Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good News, Bad News

First, the bad news. And it's really bad...

Black U.S. AIDS rates rival some African nations

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The AIDS epidemic among African-Americans in some parts of the United States is as severe as in parts of Africa, according to a report out Tuesday.

"Left Behind - Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS" is intended to raise awareness and remind the public that the "AIDS epidemic is not over in America, especially not in Black America," says the report, published by the Black AIDS Institute, an HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on African-Americans.

"AIDS in America today is a black disease," says Phill Wilson, founder and CEO of the institute and himself HIV-positive for 20 years. "2006 CDC data tell us that about half of the just over 1 million Americans living with HIV or AIDS are black."

Read the rest here.

Depressed? Appalled? Terrified? Yeah, I don't blame you. First there was the study that revealed 1 in 4 teenage girls between the ages of 14 and 19 was infected with an STD, and that Black girls were infected at a significantly higher rate. Then there was the "AIDS Man" on YouTube. Now there's this. But every cloud has a silver lining. I haven't found one regarding the AIDS story yet, but another story made me feel really hopeful that at least some things are moving in the right direction.

Now, here's the Good News:

House poised to apologize for slavery, Jim Crow

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House of Representatives was poised Tuesday to pass a resolution apologizing to African-Americans for slavery and the era of Jim Crow.

The nonbinding resolution, which is expected to pass, was introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen, a white lawmaker who represents a majority black district in Memphis, Tennessee.

While many states have apologized for slavery, it will be first time a branch of the federal government will apologize for slavery if the resolution passes, an aide to Cohen said.

By passing the resolution, the House would also acknowledge the "injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow."

"Jim Crow," or Jim Crow laws, were state and local laws enacted mostly in the Southern and border states of the United States between the 1870s and 1965, when African-Americans were denied the right to vote and other civil liberties and were legally segregated from whites.

The name "Jim Crow" came from a character played by T.D. "Daddy" Rice who portrayed a slave while in blackface during the mid-1800s.

The resolution states that "the vestiges of Jim Crow continue to this day."

"African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow -- long after both systems were formally abolished -- through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty, the frustration of careers and professional lives, and the long-term loss of income and opportunity," the resolution states.

Read the rest here.

That last paragraph is HUGE. Getting people to see and acknowledge that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow are still evident today has been one of the biggest hurdles to overcoming racism and prejudice. Even though Reparations will not be addressed in the resolution, I think it definitely leaves the area open to lay down the groundwork for future endeavors.