Andrew Jolivette Seminar a Success!

Robin Darling presenting Andrew J. Jolivette with Certificate of Appreciation

Robin Darling presenting Andrew J. Jolivette with Certificate of Appreciation

CREGS’ second Seminar of the series presented Andrew J. Jolivette, a Sociologist and Associate Professor and Chair of American Indian Studies at SFSU where he is affiliated member with Race & Resistance Studies in the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. Dr. Jolivette is currently working on his fourth book, Indian Blood: Mixed Race Gay Men, Transgender People, and HIV, which is a community-based collaborative, ethnographic pilot study, conducted in partnership with the Native American AIDS Project in San Francisco. 50 participants took part in focus groups and completed surveys to address issues of mental health, stress coping mechanisms, trauma and healing among mixed-blood American Indian gay men, two-spirits, and transgender identified Natives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

One might ask why Jolivette chose “Indian Blood” as an emphasis and the answer behind this decision lies within the politics of what it means to be Native in San Francisco, a city where American Indians currently make up only 1-2% of the population and those identifying as LGBT are even fewer. The stigmas attached to certain “kinds” of blood and how much of it an individual embodies has been a hypersensitive discourse both within Native communities and academia. Jolivette’s goal was to reduce mental stress, high risk behavior, and substance abuse as factors for HIV transmission. He argues the re-acceptance of the “two-spirit” identity along with mentorship between Elders and Youth allows us to look at both the social and biological factors of infection and stress. In order for this to happen, American Indian’s rely on community support, but there is almost no visibility for those raised by families outside the Native realm. Matching Native community mentors with Native youth on local and national levels will bridge the gap between generational identities, allow those living outside the community to connect with their ancestry, and start the healing process. Of the 14 audience members, a majority was familiar with the cause and expressed interest in the link between negative childhood experiences and HIV rates as adults. This intergenerational trauma is a prominent theme running throughout Jolivette’s interviews with the participants.

Jolivette was the Indigenous People’s Representative at the United Nations Global Forum on HIV and the Law in 2011 and currently serves on the 2-Spirit HIV/AIDS Advisory Board of the Native American Health Center. This experience along with his passion for mixed race studies ensures we will see more of his inspirational work in the future! From everyone here at CREGS, we look forward to seeing you at our next Seminar on November 5th!