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Pictured: VOX Investigates teen reporters with community partners at the VOX Investigates kick-off party in September.

VOX Investigates: The -ISMs and Discrimination

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Our team took a semester-long deep dive into the stories of ISMs and discrimination, such as sexism, colorism, racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and classism. We branched out into the greater Atlanta community to collect narratives and to connect with teens who desired to tell their stories.

For some it was a therapeutic release; for others, it was a way to incite a larger change by amplifying the stories neglected by mainstream media. Our stories are tied together, tiles in a greater mosaic portraying communities in their beauty and their struggle.

As we leave 2018, it is crucial to realize this work must continue. Our project has been more than a journalistic investigation; it has been an effort of humanization and an endeavor of social change. We hope readers better understand how the challenges we face individually reflect of greater issues in our communities. We want to erase the boundary between “us” and “them;” we are a community. What happens to one of us happens to all of us.

There has never been a greater need for a platform for our voices. It is my greatest hope that VOX ATL instills trust that our voices are not drifting into an endless void but are being heard. So, for the countless young people victimized by gun violence, racial injustice, police brutality, and discrimination; for the communities persecuted by this current administration and demonized by the exploitative media; for the marginalized individuals plagued by a societal witch hunt against “other-ness;” through these stories, we hear you. And we stand with you, because we are you.

Erin Davis, VOX Investigates and Atlanta Teen Voices Co-Editor


As the VOX Investigates team brainstormed ideas for the cover of this print edition we wanted to emphasize how our voice is our power, regardless of the obstacles we’ve encountered and overcome. Our brainstorming kept returning to the idea of portraying the powerful words we were covering in our stories. Not just any words though — visually bold, compelling words that would invite individuals to pick up the paper and immediately understand the message that teens are never alone in sharing their voices, demanding for a better future.

We decided to use the image of a teenage girl asserting affirmative words toward a building of such animosity. The words would ultimately crash against the building and cause its collapse.

I was more than eager to convey the idea from brainstorming to reality. This was my first time working with graphic design, and I am so grateful for the incredible learning experience. My skills were put to the test. We merged a woman’s silhouette with that of a baby girl to project the image of a teenage girl shouting.

One of the most difficult yet most satisfying parts of the job was finding the perfect font for the words. I realized the importance of a textual style to a reader, and the intricacy of a font that would ultimately determine the overall message. I wanted the affirmative words to encourage someone to pick up the paper. I didn’t want something too bubbly because these are, in fact, powerful words.

I learned a lot about the importance of perspective and alignment in design, and in the end, the girl shouting affirmative words against the building of oppression shows how her voice — our voices — overpowers the negative ISMS we all face while uplifting each other.

Avanti Upad, VOX Investigates co-editor

Read all of this semester’s VOX Investigates “The -ISMS” content here!

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