what you’re doing is safe. Loving yourself first is arising from the smoke and mirrors to see that you have potential, you can do it, you don’t need the world’s approval, you don’t need to second guess yourself, and you are beautiful. A few facts about low self-esteem are important to know in case you notice the signs in yourself or a friend, so you can identify them and be an encouraging force for other girls in your world. Low selfesteem is a state of mind in which an individual views herself as inadequate, unworthy, unlovable and/or incompetent. According to Dove, the New York Times, teendepression.org, and the SelfEsteem Institute, more than 70 percent of girls ages 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks. And 75 percent of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking or disordered eating, like starving themselves or purging (also known as vomiting) after a meal. This compares to only 25 percent of girls with high self-esteem engage in risky behaviors. About 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood. Low selfesteem can lead to depression, stemming from negative thoughts about oneself. Teen girls that have a negative view of themselves are four times more likely to take part in activities with boys they regret later, like sex. The top wish among teen girls in the Dove survey is for their parents to communicate better with them, which includes frequent and more open conversations. Seven in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, their performance in school and their relationships with friends and family members. A girl’s selfesteem is more strongly related to how she views her own body shape and body weight than how much she actually weighs. A lot of factors play into girls’ self-esteem and most of it comes from body image and how we think others see us. This is where loving yourself comes in to play. When you truly believe you’re beautiful, nothing anyone else says matters as much as your opinion. Also, when you love yourself first, it puts a positive outlook on your relationships because instead of pining for love from your mate or friends, you have enough love within yourself to say, “Maybe I don’t need them in my life,” because you know you have enough love for yourself. Loving yourself goes hand in hand with believing in yourself, because once you see you’re worthy, you begin to love seeing all your worthiness play out. You are beautiful. Remember, no one loves you like you love you; so love yourself first.

Lauren, 16, is a student at Arabia Mountain High School.


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GIRLS’ VOICES VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

What S affects girls’ selfesteem?

By Tyler Sutton VOX Staff

Turns out, boys are a big factor in girls’ self-esteem Images, opposite page, clockwise starting from top left:

elf-esteem is the “realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself,” according to dictionary.com. When a girl has high self-esteem, she genuinely respects herself; but what is it that might make her want to change herself if she has low self-esteem? Many factors, like bullies, or not getting attention from family members, can break a girl’s self-worth, because it could make her feel like she is not cared for. But what about boys? A guy’s opinion can and sometimes will be one of the many reasons why girls want to change themselves, or make themselves feel smaller. Ryani Durham, a student at Arabia Mountain High School says, “If a boy that we really like calls us ugly, it is really going to hurt for a while, because unfortunately, their opinion matters to us so much.” Some girls feel like they have to be different to fit a guy’s standards, so they think, If I change my hair and wear tighter clothes than I’m used

to, maybe he will like me more. Could it be that guys make us feel more insecure in our own skin than anything else? When a guy says, “Maybe you should be more like this girl,” or things like, “You are stupid and worthless,” it really can make a girl feel like she is worthless. If a girl is in a relationship with a guy, and the guy disrespects her by telling her, “These girls are a lot cuter than you; I’m going

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to show her how boys should treat her. A girl wants to feel that she is important and that somebody cares about her, whether it is a family member or a guy at school. She wants to feel like she has approval from somebody, because she feels that how people see her in the world really matters. I believe that a girl should believe nothing but her own opinion of herself, because the only thing that should matter

I believe that a girl should believe nothing but her own opinion of herself, because the only thing that should matter is how she feels about herself. to start hanging out with them more,” you start to feel like you are not good enough — especially if the disrespect happens in more than one of your relationships. It can start to put a toll on other relationships with guys, because a girl can feel like it could happen again, so she decides to shut down. That affects her self-esteem and makes her not trust as easily, because she’s been hurt too many times by what a guy can say. Melanie, 16, from Arabia Mountain says, “Another reason boys can affect our self-esteem is when we do not have a father figure around in our lives.” When a girl does not have a father figure in her life, she can tend to depend on boys’ opinions, because the father is not there

is how she feels about herself. A girl needs to know that she has inner beauty. She should know that her great qualities make her beautiful in every way, no matter what any boy or anybody else says. And if a guy has affected her self-esteem, she needs to remember a quote by author and sociologist Martha Beck: “Although beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, the feeling of being beautiful exists solely in the mind of the beheld.”

Tyler, 16, is a sophomore at Arabia Mountain High School, loves the sport swimming!

Want to join VOX’s Girls Group? It’s easy to join! If you’re a teen girl living in metro Atlanta, you can:

Divanna Eckels, 17 Clarke Martin, 18 Safiya Miller, 16 Caro Addams, 18 Vashti Aveirls, 16 Isis McDowell, 17

1) Join the VOX Teen Staff (see more info on page 38), where you’ll not only be able to participate in girls group, but also be a leader/facilitator and help run the dinner discussions! 2) Attend one of VOX Girls Group’s monthly dinner discussions at the VOX downtown headquarters to have some girl talk about S-E-X, next year’s big topic (how to protect yourself, fears, building your own sexual values so you’re prepared and more). More info about that on our website (voxteencommunications.org) this summer!


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VoxTeenCommunications.org VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Centennial Park’s Olympic Legacy By Nancy Ramirez VOX Staff

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s you enter downtown’s Centennial Olympic Park, big waterfalls, statues of iconic people, and those giant rings greet you. This isn’t just an ordinary park. It’s where history was made. Centennial Olympic Park is one of the most historic parks ever built in Georgia. The downtown space was developed specially for the 1996 Olympic Games. Centennial Olympic Park was built mainly on a rundown area of Atlanta’s downtown, previously occupied by abandoned warehouses and empty stores near CNN Center. According to the official Centennial Olympic Park website, Billy Payne, the CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, viewed the park as a new opportunity for Atlanta. Payne knew that building the park in Atlanta would improve the city visually and economically, and it would provide a place for others to enjoy after the

Olympics were over. Once the games concluded in the summer of 1996, the park was closed and redesigned so it could be accessed by the people of Atlanta for daily use. Today the park is located at 265 Park Ave W Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30313, and offers a variety of enjoyable activities. Teens can just simply take a walk through the park or visit all the different attractions surrounding the park. Once the city of Atlanta had been chosen to host the 1996 Olympic Games, it immediately started gathering donations and raising funds to pay for the construction of the park. If you have ever been there, you may have seen the bricks all throughout the park with different names. The city sold the commemorative bricks to raise funds for the construction of the park. Georgia raised the money that was required because it wanted to claim complete ownership of the park once the games were over. According to the park’s official site, if the state hadn’t raised the money then other corporations could have claimed ownership of the park. According to the

Atlanta Business Chronicle, Atlanta viewed the Olympic Games as an opportunity to be seen by the whole world. It was believed that the building of the Olympic Park would unite people and make Atlanta known as an international city. While the Olympic Park was being constructed, many streets were improved and others were developed. Sidewalks and houses near the park were created as well. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, approximately $2 billion went toward building the park and improving the infrastructure surrounding it. The Olympic Games helped put the city of Atlanta on the map. The games greatly boosted the economy and millions of dollars poured into Atlanta. Not only was money gained, but many new jobs were developed as well. For two weeks that summer, Atlanta was the focus of the world and the Olympics left long-lasting effects on this city. More conventions are hosted yearly in Atlanta and tourism has increased. In 1996, the population of metro Atlanta was 3.5 million and has risen to 5.5 million people today. If you pass by Centennial Olympic Park today, you will be able to observe many things: people taking a nice walk, or others who like getting splashed by water at the Olympic rings fountain. Throughout the year, many different events and walks take place. Nearby attractions include the aquatic creatures at the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the world. If you are in the mood to try various soft drinks while learning some history, you can

visit the World of Coca-Cola. The CNN Center offers tours so you can see what actually goes on behind the scenes in a real newsroom. There is even some fun for smaller children at the Imagine It! Children’s Museum. Other brand new attractions scheduled to open this year include The College Football Hall of Fame and National Center for Civil and Human Rights. And if the new attractions aren’t exciting enough, there are new streetcars that will be transporting people around the downtown area. According to the AJC, the streetcars will make it easier and faster to travel around downtown Atlanta. And at the center of it all, Centennial Olympic Park continues to make a giant impact on Atlanta as our city moves forward. Nancy is a junior at Cross Keys High School. She took the photos of Centennial Olympic Park on this page.


VoxTeenCommunications.org

OUR ATL VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

The City of Dreams

By Clarke Martin VOX Staff

I

have a huge dream: I want to be a pilot. Growing up, I’ve lived near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and so I’ve seen planes landing and taking off every time we drive by. Sometimes, you can hear a

jet soaring over our house heading for the skies. It’s one thing to want to do something but another to actually do it. I wanted to become a pilot, so I applied for The Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, Aviation Career Enrichment, and Flightline — and every aviation program that I qualified for. Flightline is based here in Atlanta, and

pilots come from all over the country to be a part of this program, which is only offered here. I found my passion and luckily I live in a city where there are so many opportunities. This year, I will be moving to Ohio for college and I will miss Atlanta, not just because my family lives here, but because I will hate to part with such a wonderful city full of life, culture,and diversity!

Being a pilot is my dream, but there are others here who have different dreams. Last summer, I decided to learn a little about media. I worked for a week with other teens who were interested in working for CNN or other major news outlets. I viewed the week as a new experience, but other teens there saw the week as an opportunity to get them even closer to their dream job. Our own VOX Teen Communications is an uncensored newspaper where teens can write about anything they want! It also happens to be in Atlanta. What better experience can an aspiring journalist, writer, or artist have in expressing themselves while pursuing their dream, along with similar minds, than actually writing and getting published? Many schools have a censored traditional school paper, but few cities have a newspaper written by teens and programs that cater to their growth. That’s only at VOX in Atlanta. Sure, California has Hollywood, but Atlanta isn’t doing too bad in the moviemaking industry either. “The Walking Dead” is filmed here, Tyler Perry has his studio down here, and just recently Atlanta was chosen as the destination to film “The Hunger Games” film series. Every aspiring teen actress has had to start somewhere, so why not here? I still remember the day when my friend who loved “The Hunger Games” book series as much as I did heard they were doing casting here. We looked at the types of people they were looking for, and unfortunately neither one of us qualified. However, this just shows how you could get your big break here in

PAGE 19 Atlanta with all of the filming that has been going on here. Maybe your biggest dream is to go to a great college. Atlanta has Georgia Tech and Emory University which are two great schools for engineering and medicine. However, if medicine or engineering is not for you, then there are SCAD and The Art Institute, schools that cater specifically to creative artists. These colleges have been recognized for their great work. For instance, Emory is ranked number 20 among the nation’s best universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Georgia Tech was number 36 among nation’s universities and SCAD is ranked 43 out of all art schools. Some of the best education is right here in Atlanta. Atlanta is just the perfect city! We even hosted the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games! Atlanta offers unique opportunities to meet and network with others. We’re a real melting pot with all different types of nationalities and ethnicities. Although we are in the Bible belt, we are more progressive than we appear, not just in sexuality, but in diversity. And as far as close-knit communities go, we have one of the closest, with numerous events such as The Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer and the Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park where Atlantans support others by buying art and exploring all the different types of art and cultures. I am so glad that I was able to grow up in this city with beautiful places like Piedmont Park and attractions like the World of Coca-Cola and Zoo Atlanta. Atlanta has so much to offer and growing up in this city has added to who I am today. Next year at college, I will be 11 hours away in Ohio, but Atlanta will always be in my heart and it will always be home. Clarke is a senior at Riverdale High School who likes to travel and is looking forward to going to Korea. Art at left by Tru Spann, VOX Staff.


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VoxTeenCommunications.org VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

VoxTeenCommunications.org

VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

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American Baby

Hispanic Life and Culture in Atlanta

By P.S. Goya VOX Staff Either I’m nobody, or I’m a nation. Like the stalactites that crawl into their crystal-helix shapes, I crawled, American baby, from the Strait of Magellan where the fish Gargle their lugubrious songs, to the dehydrated Line where the Texans, Those American wannabe’s, flung their broken Spanish at me.

A viewing of VOX Teen Communications’ teen art exhibition, showcasing depictions and interpretations of an important and influential population in the metro Atlanta area DETAILS

I crossed the Frontier, and for a while I stayed with Fruit-pickers, Developing into a character that cannot be defined by American citizenship. My hair crawled far away from my scalp, my feet forgot their Aztec dances, Memories became the packaged boxes in the attic of a house too busy to care. The melanin in my skin, disgusted, evaded me in mirrors.

Where: The Woodruff Arts Center When: Saturday, May 10, 2 p.m. Who: Any teen living in the metro Atlanta area! Cost: Free What to Expect: Art, crafts, face painting, teens and fun

VOX at Voices and Vibes!

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On Saturday, May 10, VOX will host a free exhibition for all guests at the Woodruff Arts Center (WAC) as part of the Wells Fargo ArtsVibe Voices & Vibes Teen festival. Beginning at 2 p.m., the WAC campus will be transformed into a hub of live music, collaborative art-making, workshops, games and much more for all attendees. Visit the VOX Hispanic Life and Culture exhibition for face painting, arts and crafts! Register for the FREE festival at ArtsVibe.com/voices-vibes-festival/

Art from Plaza Fiesta (l-r): Rachel Li, Jelani Harris, Manuel Portillo, Alexandria Wilson Middle Row (l-r): Alexandria Wilson, Manuel Portillo Top Row (art not from Plaza Fiesta): Karestiah Lawson, Safiya Miller, Mac Rowe Page 21, bottom right corner: Rashah Neason (all from Plaza Fiesta)

I wanted to dream, baby, so when they told me about Visas, I listened, And soon enough I began speaking from my Nose just like the gringos, And recited the stories of Bush and Cheney so they’d give me my Green card. I forgot about my Mother, whose scarred back is the spine of the Andes, Who incubated me in the smoke of a patient volcano for two centuries… I didn’t remember myself until the age of 17, When, burned out from singing Yankee Doodle, I recalled the tune of my own people. The heats and smells of Acapulco, the poverty and the richness of the tongue, And I had also forgotten the cacao that is in the eyes of sweet-faced strangers… It all came back to me. I am an American baby, but the U.S., my friend, is not America.


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VoxTeenCommunications.org VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

The High Museum and Around Lenox Mall: a few of our hangout faves in Atlanta

— By Zaria Young / VOX Staff


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OUR ATL VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

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Let’s Go, Bravos By Mahmood Thompson VOX Staff

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ast year, the Braves did almost everything fans asked of them: strong starting pitching and decent hitting. For about two months, the Braves had the best record in the MLB, trouncing the pundits who predicted their collapse in the National League East. Instead, the Braves dismembered the rest of the division consisting of the Florida Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and the Washington Nationals. Did they do this with pitching alone? Nope. They balanced sizzling pitching with effortless hitting. But alas, as is so cliché for the Braves, they tottered in mid-August and collapsed in September. What led to the collapse this time? The main reason was hitting. On September 2, the Braves beat the Mets 13-5 with 17 hits. But only four days later, they lost against better, left-handed pitching. Against pitching like this, the Braves don’t perform so well. This became a trend throughout the post-season. I admire players such as Texas Ranger Prince Fielder or New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez who effortlessly slap at the ball during tough times with top-pitchers, especially left-handed ones. These traits are not the Braves’ strong suit in pressing times. As a team, the Braves often behave like second baseman Dan Uggla, swinging for the fences as if they are playing easy teams when, in reality, they are in the

midst of a pitching duel. Hopefully, a trade will remove the team’s most ineffective hitters (hopefully, before the All Star Game), most likely Dan Uggla and/or B.J. Upton, if they can’t turn it around. A better post-season line up could emerge from such a trade. As for the pitching, I have a fantastic feeling watching the league’s youngest pitching squad: Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and David Hale trounce their opponents. But I’m worried too. I fear some could go through a learning curve, and may not turn out to be as fantastic as everybody expected, like Tommy Hanson in mid-2011. On average, Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez lets his pitchers stay in the game longer than the former manager Bobby Cox did. I’m afraid with so much youth on the mound out there, a Kerry Wood situation could happen (Wood was a young pitcher signed by the Chicago Cubs who showed great promise but got overworked and ended up with a permanent arm injury that crashed his career). Our young pitching staff has taken quite of few hits already with Beachy, Hale and Kris Medlen all among the injured at some point during the pre-season. For the first time in a long time, the Braves are locking up their talent with long-term contracts. The team no longer exists to feed players to the rest of major league baseball, partially thanks to a financially lucrative re-negotiation of the

team’s TV contract, which will give the Braves more money for the payroll. This will help the team in the long term so it won’t have to “rent” players like Mark Texiera. The Braves traded three young pitchers and two hitters for him, and then only kept Texiera half a season. Also, the team hopefully won’t have to let veterans like Omar Infates and Alex Gonzalez depart as they did a couple of seasons ago. The Braves’ new bigger budget has resulted in the team signing Jason Heyward for 13.3 million for two years, and first baseman Freddie Freeman for a whopping $135 million for eight years. They also signed short stop Andrelton Simmons for seven years and closer Craig Kimbrel for six years. According to the

Washington Post, the oldest any Braves player will be at the end of his current contract is 31. Having such young and talented people is one thing, but having the ability to hold on in a clinch is vital too. As the 2014 season gets underway, may the Braves be strong, and destroy the September curse. Here’s hoping for a World Series in Turner Field (only three years left until the Braves depart for Cobb County in 2017)! Mahmood, 19, is graduating from Atlanta Technical College and wishes the Braves would stay at Turner Field forever.


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VoxTeenCommunications.org VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Living and Studying the Arts By Kennedy Thedford VOX Staff

I

once played a queen who disapproved of her husband parading her around like a trophy. That was my first speaking role. I was nine years old and terrified. Before I started to scream my line, I stood there just staring at the audience. At that moment, I wasn’t sure if I was scared of the audience. I knew I was scared of messing up, but I was indecisive about how scared I was of the audience. As they watched me, I knew that this would be my choice to let the entire school play fail because I was scared of saying my lines. I took a deep breath and screamed out my line perfectly. I have been given the opportunity to perform in a play every year. This has helped me in a lot of ways. I learned more about the English language and more about the time period of ancient civilization. This arts education can and has helped many people with rewarding skills and great ways to express themselves. Also, art has a rich history that has helped shape many aspects of society. There are many forms of art. For example, many people know of theater as pretending to be a character in a play and acting is just storytelling, a form that originated from Africa. Also, in music, One Direction is a British band, and millions of teens enjoy their music. Music is art, and art raises cultural awareness. Learning about the Sistine Chapel can give us an idea of what Italian architecture and art is like. The famous fresco done by Michelangelo on the

ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was painted on the inside and gives some idea of how Italians decorated their architecture. Being educated in the arts can give students an awareness of how the world lives outside Atlanta, as well as bring more cultural awareness and new ideas to Atlanta. I have noticed that as I study art, it has changed how people look at the world. Sometimes a painting can change the way we look at our own life. I know that happened to me with artist Thomas Kinkade. All his paintings changed me; they make me want to travel to the country of the picture. Cultural awareness offers many opportunities in the arts. It gave me a glimpse of the world. because I learned of all the different opportunities and how they can be applied to everyday life. Also cultural awareness of the arts can get students a scholarship. One scholarship is the SOTW: Girls Impact the World Film Festival Scholarship. This scholarship is given to high school and undergraduate students who submit a short film about women’s issues. Harvard College Social Innovator and Connecter presents this award to whoever can use their creative mind to create an inspiring film. Along with scholarships, there are numerous opportunities in Atlanta. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Emory University have youth orchestras. I know from personal experience that the Woodruff Arts Center has acting classes. The classes are beneficial in teaching how the acting profession is, and a lot of fun. There are also a lot of visual art activities here. When you go into an arts and crafts store, there is usually a table in the front with brochures on drawing classes. These

One teen’s take on the importance of art education to sustaining culture in Atlanta

opportunities are everywhere around Atlanta to help your imagination grow. Many people may say that to have a big imagination, the person must be born that way. Actually, a person does not have to be born that way or be the loudest person in the room. Sometimes the quietest person can have a very big imagination. I am an example of that. I can be loud when I want to, but usually I am quietly creating a story that has something to do with action. This imagination that I have has helped me in my core classes in school. Once, in literature, we were asked to write a short story using a list of words my teacher gave us. I remember one of the words was London. I made my characters go to London and have tea with the Queen. Being given that word, I already had an idea of what I wanted my characters to do. Imagination is basically important in whatever you do. In business, it is needed for marketing, and getting someone to buy your products. With art education, new skills are learned and unforgettable experiences are gained. These skills are important but not the only thing that is needed. Art teaches the skill of discipline, technique and critical thinking. With these tools, students will perform well in their careers too. In addition, art education teaches students to learn and apply critical thinking skills to their everyday life. For example, Charles Schulz, the cartoonist of Charlie Brown, was a shy teenager that kept to himself. Yet, he was able to express himself through drawings of his dog and

children. There have been many artists who have benefited from arts education. Alicia Keys went to a performing arts middle/ high school. She stayed there for four years in New York City, then graduated as valedictorian. She gained experience and showcased her singing and songwriting. Her performing arts school helped Alicia Keys become a successful singer, songwriter and actress. Another wellknown celebrity that benefited from an arts education is Nicki Minaj, who attended a performing arts school in Queens, New York. She almost did not make it into the vocal program, because she lost her voice before her audition. Yet, this still did not stop her from becoming a popular singer. An arts education gives students a sense of belonging, cultural awareness, and inspiration. Furthermore, many famous performers have benefited from an arts education in high school. Even though not everyone falls in love with art, learning about it can give you a great advantage in the career world. Even if art is no longer taught in some schools, it is still important because art is everywhere. Art, along with reading, writing, math and science is essential for a society to work.

Kennedy,15, is a freshmen at Mt. Zion High school in the Fine Arts Magnet program.


VoxTeenCommunications.org

OUR ATL

The Real(er) Housewives of Atlanta By Mac Rowe VOX Staff

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he Real Housewives of Atlanta” has been around for six seasons and remains one of Bravo’s biggest reality shows. As of season six, there are six women on the show: actress Nene Leakes, lawyer turned funeral director Phaedra Parks, Grammy winner Kandi Burruss, fashion agent and model Cynthia Bailey, former Miss USA Kenya Moore, and Porshia Stewart … well, it’s kind of unclear as to what she does except that she was married to former Steelers football player Kordell Stewart. All of these women have made it big in one way or another. These women are rude, so why are they so famous? I’ve tried to find out just what these women are doing to Atlanta’s reputation and why they are so famous. Just like other “Housewives” series, these women often display general cattiness, like “throwing shade,” a term they use that means to hurl insults to one another. All of these women have been somewhat successful at some point

Mac’s Production Ideas for Bravo!

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VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

We don’t twerk in Atlanta. We WORK.

in their lives, but they really don’t portray Atlanta too well, especially for the women. We mustn’t forget that everyone all over the U.S. watches this show, and they make general assumptions of the people here in Atlanta, based on what they see. What’s worse, these are the women who are putting Atlanta on the map. There are so many amazing women who have been born in or started their careers in Atlanta. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, and is making an impact just like her father. Ciara, who has made it huge in the R&B industry, started her career right in Atlanta. Shirley Franklin was the Mayor of Atlanta, who served two terms, from 2002-2010 and was the first female mayor in Atlanta. Sara Blakely created the the wildly successful Spanx product line. And of course, the beautiful and talented Janelle Monáe, a singer discovered by Outkast’s own Big Boi, is no stranger to Atlanta. She records a ton of music here, and has expressed that Atlanta is

like her second home (her hometown being Kansas City). She now lives here in Atlanta. So why do we let these housewives define all the women of Atlanta? We have such powerful female influences in Atlanta, but it just seems like these housewives have partially destroyed that reputation. Not a single episode passes without a woman calling another woman a derogatory word that is degrading toward women like “slut” or “whore.” It’s a likely assumption that people think of us as trash for that reason. Of course, that’s not to say that, like every city, we’re flawed. So how can we fix this? There’s only one way: continue fighting on. We have to stand up and continue to produce the powerful men and women from Atlanta.

Because while Atlanta is flawed, so is every other city. Even though the Bravo show depicts Atlanta women to be what they aren’t, we have to keep fighting to show that we’re the same as the next city. And it’s about time people look at us and treat us that way.

“Southern Mothers”

“Business in Atlanta”

“Upcoming Atlanta”

A show about the real struggles of Atlanta mothers. The show could display how these moms overcome their obstacles.

A series that would showcase Atlanta bosses and their everyday professional lives.

A show that gives viewers a taste of what underground artists do to make their way to fame.

Mac, 16, is a sophomore at Academe of the Oaks whose favorite housewife is Kandi Burruss. Photo of the RHOA courtesy of People.


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Community Service for Atlanta Teens By Madison Smith VOX Staff

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any high schools now require students to complete a certain number of community service hours before graduating. Perhaps you’re coming to the end of your junior year and realize that you haven’t completed enough (or any) of the required hours. Or perhaps you are just finishing your freshman year and want to use this summer to get a jump start on racking up those community service hours. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to give back to your community, but never knew how. To remedy all of these problems, I’ve compiled this list of community service opportunities for teens in Atlanta. With insider feedback from teens who have volunteered at each organization, this list can help you find a community service organization that both interests you, gives you community service hours, and helps you give back to your community.

The Global Village School The Global Village School is a haven for teenage girls who have endured war or lived in refugee camps. The school offers free, intensive English language programs, academic classes and assistance, and teaches essential life skills. Often these girls have either never had a formal education, know little to no English, or have had no schooling at all. The demand for volunteers at the Global Village School is high. Volunteering at the Global Village School provides a unique opportunity for Atlanta teens to interact with international refugees and learn more about different cultures. Madeleine Henner, 17, who attends Decatur High School, has volunteered at the Global Village School consistently throughout her high school career. During an interview, Henner shared many insightful thoughts and key bits of information. First, she described what an average afternoon of volunteering at the Global Village School entailed: “I could walk there after school. I tutored three days a week, in writing, reading, and

math. The first day I tutored, a girl had a biology worksheet, and I read along with her and helped her read the instructions. The girls there are all very intelligent, but sometimes the language barrier is a bit difficult.” Henner went on to admit that, in the beginning, her time there wasn’t always enjoyable. She explains how forming relationships with the girls made it easier: “…then I started to get to know the girls as friends and as people, [and] it became easier to communicate and help them.” When asked what type of person would enjoy this volunteer service, Henner replied: “It would be easier for girls to get involved in the after-school programs than boys. I would recommend this to someone who is open-minded, patient, and wants to understand more about what’s going on in the world around them.” The Global Village School Contact Info: Rachel Stanley Program Coordinator 404-371-0107 www.globalvillageproject.org

Curtains Up, Inc. The mission statement of Curtains Up, Inc. is “to make a positive difference in the lives of Georgia’s children through the performing arts.” Curtains Up reaches out to underserved children of Georgia who deserve a chance to shine in their own spotlight. Curtains Up offers classes and summer camps for younger children, in which they learn confidence, articulation, independence and teamwork skills. Volunteering at Curtains Up, Inc. offers a unique opportunity to anyone interested in theater, musical education, and childcare. It should be noted, however, that direct contact with the founder of the program is required before beginning service there. Rose Shue, 17, a student at the Paideia School, had the pleasure of volunteering there and shared some of her experiences. Shue described the activities she helped out with: “I helped lead camps and with stage management. I helped with choreography, I helped kids run lines, and I helped with lights and props. I went directly after school and usually stayed until eight, but the

hours are flexible.” Shue notes that, as she is very interested in music and music education, this volunteer experience was particularly rewarding. When asked what type of teen would benefit most from this, Shue responded thoughtfully: “I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who is especially interested or experienced in musical theater. Sometimes it got a little bit overwhelming, because the kids were a lot to handle sometimes. If you’re the kind of person who understands the importance and impact of the arts, especially music, can have on a kids’ life, it’s an especially eye opening opportunity.” Curtains Up, Inc. Contact Info: Jennifer Salberg Founder talent@curtainsupinc.org

Grady Summer Program: The Grady Summer Program is a volunteer opportunity for teens who may be interested in the medical field. This volunteer program allows teens to work in Grady Hospital for several hours at a time, learning about how a hospital works and what it takes to keep Grady up and running. Some of the tasks assigned to teen volunteers are described by Ilana Ander, 17, who volunteered at Grady last summer. “Generally, volunteers are assigned to different parts of the hospital, like the legal affairs office or the ER. I spent a lot of time calling patients after


VoxTeenCommunications.org they had been discharged to make sure they were OK. I also delivered a brief survey to them, asking how Grady could improve their customer service. I also did small tasks, like bringing patients socks, pillows, or water; anything to make them feel more comfortable.” Ander says that she truly enjoyed her time there, and was fascinated by the different people who came in and out of the ER: “It’s a great opportunity to meet different people from all walks of life.” She also noted that “…if you’re interested in the medical field, it’s a great way to get a taste of the daily lives of doctors, nurses, and hospital employees.” In addition to learning about the medical field and the inner workings of a hospital, Ander says that she also got to practice her Spanish when speaking to some of the patients over the phone. Ander says that she would certainly recommend this to another teen. “It’s easy to get caught in the bubble of your school or social life,” she said, “but working at Grady exposes you to a world beyond your own, that many teens haven't experiences before. I gained a lot of leadership experience and independence, because often you’re on your own doing tasks. I would recommend this volunteer service to someone who isn’t afraid to ask for help when they need it, who is comfortable working on their own, someone who is respectful of patients and knows that a smile can go a long way.” Grady Contact Info: Grady Volunteer Office 404-616-4360

RRISA (Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta) The goal of RRISA is to help immigrants and refugees with the transition to being self-sufficient in a new country. They have many ways of facilitating this transition, including their multi-lingual and multi-cultural staff and volunteers, who lend a listening ear and helpful hand to those having a hard time adjusting to their new surroundings. RRISA helps

OUR ATL VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014 families who are refugees and victims of human trafficking settle into American life and become stable and independent members of the community. The immediate goal of RRISA is to “enable families to become economically selfsufficient.” Ariadne Nicol, 18, of the Paideia School had the opportunity to do community service at RRISA and shared her experience. Nicol worked on a special project while she was there. “I ran the social media campaign for World Refugee day in Georgia, 2012,” she explained. “I created an event on Facebook, put the word out on Twitter, and scheduled for a congressman from Clarkston, to oversee the swearing in ceremony for the immigrants as they became official citizens.” In addition to this, Nicol worked on case files, filling in necessary paper work for those who cannot read or write English. She also created a new legal binder with the updated versions of the immigration laws for the immigration specialist at RRISA. Nicol says that she truly enjoyed her time at RRISA because she felt that she was helping those who had nobody to turn to. Nicol noted that her service there was especially meaningful because of her personal connection with the organization’s mission: “I also had a personal connection to the immigrants and refugees, because both of my parents were immigrants to this country.” Nicol says that she would definitely recommend this volunteer program to other teens. She does caution, however, that “…it has to mean something to you, because otherwise it would seem like a boring desk job.” RRISA Contact Info: Gillian Ferris Education and Youth Manager 404-622-2235 ext 248 Gillian@rrisa.org Madison, 17, is a junior at the Paideia School, who has never been to Minnesota.

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Eat Your Iron Duluth restaurant Iron Age offers the best in Korean food, culture and entertainment By Divanna Eckels

you, one at a time, in an order specified by you. The meat is cooked at the table on the griddle. Depending on your waiter, you may cook most of it, he may cook most of it, or there will be an equal amount of cooking on both sides. It is not uncommon for multiple waiters to man one table. All of the meat is delicious, though my personal favorite is the marinated beef, because it is juicy, tender, and flavorful. All of the meats are never tough and are always well-seasoned.  At the end of your meal, you can even get fried rice with bean sprouts, ice cream, and coffee, free-of-charge. I don't have any complaints when it comes to Iron Age. The environment is comfortable, the staff is helpful, the music videos are entertaining; and, most importantly,

VOX Staff  

W

hen you first walk in through the two sets of double doors, one of the first things you see is a projector screen playing Korean music videos. The dimly-lit room is bustling with waiters, all Korean male 20-somethings dressed in black. Iron Age, a mid-sized restaurant located at 2131 Pleasant Hill Rd in Duluth is usually full, with people of all ages and races and a line going out the door on holidays. The manager is usually the person to greet and seat customers. The restaurant has a peaceful but exciting atmosphere.  Iron Age’s menu features various options of meat combinations, including marinated beef, beef brisket, beef meatballs, pork meatballs, and spicy chicken. There is a griddle on each table that sits on top of a mini-stove of sorts. If you order one of the two all you-caneat options, each meat is brought to

PHOTO COURTESY OF BELLA VIVERA

the food is delicious. The food is suitable for everyone, including those who have never had Korean food. Iron Age is the perfect restaurant for meat-lovers, and the Korean sauces and side dishes, as well as the Korean music videos, complement the meal well. Divanna, 17, is an incoming first-year student at Brandeis University, who likes Korean movies.


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Garden State Grows a Peach By Vaughn Cyrus VOX Staff

I

n the summer of 2008 my mom, my sister and I moved from my home state of New Jersey to Charlotte, North Carolina. I loved living in New Jersey. It is where I lived my whole life. North Carolina seemed cool but it had nothing on Jersey. Living in Jersey is all I knew. I loved everything about my state, from the people to the snow. Moving was really difficult, and it changed everything about my life. I had to make new friends and switch to different schools, and it was a huge obstacle in my pre-teen days and pushed me to the brink of losing my sanity. But I had to learn to adapt to my new surroundings and find a way to make it. While my family was still in North Carolina things changed a lot. I stopped playing sports as much as I used to and I was hanging out with most of the kids in my neighborhood. I was not as involved in school like I was when we lived in New Jersey. I honestly hated everything about the school I went to when I first arrived in North Carolina. Students had to wear uniforms and have their shirts tucked in at all time. The teachers were way too strict and all the classes were split by gender. Being in a class full of guys would have been great when I was five and still believed in "cooties," but at twelve, I just could not do it. After sixth grade was over, I ended up switching schools again. The new school I went to was amazing. Teachers there were actually reasonable, and you could wear casual clothes which was great. I even met a good handful of people from New Jersey that I would hang

out with. After being at the school for about four months I met a lot of people and made friends. But once those four months were over we moved again. I ended up moving to Atlanta with my dad. When I originally came to Atlanta, I thought Atlanta and Charlotte were really similar cities from the downtown life to the school system and to the people that lived here. The only thing that made me upset about moving down here is that I felt like nobody really understood what I was saying. In North Carolina there were people from New Jersey that could relate to my stories. But here, when I would talk about everyday things about New Jersey in my classroom, kids would look at me like I was crazy because they never did any of the things I had done with my friends in New Jersey. If I were to talk about how much I love the snow, they would laugh at the thought of snow. After being in Atlanta for over a month I completely hated it. I really disliked the culture here, like how Georgia was very country compared to Jersey. I also didn't like the way things were ran in school. All I wanted to do was move back to New Jersey. I felt like while I was in elementary school in New Jersey, I had more freedom than I did at a middle school in Georgia. Deep inside I knew that we would not be moving back up north any time soon though. I learned that I would just have to get through the fact that I would be living down here. Once the school year was finished I moved again - this time back with my mom to Sandy Springs, Georgia. Once we moved to Sandy Springs, I got more involved with the school. I just finally decided that since I will probably be here for the rest of my primary

education I should make the best of it. During the summer I started playing football for the school and meeting new friends before school even started. Once I started going to Sandy Springs Middle School I met a lot of the people I still hang out with till this day. While I was there, I did get into a little bit of trouble, but everything that happened was me acting crazy like a lot of other thirteen year old boys. One time got in trouble for causing mischief in the hallways. Going to Sandy Springs Middle was one of my best experiences while I have been in Georgia. I got reunited with the love of my life known as football, and I met really cool people who I still hang out with. Once eighth grade was over I went to the same high school with the people I went to middle school with, which made the transition easier. Now it's 2014, and I am in the 11th grade, and still going to the same high school I went to with most of my friends from middle school. I have been through

ART BY SHARMAINE FISHER | VOX STAFF

ups and downs from my move from New Jersey to Atlanta. Moving to the south was a huge obstacle but I was able to overcome. I have been in Atlanta for about four and a half years so far and I can honestly say living here has changed my life for the better. I have become more open minded to different ways of life and to people who grew up differently from me. I hope to go to college here and live here for the rest of my life. I will forever call New Jersey home, but Atlanta is where I tip my hat. Vaughn, 17, is a junior at North Springs High School who thinks #VOXisLife.


VoxTeenCommunications.org

OUR ATL VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Finding Beauty in ATL By Christian Stallworth VOX Staff

I

HATE WISHY WASHY ATLANTA” is an expression I carelessly used to throw around. Since birth, I have lived here in the same area, and I had sincerely started to despise the very thought of Atlanta. I became bored out of my mind whenever I was stuck at home, because I was weary of the same old movies, malls, skating rinks, bowling alleys, parks and arcades. There were days when I would tap my fingers on the car window repeatedly because sitting in Atlanta’s horrible traffic made me furious and impatient. Those were the days I wished to be anywhere else but here. In fact, while brainstorming this article, I could not wait to bash Atlanta. But then I realized that I could not create a clear picture as to why Atlanta was so gruesome. There are more advantages to being here than disadvantages. There are millions of people who come from all over the world to have the Atlanta experience that I do not appreciate. I am in the middle of all of the acclaimed excitement and I hate it, but why? Could the reason be because I have been stuck here forever and I desire change, or could it be because I find myself bored with the same activities and being in my house? Although Atlanta has its flaws, I

realized my negativity restricted me from experiencing the compelling roots of Atlanta, but once I got out on the town more and experienced the excitement and fun, I realized what I was missing. Back when I despised Atlanta, I dreaded the idea of being in one place for too long, but when I really thought about it, I desired change in some way or form. I yearned to be near my family in Alabama or Chicago. Because of hardships with school, betraying friends, and bad memories of bullying and heartbreak here, I was hoping if I dropped everything and went to a new place, I would acquire a new start. I never thought about the fact that if I moved, it might be worse because I would just be dragging my problems along with me to a new place. Honestly, I believe that you have to deal with your issues where you reside; otherwise, you will be disappointed, because personal problems rest in your brain or your heart and cannot be solved by simply changing locations. Being in one place all your life can be a great thing because that place is familiar to you, while other places are unpredictable. Surprisingly, Atlanta changed me. Now, I enjoy the radically changing weather. One day I can wear shorts or sweats and the next day, I can wear rain boots. The spontaneous weather has made me comfortable with change, even though I

have lived in the same place all my life. Plus, downtown Atlanta is the home of VOX, where great leadership, communication, photography, and writing skills await teens. I have had the chance to explore different parts of Atlanta and have fallen in love with its parks, restaurants, and hangout spots, such as Yogli Mogli in Sandy Springs, Lenox Square mall in Buckhead, Starbucks in Sandy Springs, and Sky Zone in Roswell. Here, I have learned more dances than I can remember. So many popular dances have originated in Atlanta, such as the Stanky Legg, Soulja Boy, Naenae, Shake That Laffy Taffy, and Walk It Out. These dances have become a part of our culture. Popular artists, such as T.I., Ludacris, 2 Chainz, Ciara, and Outkast have risen from the underground and small communities here. Southern rock, punk rock, indie rock, and hip hop acts have all had their start here before going on to influence the rest of the nation. From more than 220 species of animals at Zoo Atlanta to downtown’s massive drive-in, The Varsity and its famous hotdogs, Atlanta deserves more praise than I’ve been giving it. It is funny how I have convinced myself to adore Atlanta, when I’d previously told myself I would never love it. I almost feel proud to be from here, when I find out a movie, such as Hunger Games was filmed here at the Georgia World Congress Center and in other parts of Atlanta. I become overwhelmed with excitement, when I venture out of town and hear people say “I just met André 3000 from Atlanta” because I am constantly reminded of the multiple opportunities offered here. Since I have been here, I have met multiple celebrities including rapper/actor Ludacris at Andretti’s in Alpharetta, T.I’s wife Tiny at Perimeter Mall, boy band Mindless Behavior at a meet and greet, “House of Payne” actress Demetria Mckinney at Lenox Square boy band Offic!al at Perimeter Mall and rapper/actor Kid Cudi at VOX. As a music

PAGE 29 writer, it motivates me to know that I could be the next Atlanta native who rises to fame. With the future in mind, the Hope Scholarship rewards students with financial aid for public and private colleges in Georgia. If you work hard and meet the requirements, then you are guaranteed money toward your future. After a while, I discovered that finding things to do here was not so hard. If I ever get bored, I just venture through Underground Atlanta with my friends, where I can buy different foods, cheap jewelry, nice clothes, and much more. I love feeling the cool breeze at Centennial Olympic Park as I watch kids laugh and play in the free fountains. Anytime I need to escape my house, I can enjoy a free concert at Kennesaw State University, stroll through Atlantic Station or see what exciting event they’re having at Piedmont Park. I have learned an important life lesson that if you cannot change your situation, you can change the way you respond and let it affect you. It did not make sense for me to continue hating Atlanta without finding my own fun in it. Once I had the full Atlanta experience, I realized I had overlooked the real Atlanta all this time. By living here, I have learned a lot about my ability to adjust and find my own happiness, which will help me deal with unexpected changes later in my life. I have become quite fond of the view of downtown, the delightful people, and the endless possibilities here. Because I went from hating Atlanta to adoring it, I know that it is possible for anyone to grow to appreciate Atlanta. I encourage anyone who has a bad opinion about Atlanta to give it a chance, because who knows? Maybe they’ll end up liking it one day, just like me. Christian, 16, is a junior at North Springs High School, who writes music and never fails to include laughter as a crucial part of her day.


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VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Most people's advice is based on their experience so take all advice with a grain of salt. Her: Don’t be afraid to take chances. Me: And if you had followed that? Her: I would have been more fearless creatively. Me: Why is that important? Her: Because you have to live every day to the fullest ‘cause you never know what’s going to happen.

Humans of Atlanta

I’d probably say that there’s life behind high school. Don’t take those four years too seriously. Know that there’s a big wide world out there that you’ve got the opportunity to make a difference in. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Follow your dreams: you can do what you want to do.

It’s strange the amount of wisdom strangers have and what they are willing to share with a teenager roaming the streets camera in hand. On one of my exploring adventures, I met all of these anonymous Atlantans, who each imparted a piece of advice for the modern Atlanta teenager. Some of them have not been teenagers for a while, and others had just shut that chapter of their lives, but these adults all had some advice they would like to have heard when they were in adolescence. I wonder if we can learn a thing or two.

Sania is a junior at Parkviw High School in the suburbia of Gwinnett County who loves meeting new people and documenting their stories with her pen and camera in tote.

Save your money better. Don't spend that $2000. Don't wait to express your excellent fashion sensibilities; show them legs.

Seek wisdom because it gives you answers to the problems. It gives you peace and if it gives you peace, it will give the world peace.

Not to give up hope. Keep fighting for what our ancestors fought for - Justice, Equality and Hope

Don’t quit, if you feel like art is something that resonates with your nature, don’t quit. People are really good about pulling you down when they don’t know where to go.

All photos by Sania Chandrani, VOX Staff. Check out more photos and advice on the VOX website: Voxteencommunications.org

Him: Don’t take things too seriously. Me: If you had followed that advice, would your life be different? Him: Not really. You never really embody something unless you experience it. You never really follow something just because you hear it.

She rolled up her sleeve to show me her advice: “When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”

Now, at the ripe old age of 57, I can give myself good advice. You know, I really wanna say enjoy yoyrself. You’re lovely inside and out, and you have to convey that in a way a young person will get it. You know, [young people] are so dependent on what society thinks. Or it might be that I love you.


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VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Atlanta Treasures

Visit some of Atlanta’s best-known and best-kept hot spots By Danielle Kreger VOX Staff

F

rom those new to Atlanta to the natives, Hotlanta offers a seemingly endless number of things to do and places to go. Here is a list of fifteen great adventures waiting to happen in the middle of the city:

1

Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park and Conservatory:

This public park is home to Atlanta’s only skate park! Just off of Ponce de Leon Avenue near Decatur, this concrete oasis offers a great time to any skater.  

2 3

Go see a Braves game: Even in the less expensive seats up in the clouds, it can be fun to cheer on your home team with a pretzel and some friends.  

Federal Reserve and State Capital:

Show me the money! The optional guided tours (versus self-guided) take visitors through each location and explain facts about what happens in the Reserve or in the Capital.  

4

Botanical Garden:

When there is beautiful weather and you want to escape the bustle of the city, the Botanical Garden is a little piece of flowery paradise in the middle of the city. Bring a book, your iPod, or a sketchpad and relax amid flowers. There is even a

green house with frogs hoping around in it. Watch your step!  

5

World of Coca-Cola:

If you want to see where and how Atlanta’s favorite soft drink is made the World of Coca-Cola is the place for you. There is a even tasting center where you can sample Coca-Cola flavors from all around the world.  

6

Georgia Aquarium:

Is expensive! May be something that you have to save up to visit, but watching a whale shark soar over your head as you walk through the iconic tunnel is well worth the cost. Did we mention there are several interactive tanks where you can pet the marine life?  

7

Zoo Atlanta:

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Zoo Atlanta seems to have every animal. There are demonstrations and animal feedings for visitors who want to get closer to the animals. There is also a train, a rockclimbing wall and a carousel!  

8

CNN Center:

On the tour, you get to look into the newsroom and observe all the magic. The tour takes you through the center’s newsroom and even up an enormous escalator.  

9

Centennial Olympic Park: Iconic for the Olympic rings, Centennial Olympic Park has all the flair of Atlanta in a park.

There are fountains that you can run through on the hot days, or bring a blanket and lounge in the sun for a while.  

10

Virginia-Highland:

This adorable neighborhood is filled with boutique shops and restaurants. On a nice day, Virginia Highlands is great for walking around and window-shopping.  

11

Piedmont Park:

Relaxing with friends with a view of the Atlanta skyline might be one of the most carefree ways to spend an Atlanta day. Bring a blanket, your music, a Frisbee, and some friends and you are pretty much set for a great day.  

12

Little Five Points:

Full of the artisticAtlanta feel, Little Five Points is great for looking through thrift shops, watching street-talent, and experiencing a different side of Atlanta. However, be careful at night.   

13

High Museum of Art and Fernbank Museum of Natural History:

For some good-time museum fun, these places hit the mark. The High brings in some famous, traveling art while housing a collection of its own, unique pieces. Fernbank, with a towering fullscale dinosaur replica, makes science and history fun. With an Imax theater,

Fernbank is perfect on a rainy day or a day where you just want to learn.  

14

Yellow River Game Ranch:

With a herd of animals and home to our very own groundhog, the Yellow River Game Ranch is an interactive ranch perfect for nature lovers.  

15

Tour the Georgia Dome:

Perfect for sports fans of all ages. Visitors go to the owner’s box, the press box, and all through the dome. Great for anyone with an interest in sports — particularly of the Atlanta variety.   So there it is: 15 amazing treasures that only Atlanta offers to her adoring fans. Go out and explore with any one of these, and you’re almost guaranteed a great day.

Danielle, 18, is a senior at Woodward Academy and wants to be Queen Elsa when she grows up.


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The Masquerade’s Metal Mania By Agustin Jimenez VOX Staff

I

t’s 6:30 p.m., and there’s a gun pointed straight at my chest. It’s more like a cannon, really. I am standing outside of the Masquerade nightclub near downtown Atlanta. The gun is huge, and painted a graying black. Even though it’s for purely decorative purposes, I wonder what would actually happen if it fired just one shot. I am here to see my friend Jimmy Mendoza play with his band, Mosura. For weeks now, I had been promising to see one of his shows. I haven’t been to many music venues, but this one strikes me as very unorthodox. The large building is built out of gray brick, with smaller compartments painted an ugly jet black. The smell of cigarette smoke permeates the air outside, as groups of teens hang around, chilling and strutting. You can hear the bands warming up inside. The low twang of bass guitar thrums reverberate through the air, and the steady drumbeats have me reminiscing about marching band. Somewhere inside, someone begins to play the instrumental of Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away.” It makes me feel a romantic vibe that I did not expect at a heavy metal show. The people begin lining up by the ticket stands. They’re your average Joes and Janes of metal rock, dressed in black or gray jeans, black t-shirts with gold chains, and the ubiquitous black leather jacket. Their shirts say things like, “Prague Angel,” “Black Label Society,” and “Abbey Dawn.” Most of my stereotypes about

teenagers are broken here, swallowed up by this metallic bass monster of the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. Here you’ll find black kids who say, “Hey, dude,” and cool lesbians in preppy attire, both clambering to get into the venue. The Masquerade itself, with its garish purple sign (only the M-A-S and R-A-D-E still glow), breaks stereotypes as well. While the preppy condos and lofts of infamously expensive Midtown have begun to encroach upon the surrounding streets, this cool indie venue manages to hold on tenaciously to its beloved counterculture. I take my place near the front of the line, leaning against the white picket fence by the entrance huts. The staff at the box office is nearly indistinguishable from the attendees, except for walkietalkies at their waists with wires going up to and behind their shoulders. There is a short man with long dreads yelling announcements at the crowd. “When we open up, this’ll be the line over here!” He points to the area where I am standing. “If you’re gonna be drinking tonight, I’m gonna need to see I.D.’s!” He begins handing out orange wristbands (like the ones they give you at hospitals) to those who will be drinking, and repeats the same announcement many times. Finally, the doors open, and the staff begins validating tickets. I can’t help but think that the girl at the purple box office (the one with the septum piercing) is marvelously hip. I follow the crowd into the building and up the winding wooden stairs. The venue is divided into two sections (“Heaven” is upstairs and “Hell” is below). Jimmy Mendoza, 18, and his

PHOTO COURTESTY OF QUINTIN WOJCIK

band will be playing along with about four other bands. The first word to pop into my head as I enter “Heaven” is inaccuracy. The large room is freakishly dark, with blue and red lights emanating sparsely from the stage at the near end of the room. Giant boom boxes flank the raised wood platform on which countless metal bands have played. Right now, smooth reggae and soft Latin electro-pop fill the room, completely in discord with the crowd, who are dressed and prepped for a crazy metal extravaganza. I sit quietly on one of the flimsy tables, until I spot someone from school and begin asking him questions. “So, what do I do once the music starts?” Brandon Gonzalez, 18, can’t help but laugh at my question. “You just get into the zone, and start jumping up and down! Wave your head back and forth, too…” I don’t do either of those things. As Jimmy’s band begins playing, I simply stand there and take it all in, rapt. I was expecting the low-toned, guttural bellows, and lyrics hardly recognizable as English, but the wave of emotions are completely new to me. Mosura stands out because it delivers the same combo of vented rage, power, and aggression as bands like Hollow Sky, Kysmet, and The Antikythera

Mechanism, despite the fact that none of its members are old enough to legally drink alcohol. The audience responds to almost every gesture, every signal. Jimmy’s improvised mannerisms (head spinning, pointing, etc.) are greeted with shouts of approval. The lead guitarist, Tyler Blalock, 20, shreds a pricy-looking guitar, inspiring hair spinning from men and women alike. Jonathan Benitez, 19, on bass guitar, brings an orderly rhythm and meter to the otherwise chaotic monster onstage. His task is comparable to Austin Massingill’s, who is the band’s superbly talented drummer at the young age of 17. The band members, together, create the intense spectacle that truly characterizes metal, and sends the audience into a frenzy of pushing, shoving, and screaming. In metal, there is a word for it. Mosh. Jimmy cites bands like Metallica, Pantera, and Lamb of God as major inspirations for Mosura’s style and subject matter. He particularly idolizes deathcore metal-man Mitch Lucker, a member of the band Suicide Silence. Jimmy recalls the performance that inspired him to become a metal-man himself. “Mitch Lucker being up there, just the way he projected the energy up on stage, was insane for me,” he says, nostalgically. “It was like a mosh pit of one, and I love that. That’s why I try to feel free while onstage, and make it my playground.” Mosura kills it onstage. For them, metal is truly a way of life, one that they devote hours of painstaking practice to. A day was simply not enough to take in all of Atlanta’s metal scene, and so I learned very little about its inner workings. But I learned that it is rich in diversity, talent and passion. The metal scene is small in Atlanta, and is threatened by encroaching conformity. Older bands pass on the torch, and Mosura gladly accepts.

Agustin, 17, is a sophomore at North Atlanta High School who is an aspiring writer with a particular love for poetry.


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OUR ATL VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Edgy Locals Prep for Next Steps By Sharah Hutson Special to VOX  

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ver The Edge merge pop punk and nü metal influences to create their own infectious sound that is bound to catch anyone’s attention. Hailing from Peachtree City, Ga., Over The Edge has many other local bands to look up to, such as Issues and Norma Jean. Just over two years ago, Over The Edge formed when vocalist and guitarist David Watts met original drummer Sam Worley (who has since been replaced by Armani Gordon), lead guitarist Ryan Hoffman and bassist Teddy Kohlhaas in class. “Sam and I met in a guitar class the first day of school,” David recalls.  “He was playing an A7x riff, so I decided to go over and talk to him. It turns out he was a drummer, so I went to jam with him after school that day.” A fateful encounter with a nectarine that afternoon led to the band’s name. Explains David: “Prior to leaving my house to go jam, I ate a nectarine. I get to his house, and we start working on a song I had been writing. I started getting

really itchy and puffy, but I didn't think anything of it, until it got worse. I wound up calling my dad and he had to drive me to the hospital, where I was nearly in anaphylactic shock, and they treated me. I later learned that if I had gone any longer without treatment, I would have gone over the edge and into anaphylactic shock, as the doctor worded it. Hence the band name!” Busy with school obligations, there are lots of obstacles in the way of keeping a great band steady and moving. The first challenge was not just writing great songs for EPs, but getting the band’s name out there. Over the Edge was able to acquire more than 300 Facebook fans by playing at small social events. The booking agency Gorilla Music presented the band with many opportunities to play at Atlanta rock club, The Masquerade. “The drive to put on a good show every time we play there has definitely strengthened us as a band and as individual musicians,” explains David. Despite sporadic local shows, OTE has acquired dedicated fans.  Behind each of their songs, of course, is a story. “Battle of Ridgeview,” the band’s favorite song, tells of the classic life obstacle: people trying to change who you

are. Being rendered useless and giving the world everything (yet you feel like nothing) is not something easy to brush off.   Explains David of the inspiration for “Battle of Ridgeview”: “Two or three days before we were about to play our first big show at the Masquerade, Sam wound up getting sent to a mental institution called Ridgeview for some pretty minor problems. Naturally, we were really worried about if he would be able to play drums for us at the show or not. We had to push really hard and jump through a lot of hoops to get him out of there. But when it was all said and done, he was out of there in time to play the show with us.” This perfectly fits their independent ethos: despite everything that tears your world apart, you must push on and hope for the best. The band is firmly against today’s cookie-cutter music factories that spit out artists and then discard them in three months after one single. Rather than blending in and being overplayed on Top 40 radio, OTE want to stand out in a crowd that yearns for only mainstream material. David explains: “Music is a way of expressing your feelings and your views on life. If it's not something you wrote and poured your heart into, then it's not really a reflection of who you are, and we think that really takes away from the sincerity of the song. Every lyric of what we write has some kind of sentimental value to us, and we have a lot more fun playing stuff that comes from the heart than we would playing canned music.”  At Over The Edge’s Masquerade show in February, they engaged with the crowd

PAGE 33 by getting them to sing along to their breakdowns. They kept the adrenaline pumping in their audience’s veins. On the certified banger “Worthless Kids,” bass player Teddy flaunted chord progression breakdowns while guitarist Ryan kept the tempo going. The lyrics contain an elegance unlike any other. This same elegance is also embedded into the song “Turn Out Wrong.” Fans can relate to lines like:  “I’m just sick of everything turning out wrong. I try and I try / it never turns out right.”  The Masquerade show turned out to be Sam’s final appearance with Over The Edge. About leaving the band, Sam says, “My best experience was the badass show we just played at the Masquerade. The feeling when I play a show is great, and I really enjoy meeting other bands afterward, and talking with them. I really am sad to leave, but I had to do it for personal reasons.” The other members of Over The Edge are sad to see Sam leave, but they appreciate all that he has done for the band. This spring, Armani Gordon took over as the band’s new drummer.   As for the future, OTE already has a producer lined up, and plans to start recording later this year and are aiming to have the full album "Martyrs and Madmen" out by this summer! (And for fans who revert to the archaic methods of cassette tapes, OTE plans to have their music available for purchase on tapes). The finished product will surely justify the wait and increase admiration for the band. They are truly an act that has experienced various dichotomies: giving up or pressing forward; devoting the band toward what others want or scratching past the surface for the true meaning of great music. OTE plans to press on for greatness. For more information about the band, go to facebook.com/bandovertheedge. Sharah, 16, is a sophomore at Mays High School who is the self-proclaimed local hipster that ruins everything.


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VoxTeenCommunications.org VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Atlanta: the New K-pop Hub? The results of the study can be seen below.

By Jade Eckels VOX Staff

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orean pop (K-pop) often conjures images of Psy doing his iconic horse dance from his 2012 international mega-hit "Gangnam Style." K-pop is becoming a global phenomenon at a breakneck pace. The popularity of the genre worldwide is clear, by the thousands of screaming fans who queue hours in advance when K-pop stars come to their home country. The reaction from United States fans is especially passionate.  Though many Korean entertainment companies are now focusing on bringing K-pop to more people around the world (United States included), there are still American fans who cannot attend concerts in the U.S. when K-pop idols visit.  This is due to the fact that K-pop stars almost always perform in California and New York — that's it.  The United States is big, and airfare is expensive so these limited locations for concerts are barriers to fans outside of those regions.  Even when the locations branch out, it's only to a few other states, such as Texas and New Jersey.

But it seems as if this could finally be changing as more cities and states seem to be on the radar of Korean

entertainment companies: Chicago, Florida, Washington D.C., Virginia and our very own Atlanta.  Back in 2006, guy group 2PM and girl group Wonder Girls put on a concert in Atlanta, breaking a big geographic barrier in K-pop.  It seemed as if Atlanta was officially a K-pop city when news was released that guy group Block B would be performing in Atlanta this summer -- until the concert was cancelled only a few days later.  I chock this up to a fear that there may not be enough fans to fill up a venue in Atlanta, but

I beg to differ. Atlanta is a city that is known for embracing the international and the exotic and for loving music. Atlanta’s global presence is proven by its demographic diversity and extensive opportunities for exploration of foreign cultures through a range of different food options and ethnic-owned businesses that cater to people who may not speak English.  Atlanta’s love of music was proven when the city was named the top musical trend setter in a study by researchers at University College Dublin that used online data from 2003 to 2011 from more than 200 large cities to quantify which cities have the biggest impact on our musical tastes.

According to the online news site Atlantic Cities, Georgia also boasts the third-largest ethnic Korean population in the U.S. after Los Angeles and New York.  Atlanta is the next perfect location for K-pop to conquer.  Though my excitement and anticipation were swiftly and unceremoniously squashed for Block B, my hopes for a K-pop concert in Atlanta have not been dashed. Simply the fact that a group almost came to Atlanta says a lot about the changing face of a genre of music that reaches and touches the lives of so many people. Atlanta’s demographics, according to the 2012 census, reflect a city that is majority black (54 percent).  Korean entertainment companies may finally be at least recognizing and may some day appreciate the diversity of K-pop’s followers.  K-pop is known for glorifying mostly non-Korean Asian and white international fans and ignoring the other international fans.  I believe that the day when a group comes to Atlanta again and embraces an eager and diverse fan base will be the day that K-pop takes a giant step forward. Jade, 17, is an incoming first-year student at Brandeis University, who likes to travel. The photos above are courtesy of VIXX Group, and the photo at the lower left pictures Jade’s sister Divanna, seated far right.


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VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Underground Atlanta

One teen digs in the underground scene for unheard of sounds

By Jolisa Brown VOX Staff

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tlanta is a hub for musical production and creativity. It’s known as a breeding ground for musicians, including Ludacris, T.I., Lil John, Young Thug, K Camp, and Rich Homie Quan. Many of us dream of one day being famous, but for some it is less of a passing fad and more of a need, a long term aspiration. For those artists, making music is a necessity. It’s something that they are willing to invest their all into, whether that means money, time, or even opportunity for other lifestyles. Really, a musician? Any other options? Like less terrifying ones? I have to be honest. I have always been skeptical about the concept of being a full time musician. It’s a volatile career choice, to say the least. The time commitment is enormous, and there’s no guarantee of a return on your investment. Yet still, it is an admirable choice. The people who have success tend to truly love what they are doing. Once they’ve “made it”, everyone suddenly recognizes them and knows their name. Neeko Jones is a producer and works in A&R (artists and repertoire) in the music business. In an interview with VOX, he describes an A&R professional as a person who “help[s] the artist keep the proper production, producers, and everything else that goes along with making their image and their style. All of the huge artists that you know of, they all

have A&Rs.” Someone in A&R is usually kept on retainer with an artist and would assist them in the intricacies of organizing their records and getting the best people possible on board to ensure it reaches its highest level. Jones has worked with quite a few now major artists, such as Rashita, Akon, Keelo Ali, Rich Boy, and Future. He says, “Underground to me is just music that hasn’t been exposed to the masses. You have music that, it appears to take off without radio, music that takes off without the magazines, the commercials, the demand. It just takes off by word of mouth … They’re underground because they didn’t choose to be commercial, but because they were so popular, they appear major. But they stuck to the underground jam.” CaliRay is one underground musician. She began her career in the 5th grade, working with a few of her classmates that were also talented. She describes an underground musician as, “…someone who pushes themselves to do what they’ve gotta do to expand their fan base and is willing to take that one more step.” She is now 18. She’s graduated from high school at First Coast High, and music is now a full time thing for her. She has released 10 singles, among them “Day One”, “Trilla”, and “Body Party.” She hasn’t gotten the opportunity to do a record yet, but she knows that this is something she’d like to do permanently. This is her love, her life. It’s what she does. She is originally from Jacksonville, but she does tours here and in Los Angeles in order to better promote herself.

Being an independent musician is tough. You have to fund all of your own endeavors, while also trying to attract the attention of a record label, artist representative, or a music publisher willing to give you a chance. It’s a struggle to break even, much less make a profit. But with there being such an abundance of budding musicians trying to make it big here in Atlanta, you can always find new sounds, either by picking up a CD or by going to some of the venues that host emerging artists, like Wednesday Wind-down at Centennial Olympic Park, Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, Under the Couch at Georgia Tech, or Red Light Café on Amsterdam Avenue in Atlanta. When describing what he does to help unsigned artists take off, Neeko Jones says, “We start going to clubs…get out there and sing in the neighborhood, go to these community functions… go to, you know, their local clubs and…sports bars.” Wednesday Wind-down downtown is one such example. Every Wednesday at Centennial Olympic Park they hold a mini-

concert. People gather from all over the city — college students, business professionals, and even families with their own kids to hear the music for free. If you are interested in underground music, then it’s definitely a place you should visit, and likewise, there are many other opportunities to hear some fresh sounds in Atlanta. You just have to know where to look. Jolisa is a student at Westminster Schools.

ART BY CHRISTINA LUCAS | VOX STAFF


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Hip-Hop History Lesson By Austin Thomas VOX Staff

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ver hip-hop’s 35 years of existence, it has gone through many changes: from the clothes the artists wear to the lyrics and topics discussed in their songs and videos, all the way down to their rhyming caliber and ability to distinguish themselves in a rapidly growing culture. I got the chance to ask a couple of my friends, Kawan Prather, a student who goes to my school, Woodward Academy, and Vaughn Cyrus, a fellow VOX teen staff member of VOX and junior at North Springs High School, their thoughts on how hip-hop has changed over the years. Being hip-hop fanatics, as I am myself, and possessing a genuine love for the art of the genre, they had plenty to discuss on the topic. Here’s what they had to say:

VoxTeenCommunications.org VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014 for the better or worse? Kawan: Hip-hop has changed for the better, and more positively. But right now, with hip-hop on the radio, it all sounds the same. It’s all party songs, and that’s not bad, but it’s so focused on the partying that nothing good comes out of it. There are a lot of new artists coming out that are good and are actually saying some things. We just need some balance on the radio. Vaughn: For the worse. I feel like a lot of people aren’t putting a lot of effort into it, but it is getting kind of better with some new artists.

In what other ways has hip-hop changed? Kawan: Hip-hop has changed also in the fact that because of the Internet, everybody thinks it’s the easiest thing to do, and everybody can do it. And it’s irritating because it’s a real craft that requires skill. I think hip-hop should get the respect it deserves. Vaughn: Now, everything sounds the same. Like, nobody has their own signature style anymore.  

Do you think others in your generation feel the same or differently?

Kawan: Yeah, it definitely has. But I think it’s done more of a cycle. In the beginning, you know, late 70s and mid 80s, it was about partying and stuff. In the 90s, it started talking about more conscious things affecting people in the world. And now it’s cycling back and forth between partying and [social] consciousness again. Vaughn: Yeah, I’d say so. It’s more about party songs now.

Kawan: I’m pretty sure the majority of my generation is pretty fine with all the turn-up songs and everything. I think since they don’t know the history behind it, they don’t care or are complacent with it. I know artists like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Joey Bada$$ are all saying real things and making it cool to actually talk about real things and say it in an intelligent way. But other than that, everybody is just cool with all the party stuff. Vaughn: It depends on who you ask. A lot of people love the turn-up songs; a lot of people love the lyrical side of hiphop. Turn-up songs aren’t bad, but there should be more of a variation.

Do you think hip-hop has changed

What’s different about hip-hop

Has hip-hop changed over the years in your opinion?

today as opposed to a decade or two ago? Kawan: Hip-hop is more concerned with materialism and things that don’t really matter as much. In the beginning, Sugarhill Gang was talking about having a TV to watch the Knicks games on, and that was still materialism, but it wasn’t focused on it. It wasn’t a whole song dedicated to that, just a couple of quick lines talking about the simple happiness of enjoying material things. And that’s what we’re missing. There’s not much of a balance right now. Vaughn: Compared to 90s hip-hop, where there were more lyricists, now everything is turn-up songs.

What influenced the change in hip-hop we see today?  Kawan: It was the Internet, and all of the people just making a hit record like that. They’d come out of the blue with a party song. People stopped caring about actual important issues in the world and just wanted something to dance to or make them feel good. And there’s nothing wrong with that, again, but now you have to do what’s popular or copy someone else, and then you’re straight. Then people want to listen to you and then you’re popular. In the beginning, it was all about being original and being yourself, and now it’s about following the trend and riding the wave. Vaughn: I guess Lil Jon and the early 2000s is when lyricism started going down. Everybody started to try to sound like they were down South.

something people could identify you by. Vaughn: I really miss the lyricism, the heavy beats, how everybody used to be more unique and have their own thing.

If you could change one thing about hip-hop culture today, what would it be, and why or why not?

Is there anything you miss about the old style of hip-hop?

Kawan: The biggest thing that should be changed is all the focus on the negative stuff and trying to make that positive. Talk about real issues going on in the world for once. Like, Chief Keef talks about how many people he’s killed, what drugs he’s on and disrespecting women. Hip-hop started out as something that could uplift black people. But now, it’s tearing us all down. Vaughn: It’d probably be everybody acting the same. Just having people change how they do things, from following in someone else’s footsteps to just being more unique.

Kawan: The biggest thing I miss is the originality everyone was forced to have. Even if it was something as little as the your cadence of your voice, it was still

Austin, 17, is a junior at Woodward Academy who put together the collage of classic hip-hop albums above.


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Through the Looking Glass By Maleena Berryhill Special to VOX I look in your eyes And all that I see Is all this sorrow Looking back at me You have scars From head To toe You have words of hate Written in your bones All those lonely days You spent crying. You say you’re just fine But I can tell that you’re lying One more time That's what you always say I'll try to get by Day by day Trying not to think Of the things you'll do When you’re home alone And in your room Everyone around you Seems to love to pick you apart You keep asking around How to fix a broken heart I look in the mirror And see those same eyes The eyes that I Have learned to despise I look down at The ground in same And know that I'm the one to blame For all the sadness And mistakes I fall to the ground And cry till I shake I tell myself Stay strong Even when Everything feels wrong But I pick up my head

VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014 And smile Take deep breaths Because I deserved to live a while I hide my scars with Long sweaters And keep writing myself All these letters I hide my sadness with smiles I live life a little regretful But sometimes pretty Isn't always beautiful.

Her By Ayesha Quadri Special to VOX A stumble becomes a fall. A cry becomes a bawl. But she learns. A failure becomes an experience. A lover becomes a hindrance. But she tries. A lecture becomes a lesson. A class becomes a session. But she listens. A success becomes an inspiration. A victory becomes a sensation. But she continues. A princess becomes a queen. A girl is finally seen. And she rises.

Through the Dark By Maleena Berryhill and Kaley Stephens Special to VOX I look in the mirror And start to cry It’s funny how a piece of glass Can make you want to die When everyone around you

Looks like super models I ask myself why Can't I be beautiful? I feel alone Like I’ll never belong My head says I'm weak But my heart whispers Stay strong When everyone Stops and stares I stand there With tears that I can't bare. I hide all the sadness With a smile It hasn't been real No ... not in a while I'm happy by day But sad at night I still feel alone But I'll push through this fight.

ILLUSTRATIONS ON THIS PAGE BY CHRISTINA LUCAS | VOX STAFF

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VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Monster

The Fighter

By Lydia Mathis

By Mahmood Thompson

VOX Staff

VOX Staff

In my heart something writhes I’ve buried it deep down inside It sleeps but comes out a night My personal monster, I cannot hide. He’s there all the time Waiting to sneak up behind Making it harder and harder to breathe I try and try, but he haunts my sleep He smiles at me and waves me over I’m afraid, but I’m drawn closer He holds my hand And we walk in peace But that monster, he’s a trickster As soon as I’m happy, he quivers Taking my happiness and Making me afraid I wanted him to go, But he always stayed

I have been funding a war on myself For the last half decade Tearing off the mask of the devil I reveal myself... Betrayed, I kill it not Only pictured it dead and it died Imagine if your holy truth was a Masquerading lie I still despise you, back in school, Yet our battles are over Now I’m attacking myself Like black post-integration America When the overt racism was over. Fight to win, because the God, friend, Good opportunity reinforcements Won’t come if the soldier gives up and Cries his fight is done For if he does, his mind, body and Manifesto will be rotting flesh By next day’s sun. ART BY KELSEY JOHNSON | VOX STAFF

Want to join the VOX teen staff? Super! If you are a teenager, ages 13-19, living in the metro Atlanta area, and you’d like to share your voice with the thousands of teens in our community who read VOX, visit the VOX website starting in JULY 2014 to register! It’s free to join VOX’s after-school program, and you get to enjoy the following perks: *Have your writing and/or art published *Learn and practice leadership and facilitation skills *Meet diverse teens from all over metro Atlanta (see page 2 for all the schools represented on our teen staff currently) *Network with media professionals and other professionals in our community *Work in the heart of downtown *Score college and scholarship recommendations *Gain community service hours for school *Get food, (MARTA) fare and fun! VOX has limited space, so apply early! Deadline to apply is August 9! ART BY ANTREVEUS WILLIAMS | SPECIAL TO VOX


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Taurus (Apr 20 - May 20) Don’t let your stubborn ways get the best of you!

HOROSCOPES + DONORS VOX: THE VOICE OF OUR GENERATION | SUMMER 2014

Horoscopes

Gemini (May 21 - Jun 20) Your social nature will benefit you very soon in upcoming situations.

Virgo (Aug 23 - Sep 22) You tend to analyze situations before making a final decision. Trusting this as you make an impending decision will be best.

Cancer (Jun 21 - Jul 22) Be careful of your ever-changing moods because they could possibly affect some important relationships this month.

Libra (Sep 23 - Oct 22) If something has been bothering you lately, stray from your normal non-confrontational approach and take action.

Leo (Jul 23 - Aug 22) Generosity will lead to good things this month.

Scorpio (Oct 23 - Nov 21) Your possessiveness might ruin a possible romantic interest.

VOX THANKS ITS DONORS Through VOX, Atlanta-area teens from diverse backgrounds develop skills to express themselves effectively and build a stronger community. Thanks to these corporate and community supporters for providing free educational opportunities for teens.

Sagittarius (Nov 22 - Dec 21) You might want to watch your mouth because you outspokenness could get you into major trouble. Capricorn (Dec 22 - Jan 19) Staying true to your introvert nature can prove difficult during an upcoming romantic conflict.

In-Kind Support for VOX: Atlanta Journal-Constitution The High Museum David Linton Turner Broadcasting Other donors are listed online.

Pisces (Feb 19 - Mar 20) Don’t get too caught up in your daydreams because upcoming situations will require you to come back to reality. Aries (Mar 21 - Apr 19) Something will require more attention than usual. Take some time to think about it. Don’t be impulsive.

— By Keana Martin-Sanders / VOX Staff Aquarius (Jan 20 - Feb 18) Your witty and clever ways will assist you in upcoming business situations.

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ART BY MANUEL PORTILLO | VOX STAFF

Superhero ($25,000 and up) Fulton County Housing and Human Services Department: Office of Children and Youth United Way of Greater Atlanta Heroes ($10,000 - $24,999) The Atlanta Foundation The Atlanta Women’s Foundation The Harland Foundation Nordson Corporate Foundation The Rich Foundation

Anniversary Heroes - $10,000 to $24,999

Champions ($5,000 - $9,999) City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs

The VOX Bee Table Sponsors: Armchair Media CohnReznick Hooper & Honore Jones Day

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VOX Teen Newspaper - Summer 2014 Edition