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 Scott E on March 3, 2012 at 9:52am

Other than the fact that the pump adhesives I use are all either transparent or white (and I don't mean Caucasian flesh-toned, I mean stark white!) I'm not so sure I agree that being a white person with diabetes makes me privileged. I could cite the pediatric endo who treated me for the first third of my d-Life (Hispanic), and the various caretakers I've had, and I think it more has to do with where I lived than what they are capable of. When I lived in Long Island, my endo was an orthodox Jew. Now living in northern New Jersey, my doc is Italian. I feel like when I've been treated at University/teaching hospitals, I've been seen by more a more racially diverse group.

The woman whose picture is on the Sof-sensor box is not white... and she gets to eat carrot cake! (And Natalie HATES that... the cake part, not her being Asian). Is that a privilege?

Perhaps I'm naive, but I don't believe the diabetes care someone receives has anything to do with their race. Economic status and ability to pay for it, yes... that's just the way it works in the United States. But to believe that a white person would be given test strips, gratis, because of the color of their skin while a person of color would have to pay through the nose for it is, to me, ludicrous. Again, this is my own opinion - I've never expereinced it.

Comment by Sweet Lady on March 3, 2012 at 6:02pm

Usually I think of health care in our country as being driven by profit. I'm no expert but in my experience doctors treat patients equally.I had a wonderful doctor for 28 years who was from the Philippines and now have a doctor from Africa. The doctor who delivered my babies was from India. Apparently they come to the USA to make money but we benefit from their knowledge.

Comment by Cherise on March 4, 2012 at 8:26pm

My endo is a white male also with Type 1 diabetes. When it comes to the insulin pump he's more pushy with a white person getting one than he is with someone who's not white. He only has like two other people who are not white. All his other patients are white. When I became pregnant there was a month waiting list to get into to see him but I was able to get in the next day. He actually bumped another patient who wasn't white to another date and time just so I could get in and get the blood work that I needed.

Comment by LaGuitariste on March 4, 2012 at 8:37pm

Cherise, how do you know these things about your endocrinologist? The number of his patients who are not white? The fact that he "bumped" a non-white patient in order to see you? Do you work in the same clinic?

Comment by Stoyan on March 5, 2012 at 9:31am

I am Eastern-European....and while yes, I have indeed noticed that the vast majority of doctors and nurses are white...I have not really seen any special treatment towards me. Possibly I have not been in the game long enough. But the wait times are still brutal, that I can say.

Comment by Cherise on March 6, 2012 at 10:26pm

LaGuitariste, you find out a lot from talkative nurses and registration staff especially when they want to bitch about things and you lend a helpful ear to them. I dont work anywhere in healthcare. I'm a graphic/web designer but cannot work right now.

Comment by SarahB on March 7, 2012 at 5:24am

If you think just being white has all the best treatment, try being white, female, and with no insurance.

Comment by Cherise on March 7, 2012 at 6:59pm

SarahB, I know what you mean by being white, female and having no insurance. Until October 2010, I had no insurance so for 5 years I had no insurance. The only time I would see a doctor is when I would need refills on insulin but with assistance programs I actually could stop even doing that because they would contact the doctor to get the prescription sent to them. It wasn't until I married my husband in October 2010 that I was able to start getting better treatment, but it has caused me complications for those 5 years. My first husband wouldn't put me on his insurance at all.

Comment by SarahB on March 8, 2012 at 5:23am

Cherise, that's terrible! It really sucks how insurance is basically the deciding factor in diabetes care and management.

I was, at the time, working, but my employer didn't offer insurance to "contractors." I wasn't making enough money to cover the $400+ needed for private insurance, but none of the assistance programs would help me out because I "was making too much." ($10 an hour.)

I had a whole conversation with a guy at Medtronic where I said, "So what you're telling me is that, in order to get help paying for my supplies, I have to quit my job," and he said, "Basically, yes."


Comment by Cherise on March 8, 2012 at 7:29pm

SarahB, that does suck. I couldn't get assistance either because at the time I was living with my mom and her husband and I had to claim that I lived with them so it made it so I didn't qualify. Then my second husband came around and I'm now on his insurance and was able to get on an OmniPod insulin pump system.


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