By the ADCES20 Inclusion and Diversity Sub-Committee: Jamillah Hoy-Rosas, MPH, RD, CDN, CDCES; Lisa Golden, MA.Ed.HD, CRC; Megrette Fletcher M.Ed., RD, CDCES
Our hearts are saddened by the role that racism played in the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. As a result of these and other tragedies, protestors in every state and around the world are clamoring for an end to racism and racist ideas. As explained by the scholar Ibram X. Kendi in his book, How to Be an Antiracist, a racist idea is one that suggests that one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way.
As diabetes care and education specialists, we want to acknowledge that anti-black racist beliefs are harmful and result in health inequities in the diagnosis, treatment decisions and levels of diabetes care offered to black clients. In order to ensure equal care is given to all populations served, we encourage, and support diabetes care and education specialists to be actively anti-racist, which requires “persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism and regular self- examination”. This is not easy work, but it is critical to the goal of achieving equity in diabetes care for all individuals.
What every diabetes care and education specialist knows
Every diabetes specialist understands that some things can’t be fixed overnight. They know that racism, like diabetes, isn’t cured. Racism is embedded in the policies and structure of the United States. What many people don’t realize is that racial discrimination is one of eight identified ways individuals accessing healthcare experience bias, stigma or discrimination. They include race, religion, sex, gender, age, ability, size and socioeconomic status.
As diabetes care and education specialists, we are trained in person-centered care, but we must now shift our lens to see the larger system which supports and contributes to racism and health disparities such as those seen with COVID-19. We need to acknowledge how these harmful systems negatively impact the individuals that we serve and how we can dismantle them by supporting policies and beliefs that encourage equity.
A path forward
As diabetes care and education specialists, we have the opportunity to take concrete action to increase social justice and promote equity in diabetes care. A few things you can do:
- Consider the times you have observed inequities as you’ve served people with diabetes and reflect on the ways that individuals accessing healthcare experience bias, stigma or discrimination and the consequences on their health and well-being.
- Learn about anti-racism practices to encourage self-awareness and action. Check out this resource list to help you build your understanding.
- Find out how you can breakdown access barriers and learn about equity at the ADCES20 virtual conference. This year, in addition to sessions already planned on diversity and inclusion, we will host a special racial equity day specifically focused on racial equity topics through a newly added general session keynote lecture and follow-up educational event to increase our collective awareness, understanding and ability to respond. These sessions will be open to both registered attendees and exhibitors and then shared with our broader membership community. To register, visit ADCES20.org.
- Engage with existing equity alliance organizations to continue your learning, update your knowledge and facilitate training and coaching in your practice to implement change. Check out organizations like Policy Link. The US Office of Disease Prevention and Health offers in the Health People 2020 document how social determinants of health are impacted by health inequity
By providing these opportunities to grow our competencies, we will pave the way for individuals who have experienced discrimination to now have access to resources to achieve the same level of health as other populations. The amazing capacity and compassion of professionals in the diabetes community provides an ability to unite our voices with social justice advocates and look at the systems that keep diabetes and oppression thriving in our country.
We believe black lives matter and we are united in our desire to dismantle systemic oppression and racism and address health disparities in America.
KENDI, IBRAM X. HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST. VINTAGE, 2020.