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Nigerian Refugee Creates N.Y.C’s First Full-time Shelter for Asylum Seekers

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keynote speech on the importance of owning and sharing our story at Browning High school, Friday, April 12th, 2019

Before Edafe Okporo became the founder and director of New York City’s first and exclusive shelter for asylum-seekers and refugees, he was alone, roaming the streets of Elizabeth in New Jersey, a refugee himself with absolutely nowhere to go.

What We Know:

  • Okporo (30) grew up in Warri, a town in Southern Nigeria. In high school, he discovered he was attracted to boys, and his parents sent him to conversion therapy.
  • Suffering from attacks and persecution in his town, throughout his high school and college years, he decided to move to Abuja, Nigeria; he helped found the International Center towards Advocacy on Right to Health, an LGBTQ rights organization, and HIV clinic. In 2016, he was beaten unconscious by a mob, woke up in a clinic, and knew it was no longer safe in Nigeria.
  • He received a visa to attend the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference, in Washington D.C., the chance to pursue asylum in the U.S., where same-sex marriage had just been legalized.
  • Arriving at JFK, he was detained and spent five months in a detention center in Elizabeth. Immigration Equality, a group that advocates on behalf of LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants, connected him with a lawyer and won the case.
  • Being sheltered in YMCA Newark, New Jersey, he persuaded the leaders of the RDJ Refugee Shelter, in Harlem, to turn the shelter into a full-time transitional refuge for migrants escaping violence and persecution abroad.

RDJ Refugee Shelter Mission Statement:

“The RDJ Refugee Shelter is currently the only shelter in New York City specifically for homeless asylum seekers and refugees. We provide holistic care, support and advocacy for asylum seekers who are experiencing housing insecurity and resources they need to thrive in their new home”.

  • The shelter, established in 2017, is New York City’s only full-time refuge for asylum-seekers and refugees. It consists of a 10-bed shelter and provides temporary housing for more than 80 migrants, advised Okporo, the shelter’s director. The shelter also offers legal counseling and job assistance.

“Knowing that New York is one of the most liberal places in the world and people are still subjected to such kind of persecution just makes me wonder where else in the world can LGBTQ migrants be safe,” Okporo stated.

Currently Okporo, a finalist for the David Prize, said that if chosen, he will utilize the money to expand the RDJ Refugee Shelter, which survives mainly on grants and donations. He plans to prepare religious leaders around New York City to use their churches, mosques, and temples as places of refuge for migrants escaping violence and persecution.

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Entertainment

Dolly Parton Declares Her Support For Black Lives Matter

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Dolly Parton

Country music icon Dolly Parton declares support for the Black Lives Matter movement. 

What We Know:

  • Dolly Parton was always vocal about her support for the LGBTQ community but was rarely vocal about politics. But now she has declared her support for the Black Lives Matter movement in a new Billboard cover story, saying that she’s “unequivocal” in supporting protests for racial justice despite never attending one. 
  • “I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen,” Parton said. “And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!” 
  • Black Lives Matter protests have erupted all over the world, especially in the United States, fighting against systemic racism and police brutality after the deaths of many African Americans at the hands of police. The protests also have led to the removal of Confederate statues in states like Virginia and Tennessee. 
  • Other Country music artists like Lady A, previously Lady Antebellum, and The Chicks, previously the Dixie Chicks, have shown their support for the movement by changing their band name to remove imagery related to a pre-Civil War-era South. 
  • In 2018, Parton removed “Dixie” from Pigeon Forge dinner showroom Dolly Parton’s Stampede because she was told that it was an offensive term and she didn’t want to offend anyone, so she changed it to The Stampede. 
  • “There’s no such thing as innocent ignorance, and so many of us are guilty of that,” Parton told Billboard. “…as soon as you know that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumbass. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.” 

Dolly Parton has won over 30 Grammy and CMA awards and is known for her hits “Jolene,” “9 to 5,” I Will Always Love You,” and “Islands in the Stream” featuring Kenny Rogers.

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Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA Re-imagines Ice Cream Jingle Opposing “Turkey In the Straw”

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Graphic from Good Humor’s latest preview of the new jingle. (Good Humor/Youtube)
Graphic from Good Humor’s latest preview of the new jingle. (Good Humor/Youtube)

It could be entirely possible the once cherished ice cream truck tune could adopt a new sound in the future. A collaboration from Good Humor and Wu-Tang Clan’s founder RZA, has recently teamed up to create a new ice cream truck theme for a “new era, ” after learning the classic jingle holds racist roots.

What We Know:

  • One might immediately recognize the iconic melody from the song, “Turkey in the Straw”, when an ice-cream truck comes rolling down a street on a nice summer day. The tune was popular at minstrel shows around 200 years ago, which often depicted white actors participating in Blackface or other racial stereotyping acts. Good Humor only just now learned of the unfortunate history.
  • Much of the public weren’t aware that this childhood jingle for many, actually held a discomforting tone and meaning. Theodore R. Johnson wrote a piece for NPR in 2014 explaining exactly how racist lyrics were added to the tune from minstrel shows in the 1800s and onward. It originally came to the United States as a tune British and Irish folk played on the fiddle.

“There is simply no divorcing the song from the dozens of decades it was almost exclusively used for coming up with new ways to ridicule, and profit from, black people,” stated Johnson.

  • Senior director Russel Lilly of the parent company of Good Humor, Unilever, made a note that they haven’t used or owned ice cream trucks for a while now but wished to be a part of the change nonetheless.
  • Although they haven’t operated trucks since the ’70s, Good Humor is known for being the inventor of the ice cream trucks in a time where the company first thought about bringing their products to customers. “We wanted to be part of the solution and offer ice cream truck drivers a jingle that can bring joy to every community,” Lilly said in a statement.
  • RZA took a trip down memory lane in a statement by saying, “I remember the days when I would hear that iconic ice cream truck jingle outside, and I would drop what I was doing to chase it down for a treat”.
  • Check out the new jingle below:

In a behind the scenes making of the new jingle, Good Humor shared its initiative to make it the new industry standard for music boxes in trucks.

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Election 2020

Herman Cain Continues to Tweet After Death, Slams Kamala Harris and Joe Biden

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Herman Cain attends the premiere of the film "No Safe Spaces" at TCL Chinese Theatre on Nov. 11, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Image via Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
Herman Cain attends the premiere of the film "No Safe Spaces" at TCL Chinese Theatre on Nov. 11, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Image via Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

Known Trump enthusiast Herman Cain, who died two weeks ago, is maintaining a very active Twitter account which very clearly has its sights on the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his new running mate Kamala Harris.

What We Know:

  • Cain passed away due to contracting COVID-19 after participating in the controversial Trump rally in Tulsa in June.
  • The late business executive’s Twitter account posted an article from his website on Wednesday detailing that “Joe Biden’s history with race is a minefield”.
  • Ever since the new tweets started appearing, many social media users have had their share of things to say about the recent activity. The new tweets appeared to rattle some social media users. From making memes to criticism, the current social media team is taking it all.

  • Comedian Sarah Cooper wrote, “So, let me get this straight. You think the Biden candidacy is going to be nuts and you’re saying this FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE SINCE YOU DIED TWO WEEKS AGO.”
  • As stated on the bio of the newly rebranded Twitter account, The Cain Gang, the Cain family, and dedicated team will continue to use the former GOP candidate’s social media accounts to promote his ideals.

His daughter explained that “It’s one of the ways he used this web site every day, and he wouldn’t have wanted that work to stop with his passing”.

  • Cain was previously the co-chair of “Black Voices for Trump” and a known Tea Party activist. Trump even considered him for a position on the Federal Reserve the past year before Cain himself withdrew when it was clear several Congress members did not support that decision.
  • Biden formally announced his selection of Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his vice president on Tuesday. This marks the first time a Black and South Asian American woman has ever been chosen for the role of a major party in U.S. history.

Also on Wednesday, it was reported that the Trump campaign revealed the President’s thoughts on Biden’s selection a few days ago. “Kamala Harris is the meanest, most horrible, most disgraceful, MOST LIBERAL of anyone in the U.S. Senate and I cannot believe that Joe Biden would pick her as his running mate,” said the fundraising email.

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