Category Archives: E Says…

AIDS

No one ever wants to talk about it.  And that’s amazing since you can’t watch a full hour of TV without hearing some celebrity spewing statistics at you or watching some young girl bop down the street turning down guys left and right – you know, things that are supposed to reflect you.  Me.

Despite the ads on TV, radio, magazines and billboards we still don’t want to talk about it.  How many of us sit down and discuss our feelings about this pandemic with our friends?  Our family?  How many of us discuss preventative measures?  Why?  It’s that elephant in the room that still makes everyone uncomfortable.  Maybe we need to push that discomfort a little further.

Forget statistics for a moment.  Here’s a fact: in order for there to even be statistics, there need to be reports.  And most people with HIV or AIDS don’t even know they have it.  Most of us have encountered – and not necessarily sexually –  people who have either HIV or AIDS.  Did you know?  Did they know?

Back to the stats.  According to www.nineandahalfminutes.org someone in the US is infected with HIV every 9 minutes and 30 seconds.  I hope that makes more than a few people utter a cute little “WTF.” 

At this point in the fight everyone is urging us to know our status.  And what’s the harm in it?  What are you afraid of?  Being a leper?  Get over it.  Something’s already wrong with you.  You’re too black.  Too white.  Too fat.  Too skinny.  Your breath smells like hot shit on a windy day.  But HIV and AIDS can be treated too.  No money?  Get over that too.  Because they’re too many people in this fight who want you to live. 

And if the test comes back negative, why wouldn’t you want that sense of empowerment?

Trust me, I’m scared shitless EVERY time I’m tested.  Why?  Because I watch TV, listen to the radio, and read magazines that are perpetually scaring me half to death about this thing.  But I go.  And every time I call for the results or find myself in the waiting room twiddling my thumbs for the rapid test results and the nurse says, “negative,” there’s no greater sense of relief.  No greater renewal of dedication to self.  I owe it to myself to know where I stand and to continue to protect myself.

Some folks argue over whether this fight should be fought here at home or in Africa (if you live under a rock, Africa is the most AIDS-ravaged continent on the globe).  I’ve got my opinions on that too.  A tale for a different time.  But at least they’re fighting.  Why don’t you?

I’m not asking you to grab a picket sign, donate half of your paychecks to research or even volunteer your time.  I’m only asking you to get tested.  Grab a friend if you need to.  Chances are they’re just as wary pf the whole thing as you are.  Yes, it may be uncomfortable with someone there with you.  But not nearly as uncomfortable as one could be alone.  Join the fight by helping to eliminate the need to fight.  Know your status.

Here are some sites that can help you find a testing center in your area:

http://www.nineandahalfminutes.org/

http://www.hivtest.org/

www.cdc.gov

E Says…Know Your History!

“Strange Fruit”, the song about black lynching in the south made famous by blues singer Billie Holiday, was originally a poem written by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx.

And subsequently made famous again by the fabulous Nina Simone

E Says…Know Your History!

In 1950, writer Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her collection, Annie Allen.

Gwendolyn Brooks Biography 

(born June 7, 1917, Topeka, KS — died December 3, 2000, Chicago, IL)

Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American poet to win the Pulitzer Prize (1950), and in 1968 she was named the poet laureate of Illinois.

Brooks graduated from Wilson Junior College in Chicago in 1936. Her early verses appeared in the Chicago Defender, a newspaper written primarily for that city’s African American community. Her first published collection, A Street in Bronzeville (1945), reveals her talent for making the ordinary life of her neighbours extraordinary. Annie Allen (1949), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, is a loosely connected series of poems related to an African American girl’s growing up in Chicago. The same theme was used for Brooks’s novel Maud Martha (1953).

The Bean Eaters (1960) contains some of her best verse. Her Selected Poems (1963) was followed in 1968 by In the Mecca, half of which is a long narrative poem about people in the Mecca, a vast, fortresslike apartment building erected on the South Side of Chicago in 1891, which had long since deteriorated into a slum. The second half of the book contains individual poems, among which the most noteworthy are “Boy Breaking Glass” and “Malcolm X.” Brooks also wrote a book for children, Bronzeville Boys and Girls (1956). The autobiographical Report from Part One (1972) was an assemblage of personal memoirs, interviews, and letters; it was followed, though much later, by Report from Part Two (1996). Her other works include Primer for Blacks (1980), Young Poet’s Primer (1980), To Disembark (1981), The Near-Johannesburg Boy, and Other Poems (1986), Blacks (1987), Winnie (1988), and Children Coming Home (1991).

In 1985–86 Brooks was Library of Congress consultant in poetry (now poet laureate consultant in poetry), and in 1989 she received a lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts. She became a professor of English at Chicago State University in 1990, a position she held until her death.

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