It’s been over two decades since MC Lyte released her Lyte as a Rock debut, kicking off a career that has outlasted many of her colleagues. But while music is still a big part of her focus, these days the rapper has also added social advocacy to her plate. The Brooklyn native has been passionate about HIV/AIDS awareness, recently commemorating National Black HIV/AIDS Day by partnering with other celebrities to appear in a PSA put together by Greater Than AIDS and the Black AIDS Institute, as well as attending the Belvedere RED pre-Grammy concert Thursday (Feb. 10) night.
Belvedere is among several brands working with Project RED to support the Global Fund, one of the world’s largest financiers of programs fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa. “I’m just happy to be a participant with any organization that’s going to make people aware of the disease that’s killing us [Black people] by the millions,” Lyte told Hip-Hop Wired. “There are so many sick in our backyards right now. There’s not just [Project] RED but many other organizations that I work with that are all about bringing awareness [and] educating the youth about protecting themselves.”
With staggering numbers of those infected with HIV in America, the Black community seems to be hardest hit by the epidemic. It is estimated that Black people represent nearly half of those newly infected with the virus in the U.S., despite making up only 12 percent of the population. The lack of awareness and prevention methods contributes to the growing problem which, according to Lyte, is the result of two distinct reasons. “One, for some reason we think it can’t affect us,” said Lyte. “Two, some of us really don’t find life worth living, and there’s a couple of other reasons that I can think of but the bottom line is we get the message to people. I was going to say kids, but really it’s adults as well, so that they’ll take it seriously.”
While HIV infections among Black people in America has remained steady since the early 1990s, there are different organizations working to make a dent in the statistic. To learn more about HIV/AIDS prevention methods visit www.blackaids.org.