As we move through Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the pink-ribbon-wearing and consuming of pink commodities are in full swing, and I am reminded why the month of October hasn’t sat well for me for the last two years. That was around the time I stopped believing that drinking out of a pink water bottle was enough to address the severity of breast cancer.
According to an article in Cancer Epidemiology, although black women are less likely to develop breast cancer than white women, black women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than are white women. Though many researchers have concluded that racial health disparities contribute to these startling numbers, the researchers at the Sinai Urban Health Institute found that residential segregation and lower median household incomes are major contributors to these disparities. Studies have shown that African-Americans who live in isolated communities receive unequal medical care because hospitals serving them have less technology; they live in closer proximity to toxic waste dumps; and they are less likely to have access to recreational facilities. Segregated neighborhoods are more likely to be poor, and if you barely earn a living wage, you definitely can’t afford health insurance that would cover preventive care (Thanks Affordable Care Act). The pink ribbon does not help bring awareness to the socioeconomic inequities connected to breast cancer; they commodify the disease and make it “sexy” under the guise of raising awareness.