When Will the Media's Obsession With the "Down Low" Die?
By Kellee Terrell
July 8, 2010
On the June 22 episode of The View, guest host D.L. Hughley attempted to school America on why HIV is so prevalent among African-American women. He said with confidence, "They are getting it from men who are on the down low."
Co-host Sherri Shepherd agreed with Hughley, and proceeded to offer her take on what the "down low" is: "The down low is African-American men who have sex with men and then have sex with their girlfriends -- or their wives. They're husbands, as well. It's very prevalent in the African-American community. Very!"
Despite the massive amount of data collected over the years that has found the down low is not fueling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in black America -- including a study released last October -- mainstream media has continued to scapegoat "undercover brothas," allowing its own homophobia and bias to take over its ability to cover the epidemic fairly and accurately.
This incident on The View became an instant topic of conversation in the LGBT blogosphere, with numerous bloggers weighing in, including Queerty and Rod: 2.0 Beta. (Ironically, mainstream media was somewhat reluctant to cover the controversy.) On June 24, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) issued a Call to Action petition against ABC and The View, asking for them to make a retraction for their defamatory and erroneous statements. While their efforts garnered thousands of signatures, ABC refused to apologize.
Last Thursday, The Root -- a Newsweek/Washington Post Interactive publication geared for African Americans -- printed an opinion piece I wrote about why media's obsession with blaming HIV/AIDS on down-low black men is dangerous.
In "The Down-Low Delusion," I wrote:
I also discussed the importance for media outlets to utilize seasoned experts as opposed to misinformed talking heads:
I also added that The View isn't the only news outlet guilty of blaming the down low:
Hopefully, ABC and CNN are listening.
Do you think that the media will ever get past the down low and start talking about real issues when it comes to HIV/AIDS? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.
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