Increase Black representation in STEM
At We Are ILL, we’re working on creating programming and otherwise encouraging Black people to pursue career paths in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
We need Black faces in STEM. We need them as researchers. We need them as scientists. We need them as clinicians.
This helps not only with bedside manner but also in getting people to participate in clinical trials — Black clinicians have a stake in knowing the best ways to treat their Black patients.
Include us in the conversation
I’ve been at advisory conferences where they’re sitting around talking about patients, but no patients are included. Include us at the forefront.
People in the health care community may never think about patients with MS. But if you’re in our lives, if your logo is on our insurance card or you manufacture the medication we take, why can’t we have a relationship?
We’re here. Talk to us. See us. Include us. There’s space for everyone.
Know our stories
Finally, we need to continue to share Black people’s stories and voices.
This is mine.
When I was first diagnosed with MS, I was hopeful for my life. I had big dreams and plans. The diagnosis put a bit of a pause in those because I thought, “I can’t do any of those things now.”
And I was already fighting against generational curses. I was the first in my immediate family to graduate from college. The first to move away. And I was going to be the first to have this big L.A. career.
So there was a pause in that hope. But now I feel good and positive. Now I’m stronger and more equipped. Now it’s me against me.
I’m on a disease modifying therapy. I manage it scientifically and, I would say, emotionally. I’m also in therapy — I’m a big advocate. I had to process the diagnosis and the idea of the unexpected. It’s unsettling to know the unexpected is out there.
I work out. I keep it moving. If I can run on a treadmill, I’m going to run on a treadmill. I try to show my gratitude toward my body by doing the work but also by keeping my body moving.
I’ve since moved away from Los Angeles and do my best to maintain the life that I envisioned for myself and that I want for myself. I am a woman of many hats.
I am an associate marketing director at a small Black-owned media agency.
I am CEO of We Are ILL.
I am a public speaker.
And now, I am a mom. Harper is 2 years old, and she’s just like me.
It’s so special when people reach out to me and say, “I got diagnosed, and I was Googling ‘Black people with MS,’ and you came up. Oh, she’s cute. She’s still living her life. Still thriving, moving forward.”
I’m super happy. I’m what I wish I saw.
My multiple sclerosis story