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  /  Contributors   /  Annabel Ashalley-Anthony   /  Gaming For Sickle Cell
Founder of Melanin Gamers

Gaming For Sickle Cell

Meet The Founder of Melanin Gamers Raising Money For Sickle Cell Through Gaming

Founder Annabel Ashalley-Anthony Shares:

I am a writer, a sickle-cell warrior and a gamer.  
As a black woman, the story does not begin and end with merely stating that I am a gamer. The gaming industry has been both something I love and hate, simply because of this fact. There are layers to my rationale for wanting change but this fact heavily influenced my rationale from wishing for change to actually actively pursuing the change I wanted to see. I believe the reason stems from the very core of me as an advocate. 
An advocate is defined as someone who provides support when others need it. 
I am an advocate.
Melanin Gamers (MG), is a gaming community that promotes inclusion and diversity in the video games industry while also providing a safe space for people of colour to come together and game. Melanin Gamers is a necessity in the current climate we are living in and I believe that by creating this platform we will be able to strive towards changing an industry so that it reflects all those who are part of it. 

Our approach to increasing diversity in the industry is threefold:
  1. Educating and spreading our message through panel talks at conventions such as EGX, MCM Comic-Con and Insomnia gaming festival. And more recently our online panel talks such as our International Summit and our esports panel that we streamed live on Twitch.
  2. Gaming tournaments to grow our community and provide a place where people can come together and socialise. These are also spaces where we provide networking opportunities. We engage with local youths, families and their caretakers and we have contacts in the gaming industry to provide paid internships. 
  3. Our online presence such as our Twitch, website and Youtube channel showcase different content creators of colour. We also interview and highlight industry insiders of colour.

The future is tech and MG are going to ensure that it is an inclusive future that includes all races, all the LGBTQI community and all religions.

As A Gamer Living With Sickle Cell

Melanin Gamers has organised three key events to raise money and awareness for Sickle-cell anaemia. This involved videos from doctors, videos from individuals who live with sickle-cell anaemia talking about their own experiences and also as in line with who we are; some gaming. We were fortunate enough to have the help from Twitch and we secured the front page of Twitch for two of our events. One Sickle-cell awareness day on the 19th of June 2020 and two events in Sickle-cell September 2020, attracting over 44,589 viewers.

Why is it important to raise awareness for Sickle-cell Anaemia? 

Aside from the obvious – that is personally having sickle-cell anaemia. I believe it is crucial that we raise money for a cause that affects predominantly black people and people of colour. It is no secret that sickle-cell has a long and complicated history with a lot of stigma attached to it due to race. The mistreatment of black patients can be dated back further than I have been alive for.

Recently I read up on a study that reviewed the language doctors use when addressing black patients, compared to what they used when addressing white patients. Black patients were told to: ‘stay strong, just solider through’, compared to white patients who were asked: ‘is there any way I can make you more comfortable’. At a basic level, we are expected due to stereotypes of the strong black man and the strong black woman to just stay strong – thereby we are not checked-up on as often by nurses and doctors.and when we express pain our claims are met with scepticism at best, and at worst outright hostility and disbelief. I am of the firm belief of if we don’t do something for ourselves no one will do it for us. I am grateful to be surrounded by others who believe the same way and are fighting to be seen and heard. 

members of melanin gamers living with sickle cell
Other members of MG who also live with sickle cell

The Future of Gaming and Sickle Cell…

Personally, I believe that streaming/gaming is an excellent way to raise money for charity now more than ever. With so many restrictions in place – cake sales that used to take place to raise money for charity being at a standstill. Raising money through gaming and streaming content is a way forward and is also exceptionally accessible. MG is proud of all the streamers, medical professionals and sickle-cell warriors who take part in all our charity streams from around the world. We had phenomenal feedback and many people left with more insight as to what sickle-cell is and how to help out in future. Which at the end of the day is what we want; the more people who know about what sickle-cell is the more that can be done. 

You can follow Melanin Gamers on Instagram @melaningamers

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