The 21st annual Magic City AIDS Walk takes place this Sunday, September 16th, from 4-6:30 p.m. at Avondale Park. The free event benefits Birmingham AIDS Outreach, a professional agency providing active clinical service to 800 and free testing, counseling, and education to thousands more. You can register online at the AIDS Walk website or at the event on Sunday, and you can either start a fundraising page online or pay in person, if you so choose.
If you can walk, you can Walk; it’s a relaxed, short stroll around Avondale Park. It’s a family, pet, and kid-friendly event. In addition to a number of choirs, 80s cover band Once in a Lifetime will be present, and I’d expect at least one rendition of “Under Pressure.” (You’ve got to play it, right?)
This is normally the part of the article where I’d talk about why and how [subject] is bad, but you know about AIDS. Even if you haven’t had a personal loss to the disease, you know what it can do, what it has done. It’s the leading cause of death for African-Americans between the ages of 25 and 34, and the disease is more prevalent in the South than anywhere else in the country. In the time it took me to write this article, it’s statistically probable that two more young people have been infected in this country. On some level, we know better now; the band no longer plays on.
Yet there remains a powerful stigma against getting tested, because for many AIDS is still the Gay Disease. (A close reading of that last link will reveal exactly what’s poisonous about that mindset.) Too many people out there are like Magic Johnson, and too many others are like Karl Malone in 1992, speaking with an authority that only revulsion and ignorance can provide.
AIDS Walk is an opportunity to stand with your community–regardless of racial, class, or political differences–and affirm that its weak, its poor, and its young are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s and 1990s. This isn’t merely to raise awareness, and it’s not a purely symbolic gesture. In a very real and direct way, you can patronize an agency that has dedicated itself to the serious, lengthy business of protecting the least of these brothers and sisters.
Stand with them. Walk with them.
I’ll see you on Sunday.