Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Wright, HIV, and Fear of the Night

I have spent most of my life afraid of the night, not of the dark mind you, the night.

I have been cautioned by people who care about me not to go outside after sunset. In college we had volunteers working in pairs whom you could call to walk you back to your dorm, because, we all knew, it was not safe to walk alone at night.

When I went to graduate school I attended Take Back the Night rallies. We marched after dark in large crowds carrying candles. Protesting exactly what I am not certain. Someone told us that we needed to call attention to the fact that the night was not safe for women.

I teach now at a small college. When I first arrived several of the new women faculty asked the senior women if it was safe to walk on the campus at night. They said mostly. If you park in the parking lot near your building you should be fine. Don't walk past the all-male dorm though. It wasn't safe to be there at night.

Now we have emergency phones with blue lights all over campus. If you are threatened you can pick one up and security will come running. They are there to make us feel just a bit safer, because, you know, it is not safe for women to be out in the night.

What is remarkable about this is that I have never, in my entire life, heard a single report of a woman attacked outside at night. Not one. I personally know several women who have been raped by their dates, and have cared for dozens of children who were molested by family members. A few years ago there was a man attacking women on a jogging path in a city near me, oddly though those attacks were during the day time.

I am not claiming that women are never attacked when they dare to walk outside at night, only that I have never known anyone to whom it has happened, never read about it happening in the local papers, never even known someone who claimed to know someone to whom it happened. I myself can not cite one example.

And yet still, we know that the night is dangerous for women. Even with no evidence that the night is dangerous, I still fight anxiety when I go out into. Because we all know that the night is dangerous.

But what does this have to do with the Rev. Wright? He finds it plausible that the US government created HIV. The TV pundits scoff. How ridiculous! How paranoid! Who could anyone believe something so absurd? But is it any more unreasonable than my fear of the night? I have no evidence, absolutely none, that the night dangerous to me, but I am afraid.

When the Tuskegee experiments were first reported, our newscasters told us, falsely, that the black men in the experiment were injected with syphilis. That we know now is not true. They acquired it the same way every one else did. All the researchers did was study them, tell them they were being treated while they were not, say nothing while they were unknowingly infecting others. All the researchers did was give their names to local doctors and hospitals so that they would not be given antibiotics. All the researches did was watch them die and record the progress of symptoms.

Would you trust a government that funded that project?

What about a government that allows for medical experimentation in prisons, experiments that are not done on the outside because no one will volunteer for them? Prisoners have so few options, they can be persuaded to volunteer. Many of us do not know about how many experiments occur in prisons today. You would if you lived in a community in which many people know someone in prison. The injustices committed against African Americans in this country are too numerous to list. The apathy and ignorance of the society too terrible to contemplate.

The Rev. Wright is not alone in believing that it is possible that the US government invented HIV. It is a fear that exists in a community. It is a false believe, but is it paranoid or irrational?

I'll get back to you when I stop fearing the night.


  1. I believe it. Even without "proof." My uncle saw way too many things in Kenya that indicated there was a definite method of control involved with who contracted HIV and who didn't. Too many suspicious events.

  2. I believe it could be true. I also believe that so many who suffer from AIDS in Africa now could be saved if the US wasn't refusing help.

  3. We had a guy come to teach us self defense in high school. It was a big deal because it was free for all the girls in my year level. He explained that the reason he was doing it was because his sister had been jogging on a bike track near our school about a year earlier when a guy grabbed her, dragged her into the bushes and raped her with a metal pole before leaving her to die. That never made it on the news as the family wanted to keep those details private.

    Because of what he said I will never walk at night wearing head phones. That's what made him choose her that night. That's my reason for being paranoid.

    And that's just it, I have a reason to be paranoid and I think Rev. Wright does too. Regardless of those paranoid deductions being proven or not, doesn't mean they should be ignored.

  4. We went to an Obama Rally this Sunday (and got to meet him up close and personal if you wanna check the story on my blog) and saw 2 great bumper stickers. One said "I am voting for a president, not a pastor" and one that said, "I don't agree with everything my pastor says either". Which is perfect since I work at my church, I decided against it.

  5. Not that this will make you feel any safer, but there were two night attacks recently near my college campus. One of them is on my walk home--luckily, I never walk home at night. Here's one of them: http://www.uwosh.edu/news/?p=275 The other report was similar. There is at least one such report [night time assault, sometimes sexual, sometimes not] every semester around here, I think. We're a small city of 60,000 with 12,000 students attending the college.


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