Issue No.8 July 26, 2001
  IGNITE ~ Activism
HOT GIRLZ ~ Hydeia Broadbent
ISM ~ Voice of the Voiceless
~ Latinas & Mammograms

intro and overview


Activism 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 Attorney’s 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


inspired, creative and groundbreaking


Hydeia Broadbent
by Nicole Moore

There 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. She’s 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.

It’s 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 don’t want to preach to anyone or tell young people what to do. Kids don’t want to be told what to do. I can’t tell them to be a virgin forever because that’s 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 Patricia Broadbent.

In 1993, in response to Hydeia’s 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 mother’s 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 Foundation’s National Spokesperson.

Although it’s 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 Hydeia’s profile that brought Lauryn Hill to tears and led Chris Rock to give his award to Hydeia’s 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 doesn’t 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 it’s obviously too late because either their infected or affected by their lifestyle and environment.” With one deep breath Hydeia’s voice is steady and she is cool. “I just know our community needs to be educated. But it’s hard to help a lot people that don’t 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. It’s up to the people that hear me and how they decide to respond.”

~ N. Moore




music, books, film, tv and websites


Voice of the Voiceless

Few 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 and film.

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 man’s influence on social justice. Moving beyond the particulars of Mumia’s 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 it’s time to get her Black Power afro-pick out and raise hell.




media bits and news bytes


Ethnic Difference Seen in Breast Cancer Screening
by Amy Norton, Reuters Health

Hispanic 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 women studied.

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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