Working for AACAA these past three months has been an incredible learning experience. I came to AACAA with a background in activism and community organizing, but not being well versed in HIV/AIDS prevention work. I wanted to work with AACAA because I wanted to learn more about HIV/AIDS for my own sexual health and so that I could share the things I would be learning with the black women around me. I was able to do this by holding critical dialogues with groups of fellow young black women. In these dialogues, we were able to build our collective wisdom and empower each other to take responsibility for our health and the health of our community.
Another powerful experience I had during my fellowship was the condom street distribution event. In this event, about 8 young black women came together and passed out several thousands condoms in the Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene areas one afternoon. Many people came up to us with pride and excitement, telling us how important it is to have young black people doing sexual health work.
From these dialogues and experiences, I’ve started reflecting on the need for grassroots approaches to public health. People, especially people of color, need to empower themselves to set their own health agendas and to be their own healers. As I further my community organizing in other capacities, I will continue to strategize ways of decentralizing knowledge about bodies and health and explore how popular education can intersect with community medicine.