July 17, 2012
The fact that the International AIDS Conference is being held in the United States means that Americans can be taken seriously as global fighters in the war against HIV/AIDS and that our international allies can call the U.S. a homefront. The hosting of the conference, implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and end of the travel ban help us stand united with activists worldwide in our purpose, our cause and our desire to achieve a cure -- rather than being seen as pompous, self-centered and delusional assholes who only give a damn about ourselves and not the rest of the world.
Black Americans have always felt a greater weight of injustice. The political changes that now make it possible to host the International AIDS Conference also mean that families estranged by the travel ban can now reunite and connect on our soil and that invitations of friendship between Black Americans and Black Africans can be realized. Black Americans must always honor from whence we came. And it's important for those of us who share the burden of being Black to also experience the shared blessing of being Black. All hands must be on deck if we are going to save lives.
I have been in this field since 1996 and still believe that there is more that I don't know than I do know. The knowing that I am speaking about comes from learning about other human beings and how to speak a language that heals hearts and uplifts spirits. I also need my battery recharged and to build family, friendships internationally and faith!
I believe that when I return to Chicago, I will feel empowered and stronger and have a plan of action to reach deeper into the hearts of those I love and care about most: Black Americans.
Justin Wooley is director of Ryan White Part B and community outreach at the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center in Chicago.