The Politics of Respectability by Rae Lewis Thornton

The Politics of Respectability by Rae Lewis Thornton
Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award winning AIDS Activist and the first African-American Woman to tell her story on a cover of a national publication, Essence December 1994.

I thought that I would never live to see 50 years of age. In the backdrop of my 50th birthday, I trace my life and my collision with respectability; what a black woman ought to do and be. I’ve been wanting to write a book by my 50th birthday for at least the last eight months. Something that spoke to the very core of who I am as a women; My 50 years of wisdom about sex, dating, self-love and being true to one’s self, but I kept procrastinating.

Then on May 1, 2011 I received a call that would change my life, forever. After I dried my tears I sat at the computer and the words simply flowed. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority rescinding my membership as an honorary member gave me the fuel I need to unpack a larger issue that I tackle everyday. What kind of woman I am? Am I, “Respectable,” enough as a Woman, Christian and Minister. While this book is autobiographical in nature, it it not my full story. My memoir is yet to be published.

This book is however, my story. It unpacks the core of who I am and what I do. I don’t know how to be anything else. I am my ministry and my ministry is wrapped around my journey. My experiences have shaped me for better or worse and they inform my day-to-dayness. My journey landed me into Delta and it landed me out of Delta. This book traces my journey and my collision course with, “The Politics of Respectability, from my mother to men. The need to be seen as respectable ruled my life and left me battered as a girl physically, emotionally and sexually abused and then as a woman living with HIV in secret for 7 years.

I will use my story in first person, some pass blog posts from my Diva Living With AIDS Blog, as well as, my seminary and PhD studies to craft my collision course with respectability that ended in my explosion from Delta.

Note: Photo's taken by Jerolyn Wiggins - J Marshell Photographer