Sticking it to Spotify

by Neve Kelley

What happens when musical artists use
their voices for more than singing?

You may know Neil Young from his hit song “Harvest Moon” or other chart-toppers like “Our House” and “Teach Your Children” with the group Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. In recent months, Young and other big names in music have asked Spotify, the music streaming service, to remove their music from the platform. Neil Young was the first to make a stand, followed by Joni Mitchell, then Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and others. These artists are protesting Spotify because it has given a platform to Joe Rogan, an American podcaster who hosts “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, who has been accused of promoting misinformation regarding COVID-19. In a post on his website, Young wrote that Spotify has “become the home of life threatening COVID misinformation.” Young realized that he could not support Spotify’s “life threatening misinformation to the music loving public.”

The criticism of Joe Rogan was sparked by a group of scientists, professors, and health experts asking Spotify to remove an episode of his podcast. The episode, from December 31st, 2021, allegedly promoted dangerous falsehoods about the pandemic and the vaccine (The New York Times). Spotify responded to the issue, saying it wants “all the world’s music and audio content to be available to Spotify users,” giving creators freedom to create, rather than censoring their content (The New York Times). Spotify hopes to welcome Young back to its platform soon, but he’s made it clear that it is either Young or Rogan, not both. 

Joni Mitchell chose to join Neil Young in protest just days after. Mitchell is widely popular on Spotify with nearly 3.7 million monthly listeners. Her songs “Big Yellow Taxi” and “A Case of You” have gotten more than 100 million streams, so it is clear her work will be missed on the platform. Like Young, Mitchell posted a statement to her website asking

Spotify to remove her music from the platform immediately. Mitchell said she stands in solidarity with Young and she believes “irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives.” Mitchell also used her platform to cite An Open Letter to Spotify, which called for Spotify to take action against mass-misinformation events that occur on its platform. This letter was signed by hundreds of members of the medical community who believed Spotify must act immediately on the issue. 

Though fans of these artists have been disappointed by the news, many are supportive of the cause they are fighting for. Mitchell and Young are both polio survivors—vaccines saved their lives—so understandably, misinformation about vaccines is not something they take

lightly. Despite the protest, Wall Street analysts and investors are not convinced this will affect the company. Tim Nollen, an analyst at Macquarie Capital said, “If the movement is picked up by lots of artists that demand to leave the platform, then Spotify has to make a decision,” but as of now, he feels like Spotify is safe (Time Magazine). While I do dislike that Spotify has given a platform to a content creator who spreads falsehoods about COVID-19, I personally have not boycotted Spotify. However, I support the cause that Young, Mitchell, and other artists are fighting for and hope that Spotify considers making a change. 

Here is a list of additional artists who have boycotted Spotify:

Nils Lofgren

Brene Brown 

India Arie

Roxane Gay

Mary Trump 

About Neve Kelley

Neve Kelley a senior in the International Baccalaureate Program at Richwoods High School. In addition to being in an academically rigorous program, she is also heavily involved in community and school theatre productions. She takes private voice lessons and has been involved with choir and madrigals at Richwoods. Kelley is the co-editor in chief of her school paper, sits on the executive board of student council, and is in various school clubs. She also spends much of her time working as a barista at Leaves ‘n Beans in Peoria Heights.

Art by Ellie Kraemer

Ellie Kraemer is a sophomore and an animation major at Bradley University who lives and breathes her artwork. Becoming a professional artist and animator has been a goal of hers for many years, as various works of digital art and experience have held a pivotal role in her life. Intrigued by the diverse storytelling prowess of interactive media, she aims to get involved in the productions of visuals for video games and animated series after graduation. You can find more of her work at 


Believe it or not,
Africa is a Continent

by Emmanuel Agyemang

What you know—or don’t know—about
Africa might surprise you.

“So did you live close to the trees and animals in Africa?” My colleague probed eagerly, with such an innocent yet curious smile. Her question about where I am from was not condescending nor did it seem to have any malicious intentions behind it.

In my time in America, I have learned to cultivate patience and be open-minded about a lot of issues. After all, I once had my own misconceptions about America before I ventured into this land. I had my own fantasy of what America was supposed to be and it came as a shock to my younger self that those fantasies were mere misconceptions. Therefore, I have learned to empathize with others in this regard as well, yet it would not be prudent on my account to allow people to wallow in ignorance.

Africa is a continent, divided into 54 countries. Each country is sovereign and distinct from each other, just as the United States differs from Argentina or Bolivia. Though certain parts of the continent have some core similarities, generally they are vastly different in culture, religion, food, etc. There are more than 3,000 tribes all over the continent of Africa, with many separate dialects and languages. Even within countries, dialects differ among different tribes. Generally, countries in Africa speak either French or English depending on which European power colonized them. Ghana, for example, speaks English as it was colonized by Britain. Ivory Coast speaks French in addition to their native dialects, for they were colonized by France.

Following colonization, most African countries made strides toward development. Though the strides were interrupted by civil wars, coups, and Western interference in African political affairs, Africa is not stuck in the dark ages. As with all places, there are those living in poverty, yet Africa is not unique in this regard. In Michigan, for example, there was a shortage of drinking water from 2016 to at least 2019 (Mje, 2020). In 2019, there were about 58,273 people who experienced homelessness in Chicago (Town of Douglas, 2022). Hunger and poverty are not African issues, they are world issues. And while there are still strides to be made to achieve optimal levels of economic independence in Africa, it is still a beautiful place. It defies misconceptions that it is a war-torn, poverty-stricken continent. 

Believe it or not, Africa is a continent, not a country. Believe it or not, a vast population of Africans have never experienced hunger or poverty or war. 

About Emmanuel Agyemang

Emmanuel Agyemang is an international student from Ghana
and a recent graduate of Bradley University with a degree in Political
Science. He has an interest in pursuing law in the near future.

Art by Qaasaani Little

Qaasaani Little is a freshman at Richwoods High School. Little is a member of Student Leadership Team and Student Council. She has loved art for as long as she can remember, including painting and drawing. Little’s artwork is for sale. She also loves animals, after school activities, and is inspired by her mom for always pushing her to do my best. 

Optimism Is Its
Own Form of Funny

by Ayannah Garcia

Maybe there’s a dark side to looking
on the bright side…

As MJ said in Spider-Man: “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really be disappointed.”

Why can’t we be pessimistic? No one really thinks about how optimism can slowly tear a mind apart, and just think of how pessimism just brings every happy and calm mood down. But why does it bring you down? Why is it a problem for me? Are we just so afraid of failure that we will not consider every option and exclude negativity altogether? Sometimes I am so afraid of failure that my pessimism shows at its finest. I only think down, because if I’m positive I will fail, doesn’t my negative thinking cancel out my positive? One negative out rules a positive one, right? That is what school taught us, right?

The dictionary definition of optimism is hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. (“I am optimistic that I will be successful in the future.”) Pessimism in the dictionary means a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen, a lack of hope or confidence in the future. (“I am pessimistic and believe that I will fail in the future.”)

But no—only optimism is allowed in society because you must succeed one way or another. You will become the future of the planet. You will become this. You will become that. And if I don’t? What will you do then? Will I become something the world is afraid of?  

Everyone has ups that are optimistic and downs that are pessimistic in life. I might think the same as you are because even if you see a person you think is at their highest, they might not be inside. Why? Because in the back of that person’s mind they are thinking of all the lows and breakdowns they had on the journey to get there. And when they were staring at the wall just thinking, they didn’t think of the highest point they would be at after this. No, they probably thought they would never be able to get out of that lowest of lows. That’s my problem with this thing we call optimism. How are we able to think of something that seems so out of reach when we’re on the verge of giving up?

Well, we can think of our negative outcomes to fuel success. We can think of our breaking point and then use it to push ourselves to the finish line. You do not have to neglect negative things because burdening yourself with only positive outcomes hurts. Then not doing or getting something you thought so positively about crushes your whole being. But optimism is a good thing because it gives you hope to live your life to the fullest, and pessimism brings you down and hurts you. So why have you been learning the opposite this whole time while reading this? To learn that certain optimistic thoughts can be negative and vice versa. Like, if I was happy about wanting to receive a score on dance but didn’t, it can hurt a lot. I use this perspective in my daily life, so how will you? 

About Ayannah Garcia

Ayannah Garcia is a freshman attending Richwoods High School, where she takes part in the Pre-IB program, the Royalettes dance team, and the drama club. Outside of school, she loves to dance, read, journal, travel with family, and play with her dog. In addition to these activities, she is currently a member of the Finale Group of the Greater Peoria Illinois Chapter of Jack and Jill, an organization for young African American individuals who want to serve the community, and a member of her church’s youth group.

“The Industry”

by Izaak Garcia

When will Hollywood embrace diversity,
inclusion, and representation?

Movies, television, media, entertainment, glamor, money, celebrities, and power… all are synonymous with the industry that is Hollywood. From A-list actors and public figures having their picture taken every second by paparazzi, to movie studios like Universal making their next blockbuster, the film industry offers a seemingly endless amount of entertainment and excitement. With brilliant creators and directors such as James Cameron, Denis Villenueve, Quentin Tarantino, and so many more, it’s no wonder why this industry is one of the biggest in the entire world. People from all over the globe come to Hollywood to collaborate with others that have diverse perspectives and backgrounds that enrich filmmaking to the absolute fullest. But what if that wasn’t the truth? 

As the age of modern Hollywood arrives, diversity and inclusion have started to become a more prevalent issue, especially when looking at the demographic of the people who not only live in Hollywood but across the nation as well. The pressing importance of accurately representing the entirety of the American people continues to increase. Yet, as these issues are recognized more and more, the industry within Hollywood has not seemed to change. People of color are still marginalized and limited to basic jobs within the industry, and almost none were given roles in films or television series. A study performed by UCLA was conducted, analyzing the top 100 grossing fictional movies of the late 2000s, and the findings were astounding. It was discovered that three were directed by women, three were directed by men of Asian descent, and eight were directed by Black men. Another study showed that of the speaking or named characters within those same movies, 78% were white. To make matters even more confusing, a study in 2011 performed by the University of California-Los Angeles showed that movies with a more diverse cast do better at the box office (UCLA). So, logically, if people are being vocal about these issues, and studies are done to show that there is no change happening to combat these problems, along with the box office data that proves that films with a diverse cast generate more revenue overall, would it not be in the executive studio’s best interest to be more inclusive when it comes to film?  

Surprisingly, many in Hollywood would say that the answer to that question isn’t as simple as a yes or no. I would disagree. I believe that the answer is as simple as yes or no, but the reason why change is not implemented is because of the systemic discrimination deep within Hollywood. It has barred minorities and underrepresented communities from influencing the entertainment industry for decades and continues to present those same barriers even today. But the attention of an audience is a powerful thing, and the people who consume media have much more influence than they might think. Buying movie tickets and watching television shows with people of color is just one of the many ways to support minority creators and create a lasting impact on the industry.

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies with a minor in Applied Cybersecurity. He has played soccer with FC Peoria, Dunlap, and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and English for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new languages, and playing video games.

Art by Terri Silva

Terri Silva is a 20-year-old sophomore at Bradley University pursuing a major in Television Arts with a minor in Interdisciplinary Film Studies. For Silva, art is a hobby in addition to a potential career, and she takes it very seriously. Silva thrives when she tells stories in all forms: drawings, films, writings, and more. Silva thinks of herself as a creative mind that wants to share ideas with others, while also taking in what they have to offer as well.

Being Transgender Isn’t All That I Am

by Lukas Baker

Being transgender isn’t all that I am
I am not just the “transgender student”
My name is Lukas.
No, my favorite color is not blue or pink
It’s yellow, more of a beige yellow: close to a honey mustard color.

I am not your textbook but if you genuinely want to know something,
I’ll tell you.
Being trans isn’t the only thing I can teach you about.
I know a lot about wildlife, flowers, animals, reptiles, and so forth.
I’m actually not an atheist, I’m pagan.
I know a lot about the Greek gods and goddesses.

Being trans is not all that I am.
I’m 17 and in high school,
No, I don’t plan on growing my hair out again
When I notice someone is having a hard time,
I’ll ask them their favorite color
And their favorite animal.
I’ll show up the next day with a canvas in my hand to give to them.

I love going for walks
And I skateboard, sometimes I’ll take my dog with me.
I actually don’t listen to Cavetown that much.
I actually really like Falling in Reverse and Green Day.

Being trans is not all that I am
But I am transgender,
I go by He/They.
No, I won’t tell you my deadname.
Yes top surgery is on my agenda
I have an appointment to start Testosterone.

I have multiple transgender friends,
That doesn’t mean I know every trans person out there.
I’ll give you advice if you need it–
That doesn’t mean I’m your gender therapist.
But I’ll be there when you need me.

Being transgender is not all of who I am
But it’s still a part of me.
I’m proud of who I am.
I am still am transgender.

I have a flag and multiple shirts,
I’ve gone to a pride parade and I’ve been to a drag show
But it’s not all of me,
I’ve been to some art shows
I’ve been to dog shows
I’ve participated in a writing contest
And I’m learning piano.

Being trans isn’t all of who I am.
I have hobbies
And I have a life.
If you want to know, I’ll tell you.
But I can tell you about more things than one.

It’s not all that I am,
but it’s a small part that fills me in.
It’s part of the puzzle
That holds me together.
It’s a small piece that goes next to the others.

Being transgender isn’t all that I am
I am not just the “transgender student,”
My name is Lukas.
my favorite color isn’t pink or blue.
It’s a beige yellow that makes me happy.

I’ll answer a question if it’s asked politely.
But being trans isn’t the only thing I can teach you about.
I know a lot about art and writing techniques.
Being transgender isn’t everything I am.
But I still am.

Lukas Baker

Lukas Baker was born and raised in Peoria. Though technically a junior, Baker is taking senior classes at an alternative school and plans to graduate early in December 2022. He has a huge passion for art of all kinds, and writes poems and stories. Baker uses his art to advocate for
victims of child abuse, with a focus on sexual abuse. He is the main editor for his school’s newspaper and is working on the senior video. He is not afraid to speak his mind when someone is in the wrong or believes something needs to be changed. Baker has led protests in his school about many important issues.

Art by Aryanne Westfall

Ary Westfall is a junior Interactive Media major and Theatre Arts minor attending Bradley University. She is the social media manager for DAT, creates webcomics in her free time, and enjoys all forms of sequential art. Ary hopes to break into the comic world or find work in pre-production art for television.