If 2020 has shown us nothing else, it’s proven how difficult it is to be a black man. The challenges continue stacking up for gay black men with HIV/AIDS.

In South Florida, the Ujima Men’s Collective (UMC) provides help and mentorship for Black same gender loving men. Similar mentoring programs have provided success in educational settings, and mentoring will offer the Black same gender loving male community the guidance that is currently lacking.

“The mentorship is designed and developed to enhance intergenerational relationships and encouragement to pursue personal and professional development,” said Lorenzo Robertson UMC Executive Director. “There is a component to address the issues surrounding HIV testing, prevention, and assisting the men to remain HIV negative.”

At its core, UMC is a peer-led support group with community conversations to address a myriad of issues surrounding Black same-gender loving men and those that love and support them. The Ujima Men’s Collective will work diligently to provide platforms for Black same-gender loving men to confront racism, discrimination, homophobia, and other concerns plaguing our Black same gender loving male community.

UMC has launched the Protégé Project but continues to seek mentors and protégés for the project.

“Our numbers are lower than anticipated,” Robertson said. “Some due to the pandemic and because of a later start to the program than originally planned. We have approximately a dozen program participants currently. We are in the process of recruiting others for the program. One of the challenges is the protégés are 18 - 34 years old. We opted to emphasize that age group because they tend to be a group that typically did not have Black same-gender role models growing up, and we wanted to address that deficiency.”

The Ujima Men’s Collective is funded for a two-year cycle and plans to make a positive impact on the lives of Black same-gender loving men in Broward County and South Florida. You may join UMC's quest to stop the spread if you want to help eradicate high rates of HIV and other social determinants.

The program isn’t solely focused on the prevention of HIV/AIDS. In recent weeks, participants have also joined the growing chorus of voices demanding equality and an end to police mistreatment of black men.

“We have participated with a few of the Black Lives Matter protests and will continue to support the efforts of the cause,” Robertson said. “The Ujima Men's Collective stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter and will continue to participate with the protests in and around South Florida. We will continue to post supportive content on our Facebook and Twitter media platforms.”

For more information about the program, visit Ujimamen.net.