A Statement from the Executive Director
In the mountains, the people sang. Nearly every year at our annual HIV retreat, the people raised up, “Breathe on me, Breath of God!” To many, God breathed Life and they inhaled it. After all, nobody had a knee buried in their necks.
At least, so it appeared.
The story of HIV has always turned at the intersections of hatred and fear; it has likewise thrived for decades among populations most conveniently dismissed, and these days it has linked its arms inextricably with systemic oppression, racism, poverty, multiple access to care issues, food insecurity, homelessness and more. All equity issues impact health equity. The statistics are as grim as they are telling, and we cannot hope to solve one of these issues without engaging all of them.
As a people, we stand against violence and abject discrimination; as an agency we are called to move against both. We commit ourselves again to ensuring that our own house is in order as we seek to journey alongside those who do not breathe so freely in our culture. The only thing more intolerable than these continuing atrocities would be to witness them without engaging in the painful, awkward, humbling and sacrificial action of comprehensive change.
Today, because I can breathe, I want to say the names: George Floyd, Tasharra Thomas, Marcus Smith. At THP, we are reminded of the myriad other family members we have lost to what are merely less obvious forms of violence, oppression, stigma and fear in the realm of HIV in Guilford County. The story is not new but God help us if our reaction isn’t.
To those who walk with us and allow us to walk with them, thank you and bless you. Clearly, there are miles to go, and I trust we will cross these miles together. In fact, there is no other way to do so.
From the Executive Director