Wichita Eagle (08.21.05) - Tuesday, August 23, 2005
On Saturday at Wichita State University, about 60 people
gathered to strategize on fighting AIDS among African
Americans. The epidemic's disproportionate impact on African
Americans makes openness about the topic all the more
important, they said. In Kansas, the state Department of
Health and Education reports that black people, who make up
just 6 percent of the population, accounted for 26 percent of
AIDS diagnoses between 2000 and 2002.
Known as the Sankofa Health Collective, those assembled said
they plan to organize and create culturally specific
prevention and intervention resources for various age groups.
They are also encouraging an atmosphere that exchanges
political correctness for honesty.
Participants talked about how movies, music, and other media
are encouraging unhealthy sexual behavior. This is in part,
they said, a legacy of the slavery era when some black men
were used as breeders, some black women as reproducers, and
slave auctions tore apart families. They also talked about
unconditionally accepting those affected by AIDS as another
part of the solution. Beyond discussing black love and
sexuality, the group talked about healthy eating, substance
abuse, and spiritual growth.
Sandra Trotter, an adult student at the university, said the
meeting inspired her to speak to young people about making
better sexual choices. "I hope this doesn't just end today,"
"Today is just the beginning," said Barbara James, a local
attorney who helped organize the event. She said the gathering
was intended as a way to create the foundation for a community