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Morgan State University hosts health and hip hop conference

Freddie Allen | 11/24/2015, 4:30 p.m.
In an effort to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS among young Black men, a group disproportionately impacted by the epidemic, health-care ...
Messaiah Ramiskoon, an MC, youth advocate and three-time winner of “Showtime at the Apollo,” comments on homophobia in Hip Hop at the Health and Hip Hop Conference at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md. (Freddie Allen/BAI)

— He continued: “We have to understand how to nation-build, acting civilized whether you’re gay or you’re straight. We have to be able to have differences and still love each other as family. These conversations have to happen without hate getting involved.”

Kenton Dunson, a hip-hop artist on a panel about ways the music has affected health outcomes among Black men, suggested that artists be more creative and less afraid to use their art to raise awareness about health disparities affecting Black communities. “J. Cole is probably a step away from doing that,” Dunson said. “He can say it and do it and be fine because he’s an established artist, but for someone like me who is still trying to get their numbers up and create awareness around my music, it might set a trend or it might not.”

Dr. Edwards explained that health disparities persist because health-care providers fail to include marginalized communities in the discourse about prevention strategies and the development of best practices that are necessary to address those disparities. “We need to give a voice to the people that we want to reach,” she said. “They can tell researchers and academics and community-based organizations what best works for them. They’re the experts. We’re not the experts.”

Dr. Edwards continued: “If we can create spaces where men can be themselves and feel safe in sharing what’s in their hearts and minds and their experiences, then we can all heal.”