Per a press release sent to The Root, on Wednesday, 11 HIV/AIDS organizations have come together to issue an “Open Letter to DaBaby” in an effort to help dismantle the stigma and harmful rhetoric espoused by the “BOP” rapper as it relates to the disease.
Those organizations include:
- Arianna’s Center, an organization serving the transgender community of South Florida which focuses on trans people living with HIV.
- Black AIDS Institute, the nation’s only “think and do tank” dedicated exclusively to ending the HIV epidemic in Black America.
- Emory Centers for Public Health Training and Technical Assistance EnCORE Center in Atlanta.
- GLAAD, a national LGBTQ media advocacy organization.
- The Normal Anomaly Initiative, a Houston-based organization working to change the narrative of the Black queer community especially at the intersection of health and racial disparities.
- Prevention Access Campaign, a health equity initiative to end the dual epidemics of HIV and HIV-related stigma by empowering people with and vulnerable to HIV with accurate and meaningful information about their social, sexual, and reproductive health.
- Relationship Unleashed, a Memphis-based organization creating social, cultural, and professional equity for members of the Black LGBTQ community in Tennessee.
- The 6:52 Project Foundation, which helps individuals and organizations interested in research, education, and/or the prevention and spread of HIV.
- Southern AIDS Coalition, a diverse community working across political, religious, and geographic lines to end the HIV epidemic in the South.
- University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work’s SUSTAIN Center.
- Wake Forest University’s Faith Coordinating Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Posted front and center on the GLAAD homepage, the letter begins by acknowledging DaBaby’s disparaging comments and subsequent apology while also noting the disproportionate effect HIV/AIDS has on Black Americans, queer and transgender people of color. It goes on to stress the importance of correcting the “miseducation about HIV/AIDS and the and the impact it has on various communities.”
“2021 marks the 40th year of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the greatest obstacles in our work to end HIV are the compounded stigmas attached to anti-Blackness, living with HIV, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ attitudes and stereotypes, all of which are fueled by misinformation,” the letter reads in part. “It’s fear and stigma that keep people, particularly Black Americans, from accessing HIV prevention or care that White Americans have historically and continue to access more easily. We believe that you now have an opportunity to not just move past this unfortunate incident, but to use your platform and celebrity to heal not harm.”
The letter continues:
We believe that anyone can be an HIV advocate by amplifying: how there is medication (PrEP) that can prevent people from getting HIV with one pill a day, how routine treatment stops the virus from being passed on by people living with the HIV, how people receiving HIV care can survive and thrive while living with it, and how open and empathetic conversations eliminate stigma. You can be a powerful and influential voice, especially across your home base in the South, where the Black community’s needs are notoriously under-represented across every public spectrum. We encourage you to share this information with your fans and followers, and become an agent of truth and change.
Music artists have historically led the way to lift up understanding of HIV and accelerated LGBTQ acceptance. Several artists and platforms have spoken up against you. While we appreciate their stand, we also invite them to take action and to do their part to end HIV by supporting organizations like ours serving people who are Black, LGBTQ and/or living with HIV.
The letter closes with an invitation to the “Suge” rapper for “a private meeting to discuss the facts about HIV and how it is a preventable and treatable condition, and to discuss a long-term opportunity for him to share the education to his fanbase.”
“Because HIV disproportionately impacts all Black Americans more than any other race, the Black AIDS Institute’s motto has remained Our People. Our Problem. Our Solution. DaBaby’s words reflect the mindset of many Black folks,” President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute Raniyah Copeland said in a statement. “Whether it’s stigmatizing people who are gay, trans, and/or living with HIV, or it’s a deeply-rooted misogynoir, we can end HIV within our lifetime only if we work past ignorance that holds up systems of anti-Blackness that hurt and divide us. It’s why critical conversations about shaming and oppressing our own people must be had in the whole of Black communities.
“Having Black-led HIV organizations, particularly from the South, join this effort underscores the need for widespread Black leadership in brokering conversations that turn the misinformed into messengers of truth,” she continued. “We must ensure we ourselves are creating a world where all Black lives are afforded the humanity we deserve.”