For four years, I’ve been California dreamin’. I dig the eclectic L.A. vibes; I’m enchanted by the year round seasonable weather coupled with the awe-inspiring palm trees, as well as the big city atmosphere at a preferably slower pace than my hometown of New York City. Unfortunately, since my job search for the past year-and-a-half has yielded unfavorable results, I’ve had to pump the breaks on leaving my birthplace behind for sunny L.A. and open my mind to other desirable cities.
Atlanta and D.C. falls into my contingency relocation options for numerous reasons: Both cities have been newly minted as “Black Meccas,” which means they’re a magnet for upwardly mobile black professionals from all walks of life, the cities’ landscapes are continuously being transformed by surging black entrepreneurship, and each metropolis boasts amazing black history through their HBCUs, artistic expression and individual cultures.
I’m at an impressionable age and time in my life where I’m most certainly more concerned about my career and finding an opportunity that will allow me to establish myself for the path that I’m seeking, and Atlanta and D.C. satisfies my mental checklist for career advancement. But here comes the pause…I’m a single girl (ahem, pause), and the staggering rise of new HIV/AIDS cases, along with the ever increasing media frenzy of the down-low phenomena within these cities’ black communities become variables (albeit not a major deciding factor) to weigh, as I possibly consider making either destination my home sweet home.
As of 2008, the percentage of the District’s residents living with HIV/AIDS exceeded 1%. However, black D.C. residents remain the most severely impacted with 4.7% of the population living with the disease. This means one in every 21 blacks in D.C. has HIV/AIDS. Equally surprisingly, of the 48 U.S. counties with the highest rates for HIV infections, 25 of them are in Georgia, with Atlanta’s primarily large poverty-stricken black population leading the way. These facts are what fueled my hesitation to move, because at some point, I intend on settling down with a black man (yeah I said it) once my career path is a little less shaky, but then the eligibility pool shrinks considerably in light of those numbers.
Maybe pondering this now is a tad bit pre-mature since naturally there’ll always be men and diseases, but on the other hand, how long can these black urban meccas be deemed a beacon of opportunity for us if we still have this swelling hurdle to overcome?