JDRF believes Black Lives Matter, and that hatred, discrimination and inequality have no place in American society. The recent tragedies in the United States, including the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Elijah McClain and so many other Black Americans, highlight that we need to take action now.
I recognize that pronouncements, as genuine and passionate as they may be, are not good enough without tangible and measurable actions behind them. JDRF needs to be more inclusive when it comes to representing the diverse type 1 diabetes (T1D) community that we so passionately serve, especially Black Americans. Yes, we have the best of intentions and say the right words, but until now we have not communicated our areas of focus for creating real change.
That starts today with the following commitments JDRF is making internally and to the T1D community to deliver tangible results for Black Americans living with T1D.
Earlier this year, I created our Diversity & Inclusion Task Force to focus on issues we all care deeply about. Among other internal changes that have been identified, a couple of the most critical actions the Task Force will take include:
- Implementing mandatory diversity and inclusion training for staff and volunteer leaders
- Re-evaluating our recruitment and hiring practices to create a more inclusive organization
- Feature more speakers that represent our Black T1D community and other people of color at JDRF events, including our Signature Events, TypeOneNation Summits and Young Leadership Committee events.
- Include more Black Americans on our local and national Chapter Boards to better represent the communities we support.
Mission and Research
As CEO, I’ve done a lot of reflection on the reality that members of our Black T1D community face health disparities and inequities that have gone unaddressed for too long. The latest data from the CDC shows that the diabetes-related death rate among Black Americans remains approximately twice as high as those of Whites and Hispanics. Other studies show the number of T1D cases among Black children has increased by 20%, the highest growth of any ethnicity. Without equal access to treatment plans and life-saving resources, health outcomes are worse – JDRF needs to do better for our Black T1D community.
With that in mind, I want to share a few questions that we are working through so that JDRF’s mission is prioritized in a way that ensures we are part of the solution and driving positive change.
- How do we advance more clinical trials that include people of color and are aimed at improving all diabetes outcomes for Black people with T1D?
- What funding and mentorship opportunities can we consider to significantly increase support for Black scientists and researchers to help advance technology and treatment options?
- How can we do more to help bridge the gap in access to the most advanced technology and therapies to lead to better outcomes for our Black community?
I am thankful for the generosity of so many Black Americans with T1D who are sharing their experiences and helping us all to learn more. I appreciate our community’s support as I am committing JDRF to do better to create a culture in which all people with T1D feel supported, safe, respected and inspired.
Thank you for all that you do,
Dr. Aaron J. Kowalski
JDRF President & CEO