If you google "women of color vs white women breast health," one of the first few things to come up happens to be the CDC’s website with a bold quote that states the following:
"Black women and white women get breast cancer at about the same rate, but black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than white women."
According to the CDC, between 1999 and 2013 black women had lower rates of getting breast cancer than white women. However, black women’s chances of dying from breast cancer was higher than their white counterparts. After 2013, the chances of getting breast cancer for both black and white women happens to be same, but as previously mentioned, "black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than white women."
There are many different types breast cancer. Black women are more likely to get triple-negative breast cancer, a cancer that comes into the body aggressively and has a very high chance of returning after treatment. Needless to say, awareness and knowledge on these facts can help women begin testing earlier and keep an eye on their bodies, breasts especially.
Recently Emmy-award winning filmmaker Mae Ryan and data journalist Mona Chalabi released a how-to video encouraging women to 'touch your tits' by checking your breasts regularly. The women’s mission is "to make sure that people remember that as well as going to the doctor for screenings, they should be regularly touching their tits," shared Mona with Elle UK.
While their message, video and digital art is extremely helpful for women who aren’t really sure how to check their breasts to ensure everything is doing great, it’s missing one very important component — more women of color. Specifically, black women.
The video begins with Mona Chalabi asking if you’ve ever thought of touching your breasts in circular and vertical motions with 11 women, including Chalabi, only four of which are women of color and of the four, only two are black.
"Why not get to know your boobs? Because the more you know them, the more you’ll notice if something changes," continues the video narration followed by instructions on how to navigate your boobs to check for any lumps, dimples, change in sizes or discharge.
When one of the black women in the video asks if she’s doing it incorrectly, Mona positively tells her that there’s no such thing, "Just be sure to apply pressure and touch all over."
Mona Chalabi decided that the world was in need of helpful tips on regular breast-checking after she performed a self-check and came across a lump. After a mammogram, she found out that it wasn’t cancerous, but the feeling of humane fragility stuck with her.
The video is helpful, that’s something that cannot be knocked, but the lack of representation is sad, especially in late 2018. There are, sadly, endless facts about women of color, black women especially, facing neglect, lack of proper care and straight disregard towards their health, so when viral videos of women’s health don’t include the women who may need this information the most, there needs to be accountability.
Check out the informational (and a little too white) viral video on breast self-examination:
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