Mykki Blanco Slams AIDS Advocacy Group for Tokenism, Lack of Invitation to Gala

· Updated on May 28, 2018

Mykki Blanco is asking amfAR to come correct.

On Tuesday, which was National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, amfAR tweeted out a video featuring Blanco to draw attention to famous Black people living with HIV. The next day at amfAR’s annual gala, bisexual pop star Halsey performed for guests.

Blanco decided to point out that the brand had used the rapper’s image on social but not pay them to attend and perform an event.

“It would be awesome if you would book me to perform at one of your Galas like you do so many HIV negative pop stars instead of continually using me as a token,” Blanco wrote on Twitter.

“Tired of feeling second best to you as an artistic option but one of the first faces you’ll use to promote your agenda,” Blanco continued. “I’m one of the only actively working openly HIV+ Undetectable artists in the world. You all have never even INVITED me to a Gala. Why am I tip-toeing around my non-exist business relationship with you. Then on AIDS Awareness day you tweet me.”

They added, “Enough, I’m done.” They added in later tweets that their lack of invite to the gala was “classism” and “status oriented.”

In an interview with Nylon, Blanco said the lack of invite was “hurtful” and didn’t appreciate being tokenized.

“I’ve been working with them for a year, and it’s just become clear that they were sending the not-so-subtle message that, ‘Mykki Blanco isn’t good enough to be a part of our entire pedigree, but he has a great image to chalk up when we need a token,’” Blanco said.

Blanco elaborated that this “isn’t about a call out” and that they probably wouldn’t work with amfAr again.

“If I have to wake up and live in a world where Donald Trump is our president, who and [what] the hell am I keeping face for? Who in the hell am I pretending for?” Blanco said.

Blanco also asked why amfAr would not include relevant HIV-positive people in their event.

“If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘Well, Mykki Blanco is just angry for not being included,’ you’re right,” Blanco said. “Because think about it. Of the [many] people involved with this whole thing, I should definitely be included, and my exclusion points to the empty celebrification of HIV/AIDS in the public arena. It’s also an extension of why “new” dialogues around HIV stay so stale. Negative ‘allies’ who really could give a shit don’t know anyone who’s positive and have no real connection to the fight to end HIV/AIDS.”

They added, “It just sucks when you realize someone is willing to make you a “face” for their activism, because of your relevance and work, but you’re not rich or powerful enough to eat with them.”

In a statement to Nylon, amfAR said: “amfAR’s annual efforts on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day are intended to draw attention to the racial disparities that continue to be a hallmark of the AIDS epidemic. Mykki Blanco’s courageous and unique journey of coming out as HIV-positive in 2015 is why amfAR asked Mykki to be a part of our “Epic Voices” public awareness campaign. amfAR greatly appreciates Mykki’s willingness to support our initiative and we have been actively in discussions with Mykki’s representatives for several weeks to continue and deepen our working relationship, including at some of our 2018 Galas. Mykki is an inspiration to many in the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities and it is because of personal stories like Mykki’s that we remain determined to continue our work of finding a cure for the millions of people living with HIV today.”

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