Chelsee. Naomi. Camille. Samantha.
Those are the names of my little cousin and three nieces. Statistically, as young black women, they are at a higher risk for contracting HIV or AIDS. Statistically, they do not have fathers in the house. Statistically, they are not loved and do not love themselves. Statistically, they will look for love in all the wrong places with or without a condom.
I am a statistic. They are statistics. Bill & Melinda Gates are statistics. President and Mrs. Obama are statistics. We are ALL statistics, but Thank God we are not JUST statistics.
We are names and faces and feelings and emotions and skin and bodies and real-life sexual desires. We are happy, we are joyous, we are hurt, we are broken, we are whole, we are full, we are empty, we are HUMAN.
We have the ability to influence outcomes, we have the critical thinking it takes to make informed decisions and in 2010 we have the information we need to apply to give us the power. Most, importantly, we have the love of God to guide and protect us.
This March 10, 2010 on National Women's and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I don't want to JUST share a bunch of statistics, because while important and jarring and true and necessary, We are not JUST statistics. Our brother and sisters afflicted by the disease are not JUST statistics. And like any other disease when one person has it the entire family is affected.
I want to share that we -armed with information and love - are powerful beyond measure. Us and a damn condom. So while my mom 'nem will be sending the girls college gift packages with tuna, candy and ramen wrapped in pretty bows, Auntie T will be sending condoms and stacks upon stacks of information about how to wrap a man in latex. Because Chelsee, Naomi, Camille and Samantha are real girls, soon-to-be women and I won't allow anyone to ever talk about them like they're numbers on a page. They matter. I matter. You matter.
Wrap it up folks!