People love boxes. Neat, little squares to help compartmentalize others. I’ve been placed in numerous boxes myself; I’m a walking statistic apparently. Black, fatherless kid. Check. Sexual abuse victim. Check. Former drug addict. Check. HIV Positive. Check.
Now that we’ve established that, let’s talk about living outside of the box. I’d like to talk to YOU for a moment. The real you, not the number that goes before percentage signs. If you’ve ever felt worthless or ugly, then this is for you. If you were ever the butt of some bully’s cruel joke, then please keep reading. If you’re just finding out you’re living with HIV, I most definitely want to speak to you.
You see, you’re more than a number. You’re a living miracle, a breath of fresh air. You have hopes and ambitions. You dream. You hurt. You cry. You love. You are intricately weaved in the plot line of humanity’s story and I, for one, am glad you’re alive. You’re worth being told that you’re not here on accident. You’re worth being told that you are more than some positive or negative symbol. You need to hear that an HIV status doesn’t make you damaged goods. And if you haven’t heard it before, please allow me to be the first to say to you:
You are not a failure.
So, what do we do next? HIV is still rampant in the African-American community. My brothers and sisters are still not getting tested, still not disclosing their statuses to each other. People still see HIV as a dirty disease. We don’t respect ourselves so we can’t respect each other. It’s time to maybe take Michael Jackson’s advice: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.”
Jamar Rogers – The Voice Finalist, Singer/Performer