The POWER of WORDS
By Khafre Abif
March 5, 2012
Cornbread, Fish and Collard Greens: Prayers, Poems & Affirmation for People Living with HIV/AIDS has received submissions from Africa, America, Europe and South America. Contributors have provided their work in their indigenous language with an English translation. I want to share this anthology with the international community who created it.
Despite decades of education and public awareness campaigns, HIV/AIDS still carries a social stigma -- no more so than in black America, where the epidemic has struck at full force. Stigma is a degrading and debasing attitude of the society that discredits a person or a group because of an attribute (such as an illness, deformity, color, nationality, religion etc.) The resulting coping behavior of the affected person results in internalized stigma. The perceived or internalized stigma by the discredited person is equality destructive whether or not actual discrimination occurs. Stigma destroys a person's dignity, marginalizes affected individuals, violates basic human rights, markedly diminishes the chances of a stigmatized person of achieving full potential, and seriously hampers pursuit of happiness and contentment. Black same-gender-loving men have the highest infection rates in the nation, the result of a potent combination of shame and sexual practice. Black women's rates of infection continue to rise as the shame and secrecy create a cycle that impacts the larger community.
For someone newly diagnosed with HIV it can take some time for them to overcome the stigma that came with the diagnosis. Some are fortunate to have the help of family and friends who will provide support and help them to realize they have to live and face each day with a new found strength. When someone is diagnosed with HIV there are many places they can go in Spirit. The quilt of words collected in this anthology is designed to push back with the strength of an affirming spirits and self-expression to help overcome the barriers we faced when we are diagnosed with HIV. This contribution to AIDS literary body will stand as one example of the power of words to love, lift and affirmation the lives of persons living with HIV.
Poets featured in the forthcoming anthology include: Nikki Grimes, Serena T. Wills, Reginald T. Jackson, Sharaledon D. Brave, r. witherspoon, Samiya Bashir, Storme Webber, Carl Hancock Rux, Tim'm T. West, Mose Xavier Hardin, Jr., Victor R. Pond, Cathleen Richardson Bailey, Minister Sandy Rogers, Catherine Zickgraf, Temujin Ekunfeo, Maria HIV Mejia, Sandy Rodgers, W. Travis Wright, Vanessa German, G. Smith and avery r. young and more.
Khafre K. Abif, AIDS activist, has been thriving with HIV for more than 20 years and is a father of two teenage boys. Khafre is the Founder/Executive Director of Cycle for Freedom. Khafre is one of five men in the inaugural class of The HEALTH (Health Executive Approaches to Leadership and Training in HIV) Seminar Program developed by My Brother's Keeper, Inc. He has also served as the Community Co-Chair for the New Jersey HIV Prevention Community Planning Group. As a librarian in his first career, Khafre was the first recipient of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA)'s Dr. John C. Tyson Emerging Leader Award. Forthcoming books include Raising Kazembe and Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens: Prayers, Poems and Affirmation for People Living with HIV/AIDS.
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