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AIDS, Sexuality, and the Black Church

Harris, Angelique

AIDS, Sexuality, and the Black Church

Making the Wounded Whole

Series: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Studies in Religion, Culture, and Social Development - Volume 11

Year of Publication: 2010

New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2010. XII, 184 pp.
ISBN 978-1-4331-0943-0 hb.  (Hardcover)

Weight: 0.390 kg, 0.860 lbs

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Book synopsis

AIDS, Sexuality, and the Black Church: Making the Wounded Whole is a revealing account of AIDS activism within Black churches in New York City. AIDS has taken a devastating toll on the Black community. Blacks make up approximately 13% of the total United States population, but almost half of all those infected with HIV in the U.S. are Black. Previous research has claimed that these high rates are due, in large part, to the lack of an immediate response by Black Church leaders and officials when AIDS first began to strike Blacks in the early 1980s. The Black Church can play a major role in providing AIDS education to its parishioners and community. However, feeling uncomfortable with addressing sexuality and homosexuality, many Black churches have simply avoided addressing AIDS believing that such conversations were inappropriate for church. As a result, The Balm in Gilead was formed in 1992 to encourage AIDS awareness among Black religious institutions. The Balm in Gilead is now the largest organization to work exclusively with the Black Church to promote AIDS education and awareness.
In AIDS, Sexuality, and the Black Church, Angelique Harris examines the formation of the Black Church AIDS movement and the organizational development of The Balm in Gilead. This research begins from the perspective that the Black Church is working to address AIDS, and details how this work is being done. Harris couches her findings within social movement theory, the sociology of health and illness, social marketing, and the social construction of knowledge. This text provides a unique lens through which to examine AIDS discourse within the Black community. AIDS, Sexuality, and the Black Church is essential reading for AIDS scholars, researchers, and community activists alike.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

The Author: Angelique Harris is Assistant Professor of Sociology at California State University, Fullerton.


«This fine book, a thoughtful study of the response of the Black Church to the AIDS epidemic, is of value for students of the sociology of religion, of race, and of health. But perhaps it is most valuable as an exploration in the construction of a social problem, and as an offer of hope for the enlightened, caring development of solutions.» (Barbara Katz Rothman, Professor of Sociology, City University of New York, Past President, Society for the Study of Social Problems)
«This is an important book about AIDS in Black communities that details the significant role that Black churches and community-based organizations have played in responding to this crisis, especially in Black communities. Harris’s discussion of The Balm in Gilead is especially instructive for all those interested in how one community-based organization helped to gener-ate a movement in response to HIV and AIDS in Black communities. In the pages of this text we learn how some members of ‘the Black Church’ were mobilized to use their power to confront the epidemic of HIV and AIDS. This book is a necessary and important read for all those concerned with the fight against AIDS, especially as it continues to take hold in Black communities.» (Cathy J. Cohen, David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago; Author of ‘Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics’)


Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Studies in Religion, Culture, and Social Development. Vol. 11
General Editor: Mozella G. Mitchell