By Krystal Redman, DrPH, Executive Director
In this email I would like to introduce myself as the new Executive Director of the Breast Cancer Action team. My first day with Breast Cancer Action was Monday, January 4th. Since that date we’ve faced an insurrection at our nation’s capitol, an intensification of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the inauguration of a new administration, including the nation’s first-ever woman of color Vice President.
It has been a wild ride to onboard with BCAction during this time. How can we carry on with business as usual with the onslaught of ever-changing challenges? How do we focus whole-heartedly on breast cancer during the continuous cycling of the news ticker and the rapid response news cycle under which we all operate?
This is how: the same forces causing violent division in our political systems and creating the healthcare disparities that exacerbate health crises like the coronavirus are the same forces of systemic oppression that result in unacceptable rates of breast cancer incidence, mortality, and survival – and that have disparate impacts on Black and Brown folks. These are the systems we set out to dismantle as breast cancer activists, to create a world where our lives and our communities are not threatened by breast cancer.
At BCAction, we are committed to addressing and ending breast cancer through a health justice lens. Our materials, our processes, and our goals directly state that in order to address this devastating disease, we must tackle the root causes of health inequities, which are the result of a complex interplay of culture, power, economics, racism, and sexism.
As our new Executive Director, I see many things in this commitment. I see the legacy resulting from our work thus far, how it overlaps with my own history, politics, and vision, and how it all propels the next steps for our organization.
The legacy of our first Executive Director, Barbara Brenner, was calling out the hypocrisy of the breast cancer movement, activism through a social justice lens, access to equitable care and evidence-based information, as well as addressing disparities in treatment and incidence. The legacy of our second Executive Director, Karuna Jaggar, was focused on centering our work on health justice, expanding programs with the introduction of anti-fracking, and growing the prominence and reach of the organization.
I plan to build on these legacies, to deepen our health justice and equity work, and to structure BCAction so that we can best honor our health justice commitments and fully and boldly live out our values.
The overlap between Breast Cancer Action’s legacies and goals and my own work and vision has the potential to build power for the breast cancer movement through BCAction’s unique health justice approach. Our challenge and our charge is to center the folks most harmed by systemic oppressions, to uplift those with the furthest relationships from power, and to elevate our own stories and our knowledge, as we are the experts in the subject matter of our lives and experiences.
My goal is to create a leadership model that brings us to a place where we are actively anti-racist, consistently evaluating how capitalism shows up in our policies, and always centering peoples’ experiences and expertise in every step of our work: from how we collect data, to how we analyze the science, to how we share and disseminate our perspectives and our communications so that they are truly accessible. Further, my goal is to continue to focus our resources and ensure that people have access to equitable and rigorous information to support their vital decisions around treatment and care.
BCAction stands to end this epidemic. As a Breast Cancer Action supporter, your collaboration and involvement is absolutely necessary in how we carry out this work. Thank you for your continued support of this powerful organization, and for the warm welcome into the community of breast cancer activists.
I look forward to getting to know you, and working alongside you to address and end breast cancer.