Black History Month 2021


Yvonne is an HIV activist and volunteers at George House Trust.


I was thrilled and honoured to be asked for my contribution to Black History Month. 


Being “a woman of a certain age”, there were lots of heroes and sheroes that ran through my mind when I thought about the contribution of people of colour, but for me, particularly those from Africa and the Caribbean.  This knowledge has kept my faith, strength and resilience whilst growing up.


The image of the defiant Black Panthers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King also remind me that any goods and services that I enjoy today were hard fought for and won by my forefathers and their allies.


However, our gains have also been about living the proof of our humanity in arenas where we were, or were not, expected to be seen. So, I’m proud of Mae C. Jemison as the only black female astronaut that I know of, the hidden figures of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Johnson Vaughan and Mary Jackson. 


As a young girl, I was hungry for characters that were like me, particularly women; yet I clung to every victory and achievement that black men also achieved.  They were the thin edge of the wedge that was being pushed through the locked gates of society.


So, it wasn’t such a stretch for me to want to see people like me, people living with HIV.  Sadly, at the time of my diagnosis I knew none and consequently lived with fear, shame, and isolation. However, since coming to terms with my diagnosis, I have found people from all walks of life who are HIV positive including people like me, whom I wished I had known about much, much earlier. 


There is a strength in knowing you are not alone, that there are people out there who understand the highs and lows of both racial and HIV discrimination. 


For me, like all the heroes and sheroes before them, this particular group show me how to live my best life. In the HIV arena, they stand as very visible icons continuing the tradition of fighting for the rights of black people to step into their humanity. 


They remind me that I have a right to live and that HIV is just a long-term medical condition. 


I have learned that we are still resilient. I have learned that all the skills I used to overcome racism, I will use again to fight HIV discrimination. 


More importantly, I see that black people are still contributing to the larger collective fight against HIV discrimination whilst demonstrating the breadth of the things that we do as people of colour. 


Lastly, they help me to keep my faith, remain strong and resilient and remind me that I can be if I believe in myself - just as I am.


Eternally grateful for this group of people, I’d like to introduce you to some of the people who remind me of my HIV heritage and hope that you enjoy discovering and celebrating them as much as I have...........



18th October 2021


Black History Month Celebration Event

Robert's Black History Month Blog

Monday, 18 October, 2021

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