On September 18, 2009, I sat in my office, and drafted an e-mail to send to all of my colleagues asking for their support in the fight against AIDS/HIV. As you all may or may not know, on October 3, 2009 is the Annual AIDS/HIV walk/run and Red Pump Chicago will be participating. On September 23, 2009 I still had not sent the letter. Reminded of our fast approaching date, thus minimal time to collect donations, I put the finishing touches on my email. However, before I pressed send, I became overwhelmed with a wave of second guessing.
Would they be offended by my email? Perhaps it was too risque. Would people possibly think I was infected? [sarcasm] After all, no one really cares about this disease unless they were personally infected, right? [/sarcasm] Would they simply reduce my interest to my race, since the hysteria around AIDS/HIV has switched from labeling it a gay disease to an African/African American disease? I cautiously removed the alarming stats focusing on the rate of infection for black women and left the more [sarcasm] subtle [/sarcasm] statistics inclusive of all women. Well you get the point. I was chickening out.
That’s when it hit me. I realized that every question and worry that I had just presented to myself was EXACTLY why I became a part of The Red Pump Project. I joined for moments like this. Moments where ignorance, the judgment, and even ridicule because of the fear of the unknown would almost stop me from sending one email. Moments when ignorance allows one person to think “this can’t happen to me.” Moments when judgment stops one person from wearing protection/asking their partner to wear protection. Moments when the fear of the unknown overcomes courage and stops one person from getting tested.
See I was afraid to make one person uncomfortable. Afraid to make one person feel offended. However, the issue of AIDS/HIV is supposed to make people uncomfortable. Additionally while the intent is to not offend, the alarming rates of infection across this country, across this world SHOULD be offensive. What is happening that we as a society are so complacent in marginalizing a disease to a group of people so that we do not have to face the reality that regardless of skin tone or sexual orientation that it is killing people?
So understand, this is why I decided to dedicate my energy to The Red Pump Project. Not to make one person uncomfortable or to offend one person. I joined with the understanding that it only takes one person to reach one person. Something I was reminded of just recently. So if I can reach the one person from thinking “this can’t happen to me,” then that’s what I’ll do. If I can get one person to wear protection or demand that their partner wear protection, that’s what I’ll do. If I can get one person to get tested, then by all means I’ve served my purpose. Each one, reach one, teach one. So thank you Red Pump Project, because that’s what I plan to do.
To donate to The Red Pump Project AIDS Walk Chicago team, go HERE.
My name is Brittany Antoinette and I am fashionably rocking the red pump for HIV/AIDS awareness in the City of Chicago.
I joined the Red Pump Project because the faces of those most affected, look just like me. I joined because apathy is not a cure for AIDS/HIV. A recent graduate, with a minor in African American Studies and a concentration in Gender Women’s Studies, I have a passion to help women of color in areas of health care and education. The Red Pump Project combines the two. While I fully support the search to find a cure, I firmly believe that awareness has to be at the forefront of people’s minds.
To find me on the internets, you need not search any further than terrific Twitter. My handle is @ObaBreezie.