Azure Antoinette: the “Maya Angelou of the Millennial Generation” Talks Living Well with MS for Black Americans
Azure Antoinette is a commissioned poet, entrepreneur, and arts education advocate. Affectionately known as “the Maya Angelou of the Millennial generation,” her performance poetry explores the ways social media is reshaping humanity.
Azure was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) at age 28; and has been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) for over a decade. In her early twenties, she began having spasms, tingling in her hands and feet, and had trouble walking. She felt so tired that it was difficult to stay awake, to watch a movie or drive a car, even after sleeping for 16 hours some nights.
The fatigue experienced by MS patients is much different from an everyday tired feeling, and it can come on with no warning. Managing MS fatigue is an ongoing challenge because it is not a one-size-fits-all symptom.1
Just ask Board-Certified Neurologist and world-renowned MS Specialist Dr. Mitzi Joi Williams, who partners with patients to create personalized treatment plans for their distinctive MS experiences, including:
- Feeling excessively tired or weary
- Having trouble with memory or mental focus
- Experiencing muscle weakness or trouble with coordination
MS is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks itself, making it difficult for the brain to communicate with the rest of the body.2 Approximately one million adults live with MS in the U.S., a majority of whom are diagnosed with RRMS. Women are three times more likely than men to develop RRMS, and Black Americans have an increased risk of developing progressive symptoms.2
According to recent studies, Black Americans may be more at risk for MS than previously thought.
In a newly launched documentary, Azure encourages Black Americans living with MS to pay attention to their symptoms and advocate for their health. She also shares her first-hand experience as a Black woman living well with MS alongside Dr. Williams, who explains what symptoms to watch out for and advice on staying active while managing often overwhelming MS symptoms.
I spoke to Azure and Dr. Williams in partnership with MS Awareness Month in March – and More to MS, an educational resource to help patients and their caregivers learn more about and better manage MS symptoms like fatigue.
Called “the Maya Angelou of the Millennial generation,” Azure Antoinette, 38, is a commissioned poet, entrepreneur, and millennial and arts education advocate. Azure is the founder and CEO of Teller Creative Group.
Azure has been commissioned to write for Maria Shriver, The Gap, Johnson & Johnson, Beats By Dr. Dre, Girl Scouts of America, The Documentary Group, California Arts Council, American Cancer Society’s benefit Art 4 Life and more. Azure is an official partner of TD Ameritrade seeking to bridge the worlds of finance and art, as well as an official Clean & Clear Ambassador for their “See the Real Me” campaign.
Azure served as the closing speaker for the 2013 TEDWomen Conference in San Francisco and has spoken at numerous TEDx events across the country. In 2014, Azure and her work was the focus of a short film produced by The Gap Foundation for their “One Stitch Closer” campaign.
Dr. Mitzi Joi Williams
World-Renowned Multiple Sclerosis Expert, Dr. Mitzi Joi Williams, is a Board-Certified Neurologist, Fellowship Trained Multiple Sclerosis Specialist, Author, International Speaker, and Researcher who is passionate about educating and empowering people affected by MS. Her specialized training and expertise makes her a highly sought after expert and thought leader in the field of Neurology and Multiple Sclerosis, often called upon to speak nationally and internationally on topics related to advancing MS care.
She is the proud recipient of the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Hope Award and the 2019 BlackDoctor.org Top Blacks in Healthcare Award. She is also the Amazon Number 1 best-selling author of MS Made Simple: The Essential Guide to Understanding Your Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis.
She has worked in a variety of clinical settings including academic teaching hospitals, private practice and as Medical Director of a Multiple Sclerosis Center. She has expertise in understanding MS in underserved and ethnic minority populations. Through collaborations with national and international MS committees, she advocates for people living with MS to share in the decision making process with their healthcare teams to combat this disease.
She serves as a well-respected consultant, speaker, researcher, author and physician. She is the proud Founder and CEO of Joi Life Wellness Group Multiple Sclerosis Center™️, where she provides personalized Multiple Sclerosis Care delivered with expertise, compassion and joy. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two beautiful children, and singing.