Believe it or not, I was up at 5am again this morning to make it to the conference center in time enough to attend the BAI breakfast updates. And, once again, I’m glad that I did.
I got an opportunity to speak with Phill Wilson about the general perception among Black gay men that BAI, in spite of their Left Behind report, have left Black gay and bisexual men…well…behind.
“We have a variety of programming that addresses Black gay men,” he said. “I think that it just depends on at what point you intersect with us.”
“It is a challenge though,” he admits. “Our core mission is to address HIV/AIDS health disparities in Black America regardless of gender, sexual orientation or what have you. So it is a challenge to craft messages that will resonate with the lager Black population. Therefore, we have to be strategic with both our message as well as our messengers.”
He references both the Left Behind report and BAIs Call to Action, which both make strong recommendations for addressing the HIV epidemic among Black MSM. He also says that BAI is preparing a special report that specifically speaks to the issues facing this population, which will be released in December of this year.
While I had him within my reach (cause clearly he is a man on the move), I also asked him about his take on the CNN Black in America special. He says that the problem, as he sees it, is that it was ambitious from the start on the part of CNN, to think that they could cover all facets of the Black experience in America in a four hour special. He feels that the take home message, in spite of the shows inherent flaws, is that racism in America still exists and that it severely impacts the everyday reality of Blacks in America.
And, as it relates to CNN never mentioning Black gay men even in reference to him, as I suspected, well…that part of the conversation was left on the cutting room floor. He says that they interviewed him for 2 hours and insists that his sexual orientation was absolutely a part of that conversation.
He also says that he pitched them three different stories for the segment of the special on AIDS in Black America: one dealing with Black gay men, one dealing with older Black women, and one dealing with youth. Clearly, they chose what they were most comfortable with.
And, as far as the Election Center segment that aired the following week (which most people I know didn’t see or know anything about) goes, as I suspected again, it was thrown together as a result of the statement he released the day after Black in America aired (in conjunction with the announcement of the Left Behind report). Phill’s statement praised CNN for their efforts, while criticizing it for its incomplete portrayal of the AIDS epidemic among Black Americans.
He says that BAI plans to make that footage available online in the immediate future. I promise to keep you posted as soon as it’s up, because there were sooooooo many different things wrong with it that I am itching to have dialogue about it with somebody who has seen it.
Okay, gotta get back to the conference for now. Thank you, Phill, for setting the record straight. I feel like Anderson Cooper right now. “I’m Keith Green with Positively Aware and we’re keeping them honest.”