Listening to a radio talk show on Monday, I was agitated and inspired to share a piece of my mind with the listening audience. Having missed the phone number being repeated and short on time and patience I dragged my friend into the house and ranted back and forth with her for a little while.

The premise of the show was supposed to be about down low brothers. In case you are unfamiliar, the term refers to men who sleep with men on the side but pursue life and love with women out in the open. More pointedly, nowadays it has been attached most securely to black men that fall in that category.

However, the show spiraled into another direction, one I’ve seen this same subject spiral into before…somehow down low equals AIDS. And with that slippery step down a sliding slope fingers being to wag and point. It is as if folks say, “AHA! That is why black women have the highest new infection rate…it must be because of down low men.”

That spiral infuriates and saddens me. Infuriates because it is no different from the warped thinking when AIDS first came on the scene and there was the same kind of finger pointing at the gay population, and the same kind of finger pointing that survived the 1800s and moved into the mid 1900s that linked blacks to syphilis because we were somehow dirty and immoral. Saddens because a chance to address the problem honestly and constructively dissolves into blame, fear and anger.

AIDS, like syphilis, is not contained to a specific demographic. According to the CDC it is estimated that there were 21,304 black AIDS cases in 2003 – that’s more than the 12,222 white cases for the same time. And cumulatively speaking blacks make up 368,169 while whites make up 376,834…but remember that blacks make up less than 15% of the population. Those are scary numbers.

Black women make up more than 70% of HIV/AIDS cases reported. All of those infections are not from one source. It is irrational and irrational to think that if all down low men declared themselves gay the problem would go away. the common thread between most sexual transmission is the same – protection, or lack of it.

If we are going to make a difference – if we are going to save lives – it is imperative that we start looking at individual behavior changes…the only choices we truly have control over are our own. That means being responsible for our choices about partners and protection, being vocal in our feelings, being honest with our partners, being vigilant in our testing, and being supportive of each other…blame doesn’t create solutions it creates divisions.




1 Comment on The blame game

  1. T.Marie says:

    It's fear. The first thing that happens when you are afraid is you stop thinking and start running. Without facing the issue, it's impossible to understand it. That's where generalizations and stereotypes come into play. No, it's not smart. It's pretty damn stupid. But again, we can't start pointing fingers. Understand, discuss, debate and make sense of it. That starts with bringing issues to the forefront, like you are doign here. It's up to us to continue that. And, Linnea, thanks for the story ideas. If any ideas that sprout from you blog get published, I'll let you know and post it here. 🙂


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