Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Project Reina

If you click on the video you will see the face of HIV and AIDS. The CDC reported in 2001 that African-American and Latina girls, ages 13-19, accounted for 84% of AIDS cases; women ages 20-24 account for 78 percent.

I'm a very proud hermana of Project Reina, a group of Latina and African-American women who are dedicated to keeping our younger sisters free of HIV/AIDS. Founded by Gina Ravera, who co-stars in ER and The Closer, Project Reina has one mission and that is to get the following message to girls everywhere: Cherish and protect yourself and you will save your life.

Today is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day and I hope if you have daughters, nieces, sisters or god daughters (Latina or not) that you'll remind her every day of how special she is and how much she is loved. It's not enough for us to preach condoms or abstinence; we need to continually build up their self esteem from childhood through adolesence by reminding them how much they matter to us and to the world. And then we need to show it.

When I was in the third grade, some boys chased me into the girl's room, threatening to rape me or squeeze my tits. Not only was I terrified but I also didn't get to finish my lunch.

The next morning after I asked my mom what rape meant and then spilled out what had happened, she took off work and marched her way into the Principal's office. I saw my mom grow ten-feet tall and breathe fire and smoke when that unfortunate man accused me of being at fault. She then got those boys suspended for a week - oh it was beautiful -and thrown off their swim and Little League teams. I didn't know it at the time, but she was sowing the seeds of my self worth. Sure, I went on to make some pretty dumb mistakes and frankly, when I read the current statistics of STDs and HIV/AIDS I realize how easily I could have accounted for those numbers. But I've never doubted that I was entitled to success, respect and dignity through dedication and hard work and I credit my mom, my Grandma Margie and the many female role models who came into my life at various times. (I also never cried in public or at work but that's another story.)

You know I'm not big on waving my politics for all to see. In fact, I've been accused of complacency because I don't talk about politics on my blog. However, I think we can all agree - conservative and liberal and irregardless of gender or race - that our little sisters are worth taking care of.


J.K. Mahal said...

I hope I'm as good a mom to my Z-baby-to-come as your mom was to you. She rocks.

As a society, as a world, it's not okay for us to teach that girls are somehow less worthy than boys.

Unknown said...

You already are, Jen! Don't ever doubt that and God help the poor soul who tries to put down Baby Z. They say you have to watch out for a girl's dad but really, it's her mama you have to worry about!