Monday, June 20, 2011

Breakout Monday

It's O-V-A! Pride 2011 swept through the city and washed away yesterday with the annual turnabout show held at Triniti, formerly known as Backstreet and the dire hearts of the week finished with a cookout at Sidetracks. Courageously I made the week from last Sunday's Mr. & Miss pageant while meeting up with pub crawl on Monday, Tuesday nights smart underwear party, more under gear on Thursday, Fridays Cowboys send up and Saturdays Leather mash up. Done. Now, what have we learned from that week that was pride 2011. It seems that very little has changed over the years. There is a surge at the beginning and it slowly fizzles to the end. Monday nights pub crawl folks were mostly MIA the rest of the week. I saw people who unfortunately I don't see until the next pride. What's up with that? Then, they say no one ever tells them about what's going on? Really? The what the hell have I been doing for the last 5 years as well as, others who have begged, cajoled, yelled and almost screamed to the world about what's happening in this city. I know that we stepped from the scene for the last year, but this has nothing to do with the personal responsibility to engage, get involved, and be informed about what's going on around you. I would hate for the haters to come for you and you didn't know they were in route to take you away to some God forsaken dump. Wake up people, get your head out or off it and take notice. Not to just the next pride schedule but to all that's taking place that could ultimately affect you life and who you are choosing to love. Consider yourself warned.

AIDS In Arkansas: Long Chosen as HIV/AIDS Section Chief

After what has seemed to be the longest search for someone who wants to tackle the job of being the HIV/AIDS Section Chief of the Arkansas Department of Health, finally someone has said yes to the position. It's Tina Long, the recent Health Promotions Specialist at the University of Florida and former Education Director of Planned Parenthood of East Tennessee. According to our research, Ms.Long has a Bachelor's Degree in Health Education/Community Health from UALR and Master's Degree in Health Education & Promotion from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She's also as Certified Health Education Specialist and received the Uof F Superior Accomplishment Award in 2004. While at Planned Parenthood she conducted HIV/AIDS prevention training during her tenure from August 1998 to August 2000. Ms. Long arrives after the long departed Kevin Dedner whom briefly served in the post and subsequently if not abruptly departed for other opportunities. After his departure, the department suffered other comings and goings that sent mixed signals to CBO's, consumers and advocates pondering the direction of the department and its mission. Local groups such as Arkansas HIV/AIDS Community Advocates forwarded a letter to Dr. James Phillips inquiring to be somewhat apart of the hiring process through meeting with finalist and offered supportive information that the final candidate could address. Despite the effort, the request was basically ignored, consequently dismissed and this action alerts this forum to conclude that it's business as usual at the ADH. The attitudinal position of we choose them and you have to live with that choice and no one gets to second guess that choice nor be apart of the process. Its not that Ms. Long's credentials are in question nor are we concerned that she wasn't properly vetted. However, what's at stake here is the overwhelming need for dynamic leadership to grapple with the "care paradox," of testing and treatment access for marginalized communities. Its a  fact that the person selected for this challenging position will be slapped in the face with the reality that the HIV/AIDS section has had a legacy of problems ranging from policy miscues, political sideshows, possible morale issues and smoke and mirror statistical reporting. All of this and most likely much more awaits Ms. Long on her first day come July 5th. It's totally unfortunate that the HIV/AIDS community didn't demand to at least get a list of the finalist to be aware of who was being considered. Although not quite the same, it's similar to the City Board passing a June 7th resolution selecting the Arkansas AIDS Foundation as the HOPWA designate without anyone knowing what other choices were being considered. How much longer will the HIV/AIDS community continue to stand idly by and not engage the powers who make choices for you without you. In the meantime, it's too bad she just missed CDC (Center for Disease Control) shot caller Dr. Kevin Fenton who was back in town about a week ago to tell ADH what they suppose to be doing and probably questioning why its not been done. From the money angle, the Arkansas State Jobs portal (  reports a salary range of $43,200 to $69,734.00 for positions of this type. Pretty good living if you ask me.  Final note to Long:  check out The State of AIDS in Black America from the Black Aids Institute.( It's sobering reading, in case you missed it.    

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