Posted in C-Haze, Change, Current Events, Dating, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, Relationships, Religion, Science, Sex, Single Mom

AIDS, Andino, and The Diva

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the AIDS epidemic- both in the U.S. and abroad.

I’ve blogged about it myself on more than one occassion.

It’s been my stance, since day one, that one of the keys to curbing what is fast becoming a plague is education.

The abstinence-only approach isn’t just unrealistic- it is dangerous.

It simply isn’t enough.

Some people may take well to a lesson on abstinence, but many others will ignore it entirely.

Too often, parents use abstinence as a cop-out. It’s an excuse not to have to talk about things we do not feel comfortable discussing.

As parents, we need to get over it.

We must educate our children. We must remove the stigma that is currently attached to having open, candid conversations with them.

AIDS will kill our babies if we don’t.

My oldest daughter, The Diva (she’s 10), was trying to make some money by doing extra chores the other day.

She decided to clean out The Hippie Andino’s car- he’s my 25 year-old baby brother.

I thought this was a wonderful idea.

When she was done with the job, she came back inside, and I immediately noticed the look of horror on her face. She was holding something in her hand, though I couldn’t tell what it was.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

She answers, in an accusing tone, “Look what I found in The Hippie Andino’s trunk…”, and shoves the contents of her hand in my face.

When I saw what she was holding, I could immediately feel the heat in my cheeks. Though I really had no reason to be, I found myself embarrassed for her.

She was holding a tattered box of condoms.

Oops.

I was confused by her tone… why is she being accusatory? Why is she acting as my brother is doing something wrong by having safe sex?

I decided to take this opportunity to speak candidly with my child- and hopefully turn this into a teaching moment.

So I asked her, “Why would you be upset?”

She responded, “Because- they’re condoms. Gross.”

I said to her, “He is being responsible. He’s having safe sex. He isn’t getting anyone pregnant, and he is protecting himself and his partner from sexually transmitted diseases.”

I explained that while condoms may seem “gross” to her right now, they are important.

They save lives.

The Diva’s world opened up just a little at that moment.

She didn’t view those condoms in disgust or contempt any longer, and with great relief I realized, she gets it.

It isn’t necessary to constantly harp on our children, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week about the horrors of sex and AIDS.

This particular exchange took less than five minutes, from start to finish.

We can educate our babies a step at a time- provided we start the process early enough. By the time they find themselves old enough to be faced with these grave decisions, they will have already had all the information they need to make the right choices.

Hopefully, by then, it will be second nature.

With absolutely no bombarding whatsoever- by taking advantage of the little teaching moments life throws our way- we can raise our kids to be responsible adults…

… One educational opportunity at a time.

Posted in C-Haze, Conservative, Current Events, News, Policy, Politics, Race, Relationships, Religion, Science

The Pope, AIDS and Abstinence

The Pope has spoken.

Unfortunately, I spend more time wishing the man would shut up than anything else… but…

Still.

Most recently, Pope Benedict XVI has decided to weigh in on the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

What a hoot.

It seems the Vatican considers itself in the forefront of the battle against HIV/AIDS and as such, the Pope felt the need to express his opinion on the issue.

The epidemic, he claims, can’t be “resolved with the distribution of condoms”…

… And he believes condoms actually increase the problem.

While I tend to agree that condoms will not resolve the AIDS epidemic- at least not by themselves- I cannot imagine, for the life of me how their use actually makes things worse.

The Pope, as you might have guessed, has a solution… an idea that, like so many of his other thoughts, is at best narrow and unrealistic.

At worst, it’s dangerous.

What is it, you ask?

Why it’s the catch-all, of course… the ol’ standby!

He wants to fix this problem the same way he wants to fix all problems even remotely related to sex- be it teen pregnancy, out of wedlock pregnancy, abortion- and now AIDS.

The answer is abstinence, of course.

It’s the only way.

Tell those damn African heathens to stop fornicatin’ and…

…POOF!

No more epidemic.

Damn.

I’m certain the entire world… all the scientists, medical professionals, world powers, human rights organizations… everyone who has been working diligently to try and curb this epidemic…

… All wish they had thought of that.

Posted in Barack Obama, C-Haze, Children, Dating, Elections, Joe Biden, John McCain, Marriage, News, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Race, Relationships, Religion, Sarah Palin, Single Mom

The Diva, STDs and a Shotgun

Thanks in part to this Sarah Palin stuff, I have been forced to have that super-candid sex talk that turns every parent’s blood cold and invokes icky feelings for all involved, with my daughter The Diva, age 10.

Yes, 10.

We’ve talked about sex before, but in very generic terms- mostly just geared towards satisfying the “Where do babies come from?” question that every parent dreads.

Last night we got down and dirty.

Gulp.

The conversation started like this-

The Diva: “Mom, what does abstinence mean? I keep hearing it on TV…”

Me: “Well, it’s a word that means ‘no sex’. Some people feel that it’s best to teach children ‘abstinence’, so that they don’t have sex before they’re married.”

The Diva: “Is sex bad?”

Me: “No, it’s not bad… but it’s important to wait for the right person before you do it, because it’s a very big decision, and it comes with a lot of responsibility… it’s important to know how to protect yourself from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases/infections.”

The Diva: “Oh, you mean like with a condom. Wait- what the heck is a sexually transmitted disease?”

Oh boy.

I have to have this conversation right now??

These are the times when, as a mother, you begin to wish you were Catholic, and could send your daughter directly to the convent to become a nun.

Like ship her off right this second.

I am, however, a firm believer in the school of thought that says, “If they’re old enough to ask the question, they’re old enough to hear the answer”; in addition, I know from previous conversations that her friends are starting to have boyfriends…

I guess I figured, no time like the present.

So I took a deep breath and explained, as best I could, what an STD is… and how some of them are treatable but not all of them… we talked about how they’re contagious, but not like a cold is contagious… they’re only spread through sexual activity (at which point she asks, “like oral?”, promptly causing me to gag), and can be pretty scary, because not all STDs have symptoms associated with them. 

Whew.

We also talked about HIV/AIDS, how it’s spread, and that there is no cure… I told her that as a young black-woman-in-training, it’s important to understand that AIDS is currently the number one killer of African Americans.

I explained that she can guarantee she won’t contract it by choosing not to have sex.

She can almost guarantee she won’t contract it, should she choose to have sex, by insisting on using condoms every single time.

By the time I was finished talking to her, especially about AIDS, she was completely freaked out, and for now at least, has a healthy respect for the concept of the condom.

She understands that literally, the decision to use one could some day save her life.

I told her I want her to wait until she’s married before she has sex, but that it is her choice make.

She wanted to know if I would be angry with her if she chose, years from now of course, to have sex prior to getting married.

I swallowed hard, tried to get a handle on the all-out fear that gripped me in my gut… swallowed my instinct to tell her she should just wait til marriage, period, end of conversation… and feeling as if I were giving the speech of my life, said…

“No. I wouldn’t be angry. As much as I want you to wait for marriage, it’s something I want for your sake, not mine, because it will make your life easier. There are so many responsibilities that come with sex. But this is your body, and it’s your decision- I’ll respect your choice, no matter what you decide. What’s most important is that we’re honest with each other, and talk about these things as much as possible, even if it makes you a little nervous. If you were to decide that you’re ready to have sex, the biggest thing would be that you come to me so we can get you on the pill and get you some condoms. At the end of the day, I just need you to be safe, protected and responsible.”

She allowed what I’d just said to sink in for a minute… and then slowly began nodding her head…

“Ok Mom, I hear you. If I ever decide to have sex, I’ll tell you.”

Then she grinned and said, “You’ll be one of the first to know!”

I actually threw up a little in my mouth… I mean…

This is scary stuff, you know?

I have mixed feelings about the conversation.

Did I just condone sex to my 10 year old Diva?

Or perhaps I just had a candid, real conversation… taking that first step to opening the door to honest communication in the future…

That’s what I hope I did.

I wonder how much of this “abstinence only” doctrine is nothing more than a selfish excuse for parents not to have the conversation with their own kids that I had with mine last night…

I mean, it was a nerve wracking conversation… but it was necessary, just like all the other sex talks we’ll have in the future.

I find myself longing for the days when parenting consisted of changing her poopy diapers, making sure she’s fed… warm… and has not a care in the world.

She’s becoming a woman, a beautiful young woman, and like most others her age… she is growing up way faster than I ever wanted her to… but that is no excuse to shirk my responsibilities to her…

It’s time to buy a shotgun.

Posted in C-Haze, Children, Dating, News, Race, Relationships, Single Mom

The Black Epidemic

I saw an article today that made my blood run cold.

In certain areas of the U.S., black HIV/AIDS infection rates rival that of rates in some African nations.

Whew.

I had to let that sink in for a few minutes.

In this country, even though blacks only represent one in eight people, 80% of new HIV cases are coming out of the black community. In fact, in Washington, 5%- or one in twenty- black people are currently infected with the virus.

Right now African Americans account for over 50% of all U.S. HIV infections.

This is absolutely horrifying.

AIDS is now the number one killer of blacks. Number one. Not heart disease or cancer. Not car accidents.

AIDS.

If black Americans made up their very own nation, they would have more people infected with HIV than both Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast- combined.

Why are these numbers so high within our own community, as compared to others?

Some research shows that people of African descent have inherited a gene variant that makes us up to 40% more likely to become infected if exposed.

The key words here are if exposed.

If we do not allow ourselves to be exposed than we have no risk of getting this disease.

Gene variant or not, we are not behaving ourselves. We are not acting responsibly, and too often when our behavior leads to dire consequences, we are not accepting responsibility.

We become sneaky, we are in denial.

After attempting to absorb all the numbers, all I can think about is my daughters.

What does all this mean for my little girls and their future?

My two beautiful black-women-in-training are in terrible danger.

I can preach- shout from the rooftops- all day long about the importance of abstinence, or at the very least, condoms, but at the end of the day, when they’re out on their own, charged with making their own decisions, will it do any good?

Will they listen?

Is anyone listening? It certainly doesn’t sound like it.

I guess at this point all I can do is beg each of you to talk to your children- even if the conversation is an uncomfortable one.

Lead by example… we all need to be safe and responsible. We need to take proactive measures to prevent the further spread of this disease… and for those people for which proactive measures are too late, please- get tested, seek treatment… and be honest with everyone- potential partners, current partners, everyone.

I realize that there’s a terrible stigma that comes with being HIV positive, but millions of people’s lives- children’s lives, as well as our own- depend on knowing the frank, honest truth.

Please. Do what’s right, even as it may be a difficult task.

For my children’s sake and yours.