A Tough Read: The Journey of a First Gen

By Sydney Felder


Armando Martinez Soto, son of Mexican immigrant parents, was born in the U.S. to fulfill his parent’s desire of getting a successful education and the pursuance of the American dream. However, the difficulty of sudden immersion into a new language and culture proved to be an unanticipated hurdle.

Soto’s experience as a first generation American citizen and high school graduate acts as a testament to the power of devotion to hard work and the strength it takes to succeed.

“When I was born, the doctor held me in his hands and said to my mother, ‘He’s going to have problems with his tongue and speaking. We’d like to cut the tip of his tongue to help that.’ My mother said no.”

In addition to the traditional issues surrounding a young son of immigrants growing up in America, Soto had to deal early on with his severe speech impediment and subsequent difficulty mastering English and even his native tongue, Spanish.

“I had to go to ESL everyday”, he said, “a class that teaches you how to speak and lets you work on classes at your own speed”. Soto recalled quite of bit of bullying from his peers in elementary school. However, the struggle Soto has faced has served to strengthen his confidence. He calmly said, “I don’t care [about the bullying] now. It’s my voice. It’s how I talk”.

Soto acts as many “firsts” for his family, the most significant being his family’s first high school graduate.

Soto believes his parents wish more for him. “They want me to do better and do things they couldn’t”, he said. “Reading class”, didn’t come very easy for Soto. He said, “For me school can be stressful”. His early memories of school include threats of failing reading class from “mean” teachers and “sometimes working harder in reading” than his peers more fluent in English.

Though his parents wished the best academic experience for Soto, they were not able to help bring that about. “They didn’t help me and didn’t have time for me or to check my grades,” he said, “that makes me sad but I understand.”

Long work hours and juggling parental duties left Soto feeling like his parents didn’t care. He is appreciative of their dedication but is saddened by the consequences stemming from it.

School proved to be quite an obstacle for Soto. However, his experiences were not always negative. His favorite memory is “having fun dancing with people who were his friends” at his school’s military ball. He describes the event as “a blast”.

Soto wishes to succeed primarily to please his parents in his completion of high school. “They came to the United States about 19 or 20 years ago… they had little money and had to work hard.”

Upon graduating from St. Paul’s High School in the coming year, Soto hopes to enter the United States army as a bridge to bigger dreams of college and rewarding his parents for their sacrifices.

Soto plans to attend college close to his home in St. Paul’s to study criminal justice and to continue to protect others.

“I want to send them back to Mexico,” he said in regards to his motive for joining the army. Soto wishes for his parents to return to “their homeland” and to see their own parents again. Soto understands that military life will hinder him from seeing the people he loves as often as he’d like. He said, “I won’t see them but at least I’ll know I’m protecting them”.

Soto attributes his desire to enter the military as characteristic of his parent’s work ethic. He said, “Your grades are important but work is more important”. He believes good grades make you “less tired” in the long run.

Soto believes in the firm importance of education. “It might make you cry, it might make you stress but your education is the best thing you can get… without it you’re nothing,” he said. He realizes that the lessons he’s learned from both academics and through harsh bullying have been the best things he’s learned and has matured him. “It’s made me stronger”, he said.

Soto has very practical views of the world and his life after high school. He said, “after this is the real world”. His primary goal is to succeed and “just do better”.

Similar to his parents, Soto simply wants more for those coming after him. “The only thing I will ask my children is to be better than me in school and in everything.”


American Soccer: Not the great melting pot we want it to be

By Chloe Gruesbeck

Diversity in Soccer_photo

Unless you have fallen into a well, you probably are aware that the U.S. women’s soccer team won the World Cup Sunday.

In a stunning display of athleticism and power, the team soundly defeated Japan 5-2. But something was missing.

The U.S. featured no women of color on the field or on the coaching staff for the entirety of the game. And this homogenous lineup wasn’t a coincidence. Out of 23 players, only two African-American players and one Hispanic-American are on the roster.

The diversity of America fails to be reflected on the women’s national team.

This phenomenon isn’t intentional. The U.S. Soccer Federation isn’t barring minorities from minorities from the team, the number of minorities is just slim at the highest level. This extends to coaching as well. The UFC College of Business Administration found that out of 20 MLS teams, only two are led by head coaches who are minorities.

Randy Sears, a coach for a club soccer team in Chapel Hill, attributes this deficit to the socioeconomic gap.

“It starts at the youngest levels, minorities typically aren’t able to afford the high club fees that come with club soccer,” Sears said. “Clubs team have better coaching and facilities that they are not gaining access to. It is all about economics. It costs lots of money to foster talent.”

Sears suggests that the gap can be lessened through club teams offering more scholarships for young minority players, and holding more community events such as tournaments that receive a more diverse participation.

“Not many kids that are minorities get into top soccer programs,” Sears said. “By getting more of these kids in here, you can get a larger talent pool that would be a much more interesting mix.”

Increasing the number of scholarships given out would allow many more players to participate who cannot afford a club’s hefty fees. Soccer player Ellie Saska, 17, said those costs can become burdensome.

“One club team I played on, the uniforms alone cost $200,” Saska said. “We usually replaced those uniforms every other year. And then there are club fees which were around $3,000, if I remember correctly. The truth of the matter is it costs a lot.”

In America, soccer is most popular in the club leagues. That is where scouts are searching for talented young players who they hope to enroll in programs such as traveling private teams, Olympic Development, or even college teams.

Paul Cuadros, investigative journalist and soccer coach, discusses the topic in his book A Home on the Field.

“Soccer has become a country-club sport in the United States, played in suburbia, and it limits access from other parts of society,” Cuadros writes. “If you were not on a prominent club team, your chances for an athletic scholarship at a university were slim…. This is one of the main problems with the sport in America today, that the unwillingness to open the game to other economic stratospheres.”

Saska agrees that “opening” the game to more diverse participation would create a more productive environment.

“[Diversity] is key to create a more well rounded team.” Saska said. “I have actually enjoyed playing on recreation teams more because it is a lot more interesting, in my opinion. Everyone has different styles of play and by combining those you create a better, solid product.”

Many choose to describe America as a “melting pot” or “salad bowl” of diversity, with a plethora of different races joining together to create one united front. Its money bears the Latin phrase E pluribus unum which translates to “out of many, one.” By supporting more talented minority soccer players on the club level, the photo op for the next world cup photo could more closely resemble the values America’s cherish so highly.


Paul Cuadros: A Multifaceted Man for Change

By Doni Holloway


Paul Cuadros is an award-winning journalist, professor and author and was the keynote speaker of the 2015 Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education and Media.

When reflecting on the myriad of titles he holds, Cuadros said he is most proud of the work he’s done as an author. Much of his reporting experience was compiled into “A Home on the Field: How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of Small Town America.”

Reflecting on that book, he said, “Writing something that has a big impact was a big achievement.”

Growing up in Chicago as a minority, he experienced his share of adversity. Instead of allowing the obstacles he faced to hinder him, he used them as catalysts for moving forward and effecting change.

Cuadros’ experiences as a graduate student at Northwestern University played an important role in his life.

“It didn’t really dawn on me that teaching could be a part of my life until I went to graduate school at Northwestern University. I got to meet some really cool professors. That really made me stop and think that teaching was something I’d want to do myself some day.”

For many years, Cuadros coached soccer teams, and his experiences as a coach attracted him to teaching students in the classroom.

“(Teaching) journalism is a lot like coaching, too. You want your students to be able to practice what it is that you’re teaching them and then coach them or edit them while they’re doing it.”

His commitment to shaping students’ lives is unquestionable. Professor Jan Yopp said: “You can teach students how to write a news story, but it takes a certain kind of teacher to get students to see and understand the human perspective in their writing. He does that really well with his students. Paul has also helped the university to prepare for the increasing numbers of Latino students who are coming on this campus.”

During his speech, Caudros said, “You can move things in a certain direction through reflection and transparency and by influencing policy.”

While much of his writing has focused on creating culture and on migration and change, Cuadros also has an affinity for writing about sports.

The most rewarding part to him about speaking at the Chuck Stone Program was “talking to young people who are interested in learning about journalism and what it can do in our society.”

Terence Oliver, journalism professor and co-director of the Chuck Stone Program identified what made Cuadros an ideal keynote speaker. “He displayed that will to really make an impact on others’ lives. One of my favorite quotes is ‘to make a difference, be the difference.’ He seemed to be a real difference maker.”

In his spare time, Cuadros reads, writes and plays soccer with friends.


Finding a Home on the Campus

By Jared Weber


Franklin Gomez Flores had just been accepted into his dream school. All of his hard work from four years at Jordan Matthews High School (JMHS) in Siler City, N.C., had paid off, and he was set to join the Wake Forest University class of 2016.

However, before he made it official, he realized that he would be the only one of his classmates, past or present, attending Wake Forest. He would have no connections.

He reconsidered.

“I based my decision off of who I knew, and nobody from Jordan-Matthews was going to Wake Forest,” Flores said. “But I knew there were a total of four Latinos and one African-American girl that came to Chapel Hill.”

Flores decided that UNC-Chapel Hill was the right place for him, and he accepted his admission there.

“When I got here, I really needed a family,” said Flores, a rising senior now at Carolina. “So that was the first thing I started doing. Just finding how I could have what I had at home.”

To the Latino people, family comes before all else. To feel comfortable, they like to surround themselves with the people they are close to.

In Flores’s case, he entered a completely new environment where only 9 percent of his peers came from a similar background. The adjustment to college was to be more significant for him than it would be for others.

His situation is familiar to Professor Paul Cuadros, chair and executive director of the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) Latino Scholars Initiative.

“I think it is the case because many of them are first-time college students,” he said. “So many first-time college goers go through all of these different kinds of struggles adjusting to college life. That goes for Latinos and anybody else whose family members have never gone to college before.”

Cuadros has unique experiences with students who have made this transition.

In 1999, he earned a prestigious fellowship to investigate the influx of Latino families emigrating into poultry-processing towns in the southeast United States. He made his home in Siler City and began coaching a Latino soccer team and has been the head coach for more than a decade. The school has won the state championship.

Cuadros has melded the minds of many young men and women, including his former goalkeeper, Flores, and has been instrumental in helping students get into college. Through the soccer team, players grew very close and established a community.

Another one of Cuadros’ soccer players, Daniel Estrada, is a rising sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill. When his mother was pregnant with him, his parents moved to Siler City to escape gang activity in Los Angeles, Calif.

Estrada believes that there are positive, what could be called, “gangs” on campus that “help students be closer within the community,” instead of steer them in the wrong direction.

“I can see a social group, like a fraternity or a sorority, being sort of like a gang in a way,” Estrada said, “except the groups here on campus would be for positive relief instead of negative relief.”

Both men have been able to feel at home on the UNC-CH campus. Flores is working as an assistant with Uplift PLUS, a six-week summer program that helps participants become familiar with the campus and coursework. Estrada is a member of CHispA, the university’s student-run Hispanic association.

Cuadros believes these kinds of groups go a long way in helping students fit in and eventually succeed at the university.

“Those kinds of things allow those kids to get a home footing on campus here at Carolina,” he said. “That is important because it really helps to address the issue of retention and being able to graduate here in four or five years.”

Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Education


Invisible Walls

By: Stephanie Edmonds and Brittany Wiafe

May 1st, March for the Inmigrants Rights

“God sees no walls from heaven. That is why all walls that are built one day come down,” Paul Cuadros wrote in his book, A Home on the Field.

Brandon Callender, a Chuck Stone Scholar, said from space you see the world as a whole, you don’t notice the visible barriers we have built as a people. There’s nothing standing in the way, in God’s eyes, so there’s no reason humanity can’t do the same.

As Callender said, stereotypes make you think you are above or below a certain race leading to the invisible walls we build in our minds. Rhonda Gibson, associate professor at the UNC School of Media and Journalism, said labels arise from the things we see and hear. This practice is known as the socialization process, the adoption of behavior from one’s surrounding culture.

“Stereotyping is a natural tendency; it’s something we all do,” said Gibson.

The walls we build are based on stereotypes. Callender said stereotypes lead to preconceived notions that could end up hurting their targets, leading them to feel like the walls are closing in. In Siler City’s case, the Latino community was the aim.

“The migration of Latino workers and their families has been like a shot in the arm to Siler City,” Cuadros said. “It has restored and spurred growth and development in a town that was dying.”

Although the revitalized economy in Siler City had positive effects, the residents saw the new neighbors as a threat.

The economic gains in Siler City statistically should have helped knock down discriminatory walls faced by the Latinos because they fueled the community’s rebound. However, as Callender said, natives of Siler City took the positives as a negative and used them as an opportunity to add another layer of brick to their own oppressive wall only making the walls stronger.

As Cuadros reflected on a rally that Siler City held, he wrote about the different signs that native residents held against the Latino community. “Many carried signs that read LA RAZA GO HOME; THIS IS OUR LAND!; REPORT ILLEGALS… and my favorite, the word FULL inside an outline of the United States.” attributes working under discriminatory conditions to the cultivation of depression, lack of self-confidence and bitterness. The division caused by these broad overgeneralizations, or invisible walls, extends past the workplace and into education.

In 2011, Hispanics had the highest dropout rate in the nation -17 percent- for students ages 16 through 29.

Callender said stereotypes stop people from advancing depending on where they are. As the walls of prejudice push in from work, education and questioned immigration status, Latinos find themselves with no way to advance.

“Employed Latinos are less likely to hold a college degree than whites or African Americans, and most are heavily concentrated in certain industries and sectors,” said Vanessa Cardenas and Sophia Kirby, writers for the Center for American Progress. Because of their limited opportunities in education, Latinos are far less likely to be employed in jobs that offer public influence.

Stereotypes can prevent relationships by creating invisible walls, which erect in an act of ethnocentrism, as Callender said.

“It’s a sin not getting to know a true person,” said Gibson.

Gibson often teaches about the tackiness of labels or the invisible walls we put up against people. Eventually the Latinos in Siler City began to adapt to the walls they were trapped in.

Cuadros succeeded in building a varsity soccer team in Siler City, but he also built a place where Latinos could find their strengths. Students at Jordan Matthews High School could connect as a team and chip away at the walls their community had built against them, creating Los Jets.

“If there was one place they could call home, a place where they could feel at home, it was here—between two goals on a dusty field,” wrote Cuadros in his novel when describing the community Los Jets found.

Latino-Americans have grown up between walls of differing cultures, stereotypes and languages, but the Los Jets players had found a way to adapt to their walls and find their place within them.

Greta Oliver, co-director of the Chuck Stone Program, said diversity allows students to understand the complexities of American culture. This is a lesson Siler City has learned, and this lesson is one that can chip away at walls Americans have toward diversity. Cuadros observed that Siler City is a metaphor for the whole country.

“I knew that the team had transcended the prejudices on all sides and brought the community to root for one team,” he wrote. “I knew then that these kids were no longer Latino kids…they were Jets. We were all on the same team.”

Gibson said stereotyping will never go away, but as Siler City exemplified, it is possible for residents of a community to knock down alienating walls they build and ultimately become connected.

Picture attributed to


Mexican Food: Popular, But Not Always Authentic

By Jasmine Rouse and Caroline Wolfe


Paul Cuadros, born and reared in Chicago, always has had a love for the food his Peruvian mother has cooked.

Despite moving to the United States, she has kept the tradition pure and strong of cooking Peruvian dishes she has eaten her entire life.

Some common dishes Cuadros would see in his household included beans, rice, fish, potatoes and yucca with spices such as paprika, garlic and chili pepper. Cuadros’ mother never deviated from her true roots regarding food.

“In the home is where we stick to what we know,” he said.

Many Hispanic and Latino families who have immigrated to America have stuck to eating the traditional food from the Hispanic country where they originated.

Due to the lack of specific Latin ingredients in grocery stores, many Latino families would substitute an alternative ingredient found in the U.S. Outside of the home, it was not uncommon for Hispanics to adapt to the “Americanized” food around them.

“If it’s good, I’ll eat about anything,” Paul Cuadros said when talking about the different types of cuisine found in the U.S.

As many people migrate, one would think the authenticity of one’s food and culture would remain the same. That is not true in many cases and not for Hispanic and Latino food.

Most of the food in today’s Hispanic restaurants normally would not be found in a Hispanic home. Whether you go to a restaurant and search for good Mexican, Colombian, Cuban, Peruvian, or Haitian food, you are not seeing the truth of the food.

Susan T. from the blog Orange County Mexican Restaurants wrote, “Fast food joints and Americanized Mexican restaurants are the only exposure many Americans have had to Mexican cuisine.” Many Americans have little knowledge of authentic Mexican food.

For example, Mez Durham, a contemporary Mexican restaurant in Durham, N.C., features smoked brisket tacos on its menu, and its managers have more European-sounding names such as Jeff Robinson and Kassi McIntosh.

Even in restaurants such as Mi Pueblo Mexican Grill, a Winston-Salem based chain founded by Mexican immigrants, the foods are not necessarily traditional. Increasingly, Americans have developed a taste for industrialized spinoffs of Hispanic food

At one point in our nation’s history, Mexican food was unpopular. In Julia Moskin’s article, How The Taco Gained In Translation, she writes about food critic Gustavo Arellano, who decided to research the reasons behind its sudden popularity.

Arellano discovered that as the American fast food boom began in the 1950s, entrepreneurs noticed the early success of Mexican restaurants. Individuals such as Glen Bell, founder of Taco Bell, began to create products that mimicked the food those early immigrants were bringing to America.

But the American passion for Hispanic food also has brought in more traditional ingredients. Writer Andy Newman said, when Mexican immigrants first came to New York in large numbers, it was hard to find Mexican food, let alone a Mexican restaurant. But as more immigrants poured into the country and more non-Hispanic Americans searched for Mexican cuisine, traditional ingredients such as chorizos and crema (sour cream), are flowing into the country.

According to ABC News, in 2011 there were approximately 38,000 Mexican restaurants scattered across the country and 896 alone in North Carolina. So while Hispanic food may have been twisted, tweaked, and Americanized, at the same time, it is becoming easier to find basic ingredients and recreate the real deal.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Saechang


Overcoming Adversity in Education

By Hannah Isley & Celita Summa


Every year 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States, and as many as 1 in 3 first-year college students won’t return for their sophomore year, according to and U.S. News Education.

The facts may seem extreme, but they are the harsh reality.

Cynthia Demetriou is director of retention in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. With the help of her office members, she assists at-risk students, especially transfers, who are considering dropping out or are simply struggling.

The office also has an outreach program for high schoolers to ensure a wider variety of them have the opportunity to higher education.

“I believe in the value of a liberal arts education, which can help students develop into critical thinkers,” Demetriou said. She added, “College can be an enriching and transformative experience for young students, and can help them engage in society.”

Every person struggles in a different way and the office wants to identify each student’s specific issue in order to address it in the most beneficial way to the individual.

One of the main strategies the office uses when approached by students considering dropping out is to look into their backgrounds to see if anything of note stands out. The office checks to see if students are the first in their families to attend college, having financial challenges, or maybe exploring a career area not well-suited to their interests.

Students who are struggling financially may have to work to support themselves or their families, decreasing the amount of time that otherwise would be available for them to study and enjoy general recreation time that could aid in their assimilation into college life.

Another might be that the school simply isn’t a good fit for some students. It may be some students’ first major change in life. They could be first-generation college students, and therefore overwhelmed with the process of going through university, due to a lack of familial experience.

Yet another common factor is the issue of culture. Students may feel ostracized as minorities, not finding a group of similar people to connect with. An example of an effort to combat this problem in the office is collaboration with the American Indian campus group, an initiative to ensure all students of that heritage are comfortable at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Those who are members of a racial minority, or who hail from rural communities, also may struggle to find their niches and fully integrate into a college campus.

“In the last decade, there has been an institutional response to getting students through to graduation and providing programs to support them,” Demetriou said. “We tend to the holistic development of the student.”

EducationNext says that as high school graduation has grown in importance to society today, so too has the necessity of graduating with a bachelor’s degree, which can now even be considered essential for economic success. Without the minimum high school diploma, people may struggle to elevate their socioeconomic status and pursue the paths they wish.

With the rising value of education in contemporary Western society, the amount of resources available for the students is required to increase accordingly.

“If we’re not getting them through to graduation, what are we doing?” Demetriou said.


Sharing A Common Tone

By Brandon Callender


In Paul Cuadros’ A Home On The Field, the members of the Los Jets soccer team often listened to music on the way to and from games. The music that these athletes absorbed came from their parents and other Hispanic associates/friends, and in some way the music allowed them to become closer friends than if they had not been listening to the same types of music.

Upon entering the gleaming doors of Granville Towers, I found the lobby atmosphere to be overwhelming. After being greeted by the two whom I would eventually come to know as my counselors for the duration of the camp, I took the elevator upstairs. Confused and wandering the floor, I somehow eventually ended up outside Room 2824. I could feel the seconds tick by as I paced around the room wondering if I would even have a roommate. I had already met a fellow participant and soon found out he would be in a room alone.

Eventually, another face – three to be precise – appeared in my room. After his parents had departed, I began speaking with the person I would be living with for the next four days. For me, that is no simple task. When introducing myself to people, I stumble over words and quickly become embarrassed, all the while running out of topics. But… there seemed to be some sort of mythical force in effect.

Almost instantaneously, we began talking about what kinds of music we enjoyed. I soon found myself laughing, discussing various hip-hop artists with him. Our conversation steadily chugged its way along as we slowly learned more about each other. We found ourselves leaping from conversations about our favorite artists, to beginning an uproar of laughter when joking about certain artists who indulge themselves in yelling into microphones.

The same thoughts that I had after reading A Home On The Field returned to me. Was music the topic that allowed me to quickly connect with my roommate? Unconsciously, I found myself repeating the same behavior our second night together in the frosty, yet welcoming eighth-floor lounge of Granville Towers.

I have always found it hard to speak to new people – not because I am intimidated but because I simply do not know anything about them. How could I possibly bring something up that they have some interest in while just talking about the hobbies I have which are typically seen as weird? In the lounge filled with people whom I had not met prior to this workshop, I found myself able to talk to them as if I had known them for years while we were all discussing music. Once again, my feelings after completing A Home On The Field rushed in. Much like the boys listening to rancheras on the bus on the way to a game, discussing hip-hop, pop punk, and folk rock with my peers in the lounge allowed me to break out of my shell.

Even while writing, I find myself distracted discussing folk-punk bands like Andrew Jackson Jihad and new wave bands like the Talking Heads. Thankfully, after interviewing others in computer lab while they all hacked away at their personal writing assignments, I found some insight as to why people can use music as a way to “break the ice,” as suggested by one of my fellow Chuck Stone scholars.

Professor Michael Yopp, while not a professor of music, passed to me a wise tidbit of information, which would knock down the ideas I had about music being just something people enjoy. Yopp humbly offered: “Solar systems all revolve around a central entity […] music is like this, and it draws people together.” Music allows for people of different backgrounds to connect through a tune they share. An enharmonic, which are notes that share the same pitch (or tone) yet have different names, exists in music. Everyone here at the Chuck Stone Program can be compared to an enharmonic: We come from extremely different backgrounds, but when discussing music, we all can find a tone we share.


Thank you for the Music


By Veronica Kim

In his book “A Home on the Field,” Paul Cuadros chronicles the story of a soccer team comprising a generation of Latino immigrants, old enough to have crossed the border between the United States and Mexico into the U.S., but young enough to still feel the influences of American youth culture.

On the bus to a soccer game, Cuadros notes: “Gone was the old Mexican ranchero music, the corridas, the norteño sounds, and the Duranguense drums. The fierce rap of Daddy Yankee replaced them ushering in a Caribbean beat for this new generation.”

Today, these ever-changing music tastes are not only reflected in Cuadros’ soccer players but in all American youth. However, it is important to note the influence of parents’ music preferences – the Mexican ranchero music, corridas, norteño sounds, and Duranguense drums mentioned by Cuadros – on the music that their children choose to listen to.

“A Home on the Field” describes the change in music tastes brought about by a transition from one distinct culture into another: Mexican to American. Although this transition does produce a change, it is not an event that pertains just to children whose parents immigrated to the U.S.

In the case of Brittany Wiafe, 16, whose parents migrated to the U.S. from Ghana, the effect of her parents’ music preferences is evident in her own.

Wiafe said that her mother listens to Bob Marley, Whitney Houston, and a lot of traditional African music at home.

The music tastes of Wiafe’s mother have helped determine Wiafe’s own preferences. Although her mother never explicitly asked her to listen to traditional African music, Wiafe finds herself listening to music that relates to African music, with traditional beats.

When Wiafe was young, her father would dance to traditional African music with Wiafe standing on his feet.

Even though Wiafe’s parents have played a role in influencing her music tastes, she has developed her own preferences as well. When asked what type of music she enjoys listening to, Wiafe said, “All types of music – indie, R&B, rap.”

She listed some modern rappers among her favorites, such J. Cole and Drake, artists who emerged after her parents’ generation.

On the other hand, Stephanie Edmonds, 17, comes from a family that has resided in North Carolina for generations, with parents are from N.C., and a long line of ancestors from the Deep South.

Her parents have nevertheless played a large role in her music upbringing.

“As a young child, my parents would play their music in the car or at home while my mom was cooking dinner. I was brought up on their music,” said Edmonds.

Edmonds believes that her parents cultivated her taste in “oldies music,” or music from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

However, her tastes have grown beyond these limits. “Now that I’m older, I listen to a wide variety of music – Christian music to country music, music from the ‘70s and ‘80s,” Edmonds said.

Even Edmonds’ grandparents played a key role in influencing Edmonds’ music tastes. She mentions that “the history of [her grandparents’] youth correlated with the history of the music they listened to.”

The connection between the music that people listen to and the events happening around them has been evident throughout history. In the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, American pop music quickly became a place for anti-war protests and political discussions.

Since music is a central part of popular culture, a current generation’s taste in music will inevitably change with changes in popular culture.

But these changes also carry the weight of more personal connections. Jared Weber, 17, believes his strong family ties have helped to build his music preferences.

“I love rap music, classical, rock ‘n’ roll. I got rap from my brother, because I’ve always looked up to him. I got the music I like from my family,” Weber said.

His brother’s influence shows that not only parents, but any sort of role model, can influence a person’s taste in music.

Photo from