Friday, December 26, 2008

Who feels it knows it

I was recently on a panel about HIV and got asked a tough question about empowerment. The question was: “What does empowerment mean to you? What does it look like?” I gave an answer about jobs and economic security because those were the issues coming up over and over again in my work in Philadelphia. But I left the panel very unsatisfied with my response. My dissatisfaction was less at my ability to respond than at the limited constructs we have to understand the true meaning of empowerment.

Empowerment is an expansive topic. There is a totality about the phenomenon that is bigger than what any individual can see or say. That’s why it’s hard to explain. To understand empowerment we have to think collectively for the idea to fit in our world. I think ultimately it’s about freedom and having whatever you need to be free. In my case, my friends and family are critical.

An important aspect of staying free are supportive relationships. I just got a video from a kindred soul that prompted this blog entry. People can help keep you free. So part of what empowerment looks like to me is a web of nurturing relationships. Relationships that find you at the right time and at the right place. A lot of people don’t have this web. I would be lost without mine.

On that note, I have attached the video that inspired the lesson. Not surprisingly it is none other than Nina Simone. Enjoy and stay free…

Thursday, December 11, 2008

99.5 WBAI Pacifica Interview

Check out the link to the Women: Body and Soul interview from today by clicking here. I talked about All of Us, new HIV prevention messages and more. Thank you to the host, Nathalie Thandiwe, for inviting me.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Question about Lecture 1

We just got a comment on the TruthAIDS site regarding video lecture #1 and I wanted to share my answer back to the following comment left by Jessica:

QUESTION: " I just wanted to share with you the experience i have had learning about
truthaids and show support in this movement to a more logical and realistic way
of combating STD's.... I really think that this idea of connecting aids and
STD's with underlying issues of violence and injustice is a powerful one. Along
with that, i am curious if whether or not this same concept could be applied to
other unsafe practices we (women, or even human beings) participate in that lead
to disease and destruction. I am wondering if the organization has extended
any of it's concepts to other STD'd that are lifelong such as HSV or HPV. Along
with that, the ideas of addiction and dependance that spawn from histories of

ANSWER: HIV is the first STD we have tackled and our approach to teaching about it as a justice issue with the general public is what we are learning all about. The connections between social justice and health apply to many issues, not just HIV. Creating a safe environment where peace is the norm, instead of violence would make us all healthier.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The best things in life happen COLLECTIVELY

Happiness is a collective phenomenon. A new study came out showing that happiness is important to your health! This connection is all about the positive effects of people in your lives. Yet another reason why social context matters to your health. So keep grouchy people away!

For a review of the study please click here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The responses from the Showtime airing of All of Us across the country have been so awesome! I have no words to express the intensity of the email messages I have been receiving from young, old, men, and women. Thank you so much for the encouragement, support, blessings, and well wishes.

Fundamentally, the HIV epidemic is about the connection between health and human rights as well as the obligation we all have to serve. As the saying goes, "start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can." For all of you who never had a connection to HIV and are now inspired to be part of the movement, jump in. Here are some suggestions:

1) Call a local AIDS service organization in your neighborhood and get involved.
2) Register at and stay connected to us by taking our free online classes.
3) Get HIV tested and encourage a friend to do the same.
4) Try using a female condom if you never have. Practice makes perfect.
5) Hold a truth circle!

And just in case you need some more inspiration... check out MLK below:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thank you SisterLove Inc.

Chevelle and I spent World AIDS Day with SisterLove Inc. in Atlanta and were received with open arms. Our visit started out with a live radio interview with Dazon Dixon-Diallo on WRFG for their World AIDS Day programming and ended in an awards ceremony at the Shrine of the Black Madonna. We would especially like to thank the "hostess with the mostest" Debra Mlambo for housing us, feeding us, and catering to our every need. The night was beautiful. Thank you for creating such a tender and safe space for us to honestly share our thoughts and experiences on filming All of Us. It was also an honor to meet Dr. Biggers, an Atlanta-based physician/advocate who has devoted her career to HIV/AIDS. I have no doubt that women supporting women can change the world.