The presence of sickle cell anaemia, a disease with no known cure at the moment, seemingly does not exist to most of the population. Sickle cell disease alters the form of the red blood cell, from round to a more rigid shape, with potentially fatal consequences. However, although it is evident that many people are suffering and dying from sickle cell, there has been a largely apathetic response from the majority of the population towards advocating for its eradication. In fact, the president of Sickle Cell Disease Association of EscaRosa confirmed this widespread attitude among the general population by stating “The biggest problem we face is that there is very little support for sickle cell. If we can get people to start talking about sickle cell disease, and the media to embrace sickle cell disease as they do other diseases, 10 years from now there will be better care for people with sickle cell disease.”
While sickle cell disease is invisible to much of the population and the media, it is not any less real for theapproximately 100,000 Americans suffering from its active existence in their blood. Unfortunately, sickle cell disease has a has an overwhelmingly strong presence within black communities in America and throughout the world, with 1 in every 365 black people in the United States possessing the disease and 3.2 million people worldwide, largely concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa. Perhaps this has made it easier for many people not suffering from sickle cell, as well as the media, to ignore those that do, such as with many white Americans failing to recognize various issues facing black communities in this country being a prominent and problematic trend today. One of those people that suffers from sickle cell disease is visual and performing artist Hertz Nazaire, who uses his artistry to bring attention to the disease.
Nazaire has made his message as an artist clear, stating that his “ultimate goal is to get awareness.” He goes on to state “what I want to be is a positive image of someone struggling with sickle cell anemia, who believes it is OK to talk about it and fight it publicly. If I had the influence of (singer) T-Boz or (actor) Larenz Tate, I’d talk about it 24/7, until people got tired of me. The cure is within reach, but people are not pushing for it.” Nazaire truly is an advocate for change, which is also portrayed through his #Art4Cure initiative that he outlines on his official Patreon account. His passion is shown throughout his bright and colorful artwork, with some of his pieces directly referencing and picturing the pain of sickle cell.
Despite Nazaire nearly dying from the disease and having lost vision in his right eye because of it, he has not yet given up hope, showing his true strength as an artist and human being. Nazaire possesses hopes for the future, believing that a cure is within reach, and would only increase in likelihood if more people in the general population as well as the mainstream media were to devote time to discussing the detrimental presence of the disease. “I want to use my Art to make a better life for myself,” says Nazaire, “a life with a louder voice that allows me the ability to do much more in my Sickle Cell Advocacy work.” In order to achieve his goal, Nazaire needs help. He needs those who are willing to look beyond themselves, those who are willing to help invest in an artist with passion, those who want to end the harmful presence of sickle cell disease in the world. And hopefully, there are many individuals who fervently possess those beliefs, because people with sickle cell, like Nazaire, truly need the help of others in this fight.