#AmazingGrady, Day 10
Me: "Hey there. Just came back to check on you."
Him: "Lawd. Did you come back to bug me about that pill some more?"
Me: "You mean the PrEP? Nah. Well. I mean, I do want you to take it. But I legit came to check on you."
Him: "Mmmm hmmmm."
Him: "You a dog on a bone, you know that?"
Him: "Yeah, YOU. But for real. . .I'm pretty low key. I don't need that pill. I ain't out like that, feel me?"
Him: "Why you so pressed for me to take this pill?"
Me: "Because. I care about you."
Me: "So--tell me again why you aren't feeling it?"
Him: "I don't want nobody experimenting on me. Or using me to get paid."
Me: " Tell me what you mean by that."
Him: "Look. I ain't even out like that. So I'm good." *turns up TV*
Me: "I was coming to see how your nausea was. Did the medicine we gave you help?"
Him: "A lot, thanks."
Him: "Let me ask you something."
Me: "I'm listening."
Him: "If I was your brother--or your son. . . would you be wanting me to take this prevention pill?"
Me: "Oh hells yes."
Him: *laughter* "Wait. Can you say that?"
Me: "Probably not. Unless you're talking about PrEP."
Him: "Real talk. So even if he wasn't with a whole lot of different folks like that?"
Me: "I would."
Him: "Would you take it yourself?"
My immediate thought was that I would. But, to honor his question, I decided to be honest. As a cisgender woman in a monogamous relationship with a man, I'd never really had to imagine myself taking PrEP. Which means I hadn't fully considered what I was asking of him.
And so. I told him just that.
But then, after thinking, I told him how I felt.
Me: "I would."
Him: "You would?"
Me: "I would."
I told him about some of the side effects. And admitted that I hate the feeling of nausea so that might give me pause.
He asked if I thought it was all an experiment like Tuskegee. I paused to respect the question.
Me: "No. I don't think so."
Him: "That was crazy what happened to those brothers."
Me: *shaking my head* "Awful."
Me: "You know? My granddad was in Tuskegee then."
Him: "Word? Was he experimented on?"
Me: "Fortunately no. He was a college student there, though."
Him: "Okay, but what if I ain't even with a lot of people like that?"
Me: "I don't want you to think I think that."
Him: "You ever think about what if your granddaddy had got shot up with syphilis, too?"
Me: "Honestly? Before this minute? Not fully."
Him: "I be scared of all this stuff coming out. How am I supposed to know this ain't the same thing?"
What do you say to that?
So here's what happened next:
I acknowledged his concerns and the atrocities that happened to men like him in the name of science. I listened. I spoke to #ID and gathered more expert advice and came back with more information.
And asked him to think about it.
Him: "I haven't made up my mind yet. But I'm thinking on it."
Him: "I 'preciate you being a dog on a bone."
Him: "Hey--I'm glad your granddaddy wasn't in that number."
Him: "Real talk? People be scared for a reason, feel me?"
Here’s an image of my grandparents taken on the campus of Tuskegee circa 1941.
Just thought of this. . . My OWN mom was born IN Tuskegee IN the study hospital in 1947—the very same year penicillin became standard tx for syphilis.