Monday, January 23, 2012

Up Periscope 2012

January has been percolating with so much new year news that often some items that need follow ups sometimes get left unvisited. However, as time would have it such matters just can't be left undone as if they were not interesting in the first place. Therefore, COP 24/7 makes every effort to update or recheck any outcomes that make the cut, not to mention when you our valued readers call it to our attention. I have openly encourage all supporters, allies, and visitors to interact with this platform sharing your opinion's, observations, outrage and outlooks on our content or what ever is pushing your hot button. COP 24/7 is all about offering this space as a global town square. Let's hear from you today!!!

Message in a Bottle: Where's the Plan Stan?

As I stated above, this blog often gets "poked" by our readers whom have either read a post or recall something that I've said that needed more clarity or an update. Recently I got a e-mail recalling a tidbit that I spilled in this forum concerning a meeting that I was fortunate to sit in on at the Arkansas Department of Health. Now as many of you know, I get the privileged to be asked to attend many planning meetings and all manner of "meeting A,B, or C" with local folks on a mission. The item in question that arose during that 2011 meeting was ADH's HIV/ Hep C Section's decision to pursue an advertising campaign purportedly although not confirmed involving sexual health prevention messages. So what's the problem? First up during this meeting, COP 24/7  asked pointed questions about this campaign but to date none of those have been fully answered, but there were some nibblers tossed for us to ponder, as the powers that be mull over whatever has been produced. Yet I still have these questions:

1. What's the title of the campaign? Bet everyone can name the company with the jovial pig on the zip line?  Can you say, Geico.

2. Where will it be deployed? Print, Internet? Radio? TV? Goodyear Blimp?

3. What is the timeline of the entire project? There was a focus group in late fall 2010 but no formal report or participant comments have been shared or offered.

4. If this campaign is prevention centered will it be culturally competent to its target audience, which was not and has not been totally designated.

5. So just what does one get for $150,000 from a local ad agency that had to scour the city in search of "gay folk" to include in its focus group effort. In full disclosure these participants were paid to offer their opinions and insights about prevention messages that they were either aware of or had seen. How were they selected was a mash-up in itself as the agency did a spin the big wheel and see what we get approach.

Just for the record COP 24/7 not only asked these questions but inquired about what approach would be used, who is the actual point person and by way did anyone check out that multi-million dollar "Testing Makes Us Stronger," (notice the title) campaign vetted, tested and tagged by none other than the Center for Disease Control which was released to much fan fare last September. Hey and get this, that campaign (pictured) could be "customized" for any state that would like to use it for the tidy sum of FREE. No way! Did you say FREE? Yes, Miss Girl,FREE!!  In the meantime, Advantage Communications and ADH have been in what appears to be a stealth crouch to craft some supposedly nifty forthcoming "prevention" campaign that exist in some form or another. I guess we are to assume that the company that didn't quite know where to find "gay people" is suppose to be able to craft a message that will resonate across the board. All of this flying in the face of the fact that the CDC did the heavy lifting needed for such a project but apparently ADH believes that others can do better. Just as we were about to post, some back talk concerning the campaign came busting through on the e-mail line. ADH's Tina Long, bullet pointed a couple of updates with minimal detail. She stated that:

1. There is a campaign that is being finalized at this time and is pending final agency approval. We have plans to roll the campaign in February/early March.

2. The contract with Advantage Communications is not tied to the efforts of the ARCPG Marketing Committee. This contract is for the Section’s Ryan White Services, STD Prevention, and HIV efforts. The ARCPG Marketing Committee’s role is to do PR and Marketing for ARCPG.

3. The monies are portioned from each of the grants.

4. I am not sure what $50,000 shortfall you are referring to in the email. I am not aware of a shortfall.

Alrighty then...we're waiting with baited breath to see just what they've been up too. As soon its steps off or doesn't step off, you'll hear about it here first. I'm sure that there will be more back and forth on this one. Stay tuned...

Little Rock on the Gayest City list Still Debated

The debates continue about Little Rock making that "gayest city" list found in the January  issue of The Advocate. Of course it was Topic A while I was in Los Angeles last weekend and they acted as if I had some explaining to do. Basically its not secret that such list are not based on any real science but rather some writer or editors loose barometer of what makes a gayest city. For instance, I'd like to know where all that "nude" yoga is going on. Especially since we don't even have a bath house or spa to even possibly enjoy such activity. Furthermore, as far as all those houses of worship, certainly there are places that are welcoming and there are some of the clergy who are affirming but there's still a way to go in that arena as well. For instance there's been little to no outcry about bullying and in the Black community the clergy response to the impact of HIV/AIDS has been marginal.  I told my colleagues that Little Rock has it qualities, to which many who attended the 2011 Fall Midland witnessed and experienced. The list most likely could be justified to our current growth as well as overall improvement in the last three decades.

We must admit that there have been some general improvements considering the lack of gay infrastructure such as "gayborhoods, chamber of commerces, media outlets and a large bastion of upwardly mobile citizens" that exist in larger metro areas. Unfortunately, this city continues to fall short in its advocacy efforts and organizing abilities due to laundry list of factors ranging from education to complacency. Over the years I've noticed small changes that have occurred as a result of some tireless advocates and activist who have stayed in the fight. However, I recognize that many individuals have tired, burned out, flamed out or became frustrated with the slow ebb of progress. But we must realize that if we continue to loose these men and women who stand for our human rights because of the lack of both financial and personal support. Unbelievable as it may seem, there may be no one left to defend what's been accomplished if challenged and we never know when challenges will eventually appear.

In the meantime despite that ranking or perhaps in spite of it, The National Association of Black and White Men Together, Inc has forward a letter of interest concerning Little Rock hosting its 33rd national convention in 2013. The organization's mission is to address racism, sexism, homophobia and HIV/AIDS in local communities and partner with local community based groups whom support that vision. COP 24/7 was bemused by the inquiry since it only took thirty two years for our fair city to come on their radar. Yet I guess its better late than never. At post time, there have been some conversations but no firm decision confirmed. Such an undertaking can be daunting but last fall a small band of locals proved that much is possible in Little Rock. If you are interested in the discussions, then share your thoughts at .

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day ( February 7, 2012) was founded by five national organizations funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1999 to provide capacity building assistance to Black communities and organizations. The initiative begin in 2000 with these five key organizations: Concerned Black Men, Inc. of Philadelphia; Health Watch Information and Promotion Services, Inc.; Jackson State University - Mississippi Urban Research Center; National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council; and National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day has been and always will be a grass roots effort, that is shaped around the needs of those communities that work hard each and every year to make it a success. Including The Living Affected Corporation of Litle Rock which will participate with an on line prevention shout out and other local activities.  Each year, almost 20,000 Blacks in the United States test positive for HIV, that is an alarming amount if you multiply it times the last five years alone - that's 100,000 Blacks who are now living with HIV or may have died from AIDS related complications. It's time for us to do something different that inspires young and old, gay and straight, religious and non-religious, etc. to get on board with realizing the value and worth of Black life and acting accordingly.

February 7, 2012 marks the 12th year for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and the Diaspora. There are four specific focal points: education, testing, involvement, and treatment. Educationally, the focus is to get Blacks educated about the basics of HIV/AIDS in their local communities. Testing is at the core of this initiative, as it is hoped that Blacks will mark February 7th of every year as their annual or biannual day to get tested for HIV. This is vital for those who are sexually active and those at high risk of contracting HIV. When it comes to community and organization leadership, getting Blacks involved to serve is another key focus. We need Black People from all walks of life, economic classes, literacy levels, shades and tones as well as communities (large and small) to get connected to the work happening on the ground in their local areas. And lastly, for those living with HIV or newly testing positive for the virus, getting them connected to treatment and care services becomes paramount. We have learned that you can't lead Black people towards HIV/AIDS education, prevention, testing, leadership or treatment unless you love them. And, we can't save Black people from an epidemic unless we serve Black people.
Regardless of where we stand on sexual orientation, religious beliefs/values, age, income, education or otherwise; Black Life is worth saving and working for the betterment of our survival has to become our paramount objective and goal. "I believe the things that are wrong with Black communities, can be fixed by those things that are right with Black communities." says, LaMont "Montee" Evans, NBHAAD Annual Chairperson.

For 2012, the structure and dynamics of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was shattered as the support and resources dwindled causing many organizations to reconsider their commitment and ability to manage and direct the initiative as in the past. So, Healthy Black Communities, Inc. with its experience in overseeing the initiative and serving as the lead opted to incorporate it into its organization structure and continue mobilizing Black communities around HIV/AIDS. In addition, the organization is rebuilding the structure to develop a national planning body, regional planning bodies and local planning groups to assist with reigniting the fire within Black community stakeholders to make it a success.

Healthy Black Communities (HBC) will continue to serve as the lead organization, responsible for overseeing the initiative and coordinating communication via email, and regular mail; HBC develops the imagery of the initiative annually; designs and maintains the website; and ensures that orders and registrations are received and processed accordingly. HBC has been in this role since 2006 and CEO Evans led the initiative while serving as Executive Director of Concerned Black Men, Inc. of Philadelphia. February 7, 2012 will make the ninth year CEO Evans has overseen NBHAAD either overall or through national partnership.

This initiative has had an array of national spokespersons: congressional leaders, faith based leaders, entertainers, actors, actresses, authors, radio personalities, and the list goes on and on. Some of the most notable spokespersons have been: President Barack Obama during his term in the Illinois Senate, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Bishop TD Jakes, Radio Personality Tom Joyner, former NAACP President and CEO Kwesi Mfume, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Actor/Author Harper Hill, Screenwriter Patrik Ian Polk, and the list goes on.
We are now asking those who are concerned about HIV/AIDS in the Black community to step up and become a leader, a spokesperson, a local community organizer and help us raise the awareness of HIV/AIDS in Black communities, both domestically and internationally. Together, we can ensure that future generations will not have to bury as many or watch as many struggle with this epidemic. For assistance on how you can become an National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Spokesperson, please click HERE. For more local information contact: or call 877.902.7HIV

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