Sources: Huffington Post – By Cece-Jones Davis | All Things Michael
In May 2009, while doing my hair in the bathroom mirror, I noticed a dime-sized white spot on my elbow. I studied it for some time, moving my arm at different angles to get a better view. A sudden thought, accompanied by a burst of cold, ran through my body. Could this be that Michael Jackson disease? I ran to my phone to call my twin sister. She was calm but perplexed by my description and assured me everything would be okay. I just needed to make a dermatologist appointment in the morning. We hung up the phone and I returned to staring at the spot.
I arrived there a few days later. The diagnosis was straightforward – it was vitiligo, an incurable condition that causes the body to destroy its own pigment. It was that Michael Jackson disease. I called my sister to give her the news. The specialist had said vitiligo could be hereditary, so my sister began a search of her body for spots. She noticed that her fingernail beds were not as dark as they used to be and made an appointment. It was confirmed again. Vitiligo.
Vitiligo is not life threatening, but it is life changing. Losing my color has meant losing an important part of my personal identity. It has meant losing grip of my self-esteem, and some days, my mind. As an African-American woman, I have had to re-define exactly what makes me black. It can no longer be my skin color.
As a black man, Michael Jackson struggled for decades with vitiligo, identity and public ridicule, and is still regarded as the greatest musician of all time. From his life and lyrics, I hope to glean strength and encouragement as I move forward. I want to believe him when he said, “it don’t matter if you’re black or white.”
June 25th is World Vitiligo Day. VITFriends is an organization raising awareness about vitiligo and offering emotional support.
For more about Mrs. Davis’s treatment and struggle with vitiligo, please read here