By Haleemah Atobiloye, Program Manager
Think Before You Pink® Goes Rogue connects the dots between three critical topics:
This week we released educational materials and interactive activities detailing the intersections of the breast cancer crisis and environmental racism.
Taken together, these resources illuminate why we must address and end breast cancer disparities in diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes in order to take on this public health crisis, and how aligning our shared understanding of these concepts provides the impetus to take ACTION to stop breast cancer before it starts.
Risk factors for breast cancer include things we can’t control, like aging and our sex assigned at birth, and things we can change through structural solutions, like environmental racism that determines which communities are hit first and worst by cancer-causing toxic exposures.
Typically, when large governmental agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute address breast cancer risks through factors we can change, they focus on individual lifestyle choices, like eating healthy food and walking more.
Breast cancer activists know this is a drop in the bucket if we do not address large-scale cancer-causing environmental exposures produced by industries engaging in chemical and fossil fuel production. And the hard truth is these types of environmental exposures impact different communities in disparate ways: BIPOC communities and communities of lower socioeconomic standing are hit first and worst, the direct result of environmental racism.
By addressing environmental racism and the related toxic exposures, we can create healthier environments for communities most directly impacted, and for all communities.
Environmental racism has shaped our communities and cities. GIS (Geographic Information System) Maps compile data on socioeconomic factors (such as income level and education level) and overlays the data with known sources of pollution.
From the map of your choice, enter your zip code and click to add the categories ‘Socioeconomic Indicators’ and ‘Pollution and Sources’.
For many locations, there is a visible correlation between Socioeconomic Indicators and Pollution Sources, including pollution sources that have been shown to be linked to an increase in the risk for breast cancer.
Typically, the map of Pollution Sources overlaps with the low-income communities and communities of color, showing communities with the furthest relationships to power are also the most burdened by environmental exposures to pollution. GIS maps like these help environmental scientists and public health officials visualize the inequities that exist within our infrastructure, and we can use them to visualize how environmental racism permeates the breast cancer crisis.
BCAction’s Program and Campaigns Intern, Ashley Jahja and Executive Director, KR were live on Instagram Wednesday, October 11, and you can watch the hard-hitting dialogue at @bcaction.
As their discussion demonstrates, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities are hit first and worst by environmental racism, socioeconomic inequalities, and the climate crisis in ways that increase exposures to cancer-causing chemicals of concern.
In order to address and eliminate the disparate burden of involuntary exposures, we must create and demand structural solutions and changes that will benefit all communities.
Get ready to join us next week in learning more about fossil fuel divestment. Divestment strategies build on BCAction’s long legacy of following the money and calling out the ways in which funding sources have large-scale public health impacts.
Join us in demanding that public health be prioritized over corporate profits – particularly oil and gas profits gained by poisoning our environment with carcinogens all along the fossil fuel continuum.
With your support and engagement, we continue to build the collective power necessary to achieve health justice for all.