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privileges/racial superiority I receive from being perceived as white with diabetes:

  • I receive and/or am more likely to receive better quality health care and treatment than a person of color even if we have the same insurance status, income, age, and similar medical condition
  • The majority of my medical providers at the clinic are people who look like me, especially doctors (white males)
  • I do not have to be concerned about my race affecting the quality of treatment I receive by my endocrinologist (such as the amount of time the doctor spends with me, the way he talks with me, what options he suggests for me, trust, if they will give me free samples, self determination, if I am considered rational, how aggressive they are or I am perceived to be, etc.). I do not have to experience racism from my health care providers.
  • When I attend a diabetes support group, I can expect that most if not all the people are people of my race
  • I can afford to have an insulin pump, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and other new technological gadgets for diabetes management because historically white families who have immigrated to the U.S. are allowed more economic opportunities than people of color, and our family has benefited from that. Part of our family immigrated from Germany, owned land (that was stolen from indigenous people), and were given more economic privileges (such as non-exclusion from certain occupations) based on their skin color like many white people are.
  • I can always see an endocrinologist or other diabetes specialist that reflects my race; I have never had a doctor that wasn’t white and of another racial background
  • The video game character “Captain Novolin” reflected my race as the powerful diabetic superhero.
  • My race (white culture) is widely represented in popular diabetes media. This can be seen in things like magazines, books, film, websites, advertisements for diabetes supplies/services, diabetic icons, fundraisers, etc.
  • When I attended diabetes camps, mostly everyone (both counselors and attendees) were white.
  • Although there are books written on diabetes by people of color, all the books I own on diabetes are written by white authors.
  • I do not have to think about my race at all if I don’t want to regarding diabetes. I do not have to respond to racism, it is a choice for me.
  • I do not have to experience racist actions against me and my (white) community and deal with all that comes with that, on top of managing my diabetes, because we are the key perpetrators of racism. We (white people) are the key perpetrators of racism because we uphold institutionalized and systemic racism in direct and indirect ways (consciously or unconsciously). White people exclusively benefit from institutionalized racism and in turn it oppresses and marginalizes people of color. Public education, employment, policing, the prison industry, media and corporations, the government, organizations, the unequal distribution of resources, and so forth are most commonly set up through racist policy and practice to exclusively benefit white people at the expense of people of color. Racism was invented by white folks for these sorts of purposes, i.e. white supremacy.
  • I nor my family have not been told that I/we have a genetic predisposition (or are biologically inferior) for diabetes based on our racial characteristics. I am told by science that I am less likely to have diabetes because I am white.
  • At the clinics I use, the cleaning and maintenance staff are usually people of color while the staff that are in higher level positions are usually white.
  • If I pursued becoming a diabetes educator or other diabetes professional, I would have a much higher chance in being hired based on my race.
  • I can deflect personal and collective responsibility of white people for dismantling institutional and interpersonal racism by using diabetes as an excuse of ‘already having enough to deal with’

  • The popular lens of people who have made historical discoveries and inventions of diabetes technology (insulin, pumps, glucose meters, medication, etc.) usually reflect people of my race as the holders of knowledge, and excludes or looks down upon discoveries/insights from people of color and their contributions within the field of diabetes.
  • The officially recognized name of the disease I have is derived from European language (Greek)
  • When I attended a diabetes research conference at Microsoft, all or almost all of the speakers and researchers represented my race and researched from a white male perspective
  • More than I can see. My white privileges and unintentional racist ways of acting are hard for me to see, because I have been given white privileges and training to be racist since I started living and was never taught about them or took the time to learn about them until recently. I am trying to uncover the things that are easy to go unnoticed/invisible to me, yet I know I am probably missing many more. This list is what I can think right now of how I benefit from being white with diabetes.

Obviously, no races are superior, however our institutions practice and teach us as if the white race is supreme. Everybody deserves basic human dignity, rights, and respect, and to not have to deal with something as destructive as racism. Yet here we are, and the disease of racism needs to be addressed and healed.

What are the costs of institutionalized racism and diabetes care? If you have experienced white/perceived white racial privilege, what are your privileges with diabetes?

Views: 442

Tags: color, institutional, of, oppression, people, privilege, race, racism, white

Comment by ccc. on March 2, 2012 at 3:26pm

Have you ever been to the White Privilege Conference? I was really lucky that it was hosted in my city last year. I attended a conference on white privilege in mental health and many of these same points were brought up, yet I never thought to relate them to diabetes health. I will definitely be thinking more about this!

Comment by Pastelpainter on March 2, 2012 at 3:35pm

I find that age relegates my status to less than young people, too.

Comment by greenclouds on March 2, 2012 at 3:39pm

I have not been to the conference, though I have heard about it, how was it? Seems like there would be a lot of connections with mental health and diabetes..I'd be interested in hearing any more thoughts that come up or you want to share, thanks for the response!

Comment by acidrock23 on March 2, 2012 at 3:50pm

I've selected doctors who happen to be Indian for a while, figuring they will be likely to be underselected by the burgeoning T2 population (I was in Champaign, IL, a diverse college town but it also provides medical services/ specialists for a rural county that is generally rather caucasian...) so that I will be able to get in to see them better. I was in a hurry to get a pump. I liked the doc and did the same thing when I moved. I like my doc. Staff @ the office are bothersome sometimes but ok. I figure a small clinic is ok compared to a bigger clinic although sometimes I think maybe the hours would be more convenient? When I was heavier, I picked heavier docs, figuring that they'd be less likely to bust my chops for being heavier.

Comment by jujube on March 2, 2012 at 6:23pm

Hmmm.. I am a white diabetic and when I was diagnosed, I had no insurance. I was definitelky discriminated. My husband was laid off in April. I went into DKA coma end of July. When I woke up, they literally kicked me out. Blood sugar of 300 and instructions to take 25u Levemir and 5u reg with meals. No syringes, no insulin and no glucometer. Went to pharmacy and paid over 400 dollars for insulin, bought a glucometer and 1 box of strips for $120, syringes for $11. I travel for a living and couldn't work because my sugars were too high and labile...I received no financial help from anyone!!! Thank GOD my husband got a job in Dec and we were able to get insurance to cover insulin...We sold everything we could for those months to support my "new habit"--insulin and testing supplies. So, I was never privledged with being a white diabetic. I think people see what they want to see and not the big picture!

Comment by Kari on March 2, 2012 at 7:11pm

I find it interesting that you have primarily white doctors. Since my diagnosis at age 6 I've had 5 endos, and 4 were not white. I've had 3 PCPs in my life and 1 wasn't white. Of course, it doesn't matter to me what race they are, it's just an observation.

Must depend on where we live.

Comment by PatientX on March 2, 2012 at 8:33pm

Jujube I agree with you. I think people see it the way they want to see it and not the big picture. I am not white and I had most of the above happen to me. My education and what I do for a living have given me the opportunity to have the privileges described above. When I was first diagnosed I was put in a private room in ICU for three days and had a private room the days that followed. With my insurance that I had my bill that would of cost a person with no insurance 40,000 dollars was only 200 dollars. At that time I was laid off but had to take my savings and other money to pay 1000 a month for insurance. I often thought of the disperity in health care from a money perspective and not a race perspective.

I have had a lot of tests that most endos dont perform because they are too expensive for others done because I wanted answers to questions. I test at least 1000 times for a 3 month period as a type 2 because I can afford to go out and buy test strips when I use up the ones supplied by insurance. I never had a doctor discriminate against me. My money is just as green as the any other person of any race. I think the title should be more like green, priviledge, and diabetic. I dont really believe in a race bias but more of a money and insurance bias.

Comment by blazer1155 on March 2, 2012 at 9:37pm

Patient X you hit the nail on the head, if you know what I mean. If you have no insurance or crappy insurance , these Dr's don't care much about you. But if you have good insurance , they order every test they can think of and then some just to make a buck.

Comment by Natalie ._c- on March 2, 2012 at 9:53pm

Well, if you want to flagellate yourself, go ahead. I personally have rarely experienced discrimination, but my parents and grandparents did, not for being non-white, but for being Jewish and East-European. (They changed their names in order to hide the fact). I've had doctors of all nationalities and ethnic groups, have worked with all groups, and socialized with all groups, and I feel responsible for what I myself do, but not for the actions of others. And one point in particular: when you're a minority, OF COURSE you're probably going to be the only one of your group in a class or clinic or whatever. Unless you want to go back to segregation, that is!

Comment by LaGuitariste on March 3, 2012 at 1:05am

You raised some excellent points, greenclouds. I have a less-common perspective as a multi-racial person who is white enough to "pass". Most of the time I get all the white privileges based on my observable skin color, but I also get to be the Chippewa/Ojibwa in the room hearing the white people make crass, thoughtless and insensitive comments about "indians". It doesn't happen all that often, but when it does I feel oddly invisible and outraged. One memorable event about thirty years ago was listening to people in a church meeting suggesting that it was probably a good thing to sterilize "indian" women because of the poverty on the res and because "they" (I/we) refuse to assimilate "the way other immigrants do". Um...immigrants?

I also get to watch the stereotypes about "indians" in movies, television shows, advertisements, sports programs, etc. with weird stereo vision: one part of me seeing "indians" from a white perspective and another part of me seeing whites from an "indian" perspective. It's a very odd way of being, but I've been doing it for so long that it's second nature to switch back and forth in my head.


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