This morning I'm still messed up. I'm Sad for the Black community, Sad for me and Sad for every person living with HIV. I don't even know where to begin. It was one of the most balanced documentaries on AIDS in the Black Community I have seen to date, with one exception. People continue to say that Black Civil Rights Leaders were slow to speak up on AIDS. That is NOT totally true.
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson was the first Presidential Candidate to have an AIDS Policy in 1984 and 1988. He slept in AIDS Hospice to show support and solidarity with those dying from AIDS. We as a political family had already been impacted. We lost Keith Barrow the R and B singer and son of Rev. Willie Taplian Barrow to this disease in 1984. So there were some who got it early and were a voice. Rainbow/PUSH has continually worked on this issue. I know this to be true because Rev. Jackson asked me to organize ministers to be tested at the Saturday morning forum. We had well over 80 ministers publicly testing for HIV to challenge fear and stigma, long before ministers started testing in the pulpit. This is just one example. I mention these things because I will not allow that fact to be written out of history. But for the most part, Julian Bond was truthful. Black leaders didn't see this as an issue for them. Coming clean on that fact was POWERFUL!
When did the Black community stop being a village? When did the Black Church stop being a place of nurture? When did we stop being a safe place to come when we hurt? When did we stop being a voice for our people when they hurt? When did the Gospel of Jesus become what we can get from God over and above what we can give to God's people? Julian Bond is right, we are ALL culpable in the spread of this disease.
I smile through my pain every single day. I keep it moving and I continue to be a voice for the voiceless because I know no other way to live. But the burden of living with HIV/AIDS is heavy. I can't even begin to explain and do it justice.
There is so much to talk about as it relates to AIDS in the Black Community. I will continue every week to share my thoughts from the documentary.
But at my baseline, the issue of stigma that fosters hate must change. For a woman to live in secret with her HIV status because she's afraid if she discloses to a man in her community, that she would be shot is crazy. But for some women this is a reality and it all goes back to how people see HIV/AIDS.
At the core, is how we see people with HIV. We hear the jokes and the hate that is dished out everyday from our beauty and barber shops, at our family gatherings and our churches and now through Social Media. This hate fosters silence.
It hurt my hurt that the young lady with HIV couldn't show her face. It just ripped at the very core of me.
I think the beginning of the EndGame have to start with the fight against Stigma and Shame. Does your family member or friend living with HIV/AIDS know that they are not alone? I mean really know. Do you know more about my life with HIV then theirs?
At our baseline we have to start where we are hit the closest, in our own life. The isolation that people with HIV feel is insurmountable. I even feel it. People think I don't need anything because I'm a trooper... Ha, being a trooper doesn't take away the pain or make the living easy. Your love will help make the living easier.
Eradicating Shame and Stigma Around HIV/AIDS is the beginning of the EndGame for the Black Community....