Step Up is an online destination whose content is created by and for young professionals, high school, and college students who aspire to be the next generation of founders, innovators, philanthropists, changemakers, and leaders. Step Up is their platform to tell their story, and inspire their peers. Our ultimate mission is to deliver material that motivates young people to step it up and make the world a better place.
I had the opportunity to serve as an editorial intern with Step Up Magazine over the summer of 2017. Since January 2018, I have worked as an editor reviewing new interns’ articles and a contributor in the weekly Let’s Talk column.
In March, I began running my own column in which I explain why young people need to pay attention to current political issues with an emphasis on finding solutions and getting involved in change.
Pay Attention to #MeToo
The lengthy situation reveals disheartening facets of American society, such as our excusatory attitudes towards unforgivable acts by people with status. But on a brighter side, it also demonstrates the power of social movements and social media, and it is an easy case to follow to trace important cultural shifts.
Pay Attention to Abortion Access
On January 22, 1973, a landmark decision was made.
A single mother from Texas won a lengthy Supreme Court battle over her right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy via abortion in a state that usually banned it. The Court ruled that abortion access was protected by a woman’s Constitutional right to privacy and gave women total autonomy over their pregnancies during the first trimester — around 12 weeks.
Of course, some people were unhappy with the Roe v. Wade decision, but the huge wave of anti-choice ideology that we know today didn’t escalate until decades later.
Women Running for Office: Chalis Montgomery
We are excited to kick off our series that aims at introducing our readers to women running for office. Our journalist, Emily Rose Thorne caught up with Chalis Montgomery, who is running for Congress in Georgia’s 10th district.
Pay Attention to Guns in Schools
This week, I’m calling on you to pay a little more attention to something the news probably hasn’t let you forget: guns in schools.
We know the numbers.
17 people were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the deadliest school shooting in five years.
It’s one of about 14 shootings at schools across the country in 2018 — an average of about one each week.
We know that the US has the 31st highest rate of gun violence in the world, ranking far higher than other industrialized countries of similar socioeconomic status.
But what we can’t seem to figure out is what to do about it.
“He liked to come when they were least expecting him, busting into restaurants, factories, and other workplaces that may employ undocumented Latino immigrants, demanding their identification. If they couldn’t produce any, Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio whisked them away to his pride and joy, his ‘Tent City’ – a vast, open-air jail consisting of tents in which he held alleged illegal immigrants as they awaited trial.”
Interview with Leonard Kim
Celebrate National Women’s Equality Day by Supporting These 5 Causes
“August 26, 2017 marked the 97th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s adoption into the U.S. Constitution. The date now serves as Women’s Equality Day, a time to reflect on the advancement of women’s rights and roles in our society. Women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and variations run our resistance and influence our world with strength, dignity, and intelligence, yet we haven’t yet reached full equality: sexism still exists in most aspects of our society. Organizations interested in elevating women to the social status men have enjoyed for centuries have helped fight to break down the barriers that stand in the way of gender equality. Here are 5 to support in honor of not just this day, but of celebrating women every day.”
3 Reasons to Support Local Business
“In 2012, my hometown exploded with ire at the prospect of a multi-building mall-like shopping complex, including a Walmart, invading our downtown area. Athens, Georgia, the small college town that produced REM, the B-52s, Modern Skirts, and Monsoon, has long been noted for its reliance on and unyielding support of local businesses. Downtown Athens has maintained a friendly, familiar ‘chill indie vibe’ as long as I have known it. Right outside of the area is a mecca of capitalism and corporations. My own parents moved downtown in 1995 to open a business themselves, and opened another across the street from City Hall two years later.
Athens lives, breathes, shops, and eats local. Protests and anti-Walmart signs throughout the town contributed to the company’s decision to scrap the idea. I remember celebrating the defeat of the aggressive corporation and the guaranteed survival of stores like those of my parents. Not only did I watch my city manage to fend off the Big Business Beast, I also realized for the first time the impact that small businesses have in a city. Local ownership of business means that the community-oriented owners are tied to the town, not just their store, and therefore their involvement in government and other community decisions will be in the interest of the community at large rather than simply self-serving.
As important as it is, maintaining a town’s character, quirks, charm, and pride isn’t the only reason to shop local.”
The Basis of the North Korea Problem
“Most of us who have read George Orwell’s 1984 finish the disconcerting tale with a sense of relief and maybe an idealistic, ‘I’m so glad life isn’t really like this.’ Orwell’s dystopia may be fiction in the developed world, but there is a place with frightening parallels to the dystopian novel.
Where, in the 21st century, do people live like those in Orwell’s Nation? And how can human rights violations reminiscent of those that Adolf Hitler commanded take place under the developed world’s collective watch? Perhaps unsurprisingly, that cesspool of terror and torture is one of America’s most fearsome adversaries: North Korea.”
Rising College Costs Leave 68% of Potential Students Unsure of their Chance for an Education
“Nearly 90 percent of American families ‘always knew’ that their child would be attending college. Around 40 percent, though, didn’t know exactly how they would pay for it when it was finally time.
Come application season, I had a list of around ten out-of-state institutions that I could picture myself loving. That’s when my parents sat me down and explained to me that I needed to reevaluate my choices. The cost of attendance — tuition, room and board, meal plans, books, and other assorted fees — would amount to $46,5000 per year at the one public university I’d chosen and up to $66,000 per year at any of the nine private ones.
Unfortunately, the cost of attendance hovered around $50,000 for the private in-state university. That was around double what my family had decided we could pay.
That’s not a new or unique dilemma. In 2008, 58 percent of families reported that they had been deterred from some colleges due to the cost. This year, 68 percent of families said the same. It’s understandable: the average year of higher education in the U.S. sucks up around $23,000. Things seem even bleaker when we consider how tuitions are rising nationwide while salaries are generally stagnant.”
Girls Rock Athens
“In summer 2010, I was looking forward to my eleventh birthday and to starting the sixth grade. My parents, looking for things to do to fill up my summer free time, came across an ad for Girls Rock Athens (GRA), a nonprofit organization offering a five-day, intersectional feminist-based summer day camp serving girls between 9-15. GRA focuses on music education and the empowerment of marginalized identities, especially the female identity. Students select an instrument — usually vocals, guitar, bass, drums, or keys — and spend the week learning the basics of that instrument from a local female musician, forming a band with other girls, and working to create at least one original song that they perform at a showcase at the end of the week in a local venue. Each day during lunch, a local female-fronted band or other female artist performs for the kids in hopes of helping them identify positive female role models in an industry so often considered male.
Throughout the week, kids design band logos, learn to screenprint, form and work with a band, take photos with a professional photographer, record in a studio to create a compilation CD, and more, as well as attend workshops focused on other aspects of music or life as a woman in our society.
A little nervous, but mostly thrilled to finally become a “real” musician, I signed up as a singer in early August.”
What’s Going On with the Flint Water Crisis?
“Every few months, a popular publication runs a story reminding the 49 other states that the water crisis in Flint, Michigan is still far from resolved.
This week, a federal appeals court ruled that Flint residents exposed to lead-contaminated water can now sue the state of Michigan and Flint city officials for the ‘state-created danger.’
In 2014, emergency managers appointed by the state to tackle chronic financial distress in the city of Flint stopped using Detroit Water & Sewerage Department water, sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River, opting instead to use the Flint River as their water source. However, officials did not properly apply corrosion inhibitors, causing lead from the city’s pipes to flake off and contaminate the water. Around 100,000 citizens, including 6,000–12,000 children, were thought to be exposed to the heavy metal neurotoxin capable of devastating effects on children such as learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.”
Why We Need to Start Paying Attention to John Delaney
“On July 28, 2017, 1,194 days before the 2020 presidential election, Maryland Rep. John Delaney announced in a Washington Post opinion article that he hopes for the Democratic nomination. A political centrist, the representative of Maryland’s 6th district made his announcement just six months into Trump’s term — the earliest anyone has declared a presidential run in 45 years.
Delaney has already faced some criticism for jumping the gun, but declaring his candidacy six months into Trump’s presidency is not only a smart move — it will be important for him to get press coverage early on in his campaign, as he’s not exactly a household name — but also speaks to many Americans’ discontent with both the current administration and the election’s incredibly polarizing effect on our entire political climate. It may be one of the earliest announcements in recent history, but it comes in an unprecedented era: Trump’s approval ratings tie for the lowest any have ever been this early in a presidency (on par with Clinton’s at a mere 37, though lower than Clinton’s ratings after the Monica Lewinsky scandal surfaced) and more and more Americans are finding politics to be a stressful, divisive, rigged game. That’s why Delaney is important: moderate candidates will have the best chance come 2020.”
When It Comes to Combatting Climate Change, You Probably Aren’t Having the Impact You Think You Are
“According to a 2017 poll, Americans’ concern about global warming is at a three-decade high with 45 percent of survey respondents reporting that they worry “a great deal” about this issue. Similarly, a new high of 62 percent agree that the effects of global warming are currently apparent, and 68 percent agree that this phenomenon is caused or exacerbated by human activity. 42 percent worry that they will be seriously threatened as a result of global warming in their lifetime.
While 75 percent of U.S. adults reported that they personally find it important to protect the environment, only around twenty percent said that they make an effort to do so in their daily lives. 63 percent said that they do “some of the time,” but are they doing as much as they think?”
How Attacks on the Media Threaten Society
“As Americans, we are taught from childhood to internalize the importance of freedom and to sing the praises of the ‘land of the free.’ Political rallies, presidential speeches, and Internet forums light up day after day with fierce debates over freedom of speech or religion or the right to bear arms, but one freedom most of us fail to prioritize as we should is one unique to developed countries yet absolutely critical to a true democracy: freedom of the press.”
What Chester Bennington’s Death Can Teach Us About Suicide
“This Thursday, July 20th, millions of fans and friends around the world were devastated to discover that Chester Bennington, frontman of alt-rock band Linkin Park, had died by suicide.
Mental illness plays a role in over 90 percent of suicides worldwide, but Bennington’s reveals an often-overlooked factor that may contribute to someone’s decision to take their own life: July 20, 2017 would have been the 53rd birthday of his close friend, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who also died by suicide this May.”
Betsy DeVos Is Threatening Title IX. As a Woman Entering College, Here’s Why I’m Concerned
“My parents gave me a present last week while we discussed what I’ll need to bring to college when I start classes next month.
‘We wish we didn’t have to give this to you,’ they told me, ‘but you just never know.’
They handed me pepper spray.
Mace? For college? I knew what they wanted me to be able to protect myself from, and I had statistics swirling around in my brain, but I reminded myself that colleges and universities are obligated to take some action on sexual assault under Title IX.
I told my parents not to worry, promised never to leave campus alone, and put the pepper spray in my backpack. I didn’t think much more of it after that.
Until Betsy DeVos started threatening Title IX.”
Mental Healthcare Is a Human Right
“Americans’ healthcare has been threatened time and time again in 2017, and – unsurprisingly – mental health has been completely left out of this year’s proposed healthcare bills. Like all healthcare, treatment for mental illness is a human right. Worldwide, though, it receives little to none of the positive attention.
Firstly, mental health is rarely a topic in schools.”
Why Is Mental Illness So Prevalent Among Creatives? — July 11, 2017
How Society Forces Us into Gender Roles from Childhood Despite Damaging Consequences
“In the early 20th century, gender-based barriers divided society in ways most of us today view as backwards. Some of these divisions, however, persist today, even among the toys we give to 21st century children.
Toys meant for girls in the 1900s focused on domesticity and nurturing and included toy brooms, mops, and baby dolls, enforcing the idea that women should be homemakers. Conversely, toys meant for boys emphasized construction and industrialization, teaching kids that men should be breadwinners and lead the way for development and progress.
Gendered toys sound like a 1900s problem, but, sadly, toys today are actually less inclusive than they were in the past. Around half of 20th century toys were marketed as gender-neutral, while a recent study found that the Disney Store, for example, separates toys as ‘for boys’ and ‘for girls.’ While a few toys make it on both lists, there is no gender-neutral section.”
How the Cosby Case Reaffirms the Existence of Rape Culture
“This week, seven men and five women served on a jury, but they failed to serve justice.
Declaring themselves ‘hopelessly deadlocked’ after six days of deliberation on the high-profile sexual assault case against actor and comedian Bill Cosby, the judge called a mistrial.
Cosby’s team cites a lack of evidence; however, the allegations of nearly 50 women and the defensive actions by the perpetrator amid a society stained by rape culture should amount to more than enough.”
Feminism & The Environment: Educating Girls May Be the Best Way to Combat Climate Change
“Donald Trump announced on June 1, 2017 that our country will no longer adhere to the Paris Agreement. Leaving the group of 196 countries is more symbolic of the administration’s tendency to adopt backwards policies than it is actually threatening to the environment, as the agreement doesn’t call for taking any action until the year 2020, however, stepping back before we even start sets a dangerous precedent for the U.S. and for developing countries looking to superpowers like us for guidance.
Fortunately, there is action we can take to combat climate change. While richer countries are accustomed to long lists on how to ‘go green, a new idea in environmentally-minded circles has emerged recently that every country in the world can engage in: Educating girls may be the key to slowing climate change.”