A diabetes attorney who has long been pushing for more inclusion and diversity has created a new podcast aimed at historically marginalized people in the community.
Chelcie Rice, a Georgia actress and comedian who lives with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), launched his new podcast, Soul of Diabetes, in early 2021. The goal is to address “uncomfortable conversations” that could move the needle towards change, he tells DiabetesMine.
Rice is inspired in part by the mass racial awakening in 2020, and believes the time is right to encourage open conversations on these tougher topics within the diabetes community.
“It seems like now is the time to go on strike while the iron is hot and more people want to be educated and understand the problems we are facing,” he says. “I think there’s an audience out there now and a place for that, so I jumped on it.”
Diagnosed in 1988 at the age of 25, Rice was one of our previous Patient Vote Winners attending the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit in 2018.
There was no T1D in his family, although his grandmother lived with type 2 diabetes (T2D).
Rice began performing on stage in the early 2000s, appearing at comedy festivals across the country, as well as in comcast and online programs.
As an early attorney, Rice came to the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) through DSMA founder Cherise Shockley and her Facebook posts and weekly #DSMA Twitter chats. Rice has done a lot in the legal world over the past decade, and his work continues. He is mainly known as @ type1comedian on various social media platforms.
Long before it came to mind nationwide, its soap box always enhanced inclusivity and diversity in the community.
Right from the start, Rice called it what he sees. He has focused on underserved communities and people with diabetes (PWDs) who are too often historically marginalized and not included in the larger advocacy conversation.
Rice says that the problems arising from the murder of George Floyd and beyond took racial talks to a new level in the United States, and he believes this has opened a lot more eyes to those reflective moments.
“That was right on her face, in vivid color,” he says. “Most historically marginalized people have spoken about … these differences and how they haven’t been heard in a long time. But until people started seeing it on their smartphones or on TV, they didn’t believe it or didn’t think it was such a big deal. That got a lot of people thinking, maybe there is something behind it. “
In the diabetes community, this means that PWDs are fed up with being asked to join – a seat at the table, so to speak. Instead, it comes down to “bringing your own folding chair” or even “setting up your own table” when those sitting at existing tables are unwilling to deal with different voices, he says.
He formulated the idea for the podcast in 2020 through the Health eVoices Impact Fund, in which he has been involved for several years. He applied for and received a financial grant to start this podcast, and the pieces came together for launch in early 2021.
There is no doubt that the health system and diabetes care are historically racist and need improvement. Rice hopes his chats can help fill in the gaps and create more awareness and perspective to move that needle wider.
In addition, our own DiabetesMine survey in 2020 showed that Blacks, Indigenous People, and Individuals of Skin (BIPOC) with diabetes face many barriers to accessing the necessary diabetes technology and care.
In his intro episode available on Spotify, Rice describes his project as “a diabetes podcast for the people of color and other historically marginalized groups living with or suffering from diabetes”. He emphasizes that “everyone is welcome”, whether you are a person of color or not, as long as you are willing to engage in an open conversation.
He speaks about the lack of representation of BIPOC at health conferences and in research studies. “It’s important just to get into people’s ears what it’s like to be a person of the color living with this disease. Because we are affected in greater numbers, we have to be on the front lines,” he says .
In his first episodes, he spoke to lawyer and former college athlete Brandon Denson and aspiring chef and T1D attorney Cameron Hall. Both shared their personal diabetes stories, delving into sensitive issues such as race, access, and affordability, as well as how their work in the legal profession affects people who are normally not welcome in the mainstream.
Hall expressed concern that once the current #BlackLivesMatter craze begins to fade, “we’re just going back to where we came from” on exclusion and discrimination.
Denson said it was sad that corporations, lawmakers, and the media would have to suffer tragic deaths to finally put the spotlight on racial differences in the United States.
Both guests ended their interviews with the hope that more BIPOC advocates will soon be heard as outreach programs aim to engage more underserved communities.
As of spring 2021, in the early days of his new podcast, Rice said he hadn’t been contacted by any official diabetes organization to continue the conversation. However, he hopes that this will happen and that these groups will welcome more discussion and engagement to bring different voices to their platforms and events.
“A lot of time has been wasted,” he says. “Now is the time to do and say something.”
You can find Soul of Diabetes on Instagram and broadcast it on places like Spotify.