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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Do You Wear the Ribbon?

By Rev. Andrena Ingram

March 26, 2012

Greetings! I came up with the name for my blog from the one symbol which is universally recognized in the HIV and AIDS fight. The red ribbon.

You see them at most all HIV/AIDS healing services, memorials and when you Google HIV and or AIDS, that red ribbon pops up all over the place.

I recognize the importance of having such a symbol, and the symbolism of wearing them.  I give them out myself!  The single defining moment about the "red ribbon" for me, came late one night as I watched Jerry Seinfeld.  The episode is about walkers on the annual AIDS Walk, and Kramer refuses to wear the ribbon:

The video may be funny, but the wearing of that ribbon is no joking matter when it comes to being in solidarity with the other walkers.

I have many red ribbons, beaded pins from South Africa with the red ribbon prominently in the middle.  I have pictures of ribbons, and in the narthex of our church, a whole bowl of red ribbons.  To be quite honest, I am tired of the ribbon ... not tired of the "solidarity of the moment" it evokes ... but tired of the danger of  "complacency" which comes from pinning your ribbon on once a year at every World AIDS Day, or at each memorial or healing service.  Stick a ribbon on, and yeah ... I'm down.  I'm with you folks!  For me, it is almost as indignant as the singing of  "We Shall Overcome" by those who come out every Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and then go back to their offices (or wherever), and partake in 'systematic and institutional' oppression.

And before you get indignant, I do know and respect those who wear the ribbon with pride, with reverence ... and to be quite honest, it doesn't matter whether the ribbon is red, pink, blue, green or yellow.  There are those "live" the struggle every day.  Infected or not.  I am one of those persons who "live" the struggle every day ... and whether you know it or not, so do you.

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Is the Ribbon Enough?

Rev. Andrena Ingram

Rev. Andrena Ingram

Reverend Andrena Ingram (also known as "Pastor Andrena" or "Pastor Ingram") has become a strong advocate for those living in the margins, as she once was. She is an activist in the HIV/AIDS arena, herself living openly and unabashedly with the HIV virus for over 22+ years.

Raised in South Jamaica, New York, Reverend Ingram served seven years of active duty in the U.S. Army. She would later move to the South Bronx, where she attended Transfiguration Lutheran Church with Pastor Heidi Neumark as her pastor and mentor -- empowering her to rise up out of herself and her life challenges, which seemed to her, at the time, insurmountable.

Reverend Ingram is a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, with a Master of Divinity. She has been the pastor of St. Michael's Lutheran Church on Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa., for the past four years.

Reverend Ingram can frequently be found speaking about HIV/AIDS, encouraging everyone "to know your status, get tested, and be informed." Silence = Death.

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