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8 hands stacked one on top of one another in a show of unity and support. Each arm belongs to a different person of color with some depicting various forms of plaque psoriasis.

Representation Matters

This year, in March 2023, I had the honor of participating in the National Psoriasis Foundations in=person Capitol Hill Day. I met with leaders within the United States House of Representatives - as well as the Senate to advocate for issues within the psoriatic disease community. 

It felt great to be able to represent for the community as a whole. There however was one thing that was clearly obvious amongst the group of advocates. Of the over 20 advocates there, only two of us within the group were African American. It made me realize; more representation is necessary.

As a Black woman, I rarely see myself represented in treatment commercials and advertisements. I can barely see myself represented in the psoriasis community as a whole.

Psoriasis does not discriminate against skin tone!

Not long after my trip to DC I was explaining to a coworker, also an African American, about my advocacy work.  After listening she said, "I didn't know black people can get psoriasis". I took a deep breath and then gave her a mini lesson on all things psoriasis!

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My point in sharing all of this, is that the stigma or idea that Black people can not be diagnosed with psoriasis still very much exists. It's why representation is so important. It's not only validates individuals who live with this condition - but eradicates myths and misconceptions.

It's no secret that within the Black community, psoriasis can be misdiagnosed and even overlooked. Simply put, psoriasis presents differently on Black skin. Speaking personally, I've also been faced with this same misconceptions from my own family. It's so much more than overly dry skin and heavy dandruff.

Let's talk cultural competency for a minute

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, let me break it down for you. Cultural competency means being aware of your own cultural beliefs and values and how these may be different from other cultures — including being able to learn about and honor the different cultures of those you work with.

Looking for an example? My former dermatologist had no understanding of why washing my hair daily, as a Black woman, was going to be a no go for my scalp psoriasis. Even discussions of hyperpigmentation spots weren't received with understanding.

Luckily, I found another provider who hears me when it comes to these things. Since my diagnosis, I have become very passionate about advocating for people of color living with psoriasis. I took it upon myself to create my own psoriasis support group for women of color. Sharing similar stories helps us know we aren't alone.

The importance of Black representation

Prominent representation is the most important avenue to gain more visibility to this condition and the individuals it impacts - especially those faced with the biggest stigmas. Lack of education comes from both ends of the spectrum and we hold the key to change that.

If you live with psoriasis as a Black individuals - or other underrepresented persons, I see you. Your perspective matters - I encourage you to find advocacy, participate in clinical trials, surveys and support groups. You hold the key to increase visibility which in turn holds high chances of getting our unique challenges addressed.

There's so many advancements and resources that I know the Black community and other underrepresented communities can benefit from. Representation matters, and to see the change, we have to become part of it. If you are a person of color, can you relate? What do you think will help with more representation?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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