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Southern-Big-Mouth-Belle Hollering About AIDS

Posted on October 31, 2010, by , under Uncategorized.


Growing up in the south, in all my days, I had been told that having “a big mouth” was unbecoming. As much as you see Southerners hollering across the way at their neighbors in the movies…that’s just the movies. In reality polite Southerners mind their own business and most of us who grew up in the south understood sign language. From the finger over the lips to the furrowed brow, my mother had a way without words of conveying, shut up, to my siblings and myself. Especially for the girls, was it forbidden to talk loudly, scream, or God forbid, holler at the President of the United States.

The world is very different now.

Women holler, and sometimes people listen. Sometimes, it is the only time people listen. I’ve been hollering about the plight of women, minorities, and children in the HIV epidemic for more than 15 years.

Before AIDS was a public crisis, it was my personal obsession.

In 1988, in my high school annual, I wrote under secret ambition, “Cure AIDS.” In 1988, the biggest American-media driven event was the Iran-Contra Affair. The same year, my first known Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, wrote “Understanding AIDS.” I still have a copy.

It is 2010 (22 years and many deaths later) and AIDS is the number 1 killer of African Americans between the ages of 22- 45 and apparently the nation’s capital has one of the highest infection rates in the country.

I figure a few days before the mid-term election is probably a great time to voice your opinion about the cause for which you are most passionate. I watched the news as hecklers in Boston railed, instead of rallying, while President Obama attempted to address a crowd of at least 10,000 in support of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. The hecklers screamed out for more funding for AIDS, to which Obama replied, we have increased funding – further adding that the hecklers should heckle the Republicans – a diminutive, but pointed inference inviting the hecklers to check the record between the Republicans and the Democrats on AIDS funding.

Perhaps the hecklers were just being “good citizens” informing the President about the plight of his neighborhood – simply hollering across the way. He does reside in D.C.

All southern etiquette aside, I’m glad somebody hollered. Somehow, Mother’s sign language wouldn’t have had the same impact. Given the grave statistics, doesn’t it make you wanna holler?