Why NMAC Must Lead With Race

We create coded language to explain why people of color must work smarter, stronger, and be more organized than their white counterparts. Racism is baked into the mainstream’s beliefs about people with different skin colors.  It is unfair, but very real. White is seen as competent, while everyone else must prove their worth. This is the lesson that parents of color teach their children, also known as “driving while black.” To protect our children, early on we share life’s ugly reality that the world isn’t fair. Your skin color can get you killed.

As a national “minority” organization, NMAC pays this tax on a daily basis. It’s part of why we push so hard. NMAC gets to comment on the unfair nature of the world because we are viewed as competent and reliable. We are viewed this way because we work harder, faster, and cheaper than our counterparts.

People may roll their eyes and see my writings as just another person of color whining about the world. The world is tough for many, while NMAC seems to be successful.  While I agree the world is tough for lots of people, people of color have to fight to prove our worth, while our white counterparts are assumed valuable until proven otherwise.

That nuance is central to why NMAC leads with race. In a movement that wants to end the HIV epidemic, we must come to terms with the impact that skin color has on health outcomes. Part of why NMAC works so hard to make USCA and the Summit stand out is to imagine a world where the color of your skin doesn’t matter. To prove that we are just as good.

In this Black History Month, NMAC is committed to our work to make that world a reality everywhere, not just within our space. And we hope you’ll help us get there.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata
Executive Director