Biz Markie and the Fight Against Diabetes in the Black Community

A month after the pandemic swept across the world, Biz Markie was hospitalized due to complications from Type 2 diabetes. By the end of the year, the beloved rapper went into a diabetic coma and suffered a stroke, forcing him into a rehabilitation facility. On July 16, Biz Markie passed at a hospital in Baltimore. He was 57.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas doesn't produce efficient amounts of insulin causing the body to respond poorly and process less sugar. It's the same disease that claimed the life of 45-year-old hip hop legend Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest in 2016. He talked about his battle with diabetes and the insatiable craving for sugar in Beats, Rhymes & Life, a documentary that explored the history of the group.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

More often than not, symptoms of Type 2 diabetes show up slowly over time. Experiencing any number of these symptoms for an ongoing period is an indicator that you should consider seeing a doctor.

  • always thirsty or hungry

  • urinating more often than usual

  • losing weight without trying

  • consistently tired

  • blurred vision

  • sores aren't healing quickly

  • numerous infections

  • hands and feet tingle or are numb

  • armpits and neck become darker

How Systematic Racism Increases the Risk of Diabetes in Black Communities

African-Americans are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. While lifestyle and diet play a crucial role, Clyde W. Yancy, MD says that systematic racism is a contributing factor for why diabetes death rates are 47.6% for Black people and only 24.3% for whites.

"It is more likely to have to do with socioeconomics and political issues of bias as well as physiologic and genetic issues that go into that same bucket," he said. "Some racial differences are more nuances. But there are issues of disparity and there are issues relative to racism that operate in a very broad context."

Some of the issues Yancy speaks of include: