Celebrating Diversity: Let's Uplift Black Women

February 8, 2021

Celebrating Diversity is a Here for the Girls blog series on diversity, equity, and inclusion related to the H4TG mission: to improve the lives of young women affected by breast cancer.

To uplift means both to celebrate or honor, but also to bring up or boost. This month is Black History Month, and at Here for the Girls (as a nonprofit that focuses on young women's social-emotional wellbeing), we'd like to highlight both aspects of this word by celebrating Black women's achievements and also acknowledging that we have much work to do as a country to lift them up so they can access the equity (see definition of health equity below from the National Cancer Institute) they need and deserve.

At H4TG, we aim to celebrate and uplift Black women not just for Black History Month, but in every month, all the time. We are committed to being an ally to all people and promoting human rights for all. Read more about our values HERE.

Uplift: Rebecca Lee Crumpler, MD

Black women have had a huge impact on history and have many uplifting stories to inspire us - we are especially inspired by Rebecca Lee Crumper, the first Black woman doctor in the US who worked for a time in Richmond, VA, not too far from the the H4TG office in Williamsburg, VA. Read more about her below.

From AAMC News: "In 1864, after years as a nurse, Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831 — 1895) became the first black woman in the United States to receive an MD degree. She earned that distinction at the New England Female Medical College in Boston, Massachusetts — where she also was the institution’s only black graduate. After the Civil War, Crumpler moved to Richmond, Virginia, where she worked with other black doctors who were caring for formerly enslaved people in the Freedmen’s Bureau. While she faced sexism and other forms of harassment, Crumpler ultimately found the experience transformative. 'I returned to my former home, Boston, where I entered into the work with renewed vigor, practicing outside, and receiving children in the house for treatment; regardless, in a measure, of remuneration,' she wrote."

"Crumpler also wrote A Book of Medical Discourses: In Two Parts. Published in 1883, the book addresses children’s and women’s health and is written for 'mothers, nurses, and all who may desire to mitigate the afflictions of the human race.' " (note: there are no historical photos available of Dr. Crumpler, otherwise we would have shared one.)

In the AAMC article referenced above, you'll also read about other pioneering black physicians including Leoniadas Harris Berry, who helped organize the Flying Black Medics (photo below). Click here for the whole article.

Uplift: Health Disparities for Black women in Breast Cancer Treatment

The definition of Health Equity above is from the National Cancer Institute. Read more about health equity and about health disparities relating to cancer on their website HERE.

Black women face significant challenges when it comes to health disparities in breast cancer - new research is helping to lay the groundwork for helping to build health equity. According to a recent study, Black women were more likely to experience delayed treatment and prolonged treatment duration compared with white women, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Despite similar incidence rates of breast cancer in white and Black women, the breast cancer mortality rate is 42% higher in Black women, especially in those younger than 45 years old. Several factors may play a role in these mortality differences, including screening tools and screening guidelines, more adverse tumor biology and later stage at diagnosis. Read the full story HERE in Cure Magazine.

Even among women with low socioeconomic status, we still saw fewer delays among white women, underscoring the disparate experience of Black women who appear to experience unique barriers,” said Marc A. Emerson, PhD, MPH, postdoctoral fellow in the department of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health and lead of the study mentioned above.



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