Red is a power color. It’s what they use for signs they don’t want you to ignore, because it grabs your attention. Red is also the color of AIDS ribbons. Shoes? Well, they can be fierce, and it’s hard for me to ignore them when they are.
When I was in college, I met someone who became a friend of mine (Hey Josie!). She told me that 20 of her cousins were living with her grandmother in Malawi because their parents had died of AIDS-related complications. For me, it was the moment that this cause stole my heart because it made it personal. I didn’t know that HIV was still a thing, because I hadn’t heard about it in a long time.
Fast-forward to 2009, I was talking with my girl Karyn Brianne, who had just recently found out someone she loved was diagnosed with HIV. We wanted to do something about this, and spur people to talk more about the epidemic. That is how we came up with the idea of The Red Pump Project®.
We started with the #RocktheRedPump campaign, to grab women’s attention using red shoes. We called for bloggers to use their platforms on March 10 (National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day) and spend the day in their fave pair of red shoes, dedicating their sites to raising awareness about the issue. That first campaign, 135 bloggers joined us and amplified the message. It blew our expectations out the water.
8 years later, Red Pump is a national nonprofit organization that does workshops and programs to decrease stigma and give people the info they need to make better choices with their bodies. We are committed to educating women and girls of color about the epidemic. I’m the Executive Director and we have an incredible team of women in 4 states around the country, who are championing this work.
Today, we commemorate our 9th NWGHAAD, and 9th #RocktheRedPump campaign! We are calling for women and girls everywhere to put on a pair of red shoes (they don’t have to be heels) and get tested. Share your shoe pics on social media, use the campaign hashtag (#RocktheRedPump) and stand with other women who are infected and affected.
To learn more about the campaign, visit RocktheRedPump.org.