Your Silence Will Not Protect You
by Dr. Shondrika Moss-Bouldin
“Your silence will not protect you” is a powerful statement written by Audre Lorde, a powerful writer who was a famous advocate for gender rights during her life. The words kept coming to mind today at my first ever USCA conference. I was struck by how powerful each person’s story from the panelists and audience members challenged the silence that they often encounter or encountered in certain communities. How empowering it is when we challenge the silence and dare to speak! I heard several people discuss today via panels, audience members, and film excerpts about how well we can keep secrets in certain communities. How harmful silence can be when it comes to the field. No matter what someone’s background is being silent about the HIV/AIDS epidemic will not protect one from it.
As a first time attendee, I am anxious to find innovative ways to help break the silence inside and outside my community. I feel that the arts advocacy work that I do with 4 Love: a dedication to women who have HIV and their loved ones, can help do this but it is still a struggle to break the silence. I’m energized to hear about the work that everyone is doing and has been doing for years. In such a short time, I have met everyone from teenagers to Grandmothers that are passionate about this field. It is important to tell our stories; even if we may never know the impact it may have on any one person. In the morning session of HIV/AIDS among African-Americans Phill Wilson echoed this thought by stating “that we should never underestimate the power of one person”. I left the session inspired reflecting that it only takes one person to break the silence in their community and it can begin with me.
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