Phreedom Jawn is a social media hub for Philly’s Black community

Rasheed Zaire Ajamu

As Philadelphians continue to organize protests in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, the social media page Phreedom Jawn serves as an important resource for the city’s communities of color. Rasheed Zaire Ajamu created and runs the online informational hub, which exists on Instagram and Twitter, where he posts news, culture resources and, lately, information about BLM-related protests and marches.  

Ajamu describes Phreedom Jawn on its Instagram page as “a Black Philly blog dedicated to highlighting and sharing stories for us and by us.” He is a Black, queer Philadelphian who works as a program coordinator for a local community development center.   

The Phreedom Jawn page has existed for at least a year or two, Ajamu said, but “given the climate and the settings that we were in around the end of May, early June, I felt like it was important to get different messaging out.” Before rebranding as Phreedom Jawn, Ajamu’s page was called Blackness Is. 

“It was just collecting the experiences of Black people, and coming to understand what Blackness is to them,” he said. 

In its current iteration, Ajamu started the page “because of all the harm that was being caused, specifically with the National Guard being out, police officers brutalizing people and those scare tactics that were happening around the city. There was no real central place that you could go to see everything that was happening, so I had essentially just started posting them.” Ajamu continues to refine the message and meaning of his page. 

When news hit of the murders of two more Black trans women –– Riah Milton and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Ajamu posted information, how to donate to Fells’ family to cover funeral costs, and his own commentary on the atrocities brought against trans women of color. One of his posts reads in part: 

“I want everyone to use this time to imagine how different things would be if we weren’t policing and clocking Black trans folks 24/7. Imagine if we offered them our support and protection and not stares and misgendering. Our sisters are in constant danger by doing absolutely nothing but existing.” 

Ajamu also posts food for thought regarding racism, informative and inspiring messages, and book recommendations, including Adrienne Maree Brown “Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good.” 

“This work can be exhausting, and more than not we can forget that pleasure is important to maintain self,” Ajamu’s accompanying post reads. “Pleasure keeps our work meaningful and expands it far beyond the reaches of what we know now.”

A life-long Philadelphian, Ajamu studied peace and social justice at Parkway Northwest High School in Germantown. 

“I was always kind of interested in how people worked, and why people do the things they do,” he said. “From a very early age, I was always picked to do different student conferences. That aspect of leadership came early on because I’ve always been outspoken as a really young child.”

He told PGN that his friends considered him to be a “help desk” in terms of asking for advice. He decided to use his natural leadership skills to foster community and help educate his peers. 

“There’s a lot that happens in our city that people aren’t aware of and there are a lot of people in Philadelphia who want to be active, but don’t know how to be,” he said. 

In addition to Phreedom Jawn, Ajamu said that he plans to continue with the podcast that he and his siblings started, called The GWORLZ Room. In that space, he and his siblings casually discuss Black culture, music, sex, politics –– whatever topics they see fit. When it comes to both Phreedom Jawn and The GWORLZ Room, Ajamu intends to be as accessible as possible.  

“Everybody isn’t on the same level, and I think that’s part of the problem,” he said. “Sometimes people see big words and they’re kind of like, ‘I can’t necessarily have a conversation with them, so I’m just going to resort to being aggressive and arguing.’ I try to be chill and I try to be very informal with people, let people know that I’m not some bot or some guy in a white suit behind a desk just typing all day. I’m a real person.”