This week's New Yorker isn't waiting for a ban on large, sugary drinks to help change the city's eating and drinking habits. She is using her recognition as an old school rapper to spread the word about diabetes. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio filed the following report.
Roxanne Shante is an icon in her community.
She rose up from the projects in Queens to become a hip-hop pioneer in the '80s and was later a breast cancer survivor.
But now, she says, the culture that helped her succeed has left her with a new health battle.
"I come from a culture that actually nicknamed it sugar and it's not because it's a sweet disease at all," she says.
Earlier this year, Roxanne was diagnosed with diabetes. The love and pudding that had helped her through her struggle with breast cancer suddenly became a serious and potentially deadly risk.
"Everyone thinks that giving me something sweet is making me feel better, which it did. But then its also killing me," she says. "I've never had a moment where there wasn't something I was up against. And here goes another thing to be up against. I was told that you need to truly, truly watch your diet if you still want to be here."
Today, she is using her struggle and recognition to help others, spreading the word about healthy eating and diabetes with the American Diabetes Association on the streets and on the airwaves.
"I am going to take what I have and I am going to get this information out there because people need to know," she says. "Because if you teach them and they know and they have the information, they will follow. But if no one tells you, then what are you supposed to do?"
It seems her personality and passion for the cause is already having an effect.
"I used to be 336 pounds. I was the type of kid that took the whole box of sugar and poured it in the Kool-Aid," says John Gellineau, who suffers from diabetes. "Shante would take time out and go with me to my appointments and make sure I do what I need to do."
And so, for motivating her community to exchange pudding and pounds for a healthy lifestyle, Roxanne Shante is our New Yorker of the Week.