Hello World, and my new family at TheBody.com. As I embark upon this new and exciting journey, I would love to share a little about myself, why I am sharing my views with TheBody.com and its viewers and my hope to add a new voice for those not heard in this fight.
I wholeheartedly know that for too long, and for too many living with this disease and those that love them, the approach has always been a "top down"!! There was never any real inclusion of those living with the disease in communities of color. How policies, funding, prevention strategies, and the administration of care, especially in the South, could be applied in a more equitable manner. Well I hope to use this forum to give a voice to the voiceless and speak TRUTH to power.
I come to this fight from a long history of public activism and advocacy. A history of fighting for equality and justice that was shared by my grandparents, who were engaged in fighting for social justice and instilled in all their family the obligation to use their voice and energy to work towards making the world a better place. To understanding that to whom much is given, much is expected. This truth was not just about material wealth, and more about respecting the history of the struggle of human rights and dignity. They instilled in all their family a calling to carry on the legacy of activism, advocacy and equality for all by honoring the bloodshed and loss of life in this journey.
At age 13, in the summer of '79, I was the youngest member of a group of activists who protested and staged a "sit-in" at the Mayor's office in Orange, New Jersey, for five days after a police shooting of a young Black man. Because of our engagement, we were able to make dramatic changes in police procedures, and got a federal investigation initiated that led to structural changes in the Orange Police Department. This fight taught me the importance of standing up and fighting against all odds. I also learned early on that injustice against one is injustice against all.
As a junior in high school I started a buddy system of my high school friends to assist those living with this new frightening disease, and as scary as it was, we felt the need to try and make a difference. I was with the core people meeting in Harlem that formed the nucleus of GMAD (Gay Men of African Descent). Working with the amazing Sherwood "Woody" Brown, who was a mentor, friend and my HERO, in teaching, sharing, and leaving many of us with a blueprint on how to advocate for all those living with the disease; but more importantly, to fight for people of color whose voices and faces were being ignored. And yes, while there have been many amazing, wonderful improvements, people of color are still disproportionately being infected; and the South is seeing numbers rivaling third-world countries.
So while I am new to blogging, I am not new to sharing my voice and adding my voice to the discourse and fighting for change. I will use this platform to be a fierce, fearless voice for those issues that are still at the bottom of the totem pole. To address the disparities that continue to cause people of color to have the highest impact of death, lack of care, and marketing and prevention campaigns that are not culturally sensitive or geographically relevant. I will try to spark nuanced conversations about PrEP, and the lack of true access to people of color and how do we go forward.
So I say Hello, sit back, and let's engage, explore, and not just impact the conversation but change the course of how HIV/AIDS care, services and prevention are delivered to all those affected by this disease. Our VOICE will not be silenced!!!!
Send Art an e-mail.