“That Could Be Me”: A History of HIV/AIDS in Oakland

By Aneesah

Jesse Brooks (kneeling at left), a Post columnist who is featured in the book.

510 Media, a photography and graphic design studio in East Oakland, hosted the “That Could Be Me” book launch, Thursday, September 22nd. The book features real stories of people living with HIV or those that have been closely affected by the virus. The book features quotes and stories from actor Danny Glover, musician D’wayne Wiggins, support from Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Post Columnist Jesse Brooks and many citizens of Oakland.   
The “That Could Be Me” campaign was three years in the making as a result of Gloria Cox-Crowell’s tireless efforts to spread information about HIV/AIDS. She’s a Consultant for the Allen Temple Baptist Church AIDS Ministry.  
Cox-Crowell’s workshops helped youthful African-Americans and Latino youth gain access to HIV testing. She, through the Allen Temple AIDS Ministry, conducted workshops while the California Prevention Education Project (CAL-PEP) administered HIV tests in various high schools and community centers.
Cox-Crowell said. “It’s important that people are aware of their status. African-Americans and Latinos are late testers. That means we don’t go and get an HIV test until we’re sick and by then, it might have already progressed to full blown AIDS, and that’s why we wanted to help our youth.”
Cox-Crowell approached Nana Kofi Nti of 510 Media about creating a book about the history of HIV in Oakland as experienced through the diligent work of prevention advocates and various Bay-Area based organizations committed to the eradication of HIV/AIDS.
Faye Taite, featured in the book, has been living with HIV for 14 years, said, “I have a daughter and I have to be strong for her. I give God all the glory because I could be isolated and ashamed.  People are still ignorant and they make it hard, especially for women of color. It makes them feel ashamed. I participated so that other women could hold their heads high.”
Attendees, reflecting Oakland’s diversified population, viewed the pages of the book on a big screen and there was a notable prominence of young people, including the Scraper Bike Crew from Oakland, holding up pictures reading “That Could Be Me.”
Catalina Palacios, of La Clínica de la Raza, a family health clinic, said “The lack of self-esteem, education, and community support can be contributing factors for contracting HIV . If the community doesn’t support HIV awareness, the youth won’t care either.”
Palacios visits Oakland high schools to teach HIV awareness and prevention.
“Seeing the different images and people that look like them and who speak their lingo is important,” said Catalina.   
“That Could Be Me” is available for $10 or a donation. For more information, contact Allen Temple AIDS Ministry at 510-544-3342 or visit www.tcbme.org.