Two years ago, Ericka Hart, a 30 year-old sexuality educator was diagnosed with breast cancer. To raise awareness and provide visibility for Black queer women who are battling with or have battled breast cancer, Ericka attended this year’s Afropunk Fest in Brooklyn topless revealing her double mastectomy scars.
The courageous move caught the attention of the festival’s attendees and photographers. It wasn’t long before her photo and story went viral.
Ericka noted in her Afropunk blog, “Punk to me means standing in your truth and resisting white supremacist, patriarchal notions of existence. I wanted people to see me such that they saw themselves, their mothers, lovers and friends.”
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time Ericka came face to face with the disease. Breast cancer claimed the life of her mother when Ericka was just 13 years-old.
A recent study found “The black-white disparity in breast cancer death rates has increased over time; by 2012, death rates were 42% higher in black women than white women.”
The trend is expected to continue. That same study found that “Black women are more likely than other racial/ethnic groups to be diagnosed at later stages.”
Despite these dire facts, the face of breast cancer survivors tend to be white. As a black, queer survivor, Ericka was determined to show the world that “We exist.”
Ericka Hart is not only a breast cancer survivor, she is a breast cancer warrior. The decision to share her scars and her story are a true testament of her #BlackGirlMagic. We caught up with Ericka to discuss her decision to attend Afropunk topless and the importance of visibility, sexuality, and self care.
See more photos of the courageous woman below: