Two important anniversaries

Today is an important day for two reasons – one, it’s World AIDS day, and two, it’s the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ monumental decision to not move on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Don’t let either of these days go unmarked in your world.

For World AIDS day, do some research into what’s causing the spread of AIDS, the places in the world where its growing fastest, and how hard it is for them to get the medication they need. Petition your elected officials to do more to fund education initiatives in the places where it’s an epidemic. In Botswana, 30% of children born have the HIV virus. 30%!!!! that’s an inconceivable statistic. The stats on the spread of AIDS across Africa are terrifying, and it’s still rolling on, there are still squabbles over drugs companies refusing licenses to produce the drugs cheaply to keep people alive, still squabbles over Catholic leaders telling men infected with HIV/AIDS not to use condoms to protect their wives – look, I’m generally fairly old fashioned, i think abstinence is generally a good idea – very few people are messed up by not having enough sex – but the idea that limiting access to contraception is more important that protecting people from the AIDS virus is ludicrous. That there are religious and cultural stigmas attached to condom useage across huge parts of the world is a travesty, and one that needs to be campaigned against virulently.

What can we do today to help stem the spread of HIV/AIDS? Check out the DATA website for more info, and ways to help.

And on the anniversary of the bus boycott, let’s not forget that Racism still exists, that Europe is becoming an evermore xenophobic continent, that an unofficial economic colour bar still operates in the US. Today, two Liverpool teenagers are going on trial for murdering a young black guy with an ice axe. That such thinking still exists in Britain today is a tragedy. That racism was ever legal in the UK,US, South Africa, etc. is a blot on all of our consciences.

I was watching a documentary the other evening about forgotten stories from the world war. One of the people mentioned was Walter Tull, who was Britian’s second black professional footballer, and first Black army officer. The tragedy of this is that at the time it was still illegal for a Black man to be an officer in the forces. That he triumphed over the racism is testimony to Walter’s strength of character (he was also from a working class background at a time when the officer’s rank was almost exclusively upper class, with a few middle class people), but it’s a disgrace to the forces that we ever had a time when people were excluded on grounds of race…

Heavy stuff, both AIDS/HIV awareness and racism, I know, but if you’re lucky enough to live a life not directly influenced by either, give thanks and use your oh so privileged position to make a change for those not so lucky…

Soundtrack – Peter Gabriel, ‘Up’.

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