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The Story of Afros in tha City: Dooshima Jev

Updated: Aug 2, 2023


By Aurora Sol Afros In Tha City (AITC) is a media collective rooted in Calgary, Alberta. They focus on uplifting the voices of the Black creative class with the mission to tell stories not being told. Ignited over the pandemic and currently blossoming into a well-received platform over three years, the collective has captured a niche audience and positioned themselves as a respected burgeoning media outlet determined to wedge themselves into the public space. The story of Afros In Tha City began with Dooshima Jev, a Nigerian-Canadian artist, DJ, producer, journalist, designer, arts administrator, and all-around creative powerhouse who has been at the helm of several projects over a 20 year timeline. Jev is known for consciously bringing vibrant projects forward to connect people with the arts in Calgary. As the founder of the now defunct Calgary Fashion Media, the DJ workshop and mentorship outlet SheDJsYYC, and the event project Umoja YYC, Jev has become notorious for her talent of connecting and collaborating with creatives from a wide span of backgrounds to produce intentional projects. Graduating from Mount Royal University with a Bachelor of Communications in Journalism, Jev was one of very few Black people in her graduating class, but her passion for connecting with others and her skills in the field of communication were assets she has carried forward with her. Although Afros In Tha City Media started in 2020, it was years prior that Jev realized there was a real need in Alberta for media that was by and for Black folks. This realization came during her romantic relationship with a white man who had a rare empathy for her experiences as a Black woman — because of being raised with many Black family members that he had watched get ‘othered.’ “I was in this loving interracial relationship, and there’s a lot of different microaggressions that you experience as a couple in that situation,” says Jev. “Walking down the streets of Edmonton, it was really obvious that we were sort of this entertainment factor for strangers. We were just living our life! And I realized that there really needed to be an outlet to talk about these experiences. That’s really how it all started.” It was in 2020 — during the BLM uprisings and riots surrounding racism, white supremacy, and police brutality — that this thought became an action that she knew she needed to take. “I was being asked to speak, to give my voice at rallies, and I had no idea who was organizing these rallies. Were they even Black? If they weren’t, were they allies?” Jev remembers asking. “I did speak, and I lost my voice, I became very burnt out…I started to get death threats. It was not good. It was really not good.”

Jev recalls the spring and summer of 2020 and what ultimately led to the launch of Afros In Tha City Media. “All that was happening, and I knew I needed to make a space for myself and my community to safely interact. So I made a Facebook group, and it was mostly just Black women. We organized a dinner that ended up being really amazing. I did all this under the name ‘Afros In Tha City.’ I also made a Discord channel, because unlike Facebook, that platform is encrypted. It started out quite large, I added many people — Black folks, allies, anyone who seemed to be on board. But then a lot of the nonsense started with virtue signaling, people using these narratives for clout and questionable purposes. It seemed like things were changing for the better for a flash moment, and then that moment was gone; it felt like it was time to get serious. The [Discord] channel as it was fizzled out at that point, but it was around then that I had also made a call out for writers and people with experience in journalism. The response I got from a group of writers –– all strangers to each other at the time –– which now makes up the Afros In The City Media team was outstanding; so much passion and excitement! The channel then became our home for our communications as an outlet and team. And really, the rest is history; we’ve been building this media collective from the ground up since then. We run on a slow journalism model, so we aren’t trying to blow up. It’s about the stories we tell.” Since 2020, Afros In Tha City has worked with Calgary Folk Fest, Sled Island Festival, Rosza Foundation, The Calgary Black Film Festival, The Sprawl, The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Indiegraph, Humanologie, CBC, and CJSW. On top of that, Afros In Tha City posts monthly content on AfrosInThaCity.com and has a growing community of Patreon supporters. All the members of the AITC team are creatives, from musicians to slam and spoken word poets to visual artists, and the editor-in-chief, Tomi Ajele, was recently awarded Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40. “I am so proud. There’s not much else to say,” says Jev. “We hope to expand East and West and North and South, at our own pace. I have a lot of connections in Africa, in the UK, in Toronto. Our team has their own connections too. We have two writers that are also American, a writer in Eastern Canada, people in Vancouver, people in Toronto. We love Calgary, of course. We have built a home here and will always have stories to tell here! But there are many voices we would like to uplift and hearts we have yet to reach!” Learn more about Afros In Tha City here: https://www.afrosinthacity.com/ Support the media collective on Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/afrosinthacity

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