Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Middle Week Mash Up

Activist Dies with Legacy of Work
The assumption is that communities of color were always ignorant and slow to respond to AIDS. This myth does not capture the activists that were from the beginning grappling with this issue. There were truly prophetic black gay men, working against terrible odds, building community, building a
movement, engaging in radical AIDS politics. Such was the life and work of Mario Cooper, who passed away at the age of 61. Cooper had been living with HIV since the early 1990s, but he died after he ceased eating, according to his sister Peggy Cooper Cafritz. His life is only one beacon that was ignited early in the crisis and was among others such as Reggie Williams, Marlon Riggs and numerous other powerhouses demanding seats at the policy table.

With his passing, there has been a plethora of discussions about who and what's being done on the front lines of AIDS activism in the Black SGL community. Although its important to know that black gay men were there from the beginning and have always been there in many capacities. Its been noted that those gentlemen fought and were resilient against terrible odds. Ultimately many long time survivors today owe their lives to those whom "acted up" in coalitions, community based groups and ultimately engaging positions of power all the way to the White House.

Yet as we remember those warriors during this Pride season, we can't help but be perplexed that despite all of that work the words of Cooper seem to hauntingly echo much of where we appear to be today, especially in Arkansas. Unfortunately as there has been much effort to identify and build capacity of SGL men in self efficacy, there continues to be a vacuum of leaders who are willing to step up and take the lead to educate, empower and advocate to policy makers to the disproportionate impact that this health dilemma continues to have in the community.

Many young black gay men are simply "MIA" from the necessary programming or trainings needed to immerse themselves in understanding the complexities of dealing with policy and decision makers. Its a clear fact that they are 1% of the state's population but represent 50% of all new HIV infections along with some co-infections of Syphilis speaks volumes that something is not working.

From many indications, YBMSM's seem unyielding to interact with agencies without incentives or rewards but rather double down into the shadows of fear, some on the "down low," or caught in spotlight of celebrity. For those who have moved forward educationally or career wise, they too appear to have decided to remove themselves from being concerned with being apart of any drive to address HIV among their peers. His clarion call at that time carries a message that should resonate even today:

What we need, right now, is for 20 African Americans with HIV to do a sit-in at the offices of the Congressional Black Caucus and demand that the caucus make AIDS the number one issue on its agenda. If Magic Johnson wants to come risk arrest, he's more than welcome, but we cannot wait: With or without the support of our celebrities, our churches, our family and friends, African Americans with HIV must hold our own leaders accountable. ... what we need is a movement. A national group of people with HIV, church leaders, grassroots prevention and treatment advocates, policymakers. A black ACT UP.
Cooper rose to prominence in the 1990s as a political player who pressured leaders in Washington and the black community to address HIV among black people. "Our community is being ravaged by AIDS, yet most black leaders continue to treat the disease as if it's a problem of 'those' people," he said in 1996.
In the same year, Cooper organized the Leading for Life initiative at Harvard University to mobilize black leadership to speak about HIV in the black community.  COP 24/7 applauds his tireless work and salutes this legend for whispering to us today that all is not well and we must remain vigilant in the fight to address this crisis.

Politicking In Arkansas for 2016

The People for Bernie Sanders in Arkansas are busy with finding like minded individuals who are ready to rally for Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Currently there are movements to gather support through an assortment of events including a recent announced potluck with more details forthcoming according to a Facebook posting attributed to local activist Trey Weir. On a dedicated page he's posted the following links:

To learn more about Bernie Sanders, visit

And "like" these pages:
Little Rock for Bernie Sanders 2016
Arkansas for Bernie Sanders 2016

People for Bernie Sanders Meet-Up site:

As more information is released or posted to their site, COP 24/7 will update and share with our readers. Stay tuned.....

Pride in the City: Ft. Smith

We are counting down to the end
 coming this September....until then stay locked and loaded because
we've got more before we go.
Trust us...!!!


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