Morenike Giwa Onaiwu
I'm simply me--daughter, sister, mother, wife, student, friend, advocate. I love God, my man, my kids, my friends, and I'm trying to actively love life. I am passionate about many things, HIV treatment and prevention, autism and disability awareness, adoption, education, youth, refugees, and community empowerment among them. I love advocacy work and believe that ALL people can advocate in their own way! To help make that happen, I am the proud founder of Advocacy Without Borders, which is leading the Save Ryan White Part D Initiative! (If you haven't, PLEASE sign and share our petitions below!) https://www.change.org/p/lynchburg-juvenile-and-domestic-relations-district-court-chief-judge-cary-payne-justiceforkayleb-drop-the-unjust-felony-charge-against-11-year-old-kayleb-moon-robinson https://www.change.org/p/douglas-m-brooks-msw-create-and-pass-mina-s-law-because-people-with-hiv-are-notyourinfection
Save HIV cure research in Texas
The Houston AIDS Research Team (HART) is an invaluable part of Texas’ HIV research. It is a hardworking and diverse team of men and women that is comprised almost completely of people of color (Hispanic/Latino, Asian, and African American/Black), many of whom are bilingual. HART works hard to serve some of the most underrepresented and marginalized individuals in the Houston area and has enrolled nearly 5,000 individuals in HIV research trials over the last two funding cycles. But the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston is unfairly forcing HART out of its offices and putting HIV research in Texas at risk. David D. McPherson, MD (Chairman of the Internal Medicine department) of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston has made an arbitrary decision to take over the office space of the entire NIH funded Houston AIDS Research Team, uprooting the researchers that are currently there and have been there for years, and give the space to Dr. Dianna M. Milewicz (Medical Genetics). This decision was made without involving the team and apparently with little concern about their thoughts and feelings on the matter. UT Houston has gained over $20 million from NIH grants and over a million dollars of industry grants from the work of HART’s principal investigator since 1997 alone. Currently HART brings in $800,000 annually for its work. With the exception of an administrative assistant provided by the university, UT Houston has NO expenses for HART’s existence - only financial gain. HART fully pays for itself from the NIH grants (including its AIDS Clinical Trials Funding). It pays for its own staff salaries and benefits, its own equipment, its own supplies, etc. Aside from bringing in millions of dollars into the Houston area, HART has developed community and research leaders who have impacted the local, national, and global HIV community through their work. In addition, their efforts to serve the most vulnerable and/or overlooked individuals within the HIV community has been successful. While many HIV research sites struggle to enroll women, HART maintains an enrollment of approximately 30% women. HART also works hard to recruit and enroll people living with HIV who are dealing with substance use, including intravenous drug users (IDU); 5% of its participants identify as IDU. The site also enrolls an impressive percentage of Hispanic/Latino and African American/Black research participants in its trials. The discriminatory actions of UT Houston have demoralized the entire HART team and have left them questioning the future of their site and the viability of the work that they are doing. This can adversely affect performance, which in turn can have a negative impact on our local community as well as the continuation of the research. It is not acceptable nor feasible for HART to continue to endure discrimination and microaggressions time and time again when they are simply trying to do their work. There are many cities outside of Houston where these physicians, pharmacists, research associates, community advocates, etc. could find work and not be treated in this way; their skills are marketable and their accomplishments would make them highly sought after candidates. They have chosen Houston - so Houston needs to stand behind them - as do others outside of Houston who care about the important work that they are doing to improve the lives of people living with HIV. I am part of an HIV affected family, and I know personally how important HIV research is and how it has benefited us. If it wasn't for the advances in medication we have obtained through HIV research over the last few decades HIV would still be considered a death sentence instead of a manageable chronic illness. Without the advances gained through HIV research, members of my very own family would not be alive right now. I am hoping that you will consider helping to send the message to the University of Texas that HIV research DOES matter and that you will help me to save our research site's offices so that the Houston AIDS research team can continue seeking a cure for HIV.
End the Prosecution Against Kayleb: An autistic 6th grader unfairly charged with a felony
Kayleb Moon-Robinson is a 6th grader in Virginia on the autism spectrum. During what was a difficult day for him, he kicked a trashcan at his middle school. A school resource officer saw him and filed a disorderly conduct charge in juvenile court against the then 11-year-old boy. Two weeks later, Kayleb was told to wait while other kids left class but disobeyed. When the same officer grabbed Kayleb to bring him to the principal's office, Kayleb says he tried to push away but the officer "slammed me down and then handcuffed me." The officer then charged him with felony assault against a police officer and another charge of disorderly conduct. Unbelievably, this autistic 6th grader is being prosecuted for both disorderly conduct and felony assault on a police officer. Kayleb is a small boy who wears glasses and posed no real threat to the officer. He does not belong in the juvenile justice system just because he has a disability. That's why Virginia Governor McAuliffe and the state of Virginia must end the unfair prosecution against Kayleb -- otherwise this felony will negatively impact his ability to obtain jobs, housing, and other opportunities in his future. For a 6th grader with autism, that's just unfair. I am a mother, and I'm also autistic -- as are two of my children. I have other children with disabilities as well. Young people who are on the autism spectrum can have difficulty differentiating the roles of certain people, like police, from others. That doesn't make them criminals. Nationally, schools disproportionately punish and refer disabled students and students of color to law enforcement. Kayleb is both autistic and black. And according to the Center for Public Integrity in just one year Virginia schools refer students to law enforcement agencies at a rate nearly three times the national rate -- higher than any other state in the country. Please sign my petition asking Virginia Governor McAuliffe to end the prosecution against Kayleb. He needs support, not a record. Morenike Giwa Onaiwu and Lei Wiley Mydske, petitioners (Photo credit: Charlie Archambault/Center for Public Integrity)
Don't slash healthcare funding for HIV+ women, children, and families!
For decades, a federal funding program established through the Ryan White CARE Act has been a lifeline to millions of individuals living with HIV in America through its provision of medical care, prescription drug assistance, and supplementary programs to support improved health and overall quality of life. While all components of the Ryan White program are of immense value, one particular part of the program (referred to as Part D) has been of particular importance as it serves some of the most vulnerable populations living with and/or affected by HIV--women, infants, children, youth, teens, and their families/caregivers. Ryan White Part D receives significantly less funding than the other Ryan White programs. And yet, President Obama's proposed 2015 fiscal year budget proposes eliminating the Part D program and consolidating it with another part (Part C) of the funding. Part of the rationale for eliminating Part D is that 67% of Part D funded agencies also receive Part C, so presumably by consolidating the programs administrative costs will be reduced and presumably there will be more funds available. However, have been no guarantees made that ALL of the communities currently served by Ryan White Part D will survive this consolidation, only that they can "apply" to be a Part C grantee, with no promise that they will be selected. This uncertainty puts innumerable families across the country at risk. Lip service has been paid to the importance of securing the health and stability of the vulnerable populations served by the Part D program, but that has been eclipsed by actions which indicate otherwise. There is a community effort that is gaining momentum in an attempt to get the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reconsider this matter, involving a plethora of individuals, families, community advisory boards, policy advocates, and several prominent and grassroots organizations that work on behalf of HIV+ and affected women, children, youth, and families, including the AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth, and Families; the Positive Women’s Network; the National Black Women’s HIV/AIDS Network; Advocacy Without Borders; Positively U; the 30 for 30 Campaign; many Part D grantees, and others. But we need your help. We need to let HRSA and HHS -- and members of Congress as they debate the budget -- know that this program saves lives and needs continued support. Even if you do not have HIV and/or don’t know a soul who does, your signature will mean the world to women, children, and families dealing with HIV every day. Would you sign and share today? With gratitude, Morénike, Advocacy Without Borders
Stop Drake, J.Cole, & Warner Brothers Records from promoting hatred of autistics/people with autism, & people with intellectual disabilities
UPDATE: THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT! Thanks to nearly 4,000 of you, as of July 22, 2013, both Drake and J.Cole have issued public apologies and have also stated that the offensive lyrics will be removed! Thank you, Drake and J. Cole, for standing up and doing the right thing! To do so takes a tremendous amount of courage. Their apologies are available for viewing at the links below: http://www.dreamvillain.net/autismspeaks/ http://octobersveryown.blogspot.com/2013/07/j.html DEMANDS: A public apology and immediate removal of the offensive lyrics This summer, Drake, a world famous rapper whose OVO label is under Warner Brothers Records, released a song (in collaboration with J.Cole) entitled "Jodeci Freestyle" that contains hurtful language, using "autistic" as an insult as well as "retarded." Today, I sent this Facebook message to Drake: "Dear Drake, My name is Morénike, and today I learned that lyrics to your song "Jodeci Freestyle" contain hurtful references to individuals on the autism spectrum and those with intellectual disabilities. Currently 4 million Americans have intellectual disabilities, including a disproportionate amount of individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds and/or people of color. In addition, one in every 88 Americans has a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder, including my two youngest children, ages two and four years--and also most likely also me. My children are the most amazing people on this planet. They are beautiful, sensitive, attentive to detail, and strong. I want them to love themselves and be proud of who they are. They are different--they are NOT less. There is already a massive lack of awareness of neuro-developmental disabilities such as autism and intellectual disability, and what little people do know tends to focus on deficits and/or stereotypes. The strengths and positive qualities of those with these conditions is minimized or ignored altogether in favor of messages that create pity, stigma, and stereotypes. While there is absolutely nothing shameful about having an intellectual/developmental disability, it is hateful, ableist, and discriminatory to use terms such as "autistic" and "retarded" as slurs. Being autistic or having an intellectual disability ("retarded" is no longer the preferred terminology) should not warrant hatred and insults. You are a world-renowned artist with millions of fans and a huge impact, and could have used your influence to educate people and promote acceptance of disabled children and adults. Instead, you did the exact opposite. There is already a high percentage of co-morbid anxiety, depression, PTSD, and suicidality among youth and adults with these conditions, at least in part because of how society treats them. People’s ignorance and cruelty can be far more disabling than the diagnoses themselves. It is categorically UNACCEPTABLE to treat ANYONE with the disregard that you have shown us in your music. I implore you to do the right thing, Aubrey. (I still think of you as the same Aubrey Graham I used to watch as “Jimmy” on Degrassi.) Man up and apologize for the hateful lyrics. Admit your wrongdoing, and take the time to become better informed. Maybe you might be inspired to work WITH us and fight for the rights of disabled populations rather than tearing us down. Respectfully, Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu, Advocate July 11, 2013" However, the responsibility does not rest solely with Drake. Warner Brothers Records should not permit these lyrics to remain on this song. The label should issue a public apology and should insist that Drake rewrite this song with other words. The current version of this song should be pulled immediately, and perhaps the label and/or the artist should assist in making amends by working with the Arc, Autism Society of America, the Coalition for Independent Living, the Organization for Autism Research, the American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, or any number of organizations that assist these populations to develop a PSA, a resource guide, a website, a scholarship, or some other mechanism to promote inclusion and acceptance rather than hate.