Imagine being told that 1/4 of your peers will be sent to jail. Imagine being led to believe that all the greatest figures in history looked nothing like you. Imagine seeing folks that did look like you gunned down in cold blood for unjustifiable reasons. Imagine having so much trauma in your bloodline that it begins to change the fabric of your DNA. Now, imagine finding out one of the most vital organs in your body is shutting and that there’s no cure for your sickness.
This was my reality as a 7-year old.
In my mid 20’s I searched out a community with type 1 diabetes. Through social media, I found people who were going through the same thing as me. People who understood my struggles and fears. I found joy in the companionship and it was comforting to learn that I wasn’t the only one with a perfect A1C. I discovered individuals who were role models, educators, and influencers who had dedicated their entire lives to ensure that others with T1D live life better but there was one thing that stuck out… They didn’t look like me. They had the same autoimmune disease but we didn’t have the same cultural experiences due to a difference in skin pigmentation. There was a void, and I started to think of ways I could fill it, then something my mother said struck me.
My mother told me that I needed to become the thing I wasn’t able to find. She said, “You can show other black boys that they can live full lives even with diabetes!” I really contemplated if I was qualified to be a black diabetic advocate. I mean.. Who was I to try to fill that void?? I began the process of trying to build a brand, I came up with a mission statement, I came up with different ideas for what the brand could do but out of fear, I didn’t push the brand forward. The brand would always be in the back of my mind, like a relentless gnat. Until a traumatic experience on a random Sunday in March of 2019 gave me the motivation to take Glucose Gang seriously
I got word that “Nipsey Hussle” was gunned down. Here was a man who came from nothing, turned his life from negative to positive, never changed who he was, created multiple brands, and showed his community how to replicate the process. I was lost and defeated, I actually couldn’t wrap my mind around how someone so enlightened and so through had been killed in cold blood. This was the turning point.
I decided I was going to represent for the folks that didn’t have representation and that I wasn’t going to compromise who I was or how I presented my ideas. This was the push that I needed. The Glucose Gang is a lifestyle brand dedicated to authenticity, creativity, and representing those who can’t do it themselves.
I learned that there was a need for MY type of representation and that the community I didn’t see was out there. The very people I was trying to shed light on became my biggest supporters.
Now, after finding this community, and becoming a voice for those who don’t think they had one, I realize (more than ever) that I’m not alone. After dealing with all of the highs and lows of my life, learning how to live with this disease, feeling alone, and navigating life as a Black man, I discovered that all I ever had to be was the person that was looking back in the mirror.
Michael Roberson (@GlucoseGangMike) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1999-over 20 years ago. Michael uses his platform to highlight creativity, share knowledge about T1D, and to inspire other people of color with diabetes. Glucose Gang was founded in July 2019 as lifestyle brand for diabetics by diabetics. The mission of Glucose Gang is to show other diabetics that life doesn’t end after diagnosis, its actually just the beginning. Michael is an Alumni of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He graduated with a BA in Psychology and Business. Michael currently resides in Durham, NC but still reps Michigan everywhere he goes.