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Diversity and Inclusion Pledge for Women of Color
The Facts: Black women have 40% higher mortality rates Black women are often diagnosed at later stages when treatments are limited, costly and the prognosis is poor Black women are often diagnosed at younger ages and have more aggressive breast cancer Black women make up only 6% of clinical trial participants Take the #InclusionPledge: We commit to taking specific actions to dismantle systemic barriers and end disparities. We pledge to only participate in initiatives - panels, boards, planning committees, programs, that include the experience of Black women. Overview: A person's life should not be determined by the color of their skin, literacy, financial barriers, access, social, systemic, and hereditary backgrounds should not be determinants of life and health equity. Particularly, as we face historical upheaval due to recent racial events, and as patients are impacted by COVID and post-COVID pandemic repercussions, this will cause a critical impact on health disparities for black women within the cancer research and cancer care ecosystem. In order to continue to accelerate impact as it relates to ending disparities for black women, the inclusion pledge is imperative. Mission: To advocate and activate the inclusion of women of color across initiatives impacting their breast and overall health. Background: At the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, several advocates made an #inclusionpledge. The inclusion pledge originated with Angela “Jersi” Baker, (an African metastatic breast cancer advocate and Founder of Angel in Disguise), Julia Maues and Christine Hodgdon. Julia and Christine felt that as “white women living with metastatic breast cancer, [we] engage in advocacy to allow people with cancer to live longer and better lives. In this role, we get our voices heard by writing articles, speaking on panels, participating in advisory boards, or reviewing grants. We have always seen ourselves as allies to people of color and thought it was unacceptable that certain population groups experience disparities in cancer outcomes. But we decided that 'not being ok' with something this terrible wasn’t enough! We had to act.” And, so began the #inclusionpledge. At Tigerlily Foundation’s SABCS Fireside Chat, the #inclusionpledge was announced and everyone in the room was invited to commit to the pledge. Maimah Karmo of Tigerlily Foundation, Jasmine Souers, and Marissa Thomas from For the Breast of Us, joined Christine and Julia on a panel to make this pledge. Maimah, Jasmine and Maurisa are all early-stage breast cancer survivors who always include the metastatic experience as part of their education and advocacy work. This pledge further empowers women of color, who often feel dismissed and not given a “seat at the table”. Jersi continues to use her voice to make an impact. At Theresa’s Research Foundation conference, Jersi was sitting in an audience where women of color and inclusion were being discussed, yet there was not a woman of color who was included as a patient advocate on the panel. Christine and Julia agreed that it was unacceptable and asked her to join them on the stage. This work, our collective voices, stance on disparities, diversity, and inclusion is unwavering. All stakeholders have to commit to change, to ensure women of color achieve health equity. We have to collaborate to effect change. How to Get Involved: For us to end disparities in our lifetimes, every industry that affects or can affect the mortality rates of women of color must be involved. On the Tigerlily Foundation Inclusion Pledge Page you will find a segmentation by industry, and ways you can commit to being a part of the change. You need to: Take the pledge and commit to at least one action that you and/or your organization can take! Respond to our follow up email with your organization’s logo (if applicable) and a quote about your pledge action(s) to become a pledge partner on our website. Share this pledge with your friends, family members, advocates, and partner organizations! Accountability: Commit to providing updates of how your organization is keeping its commitment to working to end disparities in women of color. What is your #InclusionPledge?