Journal of African American Studies

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 248–267

Black Churches Creating Safe Spaces to Combat Silence and Stigma Related to AIDS

Articles

Abstract

AIDS has been one of the most severe contemporary crises to affect Black American communities. With epidemic rates surpassing several African nations, health professionals and AIDS activists have called on black churches to help lead the fight to end AIDS. This study examines the response efforts of eight black churches (three of which are megachurches) to this illness. Interviews reveal three specific approaches used to address HIV- and AIDS-related stigma and silence—quilting, prayer, and practices in liberation theology. Overall, these approaches illuminate the progressive and conservative forces that make some churches more effective than others in ending multiple silences and stigmas surrounding AIDS.

Keywords

Black Church Megachurches AIDS Sex and sexuality Stigma 

References

  1. Aaron, K. F., Levine, D., & Burstin, H. (2003). African American church participation and health care practices. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 18, 908–913.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. De Carvalho Mesquita Ayres, J. R., Paiva, V., Franca, I., Jr., Gravato, N., Lacerda, R., Negra, M. D., et al. (2006). Vulnerability, human rights, and comprehensive health care needs of young people living with HIV/AIDS. American Journal of Public Health, 96, 1001–1006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnes, S. (2005). Black church culture and community action. Social Forces, 84, 967–994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnes, S. (2008). The least of these: Black Church children's and youth outreach efforts. Journal of African American Studies, 12, 97–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Billingsley, A. (1999). Mighty like a river: the Black Church and social reform. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Black, B. P., & Miles, M. S. (2002). Calculating the risks and benefits of disclosure in African American women who have HIV. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 31, 688–697.Google Scholar
  7. Bohde, S. (2004). The underground railroad quilt code: a history of African-American quilting from ancient practices to the Civil War Times. The Oakland Journal, 70–79Google Scholar
  8. Brier, J. (2009). Infectious ideas: U.S. Political Responses to the AIDS Crisis. Chapel Hill: The University of North CarolinaGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown, L., Macintyre, K., & Trujillo, L. (2003). Interventions to reduce HIV/AIDS stigma: what we have learned. AIDS Education and Prevention, 15, 49–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Capozzola, C. (2002) A Very American Epidemic: Memory Politics and Identity Politics in the AIDS Memorial Quilts, 1985–1993. Radical History Review, 91–109Google Scholar
  11. Clathworthy, J. (2008). Liberal faith in a divided church. Winchester, UK: O Books.Google Scholar
  12. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2010a). HIV/AIDS among African Americans. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. Retrieved September 29, 2010. (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/aa/index.htm)
  13. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2010b) HIV in the United State: An Overview. Atlanta, GA: Retrieved September 29, 2010 (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/factsheets/pdf/us_overview.pdf)
  14. Cohen, C. J. (1999). Boundaries of blackness: AIDS and the breakdown of black politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  15. Collins, P. H. (2005). Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  16. Crimp, Douglas. (2002). The Spectacle of Mourning. In: Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics (pp. 195–201). The MIT PressGoogle Scholar
  17. Dalton, H. L. (1991). AIDS in blackface. In N. F. Mckenzie (Ed.), The AIDS Reader: Social Political Ethical Issues (pp. 122–143). New York: Meridian Book.Google Scholar
  18. DeVeaux, W. P. (2005). Prophetic ministry: The Black Church and Theological Education. Retrieved November 16, 2005. (http://www.resourcingchristianity.org/downloads/Essays/DeVeaux.pdf)
  19. DOH. (2009). District of Columbia: HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Epidemiology. Government of the District of Columbia Department of Health, Washington D.C. (http://dchealth.dc.gov/doh/frames.asp?doc=/doh/lib/doh/services/administration_offices/hiv_aids/pdf/annual_report_hahsta_march_2010.pdf)
  20. Du Bois, W.E.B. (2000) Du Bois on religion. Edited by P. Zukerman. New York: Alta Mira PressGoogle Scholar
  21. Farmer, Paul. (2005). Health, healing, and social justice: insights from liberation theology. In Pathologies of power: health, human rights, and the new war on the poor (pp. 139–159). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  22. Farmer, Paul. (2010). Women, poverty, and AIDS (1996). In P. Farmer, H. Saussy, & T. Kidder (Eds.), Partner to the poor: a Paul Farmer reader (pp. 298–327). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  23. Fair, C. D., & Ginsburg, B. (2010). HIV-related stigma, discrimination, and knowledge of legal rights among infected adults. Journal of HIV/AIDS & Social Services, 9, 77–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fitzgerald, S. T., & Spohn, R. E. (2005). Pulpits and platforms: the role of the church in determining protest among Black Americans. Social Forces, 84, 1015–1048.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Franklin, R. M. (1997). Another day's journey: Black Churches confronting the American crisis. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress.Google Scholar
  26. Frazier, E. F. (1964). The Negro Church in America. New York: Schocken Books.Google Scholar
  27. Fulllilove, M. T., & Fullilove, R. E., III. (1999). Stigma as an obstacle to AIDS action: the case of the African American community. The American Behavioral Scientist, 42, 1117–1129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gould, D. B. (2009). Moving politics: emotions and ACT UP'S fights against AIDS. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  29. Glaude, E. (2010). The end of the Black Church. National Public Radio (NPR). http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126219404&ft=1&f=1016. Accessed 10 July 2010
  30. Harris, A. (2010a). Panic at the church: the use of frames, social problems, and moral panics in the formation of an AIDS Social Movement Organization. Western Journal of Black Studies, 34, 337–346.Google Scholar
  31. Harris, A. C. (2010b). Sex, stigma, and the holy ghost: the Black Church construction of AIDS in New York City. Journal of African American Studies, 14, 21–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Harris, H.R. (2000). Sins, Sermons and Sexuality: New Attitudes of Openness Found in poll of Pastors. The Washington PostGoogle Scholar
  33. Herek, G. M., Capitanio, J. P., & Widaman, K. F. (2002). HIV-related stigma and knowledge in the United States: prevalence and trends, 1991–1999. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 371–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jones, C. (2007). A vision of the quilt. Rhetoric & Public Affairs, 10, 575–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lemelle, A. J. (2004). Attitudes toward gay males: faith-based initiatives and implications for HIV/AIDS services. Journal of African American Studies, 7, 59–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lincoln, C. E., & Mamiya, L. (1990). The Black Church in the African American experience. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Link, B. G., & Phelan, J. C. (2001). Conceptualizing stigma. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 363–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Leong, P. (2006). Religion, flesh, and blood: Re-creating religious culture in the context of HIV/AIDS. Sociology of Religion, 67, 295–311.Google Scholar
  39. Maluwa, M., Aggleton, P., & Parker, R. (2002). HIV- and AIDS-related stigma, discrimination, and human rights: a critical overview. Health and Human Rights, 6, 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Markham, I. (2007). Episcopalians, homosexuality and the general convention 2006. Reviews in Religion & Theology, 14, 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mason, J. (2002). Qualitative researching (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  42. Mattis, J. S., Dwight, L. F., Fontenot, L., & Hatcher-Kay, C. A. (2003). Religiosity, racism, and dispositional optimism among African Americans. Personal and Individual Differences, 34, 1025–1038.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  44. Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: a guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  45. Morales, A. L. (1998). Medicine stories: history, culture and the politics of integrity. Cambridge, MA: South End Press.Google Scholar
  46. Neal, K. (2003). Praying for others, financial strain, and physical health status in late life. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42, 377–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Parker, R., & Aggleton, P. (2003). HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination: a conceptual framework and implications for action. Social Science & Medicine, 57, 13–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (2005). Qualitative interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data, 2nd. London: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  49. Russell, L. M. (2004). Cultural hermeneutics: a postcolonial look at mission. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 20, 23–40.Google Scholar
  50. Smith Hatcher, S., Burley, J., & Lee-Ouga, W. (2008). HIV prevention programs in the Black Church: a viable health promotion resource for African American women? Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 17, 309–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Smith, J., Simmons, E., & Mayer, K. H. (2005). HIV/AIDS and the Black Church: what are the barriers to prevention services? Journal of the National Medical Association, 97, 1682–1685.Google Scholar
  52. Steinberg, J. (2008). Sizwe's test: a young man's journey through Africa's AIDS epidemic. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  53. Taylor, R., Ellison, C. C., Levin, L. J., & Lincoln, K. (2000). Mental health services in faith communities: the role of clergy in Black Churches. Social Work, 45, 73–87.Google Scholar
  54. Weatherford, R. J., & Weatherford, C. B. (1999). Someone's knocking at your door: AIDS and the African-American church. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.Google Scholar
  55. West, Cornel. (1999). On liberation theology: Segundo and Hinkelammert. In The Cornel West Reader (pp. 387–392). New York: Basic Civitas Books.Google Scholar
  56. Williams, D. G., Yong, E., Collins, J. C., & Dodson, J. (2000). Structure and provision of services in Black Churches in New Haven, Ct. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 5, 184–202.Google Scholar
  57. Wilson, P., Wright, K., & Isbell, M. T. (2008). Left behind-Black America: a neglected priority. Los Angeles: The Black AIDS Institute.Google Scholar
  58. Yep, G. A. (2007). The politics of loss and its remains in common threads: stories from the quilt. Rhetoric & Public Affairs, 10, 681–699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, 2112 Art/Sociology BuildingUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations