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The Queen Remembered

September 3, 2013

The Queen Remembered

I spotted this picture of Queen Latifah and Eazy-e on Queen Latifah's Instagram and I was excited and sadden all at the same time. It sent me into thinking overload and Lord knows when my mind gets going, I dissect every angle before I'm done. It made me appreciate Queen Latifah even more than I already do, but it also reminded me of the shaming around HIV/AIDS still in 2013.

The posting of this picture on the Queen's account is significant. Significant because it gives voice to the voiceless, even in death. It sent a subliminal message that a person with HIV/AIDS's life still has worth, even in death. It said, "I am not ashamed that Eazy-e died from AIDS". It said, "I remember him and what he was to me and what he was to the world".

This subliminal messaging is important because still today the shaming around HIV/AIDS is alive and well, even in death. It amazes me how we have written off individuals who have made significant contributions to society that passed away from AIDS.

We have even done it in our families. I've met countless people in their 20's and 30's who told me that their mother, father, brother, aunt, uncle passed away from AIDS and how it's the family's "well-kept secret".

One woman told me that her mother gathered everyone in the living room after her sister died and laid down the law, "We will NOT talk about this." Then, there are the families that just don't talk, like the college student that explained to me, that after 2 aunts passed away from AIDS, she said enough is enough and became a peer educator on her college campus.


We have done it not only with Eazy-e, who is the father of Gangsta-Rap and also formed N. W. A., but with Rev. James Cleveland, the founder of contemporary Gospel music. He paved the way for the likes of artist such as, Yolanda Adams and Kirk Franklin. We have done it with Arthur Ashe, who paved the way in pro-tennis for the likes of the Williams sisters. We have done it with Max Robinson, the first Black national anchor man for national news. There wouldn't be a Don Lemon if there hadn't been a Max Robinson.

Our silence has spoken loud and clear. We will NOT talk about these people who have died from AIDS. We will not, because we would then have to face that "normal people," "talented people," "wonderful people," can become infected from this disease and that could mean me too. We will not talk about this because it would mean that we would have to have an honest conversation about who is at risk, and how we are at risk. God forbid if we made the line around HIV/AIDS between them and us thinner.

We will NOT talk about them and let them shame our family and our community. At the center of this concept is how we view people with HIV/AIDS. At the center of this is an ugly stereotype of who and how one becomes infected with HIV.

Eazy-e made a significant contribution to the music industry and help to usher in a new music form. His untimely death at age 31 was a shock to us all. I was already public and speaking at that time and he was the talk of town. People had questions. His death made AIDS real for that young generation. As did my infection for Black women and Magic's for heterosexual men. High school students wanted to know as much as they could about the how and why he died. His death brought a new consciousness to HIV/AIDS.

It also made clear the need to get tested for HIV. When he was admitted into the hospital, it was for asthma. Basically, he was having shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. However, what he really had, was an AIDS related Pneumonia, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, (PCP). The reality was, if Eazy-e had known his HIV status, he could have taken medication to prevent PCP and his life would have been prolonged. His death made it clear the need for testing and early diagnosis of HIV.

But today, no one really talks about him. I see all the pictures of other Gangsta rappers on Social Media on their birthdays and death anniversary all over Instagram and Twitter, but not until last week have I ever seen a picture of Eazy-e until I spotted that one on Queen Latifah's Instagram.

Thank you, Queen! Thank you for giving voice to the voiceless around HIV/AIDS, even in death.

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More From This Resource Center

Magic Johnson Wants You to Know: He Isn't Cured of HIV

Living With HIV? African Americans Share Their Advice

This article was provided by TheBody.

See Also
More Views on HIV/AIDS in the African-American Community

Reader Comments:

Comment by: John G. (New Orleans) Wed., Sep. 4, 2013 at 9:43 pm UTC
I am a 30 year African American elder of HIV/AIDS, with the scars to show. I have a 'zipper' in my chest from a quadruple bi-pass and a facular on my left arm, as an access port for dialysis. The two are products of heart and kidney disease. I am one of the 'visible' victims of HIV/AIDS. I have survived the onslaught of AIDS and the suffocating side effects of multiple regiments of antiretroviral medications. My beloved and most of my friends have long-since succumb to AIDS.
I mention my history, only because it disturbs me that with all the prevention tools, advanced treatment and available information, people are still getting infected. It depresses me more that our youth, especially MSM, live as if they are invincible and believe that there is actually a cure for HIV.
Even though HIV is no longer a death sentence, it is still a serious chronic medical condition that demands personal responsibility and require meticulous maintenance.
The stigma of HIV still remains a barrier to disclosure and treatment. Many individuals who are at risk are fearful of getting tested, and if they get tested they are afraid to find out the results. If they do get tested and discover they are HIV+: because they are asymptomatic, they are reluctant to seek treatment and/or fail to disclose to their sex partner.
The problem is that we have made HIV into a business, we have commercialized every aspect of prevention and treatment, by portraying only the attractive aspects in order to promote billon dollar drugs and a faulty health care system.
The people who are making policy and administrating prevention and care are mostly persons not infected with HIV and have no genuine notion what we need, how we feel or what we face. They have hijacked the entire HIV arena for personal profit.
Sex is a part of human nature we use to promote everything. The only hope to end HIV is not the people who are suppose to create and administer policy and care, but the possibility of a cure.
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