February 2, 2017
It’s sort of surreal to be able to say that I was invited to be on “Left of Black” with Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, who is a Professor of Black Cultural Studies in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University. Many of you have seen him pontificate about politics and culture with top intellectuals on HuffingtonPost Live, CNN and BET. The day before our recording, he did a shoutout to Grammy nominated 9th Wonder (like…do y’all understand what I’m trying to tell you? He is a big deal!!) His work and his name precede him in ways that intimidate and excite me. To think that he invited me to be on his show is mind blowing!
During the interview, we discussed how crowdsourcing, which is a process where the public collaborates to solve problems, can identify new ways to do community engagement for HIV cure research. What makes the 2BeatHIV project unique is that we focus on identifying the strengths of the public and work with community partners to build on those strengths and develop community-sourced solutions. The biggest problem facing our communities, and particularly Black communities, are the struggles we face to protect our lives. At the most fundamental level, our priority is and always has been to protect life -- either through protest, song, #BlackJoy, or finding a cure for HIV. Thus, the work done to find a cure for HIV should include scientific discovery as much as it should include work to dismantle social injustice and economic and political barriers to opportunity.
The people I meet and the stories I hear from working with Durham's community motivate me to work harder each day. Every word I write, interview I do, and video or event that I produce is to help people who have been marginalized, rejected, and told they’re not good enough. I can’t wait for you all to check out the video once it is complete! In the meanwhile, here’s a really cool photo of me in the studio with THE Dr. Mark Anthony Neal!