HIV, Black Lives and Criminal 'Justice'
July 10, 2016
Today is a day to think and feel and pray and talk about the murders of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and Dallas police officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa, and all the others, police and civilian alike, injured in the Dallas shooting, and family, friends, anyone anywhere whose minds and hearts and spirits are soaking in spilled blood right now.
It is also a day not to forget the impact of HIV on black lives, an impact which is completely enmeshed not only with anti-black racism, what supremacism, heteropatriarchy, and predatory capitalism, but also and every day with the criminal justice system. The impact of an HIV that is racialized, criminalized, and weaponized as a tool in the ongoing genocide of black Americans.
Today I do not have the data, the research, the fully thought out and crafted arguments that I would like to have about the convergence on black lives of the prison industrial complex, the military industrial complex, and the healthcare industrial complex. Talk about the intersectionality of our identities -- what about the intersectionality of the repressive forces massed against black lives? How we create social and economic conditions that maximize opportunities for black Americans to get HIV (particularly young black gay men and transgender women); then we create criminal justice conditions that punish black lives for the activities that contribute to their HIV risk -- drug use, sex work, domestic abuse, mental illness, poverty; then we incarcerate black bodies in prisons organized, once again, to maximize their risk of HIV infection while incarcerated; then we diagnose them as HIV-positive while they are in prison and give them substandard healthcare as well as making them targets of HIV stigma; then, when we do release them back into society, we make it as hard as we can for them to access HIV care and treatment. "Wham, bam, fuck you black man!"
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