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2817RE: [BYMSMworkgroup] Making Room at the Table

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  • Mark Mclaurin
    Apr 9, 2014
      Thanks much for the info, Venton. It seems the more things change the more they stay the same I would suggest that folks interested in fashioning a response should reach out to Paul kawata or Phill Wilson. Apparently, they have enough information to fashion a response that they might be willing to share that could be helpful in fashioning ours.....

      Mark J. McLaurin
      Political Director
      Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.) Local 500
      901 Russell Avenue, Suite 400
      Gaithersburg, MD 20879
      (301) 740-7100 -Voice
      (301) 740- 7139- Fax
      (240) 477-9608- Cell
      From: BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com [BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Venton Jones [ventonjones@...]
      Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 9:23 AM
      To: BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [BYMSMworkgroup] Making Room at the Table

      Hello All,

      Thank you Craig for updating the group on the activities that took place during the YBGLI Policy & Advocacy Summit in Atlanta last week. I just wanted to share some information I was able to gather re: NBGMAC’s involvement around the CDC CBA funding decision. Here is the response I received from the Chair, Ernest Hopkins when I made the inquiry.

      "NBGMAC executive committee has discussed the funding situation and the chair and senior advisor have met with CDC officials to learn why no historically Black-led organization was funded. While NBGMAC leaders are deeply concerned about this outcome, it is important also to have gathered all the facts before we state a position. NBGMAC has asked the CDC to create a document that makes the African American expertise within each of the grantees transparent. During this information gathering, we've learned that some organizations did not submit their proposals in time and others had technical problems. Additionally, while Black-led organizations are not the prime for any of CBA awardees, there are key staff and subcontractors whose expertise will be critical. We also know that each funded grantees was required to detail their capacity to serve the African American MSM population. Once we see what documentation the grantees used in their applications to make the case we can assess its credibility.

      The fundamental question: do the funded CDC CBA grantees have the expertise and capacity to serve African American MSM populations that they are funded to serve, can only be evaluated upon review and analysis of the additional information we have requested. When we receive and review it NBGMAC will share its findings.”

      I agree with Alex, “moving forward without a crafted message or an agreed upon collective agenda will result, yet again, in the federal government adopting a tone that is consistent with the attitude of "no urgency identified or need to act" because of community fragmentation.” I definitely hear and acknowledge the frustrations stated in the thread. Hopefully we can come together and be united in our efforts to address issues impacting the lives of young Black gay men. However, for that to work, we have to be consistently talking to each other and not at each other. In my work with both NBGMAC and YBGLI, I know their leadership will work with anyone willing to come to the table with constructive engagement. If you want to continue to be updated on NBGMAC’s actions, I encourage you to reach out directly to Ernest.

      Much love,


      On Apr 8, 2014, at 3:35 PM, S. Alex Williams <alex@...<mailto:alex@...>> wrote:


      These concerns, and others, have been shared with NBGMAC previously, though not necessarily with YBGLI before now. The response from NBGMAC has been less than inspiring, and at best, selectively heard. It appears that NBGMAC's strengths rest with the proactive development of new policies, and unfortunately not with advocacy efforts for, and the analysis/critique/mobilization of, existing policies.

      S. Alex Williams

      On Apr 8, 2014, at 12:56 PM, Craig Washington <craig.washington@...<mailto:craig.washington@...>> wrote:

      Well put and thank you Alex. I appreciate your recommendations for the sharing of documents and the development of a continuation strategy. Have you or other colleagues expressed concerns for broader engagement of advocates by NBGMAC in the past. What has been the response(s)? Given the critical concerns you raised here, we need to coordinate some dialogue with NBGMAC to facilitate additional Q & A, feedback and recommendations between and among NBGMAC and YBGLI members and other advocates outside of those groups.

      -Craig Washington

      From: BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com<mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com> [mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of S. Alex Williams
      Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 12:34 PM
      To: BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com<mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: Re: [BYMSMworkgroup] Fwd: Making Room at the Table

      Craig et. al.,

      I am appreciative of your insight into the affairs of the YBGLI group, and their Summit last week.

      I am also elated to hear of the individuals/groups that have voiced their concerns, about the CBA awards process; and, I am hopeful that these actions will yield a favorable response as it pertains to the lives of young black MSM, in the United States.

      With that said, I continue to be alarmed that the advocacy efforts, taken on behalf of black young MSM and the organizations that serve them, are done in isolation and without consultation from a larger group of advocates committed to a similar charge.

      The divide and conquer strategy is as old as time and has been previously deployed to dismount our efforts. Without the opportunity for our advocates to meet, among ourselves and set the agenda, historically, we have marched into these meetings (with CDC, and at times HHS) and demanded the world, to which the typical outcome was a dismissive action. CDC typically walks away from the collective process with a summary that is consistent with a message of "community fragmentation" and "indecisiveness"; and therefore, there is "no urgency identified or need to act."

      The fact of the matter is that when we engage in advocacy efforts that have no agenda or strategy informing it (like several small groups meeting independently with CDC, but without message cohesion), we have no indication as to the meeting content (as is the case with the YBGLI dialogue, with CDC, and the other exchanges had with CDC, by other groups and organizations, on this issue), how it was received or if the combined exchanges have yielded a promising tone from CDC.

      The opportunity to develop a collective follow-up strategy has been eliminated before salient points could be made (across efforts and meetings).

      My response, to those that have had (or are planning to have) an audience with CDC, would be to share your meeting summary documents. Create opportunities to identify meeting themes and develop an advocacy continuation strategy. Moving forward without a crafted message or an agreed upon collective agenda will result, yet again, in the federal government adopting a tone that is consistent with the attitude of "no urgency identified or need to act" because of community fragmentation. My two cents...

      S. Alex Williams

      On Apr 8, 2014, at 11:19 AM, Craig Washington <craig.washington@...<mailto:craig.washington@...>> wrote:

      Correction---it was Day 2.

      From: BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com<mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com> [mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Craig Washington
      Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 11:18 AM
      To: BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com<mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: RE: [BYMSMworkgroup] Fwd: Making Room at the Table


      I had the pleasure to serve as a presenter during the Day 1 of the YBGLI summit in Atlanta. There was a listening session as well as an late evening engagement discussion during which CDC representatives were questioned and challenged regarding CBA awards and other concerns. NBGMAC and the YBGLI organizing committee set the stage for that exchange to happen. I think it is fair and reasonable to inquire about NBGMAC presenting a public statement (indeed to expect such) given the very purpose of the Coalition. I am not sure if they have yet done so. It is important to note that YBGLI organizers adjusted the summit schedule to facilitate summit participants and others present to address concerns directly with CDC officials.

      Craig Washington

      From: BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com<mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com> [mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Adolph Arromand
      Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 10:47 AM
      To: BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com<mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: Re: [BYMSMworkgroup] Fwd: Making Room at the Table

      Group members.....

      Many of you may not be aware that besides NMAC puting out a statement, there are other organizations that reached out to the CDC without being so public about it. That said, if anyone of you is interested in mobilizing around this issue or any other please feel free to reach out to me. In the past when these types of things have happened, it has been my experience that many of us complain rather then putting our grievences into action. Again, please be aware there is some behind the scene work that is happening between the CDC and representatives from the Black HIV Prevention community. Some of us are simply choosing to do the work quitely rather then spending our energies fussing over these threads.

      I don't know if you are all aware that the YBGLI group just finished sponsoring a historic week-long conversation around the epidemic here in Atlanta. We have got to give it to those brothers who were able to see a problem, identify strategies, and implement a plan. There is much to be said about the generation of younger leaders who have taken the baton and run with it. All of us can learn from their example. I continue to argue that we all can do better, none of us needs to wait for the other to start a movement, but I do think we owe it to those who step up and make things happen.

      On Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 6:05 PM, Robert Williams <oaktowntre@...<mailto:oaktowntre@...>> wrote:

      I know Phil Wilson put out something too. It may have come before Paul's.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Adolph Arromand <a125th@...<mailto:a125th@...>>
      To: BYMSMworkgroup <BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com<mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com>>
      Sent: Mon, Apr 7, 2014 3:04 pm
      Subject: Re: [BYMSMworkgroup] Fwd: Making Room at the Table

      I think that NBGMAC was busy putting on some type of production in Atlanta.

      On Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 3:54 PM, S. Alex Williams <alex@...<mailto:alex@...>> wrote:

      One might think so, however there really has been no response from our community regarding the latest in a series of poor decisions coming out of CDC. Likewise, I am surprised that Paul, via NMAC, was the first, and at this point the only, organizing body to put out a statement acknowledging this egregious oversight. Where is NBGMAC?

      S. Alex Williams

      On Apr 2, 2014, at 2:44 PM, Mark Mclaurin <mclaurinm@...<mailto:mclaurinm@...>> wrote:

      Is this an April Fool 'a prank ??? Lol

      Mark J. McLaurin
      Political Director
      Service Employees International Union (S.E.I.U.) Local 500
      901 Russell Avenue, Suite 400
      Gaithersburg, MD 20879
      (301) 740-7100 -Voice
      (301) 740- 7139- Fax
      (240) 477-9608- Cell
      From: BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com<mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com> [BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com<mailto:BYMSMworkgroup@yahoogroups.com>] On Behalf Of S. Alex Williams [alex@...<mailto:alex@...>]
      Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2014 2:46 PM
      To: BYMSM Workgroup
      Subject: [BYMSMworkgroup] Fwd: Making Room at the Table

      Paul Kawata seems to be leading the charge as to raising questions about the lack of CDC CBA awards made to African American-run organizations.

      If we are unable to craft our own statement or mobilize effectively around this issue then perhaps this is the bandwagon, those of us who are willing, should jump on.

      S. Alex Williams

      Begin forwarded message:

      Making Room At The Table
      by Paul Kawata

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released the list of organizations that were awarded contracts to provide capacity building services under a new 5 year cooperative agreement to community based organizations and health departments. NMAC was honored to be one of those included, and we are very thankful for the opportunity. However, we were also disappointed that no African American-specific organizations received an award. While a number of the agencies chosen have the capacity to provide quality, culturally competent services to African American serving CBOs and health departments, the absence of any African American-run organizations was surprising.

      Previously, the CDC funded organizations like the Balm in Gilead, the Black AIDS Institute, My Brother's Keeper, and South Side Help Center, who provided linkages and brought the voice of African Americans to the table. Given recent changes in our movement, and the competitive nature of the process, I can appreciate that not all previously-funded groups would receive renewed funding. However, when no black organizations are selected, it gives me pause, particularly given the CDC's stated focus on targeting those communities most heavily impacted by the epidemic.

      Optics matter. Previous Presidents for example, may have proven themselves as steadfast allies to communities of color in their fight for civil rights and equality. But their support, however strong, could never compare to the election of the first ever Black president. The significance of President Obama's election and his time in office, rose above the individual man and his policies, and has forever changed the psyche of our nation. We no longer have to work within previous power constructs, hoping to be granted a seat at the table. Now people of color sit at the head of that table. And it's important that we not lose sight of the importance of having us in the room.

      The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), for example, represents the voice of state AIDS directors. While many other organizations provide excellent capacity building services to health departments, no organization is better situated to accomplish this than NASTAD. In the same way, no organization is better placed to serve African American CBOs than those run by, and for African Americans themselves. There are a number of qualified consulting firms and universities that were selected under this cooperative agreement and my concerns are in no way a reflection or their work or the quality of their services. It is about the glaring absence of any organizations run by and members of the community and population most heavily impacted by HIV. I hope that the CDC will meet with leaders from the community to identify ways that they can meaningfully collaborate to ensure that African Americans are adequately represented moving forward.

      President Obama has repeatedly shown his commitment to addressing the needs of the African American community. In his 2011 World AIDS Day remarks, he said that America must do more to show that the lives of Black gay men matter. Last month, he launched the White House's initiative "My Brother's Keeper," focused on young men of color. And just last week, he appointed Douglas Brooks director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. This historic selection makes Brooks the first Black gay man living openly with HIV to hold the position. Following the announcement, I stated that<http://nmac.convio.net/site/R?i=Z8n8b_5xS6XjI8WqGlTWRQ> "as the most heavily impacted population in the country, it is critical that Black gay men – especially those living with HIV – are represented at the highest levels of our government's response to the epidemic.& amp; quot; By choosing Brooks, the President sent a message that was much larger than Brooks himself. He has shown Black gay men and people living with HIV that they matter. Their voices and leadership are central to ending this epidemic. Let’s hope this important message does not get lost.

      Yours in the struggle,


      Paul Kawata
      Executive Director
      National Minority AIDS Council

      Support NMAC's efforts to develop leadership in communities of color to END the HIV/AIDS epidemic!


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