Posted on February 1, 2022

By Tibby Reas Hinderlie, Communications Manager, and Krystal Redman, Executive Director

How do we honor Black history and experiences beyond February?

At Breast Cancer Action, we’re reflecting on the life of Henrietta Lacks, racism in medicine, and disparities in breast cancer. We’re considering how anti-racism must be present in all of our internal processes and external stances, as we look ahead of the release our 2022 Strategic Plan, which will be deeply rooted in our health justice work.

Read our piece, “Honoring Our History Means Acknowledging Our History,” by myself (Tibby Reas Hinderlie (she/her)) and Executive Director Dr. Krystal Redman (they/she), where we connect how our reflections in the current moment provide a framework for our work beyond the month of February.

We are honoring Black history and experiences through a multitude of strategies: spotlighting BIPOC stories, providing critical analysis on the systemic underpinnings of racism woven throughout our institutions, and reflecting on our own work and our often-overlapping roles within systems. We know that paying homage to Black History Month must be part of ongoing, intentional, anti-racist work.

BCAction goes beyond merely recognizing Black History Month as just a moment in time, and would like to honor our history by acknowledging it. We will examine how we, as an organization, actively decenter problematic, harmful, and oppressive practices, and we will re-envision how we work to address and end breast cancer using a health justice lens.

“Honoring Our History Means Acknowledging Our History” starts small with the story of Henrietta Lacks. Lacks was a Black woman who died of advanced stage cervical cancer at the young age of 31. While being treated, her cells were taken without her knowledge or consent. Now known as the “immortal HeLa cell line,” her cells have been used in much of modern medicine for research and drug development.

Throughout this reflection is the belief that our stories are powerful. They can provide insight into how we might approach systemic problems and create disruptive solutions toward the goal of living healthy and liberated lives.

Read the piece and start to look forward with us, as we turn toward the launch of our Strategic Plan’s graphic preview, which will be released later this week.

We know that in order to do this collective work, we have to first examine our own values and structures, and we look forward to sharing our upcoming plans with you. In our 2022 Strategic Plan we have created a blueprint for how we will show up in the movement and in the world, with the commitment to anti-racism as a foundational methodology that must be ever-present in all that we do to truly address and end breast cancer.

We hope you’ll join us in honoring Black history and experiences today and beyond the month of February.