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HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
Kai Chandler Lois Crenshaw Gary Paul Wright Fortunata Kasege Keith Green Lois Bates Greg Braxton Vanessa Austin Bernard Jackson

Keith Green: Becoming a "Different Kind of Researcher" in Communities of Color

February 3, 2011

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Do you feel like your experience at Madison sort of galvanized you to return to Chicago? Was it even a given that you'd go back to Chicago, or did you consider other options? Were you ready and eager to get back to work?

Chicago and I are in a long-term relationship. And no matter how I try to get away, Chicago is like Effie White in Dreamgirls: "And I am telling you I'm not going." And I've become OK with it.

While I was in Madison, I got a call about this position. When I was in Chicago, I had participated in a focus group about how they would develop this PrEP project. After that group, the co-principal investigator, Margo Bell, pulled me to the side, and she said, "If we get this, I want you to be our project director." So around February of the semester of graduation, I got a call from Dr. Bell. She said, "We got it. I cannot imagine anybody other than you in the role. Would you be interested?"

I had to do a lot of soul searching. I was really trying to explore a whole lot of other options and thinking about other things. But I understood what she was saying, and I understood the significance of my being in that position. At the end of the day, I felt like I was called back to do it. So I was like, OK, that is what I'm going to do.


I actually started the gig before graduation. April 1, I started part-time, just helping with protocol development; and then I graduated May 17, and that was a Sunday. May 19 was my first full day at work.

I would like to mention the second project that I work on. It's designed to tailor CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]-approved evidence-based interventions known as d-up for the House/Ball community in Chicago. reposted the piece about the House/Ball community that I wrote some time ago, when I was with Positively Aware.

I will be very honest in saying that I really didn't want to have a whole lot to do with it at first. My principal investigators were working on it together, and they asked me if I would consider being the project director for it, in conjunction with the study that I'm working on. They were really not anticipating receiving funding for it the first time they applied. So I figured, well, I've committed two years to this project. If they don't get funded and they try to submit it again, I'll be on my way out, and blah, blah. I was kind of like, it's not going to happen anyway. So, OK, fine.

My reasons for not wanting to be involved had to do with what I'd learned about the politics of how they do research. And when I say they, I'm being very specific with respect to talking about the investigators that I work with, and the people with whom they work. The politics are a little too much for me, and I didn't think that I could work and be my best in this space, if that makes sense.

Well, then it happened. I still was not excited about it; I was still like, whatever. Right? Well, we have our first focus group, with a group of house parents from within the community. And the first question we ask is: How serious is HIV in your community?

One of the house parents said, "It's very serious, when I am going to three or four funerals a month in the Midwest for young men where we know what happened to them, but nobody's talking about it." That broke the ground for a conversation that broke my heart; it caused me to feel bad about my initial reaction to the project itself. Because I immediately saw, or felt, the need for such a project to happen in this community. And I saw the investment of the community -- they realize that something needs to be done, but they don't really know what to do.

What I like about this project is that it's written as intravention rather than an intervention, where you're actually utilizing the community itself to conduct the intervention. So it has become my pride and joy, really, because I enjoy conversing with the community. I enjoy the relationship that I've begun to build with the community.

I see myself becoming this different kind of researcher, which is beautiful for me. Because I have ideals about research and researchers, etc. I understand that, for our community, there's a huge disconnect with the research community. And I now see myself as being able to sort of make a bridge, and I'm very conscious of that relationship and the way that I act inside of that relationship. Because I don't want to do anything that could damage it. I feel like we're building bridges in ways that have not been built before in this city.

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This article was provided by TheBody.

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Stella Jane (Oregon) Fri., Dec. 26, 2014 at 10:14 pm UTC

To:Keith Green Will u be Spokesperson or find one for REARGUARD Anal Protection?
SEE the GREAT BARRIER Brief red-taped, regulation raped, and hidden in plain site on awkward old tech
It got a National Institute of HEALTH GRANT during Clinton Administration. Then BUSH administration issued the GAG RULE on day ONE of the reign of repugs and millions of women died around the world.
There's REARGUARD Anal latex or silicone protection too but no online info available.
No corporate licenses to manufacture will be issued, to avoid others making profits from women /sex!!!
No more corporate mark-up on our private lives!!!

*** NIH STATISTICS are predicated on WHO SURVIVES with CERTAIN MEDICATIONS in a CLINICAL STUDY. They do not tally doctors' reports at all. THEREFORE it's nearly impossible to tell how many women had it and died, uncounted nor how many children in California schools w/no mother. Women get all STD 20 to 200 times easier than men.

PS MEDIA and RESEARCH persons: Please contact me if you don't understand that the center 4 dis-ease OBSERVATION does not control disease. The reporting changed, so no actual women's deaths are reported UNLESS they are using some HIV medicine IN a STUDY. So the statistics look like "GAY MEN" caused this problem, fueling haters everyday, and the women continue to die..... uncounted.
If you can form /fund a collective to manufacture these, you can get the license to begin. Everyone chooses their own level of participation. Example: A real estate agent rents an old dental laboratory, and a builder remodels it for required Good Manufacturing standards. Their good deeds for the community serve as marketing for their own enterprises. Any concerned citizens purchase equipment and donate it, while some use their volunteer status to provide prevention education. Each volunteer becomes a self-directed distributor of education and prevention. Mark-up is 2% MAXIMUM.
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Comment by: Yvonne (Ca) Tue., Oct. 25, 2011 at 2:23 pm UTC
I like to tip my hat off to Keith Green for educating hinself and others. I to am HIV and I am a recently grad person as well. I wanted to teach music, but there is so much talk about taking music out of schools. I have been made to feel that what I sstudied for is no more. So I have been faced with having to change my profession. I'm am a people person and have thought about maybe becomming a conselor or business adminstration; I have degree's in music, art and business. Now that i have read Kieth story, I think about helping those who are also positive (HIV?AIDS) in coping and living with the decease. Thank you Keith for opening up, and allowing me and other to know and feel important. The decease just lives in us, we don't have to livd in the decease There is hope for tommarrow; we should thank god for his grace and mercy. The wisdom, knowledge and the understing of it all God have it to us. I am ever so thankful for god's wisdom and most of all the underatnding of it all. Without God we would perish, but with him we have everlasting LIFE.
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Comment by: cristina m (chicago IL) Thu., Mar. 31, 2011 at 11:14 pm UTC

You are truly an inspiration to communities of color in this country. Thank you so much for the work that you do, thank you. Your story has touched me and those of us who live with loved ones that are +. Thank you for living your life to help others, and thank you for bringing warmth to my heart through your story of hope and inspiration. Keep on doing what you do...I'm praying for you!
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