By Original Post March 10, 2014 –Blackdoctor.org
What do you get when you combine two fashionable international bloggers and a passion for educating women and girls about the dangers of HIV/AIDS? You get the Red Pump Project, a national initiative going into it’s 5th year in operation. We recently sat down with the team who created this nationwide movement that encourages women to “Rock the Red” pumps for awareness:
BDO: Who is Red Pump?
Red Pump: The Red Pump Project is an organization founded by Karyn Watkins and Luvvie Ajayi in 2009. Our mission is to raise awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. We empower, educate, and motivate action by boldly driving conversation online and offline around HIV prevention and issues related to sexual and reproductive health. Our use the Red Pump is to symbolize the strength and courage of women affected by HIV/AIDS.
Orignally, the Red Pump Project was launched as a social media initiative to commemorate National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (March 10). However, based on the response to our Rock the Red Pump® campaign, we decided to formalize our work and segue it into a nonprofit. While we are based in Chicago, we have ambassadors in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and Washington D.C. These ladies lead teams of volunteers who plan Red Pump events and build partnerships with local AIDS service organizations.
BDO: Where does your passion about Red Pump come from?
Red Pump: Several years ago, a friend disclosed his HIV status with me. It was the first time that I had ever met someone living with HIV so I wanted to learn more about it and see what I could do to help. I was very surprised to see that the disease that had been called a “gay, white man disease” was actually affecting communities of color in a very devastating way – especially women of color. It’s hard not to get fired up when the CDC says that one in 32 black women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. “Why does that have to happen? Can that be changed? What can I do to change that?” Those are the questions that I ask myself and those are the questions that keep me passionate about Red Pump.
BDO: What are some of the highlights from being in business for so long?
Red Pump: We’ve had quite a few “wow” moments over these past five years. Singer Alicia Keys participated in our campaign in 2011 and shared a few tweets encouraging her followers to #RocktheRedPump for women & girls HIV awareness. We’ve also had the opportunity to work alongside organizations like the Congressional Black Caucus, the Global Female Condom Campaign, and many amazing local AIDS service organizations.
It’s been really rewarding to watch our brand grow, along with our program offerings, and to meet women across the country who are familiar with the mission of Red Pump and who offer support for the work that we are doing. It is very motivating and definitely keeps us going.
BDO: Where do you see Red Pump in 5 years?
Red Pump: In five years, Red Pump will have expanded its presence to include New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, we will have developed a series of educational and capacity-building workshops that we can offer to individuals, groups, and organizations.
BDO: How can others become involved?
Red Pump: There are many ways that people can become involved with Red Pump:
- Guest Bloggers: We welcome writers who would like to share a personal piece or general HIV-related story on our Red Pump blog.
- City-Specific Teams: Those in Chicago, DC, Atlanta, Dallas, or Charlotte can link up with us and join our group of volunteers who complete service projects and plan local events. The best way to begin that process is to send an email to [email protected] and we will put them in contact with the ambassador in their area.
- Social Media: From Twitter chats to sharing relevant articles and information, we are pretty active across many social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. By following us and sharing the content, our social media base is spreading important information to their audiences and keeping the dialogue going. That’s truly the easiest way to get involved!