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by David Waggoner

Join our mailing list! I skip over these offers, unless it is something I really want updates about (anything to do with the visual arts, usually). But at least these offers give me the option to join. Most times I find myself unsubscribing to email blasts and newsletters I never signed up for. And, to be honest, I spend so much time unsubscribing, it has soured a little bit my seeking out what I am interested in. It made me think how quickly we might forfeit what does engage our hearts and minds because accessing it is enveloped in stress and effort and grief. I am sure there is some parallel here between this and Russian operatives on social media and Presidential elections, but I am too tired of the whole situation to analyze it right now.

I do know that just because the bathwater has gone cold and has become a bit swampy, there’s no need to throw the baby out with it. Just like I will commit to not letting spam ruin my access to visual arts announcements I do like, I will commit to not letting our current political mess distract me from the activism I do subscribe to.

It is the activism that has started countless AIDS service organizations across our great country, organizations like GMHC (founded in 1982), AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts (1983), The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (1991), and the Black AIDS Institute (BAI) (1999). It is an activism that evolves out of a community, that does not disparage a mix of dissenting voices and different approaches but that does rally around shared needs and goals.

About the impetus to launch BAI, cofounder Phill Wilson, who graced our cover in February 2014, said, “We knew two things, (1) Black People were dying, and (2) Nobody could save us, but us.”

For this month’s cover story, Senior Editor Sean Black interviewed and photographed outgoing President and CEO Phill Wilson and incoming President and CEO Raniyah Copeland, formerly BAI’s Director of Programs.

In a speech at BAI’s Heroes in the Struggle event, where she was introduced as the new President and CEO, Copeland said, “I am grateful for the tremendous opportunity and humbling responsibility the board of directors has entrusted me with to lead a world-renowned twenty-year-old organization who has been the unequivocal leader unapologetically working to end the AIDS epidemic in Black America.” BAI’s recent initiative, an ambassador program that seeks to engage Black women about HIV and sexual health, is evidence that the organization is still at the top of its game.

BAI is not alone—a peek inside this issue reveals advocates, activists, and artists subscribing to a standard of excellence that is really only forged out of a deep sense of caring for our brothers and sisters.

Sean Black reports on ETAF’s support of mobile health in Malawi. For this month’s Gallery, Special Projects Editor Lester Strong interviewed Finnish artist Toni Kitti. Senior Editor Dann Dulin spoke with Impulse’s Jose Ramos, touching on sexual health among gay and bi men. Contributing writer Allie Oakes queried Radiant Health Centers’ Manny Muro about PEP and navigating other prevention options. And literary offerings from Patrick Milian, Gina Femia, John Whittier Treat, Paul J. Partuzo, and Paul A. Aguilar all prove that words are a form of positive action.

So, I invite you—to borrow magazine parlance—to subscribe now! Subscribe to your vision of community, even though clenched fists are making you hide your heart to protect it. Subscribe to your vision of activism, even though loud voices are making you cover your ears. Subscribe to yourself!

David Waggoner is Editor in Chief and Publisher of A&U, the first national HIV/AIDS magazine in the U.S.