Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ignorance at the Big Chill

Up and coming comedian Kenneth McLaughlin was talking about AIDS at the Big Chill when I heard the most ignorant comment of the day on Wednesday. It outranked all the Bush hate mail I've received.

McLaughlin, who was competing to open for Steve Harvey at Ovens on Oct. 7, said his wife was in the audience. So, was his girlfriend. So, was his girlfriend's girlfriend. The audience laughed. Then he said something like AIDS was in their bed. The room fell silent.

McLaughlin talked about how black women make up more than 20 percent of new AIDS cases and black people make up 50 percent of all new cases.

Then I heard it.

"Whatever," said a woman behind me.

I whipped around to see who made the asinine statement.

McLaughlin used the stats to set up his punchline. He dates white women -- its safer.

The room erupted. I laughed too. The best comedians -- Chris Rock, Richard Pryor, to name a few -- educate while making us laugh. McLaughlin’s joke did that too.

But the "whatever" nagged me.

What is there to "whatever" about?

In case the woman who dismissed the comic reads this blog or has friends who do, I want to reinforce McLaughlin's message.

AIDS is killing black people.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blacks account for half of all new cases of HIV. AIDS is the leading cause of death for black women between the ages of 25 to 34. It’s gotten so bad that in August, Jesse Jackson and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond called on blacks leaders to step up. I won’t even get into the failure of leaders such as Jackson and Bond to confront AIDS sooner.

So, if you are the one who said "whatever" on Wednesday, please get tested. Obviously, you don't have a clue that AIDS is killing black women just like you.