Totally Radical

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Radical Teen Cheer.

The Radical Teen squad roots for political causes rather than football teams.
—Photograph by Steve Goldstein

Don't let the kick pleats and matching tops fool you—these cheerleaders are anything but typical. For the past year, the 10 or so Los Angeles high schoolers who are Radical Teen Cheer have been showing up at protests, demonstrations, and benefits, sometimes as often as five times a week. They address issues, ranging from the U.S. presence in Iraq to sexual assault to sweatshops, with staccato lines such as "Hey Bush! Who fights your wars? Just mi-nor-i-ties and the poor." And they aren't the only ones. Politically oriented cheering squads have cropped up across the United States, though their members are largely college-age or older.

In fact, RTC was born after a couple of teachers (who wish to remain anonymous) heard about one squad and passed along the idea. Students from several communities got involved, some of whom are also on regular high school cheering teams—including Larry (the, yes, guy in the middle of the large photo). Yesenia (third from left), one of the founding members of the group, says they all do it because they're committed to a message. "Equality and diversity. Equality between classes and all types of people. We all have to stick together," the 18-year-old states. "It's like, the performance grabs attention, and then the message gets out. We're not just a bunch of kids yelling and screaming."

—Lani Harac

Vol. 15, Issue 1, Pages 24-25

Published in Print: September 1, 2003, as Totally Radical
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