Man Pays Child Support…Visits Son…And Still Goes To Jail

The judicial system is F%&ed Up!! It really is.  Based on this news story, this brotha was doing the right thing and handling his business (paying child support and visiting his child), and that was still not enough. It really makes you question whether the judicial system is really concerned about what’s in the best interest of the child.  Now I know we’re making sweeping generalizations here based on one judge’s verdict…but c’mon.  Yes the whole check variation thing and not receiving notification about the changes in visitation leads to more questions ….but C’mon…really? Jail time when you’ve paid child support and have been visiting?  Check out the video and let us know what you think.  You may see something different than what we see.

 

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Below is an excerpt from the Father’s Rights Survival Guide.  We thought it may be helpful for the men out there who may be having issues in their homes as it pertains to divorce and child custody.  The information below should not substitute for legal advice.  Should you need INDIVIDUAL or RELATIONSHIP coaching through the family drama feel free to contact us (Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at).  Otherwise check out the suggestions below and if need be contact an attorney.

The Father’s Rights Survival Guide

The following is a comprehensive list of recommendations for men who are facing marital separation and divorce where children are involved. These recommendations are not legal advice. They are “street smart” suggestions gleaned from personal experiences and the experiences of other men who have worked their way through the minefield that is family law.

Although the statutes stress that decisions taken in family law litigation should be, first and foremost, in “the best interests of the children”, the fact is that almost all rulings are made in favour of the mother, as “primary caregiver” — ostensibly “on behalf of” the children. As a father, you, supposedly, have rights under the law, but, quite realistically, have few rights at all. 85% of custody decisions go to the mother (mothers have custody in the vast majority of cases); mothers rarely pay child or spousal support ­ fathers are routinely forced into personal bankruptcy or go underground because they cannot pay onerous support orders; mother’s routinely withhold children from court-ordered ‘access” with their fathers as court orders for access are virtually unenforceable; family equity is split right down the middle, even though a mother may have only provided barely adequate child care and indifferent housekeeping as her contribution. So you must take steps to preempt and mitigate, where possible, a situation wherein you are at the mercy of cut-throat lawyers, biased judges and a very flawed system.

Although the tone of this article may seem pessimistic, I propose that it is, in fact, realistic. The plight of fathers in family law disputes is grave. However, I am optimistic because of the tremendous devotion that so many fathers display for their offspring in facing overwhelming emotional and financial challenges in the simple desire to play a meaningful and critical role in their children’s lives. And I sense a rising tide of awareness and anger in the general public, at large, at the inequalities and abuses of their rights that fathers have been suffering for far too long. It’s time that innovative solutions like mandatory shared parenting be written into the statutes to give fathers a chance at participating in a reasonable fashion in their children’s lives.

Once again, it must be stressed that the following is not legal advice. Ask your lawyer / attorney for a definitive opinion on any and all of the recommendations presented here. This document is prepared specifically relative to Ontario, Canada family law, but most principles should work relative to other North American jurisdictions.

The recommendations begin with the supposition that you are still in the matrimonial home, that your marriage is beyond saving and that mediation is not an option. If you have already separated, pick up the suggestions at the appropriate point.

1. Do not move out of the family home. If no custody order is in place, and you move out, you are granting your spouse de facto custody of your children; you immediately expose yourself to petitions for child and spousal support; you abandon all joint possessions ­ and even your personal possessions ­ to your spouse (and you don’t have to be a lawyer to know that possession is 9/10ths of the law); and you give your spouse leave to petition for exclusive possession of the house in perpetuity in “the best interests of the children” ­ thus tying up the house as an asset.

2. Throughout the period of final co-habitation with your spouse, do not engage in any verbal battles..PERIOD. If the situation is volatile, do not engage in any discussions about legal or settlement issues. Do not engage in any kind of verbal or physical confrontation with her. If you do, you put yourself at the risk of her getting an order to have you thrown out of the house and possibly restrained from going anywhere near her, the property and, possibly the children. If she becomes confrontational, walk away and avoid close contact. Make the only dialogue between the two of you be about the care and well-being of the children and the day-to-day running of the home. If you simply must communicate directly to your spouse regarding matrimonial issues, do so in a written note. You can organize your thoughts better that way and avoid a verbal joust. Do not use inflammatory language ­ stick to the facts. Date the note and write “Without Prejudice” at the top (this protects you from later use of your note against you). And keep a copy of it for your files.

3. Throughout the period of final co-habitation with your spouse, eliminate, or at the very least, reduce, your consumption of alcohol. If you have a drug / alcohol problem, GET HELP IMMEDIATELY, otherwise you may be dead in the water. Alcohol – and most drugs – reduce your inhibitions and may make you more aggressive and thus in danger of confrontation with your spouse. And later, when you come down from your high, you will suffer from depression that will impair your ability to function and may make you susceptible to suicide. In almost all cases of murder / suicide in marital disputes, alcohol is a contributing factor.

4. If there are firearms in your home, GET RID OF THEM. Take absolutely no chances that someone may lose it and grab a gun.

5. Get emotional counseling if you need it. There is no stigma attached to getting help for the stress and the anxiety depression that almost everyone experiences during the ordeal of a high-conflict divorce. Have your family doctor recommend a psychiatrist – covered under provincial health plans in Canada (psychologists and social workers are not usually covered) – or check your employment health benefits to see if referral to a counselor is available to employees. If you are a member of an organized religion, your clergyman / priest / rabbi or affiliated lay counselors may provide assistance.

6. Transfer all money from joint spousal accounts to your own sole accounts. If you don’t, chances are that she will clean out the accounts before you do.

7. Have your spouse’s name removed from all joint credit cards for which you are responsible, get her spousal cards from her and destroy them.

8. Engage legal counsel sooner rather than later. Be prepared for the fact that you will have to provide a legal retainer of (typically) a minimum of $1,000 for a lawyer to begin working on your case. Make sure your lawyer is an experienced family law specialist ­ not someone who does part-time family, part-time real estate, etc. law, Ask him (or her) if he / she is aware of the bias of the family court system against fathers and if he (we’ll assume it’s a man from here on) is willing to fight for your rights as a parent and not be intimidated by biased court officials. For your first meeting with him be prepared with a written outline of the issues of your case. Do not make this a novel about the emotions of your marital breakdown ­ stick to the hard, cold facts. Go to all meetings with your lawyer with a written agenda, and with all issues, questions, etc. spelled out in detail. Write down all responses and action items. Be prepared to do any legwork for him that you can (document searches, brief preparations, etc.). Use his time wisely. The meter is ticking all the while you are sitting in meetings with him or consulting on the phone. And remember two things: he works for you so be demanding; and he will not (nor shouldn’t) make decisions for you ­ you must make them yourself with his guidance.

9. Start and maintain in chronological order a comprehensive and well-organized file of ALL documents, memos, letters, briefings, affidavits pertinent to your case. Your file is critical for referring to past actions, issues, details. Take all relevant files with you for meetings with your lawyer; and take the originals plus a second set of all relevant files with you to court appearances ­ as back up in case your lawyer does not have the appropriate ones with him.

10. Court actions. Don’t even THINK about going to court without a lawyer. In most cases, judges will just laugh and scoff at you ­ literally ­ and tell you to get representation. If you persist in forcing them to allow you to represent yourself, her lawyer and the judge will take you apart. Consult with and rely on your lawyer for the timing and the appropriateness of court actions. It may be in your best interests to get to court first with a petition or motion (to be the “petitioner”); or the other side may move quickly and make you the “respondent” to a court action. Your lawyer should know what strategies are best. Assist him as much as you can with written briefs for the affidavits, financial statements, etc. he will prepare on your behalf.

CLICK HERE to read more.

 

Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at (the creators of this site) are relationship experts and internet marketers who have been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers, TV One, and other media outlets.  They are helping people build healthy relationships and build home based businesses.  To learn how you can MAKE MONEY while working from home CLICK HERE.  To get INDIVIDUAL or COUPLES  COACHING from Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at CLICK HERE.

Act Your Age: Wisdom Is Beauty

By Lana Moline

There are a slew of commercials geared toward recapturing our youth.  Sometimes the messages are overt but most often they are hidden in the imagery.  I ask myself sometimes as I watch television who the target audience is as soon as the advertisements begin to roll.  I suppose appealing to the desire in most people to remain active and alive equates sometimes to youth and that bothers me somewhat.  Sure, I am the first person to support health and enjoyment in life which is the premise that most of these message fall under.  However, the part of it that I have a problem with is that it somehow diminishes the honor of maturing and authenticity.  I recognize that perhaps this approach is what sells but the message that it sends is one that repeatedly perpetuates juvenile behavior and a society of adult followers.

If we examine the world as a whole before internet and rapid changing technology, we may remember the honor in ritualistic family tradition.  Girls couldn’t wait to turn 13 because maybe their parents would allow them to wear lip gloss.  Boys couldn’t wait to turn 16 because then they would learn how to drive.  Eighteen was a big deal because some teens were officially permitted to date and we all know what 21 is equated to in this country.  However somewhere along the way 40 became the new 30 and 30 became the new 20 and so on.  With this,  the sense of duty to give, show and command a regal respect of wisdom is lost.

 

What this ultimately means in today’s society is that the line of progression is receding and the natural order of human growth and development is confused and that is unfortunate.  Personally, there is nothing more beautiful than gaining insight into wisdom that I have yet to possess.  I absolutely love to listen to elders who have gone through and conquered some of the things that I am facing as a woman, mother and wife.  That simply makes my life easier because it gives me a key to the next phase of my journey.  It is crucial to our existence that elders relish in the knowledge that they have gained and embrace what that means for others who look to them for guidance.  When this happens as it should it confirms that God will direct my path the same way He directs others.

I Corinthians 13:11 – When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Lana Moline is an integral part of the Blackloveandmarriage.com writing team, freelance writer and poet who lives in Ft. Worth with her three kids and husband Emile. Married 11 years, both media professionals have vowed to maintain integrity in all aspects of print and broadcast journalism.Visit her atLana Moline Speaks.

Success Is Possible With Imani

By Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at

As we conclude this 2013 Kwanzaa let us begin by saying…….Habari Gani ( What’s the news)?  The response for today is Imani (Faith) – To believe with all our hearts in our parents, our teachers, our leaders, people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

As we begin a new year it’s imperative that we have faith that whatever we set out to do, be, or accomplish…..CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED.  Your belief fuels you….your faith drives you…even when you can’t see the outcome.  There’s an inner knowing that your blessing is right around the corner waiting for you.  Just keep moving …and go get it.

2 affirmations that we use in our home that help strengthen our faith are:

– God is in me, with me, through me, and for me….and wherever God is there can be no imperfection.

– Success, Health, Wealth, and Prosperity are mine…through the omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of God I receive ____________

Try these affirmations on a daily basis and watch a shift begin to occur in your life.

Thank you for journeying with us during this 2013 Kwanzaa.

Until next time…..HABARI GANI!!!!!!!! and HARAMBEE (Let’s pull together)

Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at are relationship experts and internet marketers who have been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers, TV One, and other media outlets.

We help people build healthy relationships and GET FREE FROM THE RAT RACE by helping you to build a home based businesses online.

To learn how you can work with us, have a business around whatever your passion is, and EARN MONEY ONLINE…. CLICK HERE:http://www.prosperityteam.co/freevideoreveals/?id=amaat&tag=

To get INDIVIDUAL or COUPLES COACHING from us CLICK HERE:http://www.blackloveandmarriage.com/black-marriage-services-take-a-class/relationship-coaching-counseling-1/

The Value Of Kuumba In Sustaining A People

By Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at

This evening, while sitting around playing the Djembe, singing songs, dancing, and reflecting on our 2013 Kwanzaa, we took an intentional moment to lift up the value of Kuumba on this 6th day of Kwanzaa.  Kuumba means creativity (To do always as much as we can  in the way that we can , in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial then when we inherited it.)

Kuumba is creativity….kuumba is the arts.  The arts (music, dance, poetry, artistry, ideas, acting, etc.) are the heartbeat of a culture.  Without that heartbeat….your culture….your people….are “dead”.

How or what did you create in 2013?  How or what will you create in 2014.  The very survival and sustenance of our people depends on your contribution.  The collective is waiting and desperately needs your Kuumba.

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Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at are relationship experts and internet marketers who have been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers, TV One, and other media outlets.

To learn how you can work with us, have a business around whatever your passion is, and EARN MONEY ONLINE…. CLICK HERE:http://www.prosperityteam.co/freevideoreveals/?id=amaat&tag=

To get INDIVIDUAL or COUPLES COACHING from us CLICK HERE:http://www.blackloveandmarriage.com/black-marriage-services-take-a-class/relationship-coaching-counseling-1/

Is Nia In Your Life?

The 5th principle for Kwanzaa is Nia (Purpose) – To make as our collective vocation the building and developing our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.  It’s one thing to go through life only concerned about your individual pursuits….I gotta get mine, it’s me against world mentality.  It’s something totally different to be intentional about thinking, doing, and acting on purpose to help restore our people to their traditional greatness.  What are you doing on purpose?  Is Nia in your life?

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Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at are relationship experts and internet marketers who have been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers, TV One, and other media outlets.

To learn how you can work with us, have a business around whatever your passion is, and EARN MONEY ONLINE…. CLICK HERE:http://www.prosperityteam.co/freevideoreveals/?id=amaat&tag=

To get INDIVIDUAL or COUPLES COACHING from us CLICK HERE:http://www.blackloveandmarriage.com/black-marriage-services-take-a-class/relationship-coaching-counseling-1/

Hang Out With Ayize & Aiyana & Learn How To Turn Up The Love & Sex In Your Relationship! JAN. 12TH @ 9PM.

By Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at

Hey Fam! We are soooo excited and pleased to announce our new Relationship Renovation series that will be kicking off in January 2014!

As we sat and talked and evaluated how 2013 has been for us and what our goals for 2014 should be we kept coming back to the idea that we want to connect more, help more, and do more. Yes, that’s what we said—In 2014 we want to:

CONNECT MORE…..to you

HELP MORE……for you and

DO MORE……with you  🙂

We said “How can we be the most helpful and make the most impact?” We asked you on Facebook and Twitter and via our other social media platforms and YOU ANSWERED. You said you wanted to talk with us more about very important topics that so many of you are dealing with in your relationships. We received such great feedback and so many different topics that we decided to begin a Bi-Weekly Relationship Renovation Series. 

  •  This is where we will discuss important, juicy, fun, and fundamental issues that are relevant to relationships of all kinds.
  •  This is where you will have the opportunity to participate!  How? You can be “on” with us to share your story or ask a question as it relates to the theme of the Hangout. You can also share by asking questions when we have our “Ask Us Anything”Hangouts. And, of course you can chat with us during the Hangout as well.
  •  This is where you can come every 2 weeks to “go to school” and get insight and answers on all things relationships!

So, save the date for AYIZE & AIYANA’S  FIRST RELATIONSHIP RENOVATION HANGOUT WHERE WE WILL TALK ABOUT HOW TO TURN UP THE LOVE & SEX  IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP!

WHEN: THURSDAY, JAN 12, 2014

WHAT TIME: 9PM

WHERE: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/115322807699470470126/events/cpei4jicmq9at68295i830fcil8

For our first Hangout–We’re looking for singles or couples that would like to be featured on the Hangout. You should be willing to either share your story around sex and intimacy and/or ask a question. No questions are off limits. Any issue you have when it comes to sex and intimacy in your relationship(s)–past or present—BRING IT. We want to hear it!

Interested? Send an email with your issue or question to askus@bintentional.com or by clicking here: http://www.blackloveandmarriage.com/ask-the-maats/
***ATTENTION*** YOU MUST PUT THE WORDS GOOGLE HANGOUT SOME WHERE IN THE SUBJECT LINE OR IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL PLEASE!!! REMEMBER, WE DO ADVICE VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE AND IF YOU DON’T LET US KNOW THAT YOU’RE RESPONDING TO THE GOOGLE HANGOUT CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS THEN YOUR EMAIL WILL GO TO THE BACK OF A VERY LONG WAITLIST OF FOLKS WAITING FOR US TO ANSWER THEIR VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE.

TO JOIN THE HANGOUT ENTER BELOW:

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Love Your Family And Let Them Know It

By Sharon Rodriguez

I believe in acknowledging my wrongs publicly. Who knows, maybe my mistake will help open someone else’s mind or heart.

Today I went to my God Fathers funeral. It was a beautiful Home going service in honor of a wonderful, loving, God like man who touched many lives. When my own father died 28 years ago I was so hurt and self absorbed that I lost contact with this…my God Family. Big mistake. He, my Godfather was hand picked at my birth to guide me and assist me after my Dad was no longer here. I was just to young, dumb to take advantage of the gift that I was given.

Today I realized that I just lost my other father and to make it even worse I had not been around to love him, hug him, experience him and even learn from him all these years. My children who have no living grandfather would have had one. I feel like I lost my Dad all over again. It hurts.

I will not make that mistake with my God Mother. She is still beautiful, graceful and gracious. She hugged me and said “don’t ever stay away from me again.” I promised that I would not. My name was even in the program. The family that I had not been in contact with for over 25 years still acknowledges me as one of their own.

Don’t wait until it’s to late. Love your family, whether by birth or the chosen ones and let them know it. You never know when the opportunity will be lost for this lifetime.

 

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Black Folks & Self-Determination….A Beautiful Thang

By Aiyana Ma’at

Today is the second day of Kwanzaa and we are lifting up Kujichagulia which means Self-Determination. I love this principle not only because it is so powerful for me on a personal level but because it is do necessary for how we live our lives every single day.

Issues with your man? Try some Self-Determination.

Issues with you kids? Self-Determination….

How about issues with your self-esteem? Some old-fashioned Self-Determination is all you need.

Listen in as I ramble a bit (…but it’s purposeful rambling….lol) about Black Folks & Self-Determination.

Love ya’ll.

StopPlayingStartPushing
*DISCLAIMER*— Ayize (my hubby) is responsible for the ratchet cinematography….Lol! -Aiyana xoxxo

 

 

This Family Got A New Home For Christmas! Hard Work Pays Off.

By Courtland Milloy

It was the day before Christmas, and all through the Johnson family’s new house, everybody was stirring.

 

Except a mouse — which did not come with the house, thankfully.

 

“We are so excited,” said Keianna Johnson, 33, a hairstylist.

 

She and husband Bryan, 34, a cable technician for Comcast, had been saving up for two years to buy a house. Last month, the couple and their five children moved out of a cramped three-bedroom, one-bath rental in Hyattsville and into a spacious four-bedroom, two-bath split level in Waldorf.

 

What a holiday gift to themselves. A commitment to hard work and financial discipline rewarded; a conviction that together they could accomplish what neither parent could do alone affirmed.

 

In this era of economic stagnation, when upward mobility cannot be assured no matter how hard you try, the Johnsons had clung to a belief in the American dream — and made a big piece of it come true. Buying a house was laying down roots.

 

“We’re making great memories for our children — the first Christmas in our new home,” Keianna said.

 

“I feel so proud,” Bryan said. “After work, it feels like I’m really coming home. To our home.”

 

The house has a large family room where the Johnsons will gather to watch their favorite holiday features, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “The Polar Express.”

 

The room even has a gas log fireplace. So, of course, stockings were hung by the chimney with care: for Raequan, 12; the twins, Aaron and Adrian, 9; Brooke, 5; and Brielle, 1.

 

Not huge stockings, though.

 

“We’ve already told the kids not to expect a lot of stuff,” Bryan said. “We’ve changed the way we manage our finances.”

 

That doesn’t mean the youngsters shouldn’t have visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads.

 

“They’ll get some gifts,” Keianna said. “They like coloring books. They can use some new hats and gloves, too. I guess we could fit an MP3 player inside a stocking.”

 

The house — that’s the real gift.

 

Brooke had already turned the family room into something of a concert hall, a place to showcase her talents on a toy xylophone. For Brielle, the room was perfect for hide-and-seek, with new nooks and crannies to explore on hands and knees.

 

Aaron and Adrian prefer running up and down the stairs.

 

Dad, on the other hand, says enough already with the commotion. But he’s not in the mood to play Grinch just yet. Maybe it’s because his wife so enjoys the sounds of all the kids’ laughter.

 

“When we were in the apartment, the children couldn’t make any noise — no loud laughter or running,” Keianna said. “We lived on top of another unit, and the people below could hear everything. The children couldn’t even be children.”

 

In the apartment, Raequan had to share a room with his younger brothers. He had longed for a room of his own. Now he has it.

 

“He really likes being able to say, ‘Get out of my room,’ ” Keianna said.

 

The new home has a yard where the kids can play. There is also a driveway and parking space on the street. (At their apartment complex, parking was so restrictive that it was a hassle for friends to visit them.)

 

The Johnsons got a good deal on the house — in no small part due to the bad deal that so many homeowners got when the housing market crashed. Home values plummeted. Suddenly, homeownership was in reach of many who had never even dreamed of buying a place of their own.

 

The Johnsons ended up paying half of what the house had sold for in 2007.

 

“We did not get the most expensive house that we could afford,” Bryan said. “We wanted a house that would give us more room but allow us to live comfortably whether the housing market went up or down.”

 

Then out on the lawn there arose such a clatter. It was the moving van. But it might as well have been Santa.

Originally printed on Washingtonpost.com 

 

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What You Need To Know This World AIDS Day

By Jenn M. Jackson

Sunday is World AIDS Day. And, my earliest memory of HIV/AIDS awareness and outreach was when I was eight years old. There was this random poster on the back wall of my hair stylist’s shop that had a huge picture of a gallon-sized milk carton. It read, “You would have to drink a gallon of HIV infected saliva to contract HIV.” I remember thinking that was the silliest advertisement I had ever seen. Who would want to drink a gallon of someone else’s spit?

 

It was my first lesson in the realities and risks associated with HIV/AIDS. And, seeing it every few weeks back in the back of the room, where almost no one could see it, reminded me that many people in my community didn’t see HIV/AIDS education as a real priority.

 

Even I sometimes show my lack of knowledge when it comes to this taboo subject. I interchange words and letters. I frequently misspeak when describing my understanding of the infection and disease. I have a lot to learn. Many of us do. So, this World AIDS Day, I reached out to Mathew Rodriguez, Editorial Project Manager at The Body, the complete HIV/AIDS resource to help shed some light on an unspoken epidemic in the black community and communities of color abroad.

 

To begin, Rodriguez helped me clarify the differences between HIV and AIDS. “‘AIDS’ [is] an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which is not a virus, but a diagnosis given to people who have HIV and have fallen below a certain amount of T-cells (about 200/ cubic millileter[sic]) or have been diagnosed with an opportunistic infection.” This is an important distinction to make. An HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) diagnosis necessarily comes before an AIDS diagnosis. And, while people are living longer and longer with HIV – sometimes never contracting AIDS – the diagnosis still seems to be riddled with shame, and misrecognition.

 

The real question is: why do people seem to know so little about HIV and AIDS? One would think that a disease with so many casualties across the globe would be front of mind for most governmental health agencies and social groups. But, that just isn’t the case when it comes to HIV/AIDS. Even though black people only make up about 14% of the American population, we still account for almost half of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Issues of poverty, low health education, gender inequality, and homophobia create marginal impacts for the social group most at risk of contracting the disease. And, stigmas, especially those in the black community, have turned HIV/AIDS into a secret subject only up for conversation in esoteric circles.

 

Rodriguez made a point to explain that most of the lack of knowledge in communities of color comes from several sources – usually out of their control.

 

“People are not terribly knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS overall, but not due to any fault of their own. Many people have not had access to sexual education classes that encompass HIV education for many different reasons. Many puritanical schools don’t teach enough about HIV and when they do, the education is all fear-based and stigmatizing. Everyone lives on a continuum of risk. There are some people who, due to their socioeconomic status and geographical location are more at risk for HIV infection and more likely to enter into a sexual situation with an HIV-positive person. Also, different sexual behaviors have different levels of risk. While abstinence or masturbation have no risk, some activities are low to medium risk (like oral sex), while some activities are high risk (unprotected anal intercourse).”

 

And, while communities of color are at highest risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, they are often at the margins of society. To me, low health literacy and lack of education regarding HIV/AIDS risk are probably the most devastating for the black community. In America, black people frequently experience shaming and minority status which isolates us from the mainstream. Lowered access to health information and medical resources can only exacerbate the risks of HIV/AIDS.

 

Thinking back to my first exposure to HIV/AIDS awareness via the tattered old poster that almost no one could see, it was the commingling of these issues that likely prompted the ad in the first place. When I asked Rodriguez about common misconceptions about HIV and AIDS, he echoed this universal lack of knowledge stating, ”In order to contract HIV, you need two things: a bodily fluid of an HIV-positive person (Semen, pre-ejaculate, blood, breastmilk, vaginal fluids) and a port of entry (the bloodstream, mouth, anus, vagina). At the site, we commonly get questions about people getting HIV through touching doorknobs, or kissing or sitting next to someone with HIV.”

 

Just imagine how that feels for the HIV-positive person. While we are all walking around fearful about interchanging in basic social situations, they may choose to simply hideaway to avoid the awkwardness of sharing their health status. I mean, wouldn’t you do the same thing?

 

I can’t say that anyone has ever shared their HIV-positive status with me. While I have heard rumors or known of folks passing away from AIDS, I have never had the opportunity to advocate or be a support system for someone living with the diagnosis. Hopefully, President Obama and other leaders in DC will get their acts together in addressing the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. For now though, Rodriguez made it clear that there are several key facets of being a successful advocate for HIV-positive persons.

 

“The first step to being an HIV/AIDS advocate/ ally is to educate yourself. The second one is to get tested and encourage friends to get tested. The third is to make sure that you are a resource to anyone that you know is HIV-positive. If someone shares their status with you, do not freak out. Make sure they are OK and in medical care and thank them for sharing that piece of themselves with you.”

 

And, advocacy means knowing that there are major medical innovations happening at this very minute. The HIV/AIDS understanding of our moms and dads is a thing of the past. And, it just isn’t the death sentence that many believe it to be.

 

“Know that HIV doesn’t have to be scary and if you educate yourself and those around you, you can avoid it, but you can also be kind and loving to those who are HIV positive.”

 

In many ways, my first exposure to HIV/AIDS advocacy will be the lasting image for me. It was the first thing teaching me that I couldn’t contract the virus by bumping into someone on the bus or sharing a fork with them during lunch.But, posters just aren’t enough. They aren’t salient enough to save lives. They may draw attention to the issue but they will never fully address an epidemic that claims nearly 40 million people in a year across the globe.

 

So, I guess what we all need to know this World AIDS Day is that HIV/AIDS is not some pseudo-rarefied diagnosis we can simply ignore away. Believing we are so distant from HIV/AIDS that it isn’t even worthy of our attention begets only ignorance or further shame. I choose not to turn a blind eye not just today but going forward. Will you join me?

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