Act MTV Act Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:34:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Need Help Paying Off Student Loans? Rolling Jubilee Might Help! Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:34:14 +0000

Many young people strive to go to college, but with more than 40 million people in student loan debt, something needs to be done. Did I mention all that debt equals out to be about $1.2 trillion?!

With all this debt, oftentimes young people struggle to get on their own two feet after they’ve finished their higher education. But some are getting help from Rolling Jubilee.

Rolling Jubilee is a project from Strike Debt and it got started a couple years ago, stemming out of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Originally it was all about helping people pay off their medical debts. Now it’s moved into the school realm and has helped students take care of almost $4 million of loan debt.

NPR explained, “Rolling Jubilee’s tactic takes advantage of a peculiar characteristic of modern debt. When people stop paying, debts become delinquent. The original owner, say a bank, eventually writes the debts off and sells them off at bargain-basement prices to third-party collectors. Rolling Jubilee has managed to step in instead and buy some of this secondary market debt, using donations raised online — in this case, buying student loan debt for less than 3 cents on the dollar. But instead of trying to collect this debt, the group makes it disappear.”

This has been amazing for the students it’s helped, but $4 million is a very small amount compared to 1.2 trillion. Thomas Gokey of Strike Debt acknowledges that what Rolling Jubilee is doing isn’t a perfect fix. However, they are helping students with their debt, and they’re also bringing attention to the fact that people shouldn’t have to deal with all this debt just for wanting to get an education.

“Some debts are just, and others are unjust,” Thomas said. “Providing affordable, publicly financed, world-class education is a moral debt we are failing to pay.”

Photo: (Getty)

]]> 0
Brazilian Students Rock Skirts In Support Of Transgender Girl Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:29:04 +0000

After transgender student Maria Muniz from Brazil was fined for wearing a skirt, the entire class rallied behind her. The students, both boys and girls, all decided to wear skirts to school to make a bold statement.

The school’s policy expresses boys wear only trousers and girls wear skirts, and the teacher allegedly felt Maria’s outfit violated this code. On the brighter side, the amount of support just shows the progress we collectively are making when discussing the LGBTQ movement on a global scale.

LGBTQ allies are an imperative element in working towards creating a more tolerant world. For example, when other students see this class all wearing skirts in support of Maria, we begin to break down the toxic walls that have been built up for years from people against the LGBTQ movement.

After the students supported Maria, she opened up, saying, “I am really happy about the way my classmates supported me, and I hope it serves as an example to others to feel encouraged to do the right thing. I was always taught at school to accept who you are. I am only trying to live that.”

While the entire student body could have been fined for this incident, the school decided to not go forward with a fine, but rather open their mind up to “study a new manual of coexistence.” Maria is also now allowed to wear skirts to school, regardless of the archaic dress code.

Photo: (Facebook)

]]> 0
Gay Photographer Attacked in Possible Hate Crime Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:45:25 +0000

As a fashion photographer, Tyler Maddick relies on his eyes to carry out his visions. One night as he was walking home, Maddick experienced an attack that’s being investigated as a hate crime. It left him blind in one eye.

The 20-year-old was approached by a group men and first called a homophobic name before having petrol thrown in his face. Maddick opened up about the attack, revealing, “I’m bit wary now. Before I had that attitude ‘it would never happen to me’, and obviously it has and… in the worst way possible. I’m only just getting used to it. I’ve realized just how bad the situation was.”

When it comes to his sexuality, Maddick is comfortable in his own skin, which he feels is why he was an easy target. He states,“With me it’s quite obvious so I guess they must have just picked up on it.”

While this was a major setback for the photographer, the amount of love and support from around the world has made an impact on his recovery. The former London College of Fashion student explained, “I have had so many messages, I think I have had at least 40, my friends are being very supportive.”

Prior to the attack, Maddick was already dealing with sight problems, but this just exacerbated the issue, leaving minimal hope for it to return to normal.

Hate crimes are defined as a blatant attack on one’s gender, race, sexuality, religion, etc. NBC News is reporting that in 2012 there were, according to the FBI, “5,796 incidents [hate crimes] resulting in 7,164 victims.” And that’s just in America.

Just last year in New York City, it was said that anti-gay hate crimes were set to DOUBLE in numbers. “I really can’t understand the mentality of somebody doing something like this,” said Andrew Davies of LGBT Unity Project Wales about what happened to Tyler. “This is specifically a really nasty hate crime.”

To learn more about how you can take action against hate crimes, visit the action link below!

Photo: (Wales Online)

]]> 0
How Homecoming Bullying Turned Into Kindness Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:21:40 +0000

It might be easy to dismiss high school bullying among girls as something out of “Mean Girls,” but the reality is that people can be cruel. That’s why we’re so encouraged by what happened when two girls made the best of a homecoming prank.

As NBCDFW reports, Anahi Alvarez and Naomi Martinez were both nominated for homecoming court; their friend, Lillian Skinner, was not. When Alvarez and Martinez heard that certain girls were trying to fool Skinner into believing she had been nominated, they made a pact: if one of them won, Lillian would wear the crown.

Martinez said the girls promised that there was “no backing down.” When Alvarez won, she called Lillian over and gave her the crown. In fact, when people ask her if she won, she says, “Lilly won. I just ran in her place, in her position…Lilly is homecoming queen.”

If that’s not the most heart-warming story to come out of a homecoming event in years, we don’t know what is. Unfortunately, as Mic reports, the rest of the world isn’t wired like these two wonderful Grand Prairie High School students; in fact, “more than 28% of U.S. students in grades 6 through 12 have been the victim of bullying, while 41% of school staff report seeing bullying once a week or more.”

We know this is just a story of three girls in one high school in north Texas, but we hope what Alvarez and Martinez did inspires students all over the world. “Mean Girls” might be an excellent movie, but it’s a terrible reality.

Photo: (NBC via Mic)

]]> 0
Benedict Cumberbatch Gets on His Mr. Darcy For a Cause Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:56:19 +0000

By Robin Lempel

Benedict Cumberbatch is giving up his clothes for cancer research. And in the process, he proved that he really would make the perfect Mr. Darcy.

Cumberbatch recreated Colin Firth’s infamous lake scene from the 1995 adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice.” In the scene Mr. Darcy dives into a lake with his clothes on. The “Sherlock” star let his inner Mr. Darcy out as he posed for a Jason Bell photo in an unbuttoned shirt in a lake. And he pretty much nailed it.

Of course this isn’t the first time Cumberbatch had to get wet for charity. He recently did an epic ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video.

But this time Cumberbatch joined other celebrities such as Kate Winslet, Liam Neeson, Elijah Wood and Cynthia Nixon for TK Maxx’s 10th Give up Clothes for Good campaign. Each celebrity stripped down and posed for Jason Bell photographs in order to promote the campaign that asks people to donate clothes and housewares for cancer research. The pictures will be exhibited at La Galleria Pall Mall in London through September 20.

Model Jerry Hall actually helped launch the campaign back in 2004 and is again teaming up with Give up Clothes for Good and Cancer Research. “I’m absolutely honoured to be supporting the campaign again,” she said. “Thanks to the incredible work done by Cancer Research UK, more children than ever are surviving cancer.”

Well, this is definitely one way to get people’s attention on the issue. And it’s clearly working. In the past ten years, they raised 17.7 million pounds with 13.2 million (about $21 million) going to fund research for children’s cancer. And the campaign has raised 4.2 million pounds for children’s cancer research so far this year.

The campaign states that three out of four children survive with cancer, but their goal is to make it four out of four. And that’s a goal we can all get behind.

Those who want to participate can donate clothes and housewares to TK Maxx stores, which will be sold by Cancer Research UK shops to help raise money. Just fill a bag with clothes, accessories or homeware and bring it to a TK Maxx store. Plus donations are accepted year round.

Photo: (Getty)

]]> 0
Author of New YA Climate Change Book Talks What Needs to Be Done Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:00:53 +0000
The People’s Climate March is happening this Sunday in New York City and it promises to be the biggest climate march ever. Whether you’re able to attend or not, a new book for young adults on climate change should definitely be your go-to read: “Eyes Wide Open” by award-winning writer Paul Fleischman.

And it’s important we keep the movement against climate change going after this march. To learn more about the book and what steps young people can make, I spoke with Paul.

ACT: “Eyes Wide Open” talks about the politics behind people who deny climate change and how it really is about following the money. While researching the book, was there anything especially surprising to you about politics behind climate change denial?

PAUL: I hadn’t realized the vast extent of the campaign–the huge number of cleverly named front groups, the “institutes” posing as scientific enterprises, the astroturf gatherings pretending to be made up of ordinary citizens.  Our inventiveness at hiding the money trail is kind of astounding.   It’s a game of ventriloquism.  The public knows to distrust BP and Exxon, so they need to speak through entities that sound trustworthy.  Politicians dependent on corporate donations have been happy to join in, playing the dummies.

ACT: The book talks about a number of different issues like factory farming and overpopulation, showing how climate change is a big issue with many facets. How are these different issues tied in with climate change?

PAUL: All the big issues flow into climate and are affected by it in return.  With population, the need to transport and feed and supply necessities and luxuries to 7 billion people generates huge amounts of greenhouse gases.  With factory farming, our harvests depend on fossil fuels for irrigation pumps, fertilizers, tractors, coolers, freezers, and trucks.  Food production generates more greenhouse gases than transportation.  In both cases the greenhouse gases produced are changing our climate, causing droughts, floods, the spread of diseases, and other effects.  These in turn ricochet back, putting populations at risk and reducing harvests.  It’s an interconnected web.

ACT: Sometimes people can be apathetic to climate change action because it’s an issue that’s not as in-your-face as some other issues. How can we get more people passionate about it?

PAUL: My prescription: Read a passage at random from Mark Lynas’s book “Six Degrees,” which calmly describes what scientists predict each 1 degree rise will bring.  Then start connecting the dots backward.  With the fires, droughts, and floods we’ve been having, it’s not hard to make out the future in the present.  Lastly: let your listener know the value of taking action.  We still have a choice among futures.

ACT: What are some strong and concrete ways young people can take action? Are there any organizations you’d especially recommend?

PAUL: Cutting back on meat is probably the biggest-impact thing you can do.  It takes around 10 pounds of grain to get a pound of meat, the reason it’s superconcentrated with fossil fuels and water.  I gave it up entirely after writing the book.  Second best good thing: find out what politicians are representing you and where they stand on the environment.  Vote, donate, or volunteer accordingly.  Groups to check out: for climate, The Story of Stuff for consumption, Food and Water Watch for food, for inspiration.

ACT: Are you involved with the Climate Change March this Sunday? What do you think is the most impactful thing that can come of it?

PAUL: I’ll most definitely be there.  I think the biggest impact might not be in New York and might not be this week, but rather in the thousands of places that the marchers come from if they’re inspired to keep it going.  If places big and small see demonstrations demanding good public transportation, green power, etc. the effect could be huge.

ACT: How can young people let politicians know we’re serious about protecting the earth?

PAUL: First step: register to vote.  Help the politicians you like.  Get your friends to register.  Call or email candidates and let them know your opinions and that you’ll be working for or against them; their staffs will take you seriously for the simple reason that politicians are terrified of losing power.  Find out if your city has a climate action plan and let the people behind it know you approve.  There are all kinds of way to show support for a sustainable future–including ones you’ll hatch that no one before has thought of.

Photo: (Candlewick Press)

]]> 0
Why Title IX Is One Thing You Should Definitely Pay Attention To In College Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:30:35 +0000

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden just announced the “It’s On Us” campaign, which hopes to bring an end to sexual assault on college campuses. The White House has taken a stand against this type of violence before, but now the two most powerful men in the country are making one thing very clear: women should not be in danger on college campuses.

According to statistics, 1 in 5 women in the US is sexually assaulted during her time at school. The “It’s On Us” campaign hopes to encourage people on college campuses to create safe environments where sexual assault is never allowed.

Although it’s refreshing to see the White House giving such attention to this important issue, it’s clear we still have a long way to go in making college campuses safer for students. In fact, the majority of reports on colleges and sexual assault show that the colleges have been mishandling these cases for years.

In light of that, here are a few things you need to know about Title IX:

+ What is Title IX?

According to the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX statesthat “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

+ What does Title IX have to do with sexual assault?

As Know Your IX explains, any college that receives federal funding must “combat gender-based violence and harassment.” Schools must also “respond to survivors’ needs in order to ensure that all students have equal access to education.”

+ What do I need to know if I’ve been sexually assaulted?

If you feel your school has infringed on your Title IX rights, you have a few options: you can consider filing a Title IX complaint with the US Department of Education or file a civil lawsuit against your school. You can find more information on those processes at Know Your IX.

+ How can I take action if I want to get more involved?

You’re awesome! To learn more about Title IX, you can spread the word so more people know about Title IX or create a movement to take action on your campus. Make sure you tell everyone about the “It’s On Us” campaign, too. In the end, the most important things you can do are support survivors when they ask for help and create an environment where sexual assault is unacceptable.

Stay tuned to find out more about the “It’s On Us” campaign! In the meantime, help raise awareness by posting about the campaign on your social media channels and sharing the resources listed above with your college friends.

]]> 0
MTV Act Book Roundup: 7 New Pro-Social Books For Young People Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:00:47 +0000

We love how a new study shows that Millennials are big-time readers! Books can be a great way to learn about pro-social issues, so please take a look at these new and upcoming releases. From women’s rights to taking better care of the earth, these books have it going on!

+ I Am Malala

This memoir for young adults is a must-read. It shows how and why Malala became such a passionate and brave crusader for girls’ rights, and at the same time it humanizes a larger-than-life figure, revealing to us a teen girl who loves the color pink, gets into fights with her brothers and watches American sitcoms. A useful timeline on the history of Pakistan explores how things came about and why the Taliban has had pull there. While it’s nonfiction, the book reads like the kind of novel you can’t put down.

+ Hidden Girl


In this eye-opening memoir, Shyima describes growing up in a large poverty-stricken family in Egypt — and being sold into slavery at age 8. Her parents were the ones who sold her, and Shyima found herself doing nonstop domestic work for a wealthy family who paid her parents $17 a month. The family brought Shyima with them to America, and eventually someone reported the situation. She was rescued by Child Protective Services, showing the importance of knowing the signs and reporting suspicious behavior. Shyima, who is now in her 20s, includes details in the book on how to spot slaves and how to get help for them.

+ Learning Not to Drown


Clare is dealing with a number of things teens deal with: trying to figure out what college to go to, handling overly strict parents, attempting to become independent. A number of other things that touch her life aren’t quite as common, but they still often happen, and they can be taboo to talk about: a family member in prison, addiction and sexual assault. Clare doesn’t want to hide these skeletons in her family closet, and she has to come to grips with what’s really happening in order to overcome it. This debut novel from Anna Shinoda, wife of Linkin Park’s Mike, is inspired by some real happenings from her childhood, and it packs a wallop.

+ The Red Pencil

In the midst of the Darfur genocide, a young woman named Amira is forced to flee to a refugee camp. She loses her ability to speak because of what she’s seen, but when she’s given a red pencil and paper, she uses her creativity to heal. While the conflict is not the major focus, this novel, which is told through prose poetry and illustrations, gives a better look at the reality of refugee camps and what it’s like to be a young girl being denied an education she wants. The book is fiction but inspired by real stories and author interviews.

+ We Should All Be Feminists

Part of Chimamanda’s powerful TEDx speech on feminism was sampled in Beyoncé’s “***Flawless” and blasted out during the 2014 VMAs. Now a modified version of the whole speech is available in a short e-book. Chimamanda talks about the meaning of feminism, how she came to feminism, and why feminism is so necessary. This is the kind of amazing writing you want to take a highlighter to for the powerful sentences, but you’ll find yourself highlighting the entire book. You can also check my interview with her!

+ I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister

Sohane and Djelila are two Muslim sisters living in France, and no matter what personal choices they make, they find themselves facing prejudice from one group or another. The book touches on issues like religious freedom and feminism, and while it is a work of fiction, it is inspired by real events, including the true story of Sohane Benziane, a Muslim teen who was burned alive in 2002.

+ Eyes Wide Open

“Eyes Wide Open” is an important book to help young people get involved in work to better protect our Earth. It explains in detail how politics and money still have some people denying climate change (despite overwhelming scientific evidence). The book is being released to coincide with Climate Week NYC and the UN Climate Summit, and is a great boost to help millennial environmentalists take a stand against climate change.

Photo: (Hachette, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Candlewick)

]]> 0
Lena Dunham Reveals Her True Heroes In Proust Questionnaire Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:57:01 +0000

Everyone wants a piece of Lena Dunham. The “Girls writer, director, creator and star took time out of her slightly busy schedule to answer a few very famous questions for Vanity Fair.

Yes, ladies and gents, Dunham answered the Proust questionnaire for Vanity Fair. Here are just a few of our favorite answers:

+ On what “perfect happiness” looks like:

Unmade bed surrounded by books, writing utensils, and the dog; a plate of demolished toast with butter on my chest; loved ones puttering not too close but not too far.”

+ What she fears:

To lose the ability to do my work.”

+ Her “greatest extravagance”:

I’m quite frugal, but my dog has a whole staff.”

+ What she dislikes about her appearance:

I’m chillin’ with it all.”

+ Who she admires:

My uncle, Edward Wood Dunham. He has Parkinson’s disease and faces every day with bravery, humor, and a gin-and-tonic.”

One of the most inspiring parts of the questionnaire, however, was when Dunham was asked about her heroes. In true feminist form, she name-drops the “men and women who work at Planned Parenthood centers across America.”

Soon, Dunham will start on her much-anticipated book tour. With all of the success she’s seen in recent years, the future looks very bright for Dunham. Let’s hope she continues to shine a light on causes like these.

Want to get involved? You can find ways to support Planned Parenthood here.

Photo: (Getty)

]]> 0
Police Bias Study Is Underway Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:40:59 +0000

While the Michael Brown shooting has gotten the most attention, there have been a number of police incidents making the headlines during which police officers have been accused of racism. And this is not even touching on cases that seem racially motivated that don’t make it on the big news. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he’s behind a new study on police bias.

The beginnings of the study happened before the Michael Brown shooting, but this case and other heavily documented cases like it are bringing this study to the forefront. It’s estimated it will take three years to complete the study, and it will be performed by researchers at different schools, including Yale, UCLA and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. It will be investigating five police departments, though the names of those police departments have not yet been disclosed.

“What I saw in Ferguson confirmed for me that the need for such an effort was pretty clear,” Holder said about the study. “There’s a great deal of anticipation, and I’d say apprehension, on the part of the people in Ferguson, and many people in this nation, about how this is going to be resolved.”

Racism is an issue that touches all walks of life to different degrees. While some like to say we live in a post-racial America, that just isn’t the situation. Sometimes a person’s bias might be completely unconscious, which is why it takes education and understanding to help make a difference for real equality.

Photo: (Getty)

]]> 0