Magic Johnson is larger than life. The former NBA great dominated his opponents on the court and since retiring early because of a HIV diagnosis, he’s turned into one of the disease’s most formidable opponents.
Magic has gone from being Mr. Showtime and running the point as the Lakers’ superstar to one of the industry’s biggest businessmen and HIV activists.
Recently Johnson sat down with the Huffington Post to discuss living with HIV for 20 year and how he plans to help fight the spread of the disease in urban communities. According to Magic, the Black community can learn a lot about fighting the disease from their gay white counterparts.
He explains: “I learned a lot from the white gay community because they had gotten their community, rallied them, educated them and did a wonderful job about driving the numbers down. That is the best approach that I’ve seen; it’s been the most effective. So what we try to do in our community is bring those results to us. So I’m working hard to continue to educate minorities about HIV and AIDS and we’ve got to band together. We’re too fragmented right now, but if we can do that, we’re going to do well.”
So how does Magic plan to reach inner-city communities? Well, he hopes to team up with hip hop artists.
“As a hip-hop fan, you realize that homophobia is still an issue everywhere, but especially in the black community. When people are scared to talk about it, that’s how the disease spreads. So what have you been doing to get that risk reduced?
What we’re trying to do is reach out to the hip-hop community because they have power — power with their voice, power with that mic in their hand and power with the lyrics that they sing. I have a lot of friends in that industry and so what we’re trying to do is rally them to get behind the cause, deliver the message to these young people that HIV and AIDS is big and it’s not going anywhere. They can make a difference right away by speaking out, because they have a big fan base.
So we’re finding out that a lot of them want to be involved; they’re just looking for a group like ours to latch onto and be a part of it. We haven’t really had any push-back from the hip-hop community.”
Although Magic is tight-lipped about who he’ll be working with within the hip hop community to spread the message, he says that he has big things on the horizon. And judging from his past track record, I believe him.
Do you think partnering with rappers will help end homophobia in the Black community and encourage HIV prevention and testing? Which rappers should Magic work with?