This month we welcome a guest blogger, Quisha Umemba, MPH, BSN, RN, CDCES, CHWI. The Founder of Umemba Health LLC, Quisha is a Registered Nurse with a Masters degree in Public Health. She is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, a Certified Lifestyle Coach, and a Certified Community Health Worker Instructor. As an educator and consultant, Quisha works with community organizations, social service agencies, government agencies and healthcare systems to help them prevent and manage chronic disease in their patient populations. Having developed, implemented, and overseen numerous health initiatives and community collaborations, Quisha noticed a need for more training and education for health and public health professionals. To this effort, she created Umemba Health Academy providing continuing education and professional development training for CHWs and other front-line health workers. This month she has graciously agreed to lend her voice to discuss the People of Color Living with Diabetes Virtual Summit.
A few months ago, I attended a Diabetes Summit. It was my first event to attend as a College Diabetes Network volunteer and I was excited to get involved with diabetes events again.
The event lasted 6 hours and it seemed to be a good turnout. I remember hearing someone say that over 200 people had signed up for the event. Not bad at all I remember thinking.
I have lived in Austin, Texas for over a year now. With a population of less than 8% Blacks, its normal for me to travel anywhere in the city at any given time and be the only Black person at the venue.
However, I did find it surprising that at a diabetes summit (organized by a leading global organization that funds type 1 diabetes research), no one looked like me. Not one speaker looked like me. Not one attendee looked like me.
There were well over 10 speakers. There were well over 50 vendors. There were well over 200 attendees and only one other person looked like me.
And I had to scour the room to find that face…..
According to the 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes was highest among communities of color.
- American Indians/Alaska Natives (14.7%)
- Hispanics (12.5%)
- Blacks (11.7%)
- Asians (9.2%)
- Whites (7.5%)
In a climate where communities of color are disproportionally affected by institutional and systemic racism, people of color account for higher rates of both diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes and they have the worst health outcomes due to inequalities in healthcare and lack of access to services like diabetes self-management education and support.
Additionally, people of color also lack representation from people that look like them and can identify with what they experience as a person of color living with diabetes. The provision of culturally competent care is essential for eradication of racial and health disparities and why representation in healthcare is a must.
Diabetes organizations with the platform to reach persons with diabetes should be more intentional on having diverse populations represented and included at their events. What does that look like?... More speakers that look like me. More vendors that look like me and more attendees that look like me.
As a Black woman in America, I understand that you can’t always wait to be invited to the table, sometimes you have to bring your own chair or build your own table.
The People of Color Living with Diabetes Virtual Summit is us building our own table. The Summit is a passion project co-developed and co-hosted with ally Kacey Creel of Type One Tools.
The POCLWD Summit will bring together esteemed health professionals, community educators, social media influencers and sports legends discussing issues that affect people of color living with and managing diabetes.
The first of its kind, the goal of the POCLWD Virtual Summit is to provide education, resources, empowerment, and community among black and brown people living with, and managing prediabetes, type one diabetes, and type two diabetes.
The Summit is not intended to be an exclusive event. Let me repeat, the Summit is not intended to leave anyone out. Everyone is invited. The Summit is however, tailored for those most affected by diabetes and with the least access to resources. It’s time that black and brown people felt heard and included. I am honored we can provide the platform for them do so.
The POCLWD Virtual Summit takes place August 3rd-6th and the theme for this year is Diversity, Inclusion, Community: Saving Your Seat at the Table.
You are all invited to attend.
For more information, contact Quisha here.
Quisha Umemba, MPH, BSN, RN, CDCES, CHWI
CEO and Founder of Umemba Health, LLC
Co-founder of the People of Color Living with Diabetes Virtual Summit.