ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
the inherent gender bias focused only on the needs of African American men and rendered women invisible.
The Era of Black Woman and HIV/AIDS
By Irene Monroe
The unrelenting tenacity of HIV/AIDS has taught us much about the preciousness and fleetingness of life. And it has also taught us about the various people across race, class and gender who wore and continue to wear the face of this disease.
With this week marking the 25th year of AIDS, the face of the disease is most often a heterosexual woman. And no group of women is as affected by this epidemic as women of African descent throughout the U.S. and on the continent of Africa.
However, the invisibility of the plight of African American women and their struggle against the AIDS epidemic was never so glaringly obvious as in the 2004 vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards.
And the invisibility of my groups plight has less to do with African American womens agency to combat the epidemic than with how race and gender biases inherent in the problem collude with African American womens efforts to get help.
Gwen Ifill, an African American female journalist with PBS Washington Week and moderator of the vice presidential debate, brought the issue of AIDS in the U.S. front and center when she asked the men to comment on its devastating impact on African American women.
I want to talk to you about AIDS, and not about AIDS in China or Africa, but AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their counterparts. What should the governments role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic? Ifill asked.
Neither man could answer the question.
When the color of the epidemic shifted from white to black, the inherent gender bias focused only on the needs of African American men and rendered women invisible.
And when gender became a new lens to track the epidemic, white women were the focus. The invisibility of African American women in this epidemic has much to do with how the absence of a gendered race analysis makes African American women invisible to the larger society.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health organization, African American women account for 72 percent of all new HIV cases in women, and they are 23 times more likely to be infected with the virus than white women.
But the disparities within the healthcare system also contribute to the disproportionately higher number of HIV cases among African American women, which directly affects their quality of life and the spread of HIV.
The black church continues to play a part in the epidemic because women with AIDS are as unwelcome in the black church as gay people.
One of our sister warriors in Boston, Belynda Dunn, died of AIDS in March 2002 at the age of 49. A tireless AIDS activist and a heterosexual African American church woman, Dunns death was the wake-up call to the African American community and the black church that HIV/AIDS is not solely a gay disease, but an equal opportunity virus.
In African American communities across this country, the disease still shows no sign of abating. These women have hid and still hide from the community and each other. And with its harsher judgment against women with HIV/AIDS, African American women are less likely than any other group to seek help.
And although many of us in our black communities averted our eyes pretending we did not see them, we all saw them. We all knew them, and we all silently watched them die because we have still done nothing to stem the epidemic.
The feminization of this disease makes many of us AIDS activists and scholars wonder if the same amount of money, concern, communication, and moral outrage that was put into white gay men with the disease will be put into curbing its spread among women.
Because of the paucity of funds and prevention strategies targeted to African American women with HIV/AIDS, we have not adequately come up with community-based approaches to HIV/AIDS prevention and education for black women. Few if any services speak to these specific needs of black women.
The AIDS epidemic among African American women is also symptomatic of the dialogue African American women need to have about their bodies and sexuality, which has been choked for centuries by a politic of silence.
The silence African American women created around their bodies and sexuality that had been exploited during slavery was viewed as a revolutionary act against the white oppressive gaze. Only through secrecy could African American women achieve the psychic and sexual space to protect their bodies and sexuality.
However, in breaking the politic of silence, mothers, daughters, and grandmothers must access their beliefs, attitudes, experiences, and perceptions of HIV/AIDS.
African American women are no more promiscuous than white women; however, stereotypes about African American womens bodies and sexualities prevent the proper prevention and education needed to stem the tide.
With the image of the strong black women who can endure anything and make a way out of no way, her strength is either demonized as being emasculating of black men or impervious to the human condition.
Consequently, African American womans humanity is distorted and made invisible through a prism of racist and sexist stereotypes. So too is our suffering.
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#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
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#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
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#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
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By Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”
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By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 22 June 2006