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Jerrod Dukes, Operations Coordinator, Vibestreet: ‘Learn More, Help More’

BIRMINGHAM TIMES — Jerrod Dukes, 24, is operations coordinator of Vibestreet Photography and Recording Studios, a rental space near Five Points South that opened this year and hosts a broad range of photo shoots, videography, art shows, meetings, and even served as a site for a local reality show. He recently spoke to the Birmingham Times about the multipurpose location for creatives in the Magic City.

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Jerrod Dukes (Photo by: birminghamtimes.com)

By Ameera Steward

Jerrod Dukes, 24, is operations coordinator of Vibestreet Photography and Recording Studios, a rental space near Five Points South that opened this year and hosts a broad range of photo shoots, videography, art shows, meetings, and even served as a site for a local reality show. He recently spoke to the Birmingham Times about the multipurpose location for creatives in the Magic City.

Birmingham Times: What do you like most about Birmingham?

Dukes: It’s an emerging city that hasn’t reached its full potential yet, so it still feels quaint, but it’s advancing, so it doesn’t remind me of Mayberry, [the fictional town where The Andy Griffith Show was set]. Also, its location in the middle of the Southeast offers short travel to all the major cities in the region. But if I had to just pick one thing, it would probably have to be the fact that my family is here. I feel that family helps keep you grounded, and having a support system can help you reach farther than you ever thought possible.

If you had someone visit from out of town, what’s the one place you have to take them?

Railroad Park for tacos. While enjoying tacos, we could view the Rotary Trail or simply just walk around the park and people watch, even start up a game of tag or kickball and have it feel like we’re just at someone’s house playing in the backyard.

What’s your favorite movie?

I get torn over classics like “A Streetcar Named Desire” or the hot new thing like “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Do I like it because I think the actor was really good, like Leonardo DiCaprio in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” Or do I just think the actress is gorgeous, like Nia Long in “Love Jones”? Well, like I said, I don’t have a favorite movie, but a couple that I could always watch are “A Bronx Tale,” “The Wood,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and, of course, “Love Jones.”

Who’s your favorite musical artist?

I’ve never had a favorite musical artist because my musical selection tends to change so frequently. Nowadays, I’ve been listening to a lot of Southern rap, such as UGK and Jeezy. With that said, I also had to listen to my sister’s music of choice as a child because she was older, so now I find myself listening to N’Sync and Beyoncé—solo and Destiny’s Child—as well. Also, as many of us can attest, I still go back to the music I listened to riding with my parents, which includes Frankie Beverly and Maze and The Temptations. So, if I had to give you my most played in the last week, it would be Kevin Gates, YBN Cordae, live Beyoncé albums, Celine Dion, and Starlito & Don Trip.

What’s a food dish you can never get tired of?

Chicken wings would be my meal of choice 9.5 times out of 10; the other .5 would probably be tacos. Wings are my favorite because of their versatility and simplicity. They can be fancy or ordinary, but as long as they’re well-seasoned they’re amazing. Also, the abundance of flavors, ranging from spicy to sweet to plain, they can do no wrong if well-seasoned.

What are you most passionate about professionally? Personally?

Professionally, I always want to show people that there is a more convenient way to do things. Everything doesn’t have to be all suit-and-tie and mountains of formalities. If there is something that needs to be done, what is the best way to satisfy all objectives that doesn’t require meaningless meetings? Personally: Find what makes me happy and do it whatever it is. I want to never limit myself because of overthinking. A few years back I went skiing, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. So, since then I’ve been on the hunt for what excites me and trying it.

Who is someone you admire, and why?

My mother, first and foremost, because of her strength and selflessness. She literally will break her back to make sure we have everything my family needs, while still getting us some of the things we want. She is an inspiration to my entire family, and we can do nothing but thank her. As far as a celebrity, I really like Samuel L. Jackson, not just because of the profanity, although it does add a certain flair, but for his humanitarianism and his unflinching attitude to do what he feels. He and his wife contribute to many causes worldwide to help bring peace, aid, and just an overall wellness to the world. Also, he is talented enough to say whatever he feels without fear of being blackballed. He has done Broadway, which is a feat in itself, while also having been at least two movies a year for the last 30 years.

What are three pet peeves?

People who don’t eat all the chicken off of the bone and don’t break the flat wings apart. It’s shameful and wasteful. People who don’t use the right direction for explaining how to travel from place to place, like from Birmingham to Nashville they would say, “We’re going down to Nashville,” even though it’s definitely to the north. When people pop their tongue off the roof of their mouth like they’re a dog trying to get peanut butter off of it, it irritates me to my core! Honorable mention: People who don’t know how to play cards.

How do you want to be remembered?

As someone who sought knowledge and helped everyone he could with it. I found out a few years back that I find real joy in helping others make their dreams come true. That’s the main reason I started working with Vibestreet. I saw [fellow co-founder Micah Lewis’s] passion for it, and I felt compelled to help.

What do you want to do before you die?

I wish to open a production house to help people get interested in or even rekindle their passion for films and filmmaking. I was not always set in my dreams of being in the film industry, and the people around me have always heard me speak of it as an idea. So, before I die, I want it to become a reality.

What publications or websites do you regularly read?

I’m a huge sneakerhead, so daily I receive upwards of 250 messages from various websites and magazines, such as Sneaker News, Sole Links, and Nike, about shoes. From these messages, I look at the websites and blogs, learning about new colorways and how the creator was inspired to make the shoe. I also use Internet Movie Database (IMDb) a lot. Every time I watch something new, be it movie or TV show, I check out IMDb to learn more about the actors and actresses. It also comes in handy if you can’t quite remember where you remember an actor from. Another magazine I read is Bon Appétit. It provides me with different versions of staple recipes, such as low-calorie or gluten-free options. It also gives me fresh takes on new recipes from different countries. Another great thing is that the recipes are usually some adaption of a family recipe, so you feel like it was handed down to you and you’re a part of the family.

What is your personal motto?

“Learn more, help more.” I always want to keep learning about everything because that way you can always find what works best for you. Also, when you constantly learn, you can help others more effectively by being able to help them find what works for them.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.

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Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.
The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D, NNPA Newswire Entertainment and Culture Editor

The documentary She Had A Dream by Tunisian filmmaker Raja Amari premieres on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange series tonight at 8 p.m. EST on WORLD CHANNEL. Season 14 of the acclaimed documentary series captures Black artists and activists shaping and reclaiming culture, advocating for change and mobilizing for brighter futures. She Had A Dream offers an intimate portrayal of one young Black Tunisian woman’s quest for political office and her fight against racism and oppression in a society that often seeks to overlook both.

The documentary follows Ghofrane, a 20-something Black woman from Tunisia as she walks the path of self-discovery of young adulthood while running for political office in a homeland where many still view her as an outsider.

Watch the trailer below:

A dedicated, charismatic activist and a modern, free-speaking woman, Ghofrane in many ways is the embodiment of contemporary Tunisian political hopes still alive years after the Arab Spring. She Had A Dream follows Ghofrane as she works to conquer her own self-doubts while attempting to persuade close friends and complete strangers to vote for her. As audiences follow her campaign, they also follow the dichotomies of her life as a woman striving for a role in politics in the Arab world and as a Black person in a country where racism is prevalent, yet often denied.

“The 14th season of AfroPoP shines a light on the collective power, strength and resilience of Black people and movements around the world,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, AfroPoP executive producer. “Viewers will see artists use their platforms to push for progress and human rights and see ‘ordinary’ people do the remarkable in the interest of justice.”

Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.

She Had A Dream airs on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange Monday, April 11 at 8 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel and begins streaming on worldchannel.org at the same time.

AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is presented by Black Public Media and WORLD Channel. For more information, visit worldchannel.org or blackpublicmedia.org.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena.
The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BBC Africa is reporting Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is facing a water shortage because of changing weather patterns and aging water facilities. The article reports, “Residents in informal communities like Kibra pay private vendors for water, meaning they now control the supply and access to water in the community.” The privatization of water access has led to an increase in the exploitation of women and girls in exchange for water.

“Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena. Check out the 2018 ANEW documentary short below:

The water crisis and the sexual exploitation of girls and women as a result of the water crisis shows no signs of slowing down.

To read more about this crisis, visit BBC Africa‘s series of articles and videos on Kenya’s water crisis and the Water Integrity Network’s (WIN) study on sextortion.

This news brief was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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#WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright

THE AFRO — Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.
The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Maya Pottiger, Word in Black

It’s no surprise that we’re living through difficult times. After two years, we’re still in a global pandemic, which has predominantly impacted people of color. In addition, Book bans, attacks on critical race theory, and partisan political fights target everything from Black youths’ sexuality, to history, to health.

And we’re seeing the effects.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.

For a variety of reasons — ongoing stigma, lack of insurance, most accessible — Black students often rely on the mental health services offered at school.Outside of a mental health-specific practice, Black students were nearly 600 times as likely to get mental health help in an academic setting compared to other options, according to 2020 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In fact, mental health services in schools have been steadily gaining popularity among students since 2009, before dropping slightly in 2020 when the school year was interrupted, according to the SAMHSA report. As a result, the rate of students receiving mental health care through school decreased by 14 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

So how are schools changing the way they address and prioritize mental health — and the specific needs of Black students — since 2020?

The Renewed Focus on Mental Health

For school-aged people, the majority of their time is spent in a school building — about eight hours per day, 10 months out of the year. To help address mental health during academic hours, schools are trying to focus on social-emotional learning: self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills. This includes teaching kids how to be in touch with their emotions and protect against adverse mental health outcomes.

But it’s been difficult.

Though there’s been more conversation, the implementation is challenging, says Dr. Kizzy Albritton, an associate professor of school psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. There was already a shortage of school-based mental health professionals before the pandemic, which has now been exacerbated, as have mental health issues. In addition, though schools clearly recognize the importance of mental health, they aren’t always provided adequate resources.

“Unless there are more resources funneled into the school system, we’re going to see a continued catch-up issue across the board,” Albritton says. “And, unfortunately, our Black students are going to continue to suffer the most.”

In a survey of high school principals and students, Education Week Research Center found discrepancies in how principals and students viewed a school’s mental health services. While 86 percent of the principals said their schools provided services, only about 66 percent of students agreed. The survey did point out it’s possible the school offers these services and students aren’t aware. The survey also found Black and Latinx students were less likely than their peers to say their schools offered services.

Dr. Celeste Malone, the president-elect of the National Association for School Psychologists and a Howard University associate professor, says she hasn’t previously seen this degree of attention to mental health in schools.

“I see that a lot in my role for a school psychology graduate program: the outreach and people contacting me with openings where they didn’t exist previously,” Malone says. “With this increased push in funding to hire more, that’s definitely a very, very positive movement.”

Mental Health Is Not One Size Fits All

Just like with many aspects of health, Black youths need different mental health support from their peers of other races. They need a counselor who understands their lived experiences, like microaggressions and other forms of discrimination or racism, without the student having to explain.

For example, in order to best address the specific mental health needs of Black students, districts need to provide information breaking down mental health stigmas; focus on hiring Black counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals; and fund anti-racist and trauma-informed mental health practices, according to the Center for American Progress.

While she hears a lot of talk, Albritton says she isn’t seeing widespread evidence of these solutions in practice.

“There needs to be a willingness, first of all, to understand that our Black students, their needs look a lot different,” Albritton says. School officials need to understand where Black students are coming from — that their families and households experience systemic and structural racism, which are known to trigger anxiety and depression. The effects of the racial wealth gap also play a role, from the neighborhood kids are living in, to the schools they can attend to the impacts on their health. Students might be bringing worries about these challenges to school, which could be reflected in their behavior. This is why, Albritton says, it’s crucial to also work with students’ families.

The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright appeared first on AFRO American Newspapers .

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