A upcoming gathering on the West Side will confront issues surrounding stigma against persons reentering the community from prison as well as persons with HIV/AIDS, among other demographics.
The eventto be held Wed., June 27, at 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Sankofa Cultural Arts Center, 5820 W. Chicago Ave.will launch the "Stigma Stops with Me" campaign that Men & Women in Prison Ministries ( MWIPM ) as well as other community organizations are sponsoring.
Rev. Doris Green, who heads MWIPM, said the event has been in the planning stages for about eight months. Persons with HIV as well as formerly incarcerated individuals will speak at the event, discussing barriers that societal stigmas have placed before them in the community.
"Stigma is so common in so many areas, around reentry, HIV, transgender personseven the opioid [issue] has stigma attached to it," Green explained. "What we decided to do is launch this campaign … because we want our community to be aware of how stigma is impacting us and making sure that our people know how to engage with one another. It affects everyone in our community, from African American MSM [men who have sex with men] to transgender people to opioid userseveryone is here, and the community belongs to all of us."
Green said that becoming what she called a "stigma-buster" has been a passion of hers for years, further explaining that, "For me, that means that wherever I'm at, even at the kitchen table with my family, if I see something, I should be able to speak to it, and have it become a teachable moment for some people. … At the event, the backs of our T-shirts will say 'I am a stigma-buster.'"
Local politiciansamong them state Reps. LaShawn Ford ( D-Chicago ) and Julianna Stratton ( D-Chicago ), the latter of whom is currently running for the state lieutenant governor's postwill also attend a press conference at 9:30 a.m. that morning, Green added.
For more information, visit mwipm.com .