Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Jussie Smollett share their passion for HIV Justice
Two notable Black American actors with a long history of human rights and HIV activism spoke out about the importance of including HIV activism in the Black Lives Matters movement.
“I don’t think we chose it. I think it chose us,” explained Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, True Blood) to NBCBLK’s Amber Payne, in reference to her involvement in HIV advocacy. “When generations ask ‘What were you doing when HIV/AIDS was killing people?’ you want to be able to say, yes, I was doing something about it. We all have a responsibility because it affects all of us.”
“We’re on this earth, how can we ignore our fellow human beings who roam it with us,” asked her brother Jussie Smollet, who appears in Empire and serves on the board of Black AIDS Institute.
The siblings, who credit their mother for raising them to value all lives and speak out as activists, explained that they have close relationships with people living with HIV — including Hydeia Broadbent, whom they consider family.
“I’m so against shaming people into doing things … Instead, if we stop shaming people, we’ll take away the stigma,” Jussie said. “If we take away the stigma and by taking away stigma we take away denial, we’re taking away lies.”
“You can’t pick and choose when Black lives matter and when they don’t matter when it’s convenient for your own beliefs. So what does it really mean? Does it mean that Black lives matter, but not gay Black lives? Does it mean that Black lives matter, but not Black women? Does it mean that Black lives matter, but not Black people that are suffering from HIV and AIDS, not Black people that feel misunderstood … You don’t get to pick and choose,” he concluded.