Joy After Alopecia Is Standing With Black Men With Alopecia. The struggles of Black Men in America have now become a national issue. Imagine what it feels like to be a Black Man in America with Alopecia Areata. Meet Gabriel Carter, founder of Cheltenham Ave and a Black Man With Alopecia.
Where Are All The Black Men With Alopecia?
A few months ago I wrote a blog post about my Experience As A Young Black Man With Alopecia Areata. Since then, I’ve joined alopecia Facebook groups, Reddit forums, and followed the Instagrams of everyone who is inspiring me and keeping the conversation about living with alopecia alive.
There are 147 million people affected by alopecia worldwide, yet there is a surprising absence of voices from men of color. A recent study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that alopecia areata is most prevalent among African Americans. So where were they?
In June 2019, I attended the National Alopecia Areata Foundation Annual conference. I met so many inspiring people (many of whom were not people of color) that instantly welcomed me. It was like a breath of fresh air to be around people who understood living with alopecia and understood growing with it. It was a feeling I will never forget and one I hope to cultivate with others who need to see the representation of someone not suffering from alopecia but living well with it.
The conference provided an environment to discuss a variety of topics important to the alopecia community, but many of those conversations were left unfinished. These conversations only happen when someone is willing to continue the discussion.
Having alopecia made me want to fade into the background. I never saw myself as bold or confident. It took me many years with many highs and lows to realize that I am the protagonist of my own story. If I want to see the representation and conversations about alopecia, it’s up to me to lead the charge. I mean, why not? If I want to see more representation from black men in the alopecia community, why not start sharing my experiences?
One of my favorite quotes is from Rick Bass’s, The Hermit’s Story.
“Aren’t we all extraordinarily frail and in the end remarkably unimpressive, creatures too often of boring repetition and habit rather than bold imagination. Who will rescue us, if not ourselves? Who will emancipate us, if not ourselves? “
It’s up to us to make the change we want to see. I look forward to a time where our differences are celebrated. Until then, you can find me on Cheltenham Ave, discussing the topics, and having the conversations I needed when I was struggling with my identity, my confidence, and my self-love. Some of those moments test me even today, but I’m on a mission to live my best life.
Since starting Cheltenham Ave, I continue to have empowering talks, not just about alopecia, but also about realizing your potential to thrive as you are. Be proactive in your personal growth. Share what you’ve learned with others. Representation matters and there are people quietly searching for your voice whether they know it or not.
As a gamer, I look forward to the protagonist of a video game not only being a person of color but also having alopecia, not as a plot device, just because we all have differences.
As a member of the alopecia community, I look forward to hearing your story growing together through honest conversations.
The more we share our experiences the more we can help those who feel alone and isolated feel connected in this small, big world and create a society that celebrates differences.