No.8 July 26, 2001
of the Voiceless
can take on many different forms. From a group of young Korean women pressuring
the Japanese government to apologize and compensate the nearly 200,000
young Korean girls that were forced to be sex slaves in World War II.
To an African-American woman refusing to give up her seat to a white man
because she was physically tired from a long day of work and emotionally
fed up with Jim Crow.
Personally I cannot help but speak out against injustice. In 1991, I participated
in a 40-mile Peace March against the Rodney King decision, the following
year I wrapped a white bandana around my arm and took part in a 3-day
hunger strike to show my solidarity with Latino students fighting for
a Latin Studies curriculum in college and most recently I wrote a series
of letters to the New York City District Attorneys office in response
to the Amadou Diallo trial fiasco. But probably my most powerful move
of action would be the day I decided to honor my passion and create an
enewsletter for women of color. I just could not stand that most magazines
I read gave me little satisfaction and very rarely represented my lifestyle.
I think Audre Lorde said it best when she wrote:
When I dare to be powerful-- to use my strength in the service of
my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.
In this issue of theHotness we are featuring Hydeia Broadbent and Tania
Cuevas whose life work is to stir the waters of ignorance and injustice.
These women have shown that power is not necessarily being heard, but
having the courage to speak in the first place.
Nicole Moore, Editor
creative and groundbreaking
by Nicole Moore
are some activists who are born out of experience and through extreme
conditions-- imprisonment, discrimination, rape, sickness. Then there
are those that are simply born. Kicking and screaming out of the womb
they come to bring the noise. Hydeia Broadbent falls into the latter category.
At 17, she is not just one of the youngest AIDS activists in the United
States, she is one of the most prominent and renowned.
Although she looks like a precocious 11-year old experiencing her last
year in grade school, there is nothing elementary about this FUBU-wearing
freedom fighter that was told she would not live to see her eighth birthday.
Shes undergone three open-lung biopsies, fended off a number of
brain and blood infections and endured a world of discrimination including
a kindergarten teacher who sprayed her with bleach for fear of contamination.
Its 7AM and Hydeia is scoffing down a plate of pancakes and scrambled
eggs and thinking aloud about her speech for the AIDS Walk event happening
later that morning. I dont want to preach to anyone or tell
young people what to do. Kids dont want to be told what to do. I
cant tell them to be a virgin forever because thats unrealistic.
But I will tell them to use protection and that abstinence is the safest
thing. All I can do is tell them to make wise choices and to ask themselves
is it really worth it.
Unfortunately Hydeia did not have the opportunity to make that choice.
Her mother was an intravenous drug user who subsequently died of AIDS.
As a result Hydeia was perinatally infected with the HIV virus and has
been living with full-blown AIDS since age five. When Hydeia was six weeks
old, Patricia and Loren Broadbent agreed to take care of the orphaned
child temporarily until she was found a permanent home. A short time later
however, the Broadbents decided to adopt Hydeia themselves and soon after,
they discovered she was HIV positive.
Of course things would be different if I had known Hydeia had AIDS
before I adopted her. Would you have adopted a baby with AIDS? But like
everything else you learn to deal with it and you turn something life
shattering into something positive and life empowering, reveals
In 1993, in response to Hydeias diagnosis, Patricia Broadbent with
the support of two philanthropists, decided to create the Hydeia L. Broadbent
Foundation to educate and promote awareness about the disease. Being a
quick learner and having a knack for remembering excerpts from her mothers
speeches, Hydeia who was no older than six, began speaking with her mother
at a number of conferences, schools, churches and community events. Soon
Hydeia took center stage and became the Foundations National Spokesperson.
Although its unseasonably cold and rainy for a spring day in Los
Angeles, the AIDS Walk was bustling with adults and children who wanted
to make good on their sponsorship pledge sheets. For many, Hydeia was
the young girl who stole the show at the 1999 Essence Awards show. It
was the Essence Awards show that brought Hydeia to the attention of many
of us who had eagerly tuned-in to see Lauryn Hill and Chris Rock. And
ironically, it was Hydeias profile that brought Lauryn Hill to tears
and led Chris Rock to give his award to Hydeias mom.
This morning she is honoring her birthright and bringing it strong. AIDS
does not discriminate, shouts Hydeia from the podium as her denim
miniskirt blows in the brisk air. It doesnt care if you are
Black, White, gay, heterosexual, 16 or 60. There is no evidence
of the quiet Las Vegas native that I met the night before who quietly
talked on the phone with a good friend and spoke in a low murmur about
traveling throughout the country sharing her story of living positively
with AIDS. That night she talked about lifestyle and a popular culture
that celebrates unsafe behavior.
I think (we) are led to live a certain lifestyle. We see it on T.V.
with basketball players, football players and rappers. The men have a
lot of money, women and fast cars. And women are in a rush to have these
men in their lives as boyfriends. No one waits anymore, Hydeia laments
while playing with her crimson Nokia phone. A lot of people have
had more than one sexual partner, but still many of these same young women
and men do not think they are at risk. So many people will deny it.
Her voice suddenly breaks and the once stone-cold cherubic expression
is now hidden under a deluge of tears. By the time people wake-up
its obviously too late because either their infected or affected
by their lifestyle and environment. With one deep breath Hydeias
voice is steady and she is cool. I just know our community needs
to be educated. But its hard to help a lot people that dont
want to be educated.
In 2002 Hydeia hopes that she can garner the support of these same athletes
and rap artists for her HOPE Telecast, which will be a live 4-hour event
featuring big name celebrities to help motivate viewers to take responsibility
for their health and get tested. With the Telecast entertainers
can step-up to the plate and use this opportunity to send a better message
out to their fans, states Hydeia who no longer needs to take medication
to stay healthy.
There seems to be no stopping Hydeia who someday hopes to become a chef
and not be known as the Black girl with AIDS. She is acutely
aware of the challenges ahead of her and prays that people will change
how they live their lives. Making a difference is not just about
me. Its up to the people that hear me and how they decide to respond.
~ N. Moore
TO THE TOP
books, film, tv and websites
of the Voiceless
filmmakers know the value of black holes. Moments where the film dips
to black and gives viewers a chance to soak in, reflect on and have black
thoughts. Voice of the Voiceless, a new documentary by independent
filmmaker Tania Cuevas Martinez, uses these spaces to shed some light
on the life, words and meaning of incarcerated journalist Mumia Abu Jamal.
Martinez has never strayed far from her activist roots. Her politically
conscious Mexican parents named her after Tania La Guerrillera, the onetime
lover of Che Guevara. But she has always nurtured her creative side. Martinez,
originally from the Bay Area, cut her teeth in film at the tender age
of 15 by working on music videos for local rap stars. After moving to
New York, she continued to produce music videos and commercials, but wanted
to rekindle her passion for filmmaking. Voice of the Voiceless,
an outgrowth of a benefit concert by hip-hop artists for Mumia, offered
her the chance to blend education and activism with imaginative entertainment
In her directorial debut, Martinez adds texture and richness to what has
become an international cause celebre. Quotes from Mumia and activist
John Africa literally ripple through the film and set the stage for an
intense examination of one mans influence on social justice. Moving
beyond the particulars of Mumias incarceration and trial, the film
traces his personal development from a curious teen involved in the Black
Panther Party to a revolutionary critic of corruption in Philadelphia.
His powerful interviews and dramatic scenes from the streets of Philadelphia
give context and blood to the scraps of information most of us have about
Mumia. Knowledge, someone said, is itself determination. And the film,
edited by Carl Kwaku Ford, manages potentially unwieldy material on police
brutality, the growing prison industry, the corporate takeover of the
media and the history of black revolutionary movements like the MOVE organization
and the Black Panther Party with a graceful hand.
But Martinez knows that, in the digital age, entertainment is the sugar
that makes the activist medicine go down. So, drawing on the culture of
hip-hop, Martinez takes the traditional documentary form and freestyles
it into an edible synthesis of agenda and creativity. Instead of the usual
solemn score, the music beats, rhymes and scratches its way into the narrative.
Archival footage comes alive in split screens. Even microfiche files and
arrest records have some rhythm. The customary omniscient narrator and
dull interviews become a chorus of voices ranging from Mumia to the man
on the street. But whether its the confident soprano of CORE Movement
activists like Ramona Africa and Kathleen Cleaver, the warbly alto of
budding hip-hop artists or the bold bass of Philadelphia police officers,
the voice is clear and strong.
In the end, the call to prayer that introduces the film segues into a
call to action. It has been a long time coming since a film encouraged
viewers to slip on the black gloves and throw a fist in the air.
~ Shayla Harris is an information enthusiast who knows the power
of silence, but knows when its time to get her Black Power afro-pick
out and raise hell.
TO THE TOP
bits and news bytes
Difference Seen in Breast Cancer Screening
by Amy Norton, Reuters Health
women appear to be less likely than other women to seek follow-up mammograms
in the time frame experts recommend for catching breast cancer early,
researchers report. Previous research has suggested Hispanic women undergo
mammography less often than white and African-American women do. To see
if there were racial differences in whether women return for regularly
scheduled mammograms, investigators looked at screening rates among more
than 21,000 New Mexico women in managed care plans.
The researchers found that among women whose initial mammogram showed
nothing suspicious, Hispanic women had a longer lag time until their next
screen than other women did. But, there was no such difference in return
rates among women who had suspicious tissue biopsied after their initial
mammograms. In fact, Hispanic women who had breast tissue removed for
testing tended to return for follow-up mammograms sooner, compared with
other racial groups.
Experts recommend that women at average risk for breast cancer have a
mammogram every one to two years starting at age 40. Around 3% of these
mammograms prompt a biopsy of suspicious masses, less than one fifth of
which turn out to be cancer. One concern, according to Stidley, is that
these often-negative biopsies will needlessly scare women and deter them
from seeking further mammograms.
But this study showed no evidence of that. In fact, Hispanic and non-Hispanic
women returned for follow-up mammograms sooner if they had a previous
biopsy. Among women age 50 and older, 75% of those who were biopsied showed
up for their next mammogram within 17 months. That compares with only
half of women who did not receive biopsies--which includes 95% of the
And it was among women who did not have a biopsy that racial disparities
were apparent, with Hispanic women being slower to return for subsequent
mammograms. The reason, Stidley told Reuters Health, is unclear, but it
may have to do with cultural differences.
However, she noted, Hispanic populations in the US differ in makeup and
culture from place to place, and even among regions in New Mexico. So,
according to Stidley, it may not be possible to extend these findings
to all Latina Americans.
The most solid result of this study, she noted, is that having a previous
biopsy--regardless of its outcome--did not deter women from coming back
for follow-up mammograms.
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