BET 2007 awards in support of safe sex - Get Tested

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By: CJ
Photos by Carlington Wilmot

betawards_gettestedhivsexygirls.jpgYardFlex's Hollywood week got off to a great meaningful start thanks to our Host, BET and our Sponsors, New Creation Records and Catch A Fire Clothing. They rolled out the Red Carpet to ensure that YardFlex was well equipped to catch up with the throngs of celebrities in LA for The Main Event, The BET Awards 2007.

Dressed in casual Catch A Fire get-up, our first stop was at the SAG Building on the outskirts of Beverly Hills, California. There we witnessed a more solemn side of some of our favorite urban celebrities as they participated in the "1 in a Million" campaign launch and got publicly screened for HIV to illustrate their personal commitments to ending the AIDS epidemic.

HIV/AIDS tests were conducted in front of cameras and media in conjunction with this "1 in a Million" campaign that is a call-to-action for 1 million Black Americans to get screened for HIV by World AIDS Day '08 - December 1, 2008. The campaign which is the brainchild of Tony Wafford is a part of the National Black AIDS Mobilization (BAM), whose lofty goal is to end the AIDS epidemic in Black America by 2012.
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ciarabetawards_rihanna_jayzpdiddy.jpgThe community wide initiative was a success as all participants rose to the occasion. A number of celebrities participated, including: Regina King ("Ray"," 24"), Vanessa Willaims ("Soul Food"), Sheryl Lee Ralph ("ER", Original "Dreamgirls" on Broadway), Hosea Chanchez ("The Game"), Angie Stone (Recording Artist), Tatyana Ali ("The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"), and Shari Belafonte, daughter of Caribbean crooner, Harry Belafonte (The District).

YardFlex caught up with most of the celebrities on-hand for the historic event. According to Actress Vanessa Williams of Soul Food fame, the numbers are compelling since "The Black population in the United States is only 13%, yet Blacks make up 50% of HIV positive cases." She added that "the reasons why the numbers have grown are because of fear, lack of health care, lack of education and lack of responsible sexual behavior." Clad in an A-line yellow dress which reminded me of youthful innocence, the black beauty wanted to get the message of responsibility to the masses. Williams also announced that "today is about moving into action."

Williams sentiments was also shared by Caribbean native, celebrated actress Sheryl Lee Ralph who was animatedly passionate about educating and urging her brothers and sisters to use wisdom in not only getting tested, but also in realizing the importance of strapping it up (wearing condoms). Ralph said she wants to get the talkers to not just talk the talk but also walk the walk. My interview with the Jamaican beauty was interrupted when her male assistant delivered her cell phone. Ralph paused the interview momentarily as she got the campaign's message across to the caller. It was evident that her participation was no community service project, her passion was deeply embedded in her spirit, message and carriage. Sheryl Lee was tickled as she recounted one encounter she had with a female interviewer who asked her how long was she "positive?" and then to see the look on the said woman's face when Ralph revealed that she was not "HIV positive." The only thing that was "positive" was her message, because she "cared about her people, her culture, all women, men and children, that may ignore the call to action and put their life at risk."

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YardFlex's chat with the accomplished actress didn't end without including the Caribbean perspective. According to Ralph, "Our little Caribbean Nation of Jamaica including artistes and entertainers - we have to stop it with the ba**yman business and cut out the homophobia. They need to stop singing about "dem haffi dead," because it's to our own detriment. Entertainers with their homophobic mentality are against themselves, because we are one." The ER actress fervently interjected that Jamaica is a "Christian nation and our Christ never spoke those kind of words. If anybody was inclusive, it was Our Christ." Among other things the community activists wants everyone to "enjoy sex as good sex is one of life's pleasures. However, enjoy it safely, be responsible, use condoms and most importantly, limit the number of sexual partners."

Sheryl Lee Ralph can be seen in "Sometimes I Cry" her one woman free community performance about real women with real stories about HIV and AIDS. Readers can log on to www.sometimesicry.org for more info.

Many other entertainers promised to use their act as a method to spread the message. Veteran comedian, Luenell will include the message in her Pimp 3 Comedy Tour. Destiny Lightsy of MTV's "Yo Mama" was also on-hand to represent the show and call all young people to act responsibly. The 23 year-old beauty is elated that she has the opportunity to use her talent, positon and resources to "educate and participate in community outreach programs like the "1 in a Million" campaign, that calls her community to action."

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is growing at an alarming rate. Blacks are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. YardFlex joins the "1 in a Million" campaign with a message to our readers to act responsibly, safely and protect humanity. Most importantly get tested. Go to: www.testforlife.org for more information. Remember a huge number of those infected with HIV have no idea that they are infected.

 

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