Community Spotlight: The Jama Shelton!

By Zizi Phillips

Jama Shelton, (they and them) is originally from Rural Mississippi and currently lives in New York. They have lived in New York for twenty years now. Jama is working as a social worker in the True Colors United organization. The mission of True Colors United is to end the social and environmental suffrages of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Currently Jama is centering their work within research. Jama originally has a background in Theatre. While being a part of an LGBTQ organization, Jama made a revelation that there is a great deal of trauma that queer people carry. This invigorated Jama to go into school for social work! Within the journey of understanding traumas and, furthermore social work, Jama’s focus became learning how trauma impacts homeless and how it is an important focus to youth suffrages. Jama went back to school for their PHD in social welfare. This degree is what landed them into working with The True Colors United organization. Jama’s goal is to tackle the injustices of race, class and politics, because these things play a major role in environmental and systematic racism, typically set by white supremacy and racist policies that are not beneficial to LGTBQ youth, and namely Black LGBTQ youth. Jama’s future aspiration is for future social workers to work diligently to create more housing for homeless LGBTQ youth through building equity and safe spaces for the marginalized homeless youth. Jama would like to take away the social classism of the LGBTQ community and create and unity of all people who lives outside of the systems roles and binaries within social structures. Jama is inspired by many people, those that immediately come to their mind are their daughter Franky who is three years of age. Franky’s freedom of worries is something that Jama wants to continue in the developments of their child’s future! Jama is also truly inspired by everyone that they meet. True Colors United works through several focuses; the most important focus is to create welcoming spaces and housing for youth. They also offer training, advocacy, and fellowship building. Another focus is national forums of youth homelessness, which helps others understand the needs of the young people living through housing instabilities. Jama is grateful to have the opportunity to develop the True Colors United organization with people from the community and understand the needs of marginalized youth from lived experiences.. Jama enjoys cooking and being around bodies of water. One of their hobbies is to visit the ocean that is close to their home to feel grounded and emotionally balanced. This motivates Jama to continue being the extreme force of justice and advocating towards LGBTQ youth living through injustices! I am so grateful to be doing this spotlight with such an amazing being; truly!