Reflecting on the diagnosis of a husband, the loss of a friend or the survival of a mother, the 58 first-person narratives collected here give voice to bald statistics, such as that AIDS is the #1 killer of black women between the ages of 24 and 34. The writers include a "woman living luxuriously in the suburbs of Los Angeles," a man who "found excitement in the orgy scene," someone who "discovered [his] own feelings for AIDS through other people" and another who can "hardly remember what it was like not to have HIV." Famous voices, such as Al Sharpton, Patti LaBelle and Randall Robinson, as well as four congressional representatives are here, but the full power of this book rises from the personal testimonies of African-Americans writing from varied sexual, gender, class and lifestyle perspectives. This passionate collection is strengthened by William Yarbro's context-setting essay and highly practical advice from Jocelyn Elders, Herndon Davis and Dyana Williams. "Having watched countless accounts of the virus's impact on the African American community," Robertson writes, "I was dismayed by how few African Americans were an active part of this dialogue." Not any longer: those voices are loud and clear. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Edited by journalist and media consultant Robertson, whose brother has HIV, this collection of 58 essays intends to "give voice to the multitude of experiences felt by the African-American community living in the age of HIV and AIDS." Essay after essay presents the grim statistics, but nearly all go beyond the numbers, featuring personal stories, advice, and calls to action. Contributors represent a variety of viewpoints and experiences and include preachers, entertainers, writers, activists, and patients and their families. Some are famous (e.g., Rev. Al Sharpton, former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders), while others are simply ordinary people whose lives have been touched by HIV/AIDS. Though the collection includes diverse perspectives on how to address the epidemic, information about HIV/AIDS is presented accurately; all of the essays approach the subject with compassion rather than judgment or intolerance. Taken together, these essays send a powerful message: take care of yourselves, take care of one another, and speak out. Appendixes include a glossary and lists of HIV/AIDS hotlines and testing facilities. Highly recommended.-Janet A. Crum, Oregon Health & Science Univ. Lib., Portland Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A compilation of 58 short essays and one poem from a broad spectrum of African-Americans giving their opinions, reactions and counsel on the subject of HIV and AIDS. Robertson prefaces this uneven collection with a statistics-laden introduction that reveals the extent of the problem in this country: e.g., AIDS deaths are 10 times higher among African-Americans than among Caucasians; about two-thirds of the reported cases of AIDS in women and children are African-American. Some of the contributors, like Robertson, whose older brother has AIDS, write of the impact of having a family member with the illness. Others, like Robertson's brother, write of their personal experience with it. Then there is the perspective of political and social leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who write more impersonally of what needs to be done to deal with the problem. Robertson includes AIDS activists, lawyers and clergymen professors, and he has sought out writers, editors and performers, including a TV talk show host, a porn star, a soul singer and a comedian. Gay and straight men, married and single women, the young and the not-so-young-all have their say. The writing consequently varies from formal and didactic to uninhibited street talk. Among the issues addressed are the perils of dating and marriage; homophobia and denial about homosexuality, especially in religious communities; safe and risky sex; the emotional toll of having the disease or loving someone who has it. A surprising number of the men speak of Magic Johnson's announcement that he had been infected as the event that abruptly changed their disregard of HIV and AIDS as the problem of gay white men. Robertson has included someappendices intended to be useful: a glossary of terms that may be encountered in discussions with a physician, health worker or social worker; phone numbers of hotlines and the location of testing facilities throughout the country. A collection of disparate, often repetitive pieces that, taken as whole, give a disturbing portrait of a serious problem.