“For men, the moment of clarity always comes after the nut” – Anslem Samuel
“We equate condom use with infidelity as opposed to safety” – Shawna Marie
“I have lived with it longer than I have lived without it” – Craig Cobb
These are just a few of the quotes that stuck in my head from a HIV awareness forum that DK and I attended called “Protection is the New Black: Are You Sleeping with Clair Huxtable or Nicki Minaj”. The forum was put together by Verneda White, the founder of Human Intonation. She also played the role of moderator along with Chris Kazi Rolle, the founder of Together Apart. The panelists included Craig Cobb, Maria Davis, Shawna Marie and Anslem Samuel. The purpose of the forum was to help break the stereotypes of the type of woman who society often portrays as being most likely to be at risk of becoming HIV+. We also spoke about the dynamics of the male/female relationship and how that affects the conversation of protection and HIV testing.
I learned so many things at this forum not only about my perception of safe sex as an engaged woman but also how much HIV is affecting our Black community, especially Black women. I was impressed with the candor of the panel, and their willingness to expose themselves to us. It is this idea of exposure that resonated with me as the event came to a close. We as a community have to be willing to expose the fact that HIV is a problem that we need to address not only with our youth but with everyone from middle-aged to seniors. We as individuals have to be willing to expose ourselves to our partners, whether that be our sexuality, our HIV status, or dammit just how freaky we are. Lastly we need to expose ourselves to ourselves. If we can’t love who we are how can we expect someone else to love us enough to put a condom on.
After the forum I had the pleasure of speaking with Verneda White about her apparel brand Human Intonation, the inspiration behind it and what we can look forward to. Peep our conversation below.
What makes Human Intonation different from other organizations trying to create change and awareness in topics such as safe sex and other worldly issues? First off Human intonation is an apparel brand. There is no other company where fashion and apparel are being used as the sole purpose of bringing awareness. I have yet to see apparel lines that are fully integrated into social awareness. Apparel is our first step whether it’s the graphics or the fashion presentation and that’s what draws people in. That is key in what makes Human Intonation different.
A lot of your work has been inspired by life experiences, what else continues to inspire you as you seek out new ventures? When I decided to raise awareness for education in Darfur it was because of a documentary that I saw. The Darfur people showed so much passion on educating their children and I wanted to help out and be apart of that. It is actually their determination that continues to inspire me to push forward, it’s not easy to run a business where you are trying to get people to pay attention and be involved.
You have a business that is dedicated to making a difference in your community, what advice do you have for others that want to make a difference but don’t know where to start? Start with what you know and what you have a passion for. Human Intonation was started around the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and how that affected my family. You have to figure out what your resources and capabilities are and how you could use them, this will makes things easier. I am more passionate today about Human Intonation because I have integrated two things that I love, fashion and creating social awareness.
What upcoming things can we expect from Human Intonation? The apparel line will continue, but you will see a growth in events centered around HIV prevention awareness. I can’t be in Darfur or Haiti or New Orleans but I can help promote HIV awareness on a day-to-day basis here in my community. If I can help any family avoid what I had to go through with the loss of my cousin that would be a great accomplishment.
Photos courtesy of Qlick Who Shot Ya
Human Intonation Fashion Presentation
Clip of forum