Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"Yo, Wrap That Gavel Up B!"

I think we all can remember the Chappelle sketch where he comes up with a device called the Wrap It Up Box. For those of you who haven’t watched this sketch, it consisted of a few hypotheticals involving the box you see above and situations in life where you just wish someone would stop talking (i.e.., “wrap it up!”)

I distinctly remember being on a panel in college where a speaker usurped the microphone and effectively put the audience to sleep. Encumbered with this singing of the Sirens, I looked out at the audience and saw a familiar face. It was Brother Burns (Class of ’06) who was smiling at me as he held up his cell phone. At that moment I felt my own phone vibrate and made the mistake of opening it (discreetly mind you). I found a text message from Brother Burns that read “Yo, Wrap That Shit Up B!” I’m convinced that the futile attempt to exercise restraint in laughter is an essential component of a true guffaw. I’m also fairly convinced that my sad attempt to refrain from laughter caused me to excrete a few drops of urine.

All jokes aside however, I come to you all with a very important message about wrapping it up, and by that I don’t mean being concise. When I say, “wrap it up,” I refer to the use of contraceptives, and more importantly the exercise of selectivity when it comes to choosing those with whom we are going to have relations. I’m prompted to share this with you because it has come to my attention that HIV is much bigger problem in the black community than I ever imagined.

Twenty-five years after the virus was first documented in gay white men, HIV has increasingly become a disease of color, with blacks bearing the heaviest burden by far. African-Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for an astounding 51 percent of new HIV diagnoses. Black men are diagnosed at more than seven times the rate of white men, black females at 20 times the rate of white women.

The full article on this crisis that is hitting us just as hard as the number of incarcerated black men in prison can be found here.

If you haven’t gone and tested yourself, please make that happen. And if you’re going to have sex, have the courage to ask the person you’re with to go get tested with you. If nothing, it will at least provide you with a little more time to consider whether you even want to share that experience with a given person. And I think we all could use a little more time to contemplate our decisions. Knowledge is power, but the path to acquiring that knowledge can be difficult if you forget that it is tread one step at a time. And assuredness in the knowledge of self is a power that you definitely don’t want to go without.

Even Usher told us that he knew better, “Raw dawg is a never!” So in all seriousness, I urge you to heed the words in light of this epidemic and leave you with words that we should all have the heart to cry out to our partners or ourselves:

“Yo, Wrap That Shit Up B!”

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