Like most people, the events of the past week have left me feeling upset, angry, frustrated, helpless, and at a loss for words. As a white woman I recognize my privilege and the need for change. I recognize that I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a black man, woman, or child.
As an IBD advocate I understand that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis do not discriminate. These diseases don’t care what color, race, ethnicity, or gender you are. Oftentimes though, the lists for blogs, advocates to check out, interviews, or accolades, tend to feature people like me. When I scroll through these lists and see all white advocates it makes me uncomfortable. When I’m part of a photo grid holding up a sign alongside fellow advocates…and it’s a bunch of white girls, it makes me feel out of touch.
Over the years, I’ve heard from black patients who are friends of mine, who have dealt with delayed diagnoses because of mistrust from physicians. I’ve heard of black patients being looked at as opioid-seekers, despite rarely going to the ER for their symptoms.
I want to make sure you know and are familiar with some ROCKSTAR female advocates who do a phenomenal job of being a voice for not only the IBD community, but the black community. Here are their names and their Instagram handles.
Brooke Abbott @crazycreolemama and @IBDmoms
Shawn Bethea @shawnbethea_ and @crohnsandstuff
Gaylyn Henderson @gutlessandglamorous and @gaylyn14
Myisha King @gameofcrohnsandchronicillness
Sonya Goins @sonya_goins
Melodie Blackwell @melodienblackwell
Shermel Maddox @shermel2
Chelsey Leanne @chelseyleannibd
We’ve all had people in our lives try and understand what it’s like to live with IBD when they don’t have it. Through my nearly 15 years with Crohn’s, I’ve experienced the instant connection that occurs when you meet someone online or in person who understands your reality. There’s a level of empathy and understanding that makes you feel like you are home.
In this instance, I’m not going to try and act like I fully grasp or understand what it’s like to be black with IBD. It’s important for our community to have role models who look like themselves to connect with, learn from, and admire. Especially the newly diagnosed and pediatric patients.
IBD is not black and white. IBD is all of us. Holding hands through this. Lifting one another up. Doing better at loving and accepting others. Making an effort to be anti-racism each and every day. Teaching our children to see the world and others with a different understanding. This is on us. We must be better.
IBD does not just look like me.
From one IBD mom to another…here are some resources to check out:
Wondering how you can make a meaningful impact? Tune in for a Facebook Live Tuesday, June 2 at 6 pm CT on the CrohnsandStuff Facebook page.