Ending AIDS, racism: world falling short

Rosa refuses to stand; AIDS continues

cdc-hiv-race
https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/group/racialethnic/africanamericans/index.html New HIV Diagnoses in the US and Dependent Areas, 2018

Back in July 2020, I came across this article. “Ending AIDS: World Will Fall Short of 2020 Targets.” It noted that the “COVID-19 pandemic [is] on track to blow HIV progress off course, experts say

“The 2020 targets set by UNAIDS to control global HIV infection will not be met with ‘COVID-19 risks blowing HIV progress way off course,’ officials reported.

“According to the 2020 Global AIDS Update, 1.7 million people worldwide were newly infected in 2019 with HIV.” The target for this year was 500,000 “for 2020, according to the report at the International AIDS Conference virtual meeting.”

But on this World AIDS Day, don’t blame it all on the pandemic. “Our progress towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 was already off track before the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Three score and five

Meanwhile, it’s been 65 years since Rosa Parks refused to yield her seat in Montgomery, AL. The problems with the perception of the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and ’60s are several. For one, it seems to have been oversimplified. Rosa sat, Martin spoke and justice was won.

The push for equality started much earlier and remains necessary to this day. Why it took George Floyd’s death for a bunch of people to figure that out I’m sure some sociologists are analyzing.

Surely, we know about the perils of jogging while black or sleeping while black.

But it’s the everyday things that I find troubling. This story of a racist Pennsylvania judge resigning right before his own misconduct trial was set to begin happened to be in my feed. There are far too many examples to note.

About three and a half years ago, there was this blog post by a local author called “Why so many blacks in ads?” Knowing vaguely the guy who wrote it – he’s thrilled that IMPOTUS is going – I think the query was naive but not malicious. But the responses were, for the most part, virulent. Over 300 comments, 10% in 2020. There is a lot of use of the N-word.

Interestingly, the complaints aren’t all from the US. “My father fought in wwll for white British people this is our country and feel we are getting pushed out by black people ..their are to many black people in adverts.” It’s so comforting that racism and bad grammar are international.

The point is…

We ain’t there yet. We still need to work to eradicate these scourges. And, as you can see in the graphic from 2018, there is a relationship between race (systemic racism?) and HIV. AIDS is defeatable. And racism… well, I’m not so sure, but we need to keep on trying.

A Tribute to Sister Rosa Parks

New exhibit at the Library of Congress

Rosa ParksI’m talking a wild guess you might have heard about Rosa Parks, who was born February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, AL and died October 24, 2005 in Detroit, MI.

The Wikipedia says, “Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. The United States Congress has called her ‘the first lady of civil rights’ and ‘the mother of the freedom movement.'”

But I saw a story this past December about a NEW Rosa Parks exhibit at the Library of Congress. It contains a treasure trove of her letters. Some are written on backs on food labels. I hope to see it; the exhibit runs through September 2020. At about the same time, a new Rosa Parks statue was unveiled in Montgomery, AL.

The King Institute website has a lot of important information about her. Among the featured documents that have been chosen from the King Papers collection:

Arrest Report for Claudette Colvin. City of Montgomery Police Department. March 02, 1955. Who is she? She was a precursor to Rosa, as I noted a decade ago. Fred Gray, Alabama civil rights attorney said, “Claudette gave all of us moral courage. If she had not done what she did, I am not sure that we would have been able to mount the support for Mrs. Parks.”

Arrest Record For Rosa Parks. City of Montgomery Police Department. December 01, 1955.

Announcement, Another Negro Woman has been Arrested — Don’t Ride the Bus. Robinson, Jo Ann Gibson (Women’s Political Council (WPC)), December 02, 1955. “Don’t Ride the Bus”. Robinson, Jo Ann Gibson (Women’s Political Council (WPC)), December 02, 1955.

“Resolution” – Montgomery Improvement Association. December 08, 1955.

Music

There’s an album that came out some years ago, with snippets of dialogue from Rosa Parks between music tracks. This is my favorite song: Help Us Lord – The Chosen.

Here’s a track from the mighty Neville Brothers, Sister Rosa.

The perfect victim, just the right symbol

Why is it that white men wave real guns around crowded areas in America and are taken into custody alive, yet Tamir Rice, a 12-year old carrying a toy gun in an open carry state, is dead?

Black Lives MatterRight around December 1, when everyone was rightfully talking about the anniversary of Rosa Parks’ 1955 refusal to cede her seat in a Birmingham bus, one of the Twitter pals of Arthur Tweeted, “Do some research on Claudette Colvin, sidelined as she didn’t have the right ‘look’ of a true heroine”. Arthur wanted my thoughts on that, maybe on March 2, 2015, which is the 60th anniversary of Colvin’s arrest — the first arrest for resisting bus segregation.

As it turns out, I DID write about Claudette Colvin, almost five years ago, and I don’t have much more to say.

Arthur added:

Seems to me this raises issues of expediency — deliberately choosing the best “face” to put on an issue (something I know LGBT activists have done, too), and also how quaint such outdated social mores seem to us now. But it seems to me it also raises issues of elevating sidelined pioneers in struggles for justice because we don’t look down on people like that nowadays.

I think it still happens, all the time. And it has to do, among other things, with young black men getting shot by police, or in Trayvon Martin’s case in Florida, by a wannabe cop. So the narrative becomes whether any of these victims is the “right” one to galvanize a nation seemingly willing to allow for the idea that each of the shootings was justified.

Thus, in Florida, Trayvon Martin is turned into a “thug” who may have smoked pot. Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO is a “thug,” who stole some tobacco product before he was killed.

How about Eric Garner in New York City? He was allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on a Staten Island sidewalk, but the police action that led to his death was ON VIDEO. The fact that the grand jury, in this case, failed to indict Daniel Pantaleo, shortly after Darren Wilson was not indicted by the grand jury in Missouri, seems to be the tipping point, with demonstrations all around the country.

It is the perception that the PROCESS is broken. Read the New York Times editorial. Well, unless you’re Pat Robertson, who believes police brutality against blacks is a thing of the past. Or the more pervasive view of CONTINUING to parse every case to find some fault of the victim.

Former Republic National Committee head Michael Steele complained about a lack of indictment in the Garner case. Even former President George W. Bush found the decision “hard to understand.”

Why is it that white men wave real guns around crowded areas in America and are taken into custody alive, yet Tamir Rice, a 12-year old carrying a toy gun in an open-carry state, is dead? In part, I think it’s the fact that both the police and the general (white) public actually view black kids as older and less innocent than white kids. Thus the suggestion that the 12-year-old boy in Cleveland killed by police might have been 20. (But shooting a 20-year-old unarmed black man would not have been OK either.)

These cases seem to be piling up recently, with the shooting death by police of 34-year-old Rumain Brisbon in Phoenix, AZ, a black man armed only with a bottle of Oxycotin pain medicine. Then there’s 22-year-old Darrien Hunt, who was shot in the back six times by Utah cops. He had a cosplay sword; no charges were filed. Read this article about the decline of police deaths, even as civilian deaths from police actions have increased.

I am actually excited that the demonstrations are taking place in locations NOT involved in these shootings. What makes me guardedly hopeful about the future is a large number of young white demonstrators; it’s not just a “black issue” anymore.

I recently posted on my Facebook Ezekiel 13:10 New International Version
Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash.”
Make of that what you will.

Finally, from Arthur:

Seems to me that change usually happens because of the people who are NOT the smug, self-satisfied folks who try and dictate who is and who is not an “appropriate” symbol for a change movement. I seem to remember this one guy who was born in a stable and grew up to hang out with prostitutes, tax collectors, and all sorts of marginalised people, a guy who lost his temper and wrecked a market, disrupting businesses, before eventually being executed under questionable circumstances by the government. That’s one thuggish guy people don’t seem to mind as a symbol, even if they choose to ignore many parts of the story.

 

February Rambling: Military Draft, Muppets and Graceland

“’Soul Train’ was the first and only television show to showcase and put a spotlight on black artists at a time when there were few African-Americans on television at all, and that was the great vision of Don.”

 

When I mentioned the military draft earlier in the month, I may not have been very clear. Think of a large goldfish bowl with 365 or 366 balls with every date for the year represented. The first date for a particular year pulled would be the first selected for military service, the second date pulled the second selected, etc. There would be a cutoff number, based on the need for the war effort. Check out this article and then this one.

The food stamp President; note that Arthur had this BEFORE MoveOn.com helped propel it viral. He also remembers the first anniversary of the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake, the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s flight aboard Friendship 7, and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.

Rosa Parks Did Much More than Sit on a Bus

The Stories I Tell: “Like most of us I was raised to tell the truth and be honest. This can present a minor dilemma for resellers.”

How a mom used Star Wars to answer life’s questions

Marvel/Disney wages petty, vicious war against Ghost Rider creator. Yeah, there are two sides to this story, but Disney’s treatment of writer Gary Friedrich is still most unfortunate. Here’s a more nuanced piece that links to a donate to Gary site. Incidentally, in the comments to the former piece, someone was complaining that Friedrich was selling the art of Mike Ploog, penciler of Ghost Rider. I don’t know about the specifics of this case, but as former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter explained here and here, art pages, which previous to the 1970s were rarely returned at all by comic book companies, were distributed to various participants of the story; this included the writer, though they usually got last dibs. Shooter does explain Marvel’s likely point of view, and here’s a Marvel rebuttal.

I swear I had the same problem as Mitch O’Connell.

I read in Entertainment Weekly about this website that has the feature If 2012’s Oscar-nominated movie posters told the truth. This one riffing on The Help is funny, but so are several others.

I was saddened by the death of “Soul Train” host Don Cornelius of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. From the LA Times: “Don Cornelius’ legacy to music, especially black music, will be forever cemented in history,” said Clarence Avant, former chairman of Motown Records. “’Soul Train’ was the first and only television show to showcase and put a spotlight on black artists at a time when there were few African-Americans on television at all, and that was the great vision of Don.”
But I also remember tuning in when unlikely guests would show up, such as David Bowie performing Fame and Golden Years.

Read about comic book legend John Severin, who died at the age of 90, here and here and here.

The Wicker Muppet and A Muppet phenomenon and REALLY early Muppets.

The film trailer for “Under African Skies,” “the documentary from award-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger. Paul Simon travels back to South Africa 25 years after his first visit, chronicling the creation and lasting influence of his groundbreaking album, Graceland. Simon revisits the making of the record, surveying from the vantage of history the turbulence and controversy surrounding the album’s genesis.”

HOW TO mix a grody-looking Alien Brain Hemorrhage cocktail
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ROGER AT OTHER BLOGS

Interestingly, on most of these, I don’t get many comments. But I DO get an occasional LIKE on Facebook or retweet on Twitter, so it’s all good. Oh, and speaking of Facebook, I now have but one Facebook account. So if you want to “friend” me, it needs to be this account, the one with the duck logo.

Obviously, we’re still working on that “change the world” thing – also noting Graham Nash’s 70th birthday.

The GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! The GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!

Secrets of the public bathroom

Caring about Multiple Things Simultaneously, which is less about Whitney Houston, and more about people who think other folks shouldn’t care about Whitney Houston’s death

Alan Moore’s Twilight Proposal. Flashmob Fridays’ final outing.

Even a Megaphone Might Have Helped: Albany’s Black History Month bit

Scott Ritter is…complicated

In the spirit of Woody Guthrie. Well, maybe funnier.

The City of Albany didn’t even know the sign was missing until someone – OK, I – pointed it out.

35 iff

Just like civil rights activists were firehosed, beaten and even killed, it almost always takes struggle before a modicum of justice can be achieved.

 

Psalm 90:10 in the King James Version reads, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they are fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

It occurred to me that Matthew Sheperd would have been 35 today – half of three score and ten – had he not been crucified on October 7, 1998. The peculiar thing about his death is that it always seems to take a tragedy for attitudes and behaviors to change. There are several activities the Matthew Shepard Foundation is involved with, including support for The Laramie Project, a play that has “become a powerful tool for communities to discuss and explore how hate impacts every part of their society.”

Just like civil rights activists were firehosed, beaten, and even killed, it almost always takes struggle before a modicum of justice can be achieved. Not incidentally, it was 56 years ago today that Rosa Parks sat on a bus in Birmingham, Alabama, and ended up getting arrested. This led to the yearlong boycott, which, along with court remedies, helped change the course of segregation – not all at once, but just a little bit at a time.

It’s also World AIDS Day. Here are CDC Statistics and UN data, and AVERT projects. The good news is that more people are living with, rather than dying from, AIDS, but more still needs to be done.