People continue to grapple with our blackness — why? I laughed when the article discussed how some argue that because Harris’ parents are Jamaican and Indian, she has no connection to slavery and can’t be African American. Wow, the lack historical knowledge and understanding of the Africa diaspora. Slaves were “seasoned” in the Caribbean before coming to the US.

Real tired of these discussions – Senator Harris is part of the Black community, she is African American, and she is also Indian American. She embraces all of her identities but also realizes that in this country she is and will be perceived as black. It is problematic to have purity tests for Blacks or African Americans. If we all took a DNA test you will realize that most of us are multi-racial, most of us are decendents of immigrants – whether we are 1st, 2nd or further generations.

I was thinking this morning – I am a 2nd generation American. My maternal grandmother was from the island of St. Barts in the French West Indies. My maternal grandfather was born in St. Croix, at that time it was Danish island. My paternal grandmother was born in Grenada in the British West Indies. My paternal grandfather was born in Panama. Based on the “current standard” of “race/ethnicity” neither of my parents would be Black or African American because we have no slave ancestors. Not only do I have slave ancestors – I come from a strong lineage of Africans in West Africa – Ghana, Nigeria and Southern Africa. And yes, like many I also have European ancestry. The majority of my DNA is African. My lived experience is very Black. I grew up on a Black island. So it’s disheartening when I hear anyone question one’s identity. I am 58 – I know who I am and I know my heritage better than anyone on this earth. I am sure Senator Harris at 55 knows her heritage better than anyone else. I trust her knowledge of self over anyone else opining on her identity.

https://news.iu.edu/stories/2019/12/iub/releases/11-interim-director-for-lgbtq-culture-center.html

 

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Bruce E. Smail will be the interim director of the Indiana University LGBTQ+ Culture Center and special assistant to the vice president beginning Jan. 2. Smail, who has several years’ experience in organizations focused on equity, diversity and inclusion, replaces Doug Bauder, who is retiring after leading the LGBTQ+ Culture Center for 25 years.

This position is a dual appointment reporting to the vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs and to the assistant vice president for strategy, planning and assessment in the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs.

For decades, Indiana University has been recognized as a leader among higher education institutions for its efforts to support faculty, staff, students, alumni and others who identify as LGBTQ+. The LGBTQ+ Culture Center — created 25 years ago and administered by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs — represents a focal point of this work, serving as a place where people are given the encouragement and resources to build meaningful relationships across differences and open their minds and hearts to matters relating to diversity and inclusion.

“Bruce is an outstanding advocate for critical issues involving the LGBTQ+ community,” said James C. Wimbush, vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs; dean of The University Graduate School; and Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership at Indiana University. “He will play a critical role in leading the assessment and planning necessary to meet the needs of students and the IU community for the next 25 years.”

Smail brings an extensive professional background in matters relating to equity, diversity and social justice to Indiana University. Most recently, he served as deputy director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles. Before that, he held the positions of director of the Cross Cultural Center at the University of California, Davis; director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Resource Center at the University of Colorado; and diversity education specialist at Indiana University Bloomington.

“More than his professional accomplishments, Bruce has the passion and heart to make a difference,” said Yolanda Treviño, assistant vice president of strategy, planning and assessment for the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs. “He is someone who will bring to the forefront the many voices that are too often silenced. His experiences and commitment will prove instrumental in helping to lead us into the future as we create new opportunities to ensure students successfully reach their educational goals.”

During his interim director appointment, Smail will implement programming support services to address issues of sexual orientation, gender identity, intersectionality and social justice, as well as interact with alumni and donors to better understand the needs of the IU Bloomington LGBTQ+ community over the next three years. In addition, he will manage and administer the LGBTQ+ Culture Center’s budget and supervise staff, graduate assistants and volunteers.

In the special assistant to the vice president role, Smail will assess the IU Bloomington campus’s five culture centers: Asian Culture CenterFirst Nations Educational and Cultural CenterLa Casa Latino Cultural Center, LGBTQ+ Culture Center and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

Smail will also work with all of IU’s campuses to coordinate universitywide LGBTQ efforts and the spaces provided.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to return to Indiana University,” Smail said. “Cultural centers play a unique role on college campuses by targeting, supporting and advocating for specific communities, as well as helping the campus understand the community and build strong allies for that community. My own life experiences and various career positions have prepared me well for this work and for the work that lies ahead to enhance diversity, equity and community for all.”

Media Contact

Elizabeth Blevins

Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs

Phone: 812-855-9772

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As a person living with HIV since February 10, 2003 (almost 17 years); I pause today to: remember the many lives lost (including friends and colleagues), encourage us living with HIV, celebrate the many advances in HIV, and acknowledge that zero new transmission is very near.

I encourage you to know your status – get tested today! Seek treatment if positive – the latest research on U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) demonstrates our contribution to Getting To Zero. We all need to break down the stigma!!!

I will always continue the fight to End HIV no matter where my life journey takes me!!!! ALL OF US must commit to this fight because we are all touched by HIV in some aspect.

Today is World AIDS Day. Remembering the many lives lost, my brothers and sisters living with HIV/AIDS, and those impacted by HIV/AIDS. As a person living with HIV for almost 16 years, I pause today to reflect as well as encourage you to know your status, know all your options – PrEP, U=U, condoms, clean needles – end Stigma, zero new cases. Let’s End HIV/AIDS.

i_voted_sticker-r3e3e0232bca8427d97a8eaff6cad7db8_v9waf_8byvr_540It’s Election Day — If you haven’t voted, you have all day to cast your vote. As President Obama said at a rally, “Don’t Boo, Vote!” It is our responsibility as American Citizens.

At the age of 9, I was involved in two campaigns. My mommy, Juanita Smail was running for Senator for St. Croix, VI and my cousin, Dr. Melvin Evans was running for the first elected Governor of the US Virgin Islands. I remember campaigning with mommy and Dr. Evans. While my mom did not win the Senatorial seat, she was one of the first women to run for Senate. I believe there was one (maybe 2) woman who one that year –

Juanita R. Smail
Juanita R. Smail

Senator Ruby Rouse, I believe was the first elected women in the VI Senate. My mom ran again in 1972 but also loss. Her passion didn’t stop her involvement in politics. As an educator, she continue here career in education until she ran the campaign of Governor Evans for the Delegate to Congress in 1979. She then joined him in Washington DC as his Research Assistant from 1980-82. While Congressman Evans was not re-elected, he was appointed the US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. Ambassador Evans died while serving in this position. My mommy on the other hand stayed in DC to finish her Master’s in Public Administration and returned to St. Croix and became the Superintendent for St. Croix Schools. She died while serving that position.

Both mommy and Dr. Evans gave me an opportunity to be active in politics from a very young age. I remember in 1980, my first election to vote in, I was faced with a dilemma. As a registered democrat, I didn’t like the democratic nominee. I remember voting for John Anderson who was an independent candidate. While at that young age, I thought an independent could win. Well our country is so much a two-party system and if you aren’t in one of those parties — winning is extremely difficult.

Melvin_Evans123
Dr. Melvin H. Evans

President Obama is the first Presidential Candidate that motivated me to donate multiple times for his candidacy. Voting is so much a part of our responsibility and our right. So many people fought and died for us to have the right to vote. We owe it to the shoulders we stand on to vote. If you haven’t voted through absentee or early voting — GET TO THE POLLS EARLY. VOTE TODAY. You have the power to make a change — Let send a message about our power today. I did my part with absentee voting in MD. Now do your part.

By the way, the picture of mommy was her campaign picture.

In memory of the many lives lost to 9/11/01. A horrific morning that I remember vividly, just a few miles from the Pentagon. The fear, the chaos, and the many lives lost will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace. I visited the memorial in NYC and you could feel the sacred grounds —- it was an eerie feeling, humble, solemn yet an amazing tribute.

cropped-fabde9bc-2465-4d65-b8c9-2a7cbd74ce82.jpgAfter taking two weeks to recoup from my coast to coast journey, I finally started the writing process for my book. This is very exciting step but also a long journey. This morning, as I was writing the elements of the first chapter, so many emotions resurfaced. The first chapter begins with my doctor telling me “I have some good news and some bad news.” I felt like I was back in 2003 and reliving this experience again. I really did not expect all those feelings and emotions to resurface, but they did.

This book will be a labor of love and will reveal so much about me and my life. I am reminded often that my story is relevant and important to share. There aren’t many Black men who have shared their story of living with HIV. I am writing this book for those of living with HIV; for those with family and friends living with HIV; and for folx to have a better understanding of the day-to-day challenges of living with HIV.

cropped-4a33e2aa-565a-47a0-8fd4-d7d9f53adfbc1.jpg6/3/2018 – Good Morning! As you know, I am moving forward with actively engaging my passion around HIV issues. With this post, I am creating the option for ongoing dialogue on HIV. As a person living with HIV since 2003 as well as a former CEO and Executive Director of two nonprofit HIV/AIDS organization, I am quite familiar with many of the issues facing individuals living with HIV as well as prevention. I encourage you to use the discussion option to raise questions or comments. It is my hope that this will help share knowledge and information for individuals living with HIV, individuals concerned about prevention of HIV, or help you in supporting your friends and family with HIV. I will do my best to give you my perspective or provide you with information that may be helpful for you. Let’s let the dialogue begin.