Kujichagulia Corner

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As we closed out Women’s History Month, and I completed my first 90 days as BAI’s new leader, I’ve been reflecting on the amazing support I’ve been given as a leader, and the critical juncture in which we find ourselves at as a movement.

When I assumed this new role, I had a strong idea of how I wanted to initially steer the organization. I wanted to focus on the organization’s health and impact to ensure we could achieve our mission of ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Black communities. We’ve made, and continue to make, some exciting strides in this effort. Consultants have supported us in building a powerful theory of change and helped us to focus on our monitoring and evaluation systems. Extensive national searches have taken place to bring on additional leadership within the organization. We’re reimagining our organization and it’s an exciting time. Our organizational structure is changing, and we look forward to introducing you to the new structure and new staff.  Over the next few weeks you’ll hear from some of our newest staff and be re-introduced to the work our team is doing to end the epidemic.

What I didn’t expect was the White House to propose a strategy to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. I had a plan for our policy efforts, and this was not it!  But there is no way we can sit back. We have to make sure that the Administration’s efforts to end HIV has a focus on Black communities ensuring that people and communities most impacted by HIV are leading the strategies, tactics, and efforts at every step. I’ve meet with some of the architects of the plan and I can’t over-emphasize that if we aren’t holding their feet to the fire this strategy will fail. We must be at every townhall meeting and ‘listening’ session. We must demand transparency about how funds will be allocated and make sure that Black people are more than tokens in the plan. There is much to do on this front, and you’ll be hearing from us in the next few weeks about action steps we are taking with others to ensure Black folks are not left behind.

A few weeks ago, some of our staff attended the National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC) in Atlanta. We kicked off the conference with a two-day national meeting with leaders from our Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN). BTANs are BAI’s foundation. We believe people who are closest to the problem have the best solutions and BTANs epitomize this for us. The majority of our BTANs are in jurisdictions, and states, identified in the Administration’s plan. We look forward to connecting with other organizations and individuals who will be critical in ensuring the efforts from the White House are useful and impactful to our communities.

I was also honored that so many Black leaders came out to discuss ‘Reviving the Revolution’. We have a lot of work to do, but it’s amazing to be working alongside folks who are from the communities we serve.

Our team has been doing some amazing work and I’m excited to share some of that work in this issue of the Black AIDS Update.