by Freddie Allen
NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON (NNPA) – AIDS activists fighting to end the epidemic in the Black community can take cues from the protests over police violence and the killing of unarmed Black men, says DeRay Mckesson, a prominent leader associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mckesson, who is also a planning team member of “We The Protesters,” talked to a group of journalists who specialize in social media during the 2015 United States Conference on AIDS, shortly after delivering remarks during a plenary on the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Wisconsin native was one of the activists who garnered a huge social media following for his first-hand reporting from the protests in Ferguson, Mo., over the August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, by former police officer Darren Wilson.
A conversation about the HIV/ AIDS epidemic can be an extension of the dialogue on Black identity that evolved as an “unintentional good consequence” of the protests over policing in the Black community, explained Mckesson, and activists should use social media as a tool to spark those conversations.
“There’s this interesting space in social media that allows us to build community differently,” said Mckesson. “It wasn’t until there was this unrest in Ferguson that people started talking” over social media about police violence in their own communities.
Mckesson said that one of the ways that activists can combat stigma is by normalizing the fact that people have a range of experiences. They should also look for platforms to share their own stories.