HIV/AIDS and Social Justice in Black America
The differential impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic across various communities in the United States reveals the urgency to understand the social, economic, and political forces that mediate this nation's public health crises. The HIV/AIDS tragedy has reshaped the narrative about gender and racial inequities, as well as the broader debate on social justice. This crisis is also a reflection of pre-existing social imbalances that are rooted in the history of racial and gender discrimination. The HIV/AIDS crisis has cast new light on issues such as class as a determinant factor in accessing healthcare, homophobia in the African-American community and its consequences on (imagined) gendered, sexualized, and stigmatized identities. If the HIV/AIDS crisis has been characterized by a hyper-visibility thanks to the novelty of the disease and the controversies surrounding it, mental illness within the black community has remained under the radar. We have therefore thought it timely to bring the blinding light generated by HIV/AIDS to wrest this mental illness from its shadow.
This project has the ambition of focusing the intellectual conversation on how HIV/AIDS and mental illness have contributed to the reconfiguration of social, gendered and racial identities. Featured speakers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds will explore cultural and biomedical factors that account for the disproportionate impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and mental illness on Black communities. Speakers will revisit the story of mental Illness and HIV/AIDS in the African-American Community with the view of understanding and overcoming the stigma that represents a powerfully challenge with cultural and racial connotations. HIV/AIDS and Mental Illness therefore function as powerful producers of new and contested identities within Black communal spaces and cultural discourses. Revisiting Social Justice in Black America seeks to unveil the multiple networks of oppressive power that have shaped Black America's encounter with HIV and AIDS—making it one of the most urgent social justice issues of our time—while also illuminating traditions of resistance that ultimately may help to bring an end to the epidemic and the attendant stigmas it has engendered, remythified or consolidated along the way.