• Julia Maues

Using White Privilege to Help End Disparities

By Julia Maués


originally presented as an oral presentation at AACR Health Disparities in October 2020


Abstract


Living with metastatic breast cancer since 2013, I have become engaged in cancer advocacy and connected with other advocates all over the country and the world. This work brought me close to a number of Black women with cancer, and I saw the realities they face with the double whammy of cancer and racism. I have always considered myself an ally to people of color and am passionate about social justice causes but am not free of racial prejudice being born and raised in a systematically racist society. It wasn’t until I experienced discrimination myself as a young woman with late-stage cancer that I realized how much unlearning and learning I have ahead of me about white privilege and racism against Black people. When a Black advocate called me and others out for not including the perspective of a person of color on a panel on researcher-advocate collaborations, I (after first making the mistake of feeling attacked and defensive) realized that white advocates have an important role in addressing disparities. While racism affects Black people, it isn’t a problem created by and kept alive by Black people. It is my responsibility as a white person who aspires for an equitable society to take a stand for representation of Black and LatinX people in the space that I have an influence in. In my case that space is cancer advocacy and unfortunately there are too many Black people living with cancer. My power is my voice in cancer advocacy, so I have pledged to not participate in any advocacy initiative that doesn’t include the experience of a person of color. I encourage every white person to evaluate their privilege and take a stand in the appropriate space using the pledge put on by the Tigerlily Foundation at https://www.tigerlilyfoundation.org/inclusionpledgeforblackwomen/


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