By W. Jeffrey Campbell
Today was quite a sobering day as I sat in the plenary session and other group sessions at the National
HIV Prevention Conference. Yep, the rate of newly diagnosed HIV cases among young black gay/
bi-sexual men as well as African American transgendered females continues to rise. Speakers from
session to session discussed how STIGMA is playing a great role in this ugly trend. Stigma that is tied to
depression drug abuse and alcohol abuse that leads to individuals making poor decisions about which
way the sex is going to go down.
During a break I checked out Facebook and saw a link for a letter from the Association of Black Women
Historians regarding the movie, “The Help”. Seems that these women are miffed with the way in which
black women are portrayed in the movie as well as whether a white woman is portrayed as the savior of
these Black women. Really?!?!? Really, ladies! “The Help” is not a biography or an autobiography. It is
not being billed as a movie based on truth! I’m bewildered because I never expected this movie to be
something that people thought was some sort of tribute to the truth. And, when Leslie Jordan (Beverly
Leslie from Will and Grace) appeared on screen as his stereotypical self, I knew that I was on point.
It troubles me that there is anyone out there who would take the time to draft a letter about “The Help”
and it’s possible insult on Black history when we have so much to be addressing in our present. Couldn’t
these women take a stand for a better public school education for our children? Why aren’t they out
there forming groups that are focused on helping young Black women get on the right road in their
journeys so that they are not mothers too soon or hooked on drugs? Perhaps they can offer their time
and energy to fighting this fight that I fight daily…to end AIDS and the behaviors that keep it alive.
The past is set in stone and “The Help” is in no way going to altar that either good or bad. However, our
present is affecting our future and unless we stop whining about the small things and start fighting the
giants in our community like, poverty, stigma, lack of education and HIV, we are going to find that our
future is going to be quite dismal.
Team up with someone today and vow to do the things that make a difference! Go see “The Help”! You
will enjoy it and then draft a plan to HELP someone!
The 2011 National HIV Prevention Conference was held August 14-17 in Atlanta at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the Marriott Marquis hotels. The conference organizers are committed to ensuring that this conference contributes to achieving the three primary goals defined in that plan that include reducing the number of people who become infected with HIV, Increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV and, Reducing HIV-related health disparities.