8.24.2006

An Open Letter to the Black Community

What is it going to take to wake us up? Does everyone have to die? Does someone in your family have to die? Do we all have to watch a family member before we wake up?

When will we come to the understanding that AIDS is killing our people. Not just in Africa, but right here in the United States. We make up thirteen percent of this 300-million people population. Yet fully 50-percent of the new cases of this disease are Blacks. Black women are 23 times more likely to become infected than white women. Further, women are usually infected by their husbands, boyfriends, lovers, or one night stands. Yes, women who use drugs are also being infected after sharing needles. But that kind of infection pales next to what is going on between men and women.

It has long been proven that the germ transmits more easily from male to male or male to female rather than the other way around.

My sisters, you are dying because your men are sleeping with other men and bringing the disease home to you. The simple use of a condom would cut into these devastating numbers. You must protect yourself, period. It is a matter of life and death for you. No jimmy, no love. It’s as simple as that.

Men, you need to get real about your sexuality and protect the women you say you love.

I’ve lost several friends and two relatives to AIDS. Indeed, I watched as my uncle withered before my eyes as I tried to take care of him. He was gorgeous in life. Six foot four and elegant. He wasted away to nothing, so small I could lift him in my arms.

I watched as other family members and straight friends, women who knew he was gay and used him as an escort to social affairs stayed away, refusing to visit him or to come to the funeral. I took the phone call from his son saying he wasn’t coming to the funeral using his dad’s sexuality as the reason. I cried in anger, helpless, because I knew his mother had sent a plane ticket.

He was estranged from his drug using older son for the same reasons.

Even in his final days my uncle refused to accept the fact that he was stricken with AIDS. He died ashamed. His doctor, treated him with the latest cocktail, while also refusing to accept that AIDS was his killer. He was infected from his last boyfriend, a cocaine addict. My uncle went to his grave denying himself and protecting this man.

I watched him die. It was excruciating and exceedingly painful. As I said earlier, I lost friends, but I was not prepared to lose my uncle.

Are you prepared to lose someone you love?

Why do you let the church dictate your feelings? These are your children, your brothers, your sisters, your cousins, your lovers. Why is your head still buried in the sand?

The greater sin is turning your back on your people, your family. When will you wake up?

They need you now.
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