Oh, the Injustice of it All

Gus Burns at MLive gets it going with the headline  HIV cases higher among blacks than whites due to social inequality, NAACP says. This of course, is link bait at its finest. The very whiff of race and inequality and the put-upon case of whites (the comments are full of this sorry schtick).  Burns opens with a seemingly solid case, but it rather misses the point.

DETROIT, MI — Social inequity is the reason HIV is 10 times more prevalent among blacks than other races, says a civil rights health leader.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People National Health Manager Rev. Keron Sadler said the organization wants to change that, and teaching through black churches is crucial to doing so.

The focus on “social inequality” does an injustice to the issue and the efforts of the NAACP. Here, paraphrasing Rev. Keron Sadler does not advance the cause — when, where did she express this idea? Shouldn’t there be a link (we are on the web, after all)? All this leads to a tragic misunderstanding of the situation, and of course the stirring up of white anxiety and rage. Sadly because the dominant direction of the campaign is not in the “blame” category that can often intrude in such discussions.

So let’s at least take a look at what’s happening. The first problem the program wants to address is simply that of testing. Too many young black men and women do not even get HIV tests. Without testing, the next steps about responsible behavior and treatment are moot. That said, the black church has been reluctant to pick up on much of the HIV issue precisely because of its moral dimensions. Yet, in most communities, the church is the one social institution with the breadth and moral authority to help young people become more responsible.

The NAACP’s program then is a way to harness this demographic reach of the church, and begin to do some thing about the screamingly high infection rates. The social justice thing might be better framed thus: any community where 1 in 8 men are infected is a community fundamentally less able to care for itself, or to make economic progress. that health care services are less available to this community only compounds the situation (this is the social justice aspect). Faced with the economic impact, the failure of healthcare institutions, it falls to the community in the form of its worshipping bodies to begin a process of reclaiming, redeeming these lives.

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