Thursday, August 7, 2008

Black Women Have More AIDS... Not More SEX

I remember sitting on the bus going to the suburban campus back in my first year at the University at Buffalo. Being one to read anything within eyeshot, it was not hard to see what was written on the back of the seat in front of me. “90% of American college women sleep around… the other 10% go to U.B.” That writing on the back of the seat proved to be the writing on the wall for me over the next two years. Not that it was too different than the twenty years before, it was just more noticeable now that I was considerably over the age of consent, and I still had no one to consent with. As time went by, things got better… much better. But I have to admit, it was always a struggle considering I was short, skinny, average looking and broke… with no rap to speak of. But I could make ‘em laugh, and I could make ‘em think, so I had a chance.

I always had White roommates back then; there were reasons… but that’s a blog for another day. One thing I did get a chance to see, going to a predominantly White university and having White roommates, was the dating pattern of White guys my age. Business was always good for guys like my boy Todd, who had women coming through like tag-team wrestlers; one would leave, and another would immediately jump in the ring. Other guys would just sit around watching Letterman and getting drunk. What I realized was that White guys dating habits may have differed from me and the Brothers, but the levels of success and failure with our women was exactly the same. As I progressed out of my younger years, and my relationship with my White brethren moved into the business world, I noticed that our styles became less distinctive, but our results were the still same. Even into more recent times when the White guys I know are almost equally as likely to hook up with sisters as the brothers I know hook up with White women… the results are the same. I don’t know much about the dating for my Native and Asian brothers, but the results for my Hispanic brothers have always been equal to the Blacks and Whites from my observations.

So if brothers of all shades are experiencing the same level of success and failure with the ladies, women of all shades must all be doing the same things… well… they may not be doing the same things… but the things they are doing, they’re doing just as much of. With that thought in mind, it greatly disturbs me that whenever there is a discussion of “the face of AIDS” in this country, there is a Black female face under the caption. This was evident again in the Black in America series, where they spent an extensive amount of time spent talking about Black women and AIDS. Now it doesn’t bother me when the discussion centers on the fact that Black women contract HIV at a higher rate than anyone else, facts are facts. And I do find it encouraging when the discussion extends to finding inexpensive treatments, or even a cure for them. What bothers me is the fact that the discussion generally migrates to them being involved in riskier behavior than other folks who contract the disease at a lesser rate. The conversation will then emphasize them dealing with down-low brothers, being less precautious, or being overly promiscuous. The “they must be victims, careless, or morally depraved” assessment of their situation is insulting, infuriating, and socially and scientifically wrong.

I addressed the scientifically wrong part in depth on another blog page in terms of Blacks in general (
, but I’ll touch on a little of it here as it pertains to Black women. First of all, women in general are physiologically more susceptible to HIV than men. Some studies show that woman may be 2000 times more likely than men to contract HIV, as sexually they are a natural receptacle for fluids. Second, people of African Ancestry are genetically predisposed to contract HIV, Northern Europeans are designed to resist it, and everyone else kinda falls in between. Now whether this is a happenstance of biological adaptation or biological engineering, I addressed in the previously mentioned blog. But the reality of it is absolute, as stated in Scientific American Magazine:

Genetic variation also plays a role in individual susceptibility to one of the worst scourges of our age: AIDS. Some people have a small deletion in both their copies of a gene that encodes a particular cell-surface receptor called chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5). As a result, these individuals fail to produce CCR5 receptors on the surface of their cells. Most strains of HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, bind to the CCR5 receptor to gain entry to cells, so people who lack CCR5 receptors are resistant to HIV-1 infection. This polymorphism in the CCR5 receptor gene is found almost exclusively in groups from northeastern Europe.

Several polymorphisms in CCR5 do not prevent infection but instead influence the rate at which HIV-1 infection leads to AIDS and death. Some of these polymorphisms have similar effects in different populations; others only alter the speed of disease progression in selected groups. One polymorphism, for example, is associated with delayed disease progression in European-Americans but accelerated disease in African-Americans. Researchers can only study such population-specific effects--and use that knowledge to direct therapy--if they can sort people into groups.
Does Race Exist? Scientific American, December 2003

So a being that is designed as a receptacle for fluids has a cell in their bodies that is a prime receptacle of the HIV virus which is transmitted through fluids. Based on that information, it is really easy to see why Black women contract HIV at such a great rate. Now since this article is almost five years old, and the information contained is even older, why isn’t this yet given as a reason for their susceptibility to HIV. Unfortunately, it probably goes back to the line of thinking used for the Hottentot Venus (Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman), the African woman who was paraded around Europe in the early 1800’s as a side-show freak because of her big butt (Beyonce’ would have made a fortune), and pronounced vaginal lips. Although she was by all accounts a highly intelligent and respectable woman, it was said by the scientists that “studied” her, that based on her physical appearance the essence of African women’s sexuality was in their genitals, while the essence of European women’s sexuality was in their brains. They even went so far as to have her genitalia removed and put on display in a museum after her death. …And there it began, the concept that Black women are nothing but a big butt, and a big… vagina (no, the disrespect was not started by rappers). Before Sarah’s time, and definitely since then, Black women have been reduce to or dismissed as sexual being on various levels. So them dying of a sexually transmitted disease can’t be a big deal, can it?

Now I’m not a Black woman, nor do I play one on TV. So why is this issue so important to me. My daughter, my nieces, my goddaughters, and every other Black girl and young Black woman that I have dealt with in my personal life and professional career! They see and hear far too many negative images of who they supposedly are, and not nearly enough positive ones of who they actually are. To see them portrayed as stupid and careless is highly offensive, but the immoral part really pisses me off. When I have seen them torture themselves with guilt over basic mistakes of life in their attempt to do what is right, even when they are fed information that should convince them without a doubt that wrong is right… shows me that they have a high intrinsic level of morality, even when they don’t know why. I like to believe it is the Holy Spirit whispering in their ear, but that’s my explanation. Whatever the explanation, they do not need to have some physiological issue explained as everything but that… particularly while they are trying to avoid, or live with, some life threatening disease. Black women are not necessarily more or less promiscuous than anyone else, they just suffer worse for their actions than everyone else. Physical death from the disease is bad enough. They shouldn’t have to endure moral execution by society as well.


ZACK said...

Another FANTASTIC post.

I felt a DEEP connection to this post when you talked about your struggles "getting somebody to consent with". I still struggle at the age of TWENTY-FOUR with accepting God's will about my virginity. It hurts. I don't want to accept it, but the spread of AIDS is helping me to be open towards accepting it. It feels good to see somebody else who has already been where I've been.

And I don't buy the idea that blacks are just genetically predisposed to die from everything. If we made it through slavery, Jim Crow, and UPN- we can survive anything. "Black don't crack and Racism is Wack"- is what I say.

I really like your writing style, my brother. Just pray for me that I can see myself the way God sees me.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

You nicely summed up the issue. I would add that this doesn’t exactly concenplate often. xD Anyway, good post…

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