March 13, 2004
AIDS: The Black Plague
George, VIA Negrophile, quotes from Christopher Farah's interview with Jacob Levenson, author of "The Secret Epidemic," in Salon.com:
...[W]hat I found was that AIDS has been disproportionately black since the moment the epidemic began. That was another "wow" moment. We're 18 years into the AIDS epidemic, there have been thousands of stories written, plays, books, movies, and I haven't really heard this. What happened here?
Posted by ronn at March 13, 2004 11:11 PM
Yes, sadly the black community itself has not wanted to face the facts about AIDS over the years. Back in the early 90s when I was somewhat involved in AIDS activism, there were attempts in Pittsburgh where I lived to reach the black and inner city communities with the knowledge of what AIDS was doing to inner city communities, and a whole lot of people either just didn't care, or they denied it, calling it a gay disease that had nothing to do with them.
Nobody wanted to hear about needle exchanges or hand out condoms at clubs. And the churches didn't want to embrace or understand black gay people. But then again, in the early 90s a whole lot of people were in denial.
What makes me mad now is the way our country continues to be in denial about HIV/AIDS. I used to see more AIDS posters and ads on bus stations and billboards 15 years ago than I do now. Where are the public service announcements on TV? Where are the HIV safe sex outreach classes in the schools? Where are the billboards? Where are the free condoms?
What I fear is that we're going to see a sudden explosion of HIV in America in the coming decade that nobody is going to be prepared for. And a whole lot of finger pointing and recriminations to go along with it. I almost feel like all the work a lot of us did in the 90s is simply going to waste.
Unfortunately, Black communities still need to educate themselves about the dangers of AIDS. We can't rely on government agencies and traditional sources to do it for us. Too many of them are reactionary and poorly focused. Thankfully, there are a few
target African Americans
. We need to support those orgs and, again, educate and advocate just as much as we did during the Civil Rights Movement. HIV/AIDS is that important to defeat.