Thursday, December 01, 2005

Today is both World AIDS Day and Blog Against Racism Day.

I found some intersection between the two in this article, which states how different countries are marking World AIDS Day. I was touched to read about the women with HIV who marched in India:

Dozens of HIV-infected women stepped out of the shadows during a rally in Golaghat, a town in India's eastern Assam state, to acknowledge they were living with the disease and should not be shunned.

''I marched through the town with more than 70 HIV-positive women like me ... I'm happy many women have paid heed to our call and have openly admitted to their HIV-positive status,'' said Jahnabi Goswami, 28. ''Men with the disease need to follow suit.''
I think about the Civil Rights marches of the 1960s. The power of numbers, the power of people gathering to say "Wake up. We exist. Take us seriously." My novel-in-progress (not the one I'm revising) is set during the Civil Rights era, and as I read about Dr. King and his message of peace and tolerance, I am inspired anew. Racism, like AIDS, is still a scourge in our culture. We still have so much work to do. But things have improved on both fronts in the last few decades, and it's because people affected have allowed themselves to be visible, to be heard. The lines of communication have been opened. The same article mentions

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Indians must overcome traditional taboos attached to sex and discuss AIDS more openly within families and in public.
This is how we'll evolve as a culture. By talking about the things that scare us. By taking our biases out of the shadows and shedding light upon them so we can understand our fears, and hopefully move past them. By acting when we see injustice being perpetuated.

Michael Moore released a letter today, marking the 50th anniversary of Rosa Park's courageous act. He writes:

Rosa Parks may have been alone on that bus at the moment of her arrest but she wasn't alone for long. The old order was shaken, the world was upended and, as a people, we were given a chance for a bit of redemption.

Perhaps the best way to celebrate this most important day in American history is to ask yourself what it is that you can do today to make a difference. What risk can you take to move the ball forward? What is that one thing you've been wanting to say to your co-workers or classmates that you've been afraid to say -- but in your heart of hearts you know needs to be said? Why wait another day to say it or do it?

There is probably no better way to honor Rosa Parks -- and yourself -- than for you to put a stop to an injustice you see, not allowing it to continue for one more second. Do something. Then send me an email ( and tell all of us what you did (I'll post as many as I can).

Fifty years later, the bus we're on could use a few more people simply saying, "No. I'm sorry. I've had enough. I'm not going to take it anymore."
On World AIDS Day, on Blog Against Racism Day, on this historic anniversary, let's all think about what we can do to move our culture toward a more peaceful and tolerant future.

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