American Prospect: Best HIV/AIDS Reporting This Year!

It is hard to find good reporting on the domestic AIDS epidemic in the US that isn’t sensational, or focuses nearly entirely on individuals who contract HIV–as if it’s only their fault and that there are no policy decisions that are also complicit in driving the US epidemic. When was the last time you read a feature story that focused on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Congress, Health & Human Services or any of the other federal agencies responsible for AIDS treatment, care, prevention, and research?

Well, The American Prospect, the liberal monthly policy magazine published not one, but TWO stories on domestic HIV policy, and both do a really great job of reporting what’s going on in terms of national HIV policy.

Kai Wright, the best AIDS reporter in the biz, has a story on AIDS in the South that shows his strength as a writer, and his enormous ease with a very complex subject as he deals with virtually every angle of the issue from history to prisons, to homophobia to government funding. He writes:

What was once considered an urban, coastal epidemic — centered in gay havens like New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles — is now a surprisingly rural, Southern one. More than half of all new infections logged between 2001 and 2004 were found in the South. Those infections are far more likely to be found among Southerners who are black, low-income, and diagnosed with advanced conditions they do not have the resources to control.

What’s being done? Adam Green’s story focuses on the work by AIDS activists in the US to push the government to have for a coordinated National AIDS Strategy. In case you didn’t know, part of Bush’s much celebrated (and highly problematic) PEPFAR prorgam is that any country applying for PEPFAR dollars must have a national strategy for AIDS prevention, treatment & care. THE UNITED STATES HAS NO SUCH PLAN. In addition, the nation’s capital has an HIV prevalence rate worse than many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Green writes:

Instead, the domestic response is built on a loosely connected network of local, state, and federal programs. Authors and activists often describe this existing HIV/AIDS programming as a safety net. But the metaphor is not quite apt. There’s only a tenuous connection between the organizations. There’s little strategic coordination and no clear goals. The result is that people who are at risk or infected don’t know where or how to access care. In 2002, an estimated half of people with HIV/AIDS were not receiving care.

For more information on the National AIDS Strategy visit their website. Also, in early August I will be in Mexico City with CHAMP at the International AIDS Conference blogging on issues pertinent to the domestic AIDS epidemic at the conference, so be sure to check us out at www.AIDS2008.com

Obama-Clinton Showdown: The Lessons of South Carolina

Blogger Jonathan Stein over at Mother Jones beat me to the punch on this one, but that’s one of the tragedies of having a full-time job and trying to blog at the same time. But in all the back patting or weeping (depending on who’s side you’re on) over the South Carolina primaries, Stein at MJ and I are asking the same question: Did the Clinton camp intentionally lose SC to “niggerize” Obama to cut white support from under him?

I definitely think it’s a possibility. First off, the media has been referring to the SC primary as “the Black Primary” because it’s a 30% Black state, and 50% of the voting Democrats in the state are of African descent. With the nation already thinking about what would happen in SC as representative of Black people, here’s what occurred:

  1. Hillary Clinton—in an attempt to pain Obama as some ragtag feel good community organizer and not presidential—used the analogy that while MLK mobilized people, it took LBJ to pass the Civil Rights Act. Black people took offense to that.
  2. Bill Clinton appeared on radio to defend him, and called Obama’s campaign a fantasy.
  3. BET founder Bob Johnson went off on Obama when introducing Senator Clinton at a rally in SC—basically insinuating that Obama was getting high on coke in Chicago while Hillary was serving the Nation.
  4. Then Bill Clinton performed less like the spouse of a candidate and more like a running mate (He even appeared on television to essentially deliver her concession speech after she lost), by appearing all over the place making comments about Obama and using verbiage to link him to Jesse Jackson.

The niggerization campaign in full effect. I think this turned a lot of Black people off to the Clintons, quite frankly, who overwhelmingly (81%) voted for Obama in South Carolina. Even though Obama had a great deal of support of the white voters under 30 years of age, the fact that he won in the Black primary became the story.

The Obama camp has known for some time that they simply cannot run him as a candidate who is concerned only about Black America if they want to have any real chance of winning. But was the Clinton strategy to force Obama off of his “above the political fray and above racial politics” message done to permanently smear his image with white and Latino voters to lessen his chance of winning the states where she is more competitive on Super Tuesday?

I think this bears some thinking about.

What may be problematic for her is the fact that the political establishment that has remained neutral so far may begin to shift to Obama’s camp. Congressman James Clyburn of SC had some thinly veiled harsh words for the Clinton Campaign after Obama’s win, saying about the Obama win: “‘I’m not surprised at that at all…Because I really believe that in the last 48 hours the voters recoiled. They decided to reject the racial animus they seemed to be developing and I’m so pleased.’

This weekend (and today, Monday) it was announced that two Kennedy’s–Caroline and Senator Ted–endorsed Obama. And most surprising, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Toni Morrison endorsed Obama today.

Where this strategy may perhaps get her a nomination at the summer DNC, it may hurt her chances in the fall. Black people, if they feel Clinton played dirty to shut down the chances of the first Black President to be elected, may turn on her and simply not vote in November. Will it then have been worth it?

For more interesting commentary on Obama’s de-racialized campaign read an article from 2007 in In These Times from a person who knows him, and my good friend Kai Wright’s new piece in The Root (a brand new “Black” online publication—owned by the Washington Post. Henry Louis Gates is Editor-in-Chief.

Clarence Thomas Speaks Out. And Boy He’s Pissed!

Justice Clarence Thomas has a new book out, and he’s been all over the press. I love how the media LOVES a Black conservative!! The really get into giving them much more space and attention than all the40 million African-Americans do combined.

Anyhow, it all came together this past Sunday when 60 Minutes did an extended show to profile of him. He really sucks!!! And he’s very angry. I mean, you’d have to be insane to be Black and not be, but he’s really angry. I mean, it’s almost painful to watch.

I have to say, and after watching the 60 Minutes piece, they did NOT TALK TO ANYONE EXCEPT THOMAS!! Theonly other voices are his wife, and archival footage of Anita Hill and Al Sharpton. Is this the news magazine that made a name for itself by tough investigative work, or a public relations piece for Thomas? It was far from fair and balanced. Have a looksee!

60 Minutes Part II

60 Minutes Part III

Now, what they hell were they thinking? Thank God for some more critical things that have come out in this ridiculous excuse for journalism’s sake. Tavis Smiley had Farah Jasmine Griffin, Cornel West, and Marc Morial on his show to talk about Thomas, and it was pretty impresstive.

Anita Hill wrote an op-ed for the New York Times responding to Thomas’ 60 Minutes appearance. She writes:

In the portion of his book that addresses my role in the Senate hearings into his nomination, Justice Thomas offers a litany of unsubstantiated representations and outright smears that Republican senators made about me when I testified before the Judiciary Committee — that I was a “combative left-winger” who was “touchy” and prone to overreacting to “slights.” A number of independent authors have shown those attacks to be baseless. What’s more, their reports draw on the experiences of others who were familiar with Mr. Thomas’s behavior, and who came forward after the hearings. It’s no longer my word against his.

The BEST of them all however is Kai Wright’s article online at the American Prospect, where Kai writes (no pun intended)

“…the book is primarily an effort to expand on Thomas’ charge that white liberals used Hill to carry out a “high-tech lynching” on an uppity black man. “Should I have seen it coming?” he ponders. “Even as Daddy had been teaching me that hard work would always see me through, my friends in Savannah told me to let go of my foolish dreams. ‘The man ain’t goin’ to let you do nothin’,’ they had said over and over. ‘Why you even tryin’?’ Now I knew who ‘the man’ was. He’d come at last to kill me, and I had looked upon his hateful, leering face as he slipped his noose of lies around my neck.”

Many will read My Grandfather’s Son as a cynical attempt to rewrite history, and it is that, to be sure. But it is more. The reason Thomas’ rage outstrips his remarkable professional and political achievements is that his confirmation shattered the thin armor he’d donned for navigating America’s “paranoid color wheel” as an ambitious black man — namely, that through unceasing toil and a blind embrace of “the rules,” he could eclipse, if not defeat white supremacy.”

Word.