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Three Black Women Come Together To Help Africans In Ukraine Flee The Country

Black women continue to fight on the front lines to save those in need.

Human Interest

Black women continue to fight on the front lines to save those in need. With the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine, there has been documented evidence of the racist treatment of African students who are trying to flee after the invasion. The videos circulating the internet show the Ukrainian locals preventing Africans from boarding trains and crossing the borders to leave the embattled country while letting non-Blacks pass.


With so much outrage over the clips, two Black women decided to do something about it. Just like many of us, British friends Patricia Daley, 29, and Tokunbo Koiki, 40, saw what was going on online, but they particularly connected with one woman’s story.

Twenty-six-year-old student Korrine Sky documented her arduous journey to flee the Ukrainian city of Dnipro where she shared videos of several attempts being made to prevent her from reaching safety in Romania.

Once she was safe, however, Patricia and Tokunbo contacted Korrine and they began working together to help other students who were stuck in the eastern European country. In an interview with Sky News, the trio revealed that so far they have raised over £500,000 ($60,000) and helped more than 500 African students flee the country after many of them experienced the same racist treatment that Korrine shared on Twitter.

"People said they were pushed, sent back, and physically assaulted on both sides of the border in Ukraine, Romania, and Poland," said Tokunbo, who is a social worker. The ladies noted that the students were terrified as they shared their harrowing experiences.

"I do think they have been treated differently at borders because of their skin. Racism is now happening even in situations where there is war,” Patricia said.

A total of one million people have reportedly fled Ukraine and according to BBC, Africans make up 10,000 of that number. While many of them such as Korrine found safety in Romania, others have entered neighboring countries like Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. But there are many that are still trapped in the country in cities that have now fallen under Russian control.

BBC interviewed several students including one who said that ‘the university ignored our pleas and concerns for over one month,’ before chaos broke out and instead told students that they would be fined if they missed classes.

While Patricia, Tokunbo, and Korrine have teamed up to offer support, African countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, and Ghana have also responded by making flights available for students to return to their home countries.

Featured image by Craig Stennett/Getty Images

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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Featured image by Getty Images

TW: This article may contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

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