“Lifting as we Climb!”
While it is generally known that the incidence of Cancer in Black populations are higher than the incidence seen in the general population, it is a topic that is seldom engaged in this affected population. 2017 Villager Award Recipient Naomi Rainey, President Long Beach Branch NAACP hosted a Community Dialogue in collaboration with the American Cancer Society at the Long Beach Yacht Club on April 26, 2019. Invited participants included African-American Physicians, Social Workers, Educators, City Officials, Philanthropists, Entrepreneurs, Educators, Commmunity Influencers, Nonprofit Leaders, etc. Individuals of other racial and ethnic and racial groups were invited to also participate in this predominantly African-American Leadership Dialogue tasked with discussing issues specific to the issues of cancer rates in the African-American population.
Naomi opened the Community Dialogue by welcoming the participants. She openly shared her own personal experience of having lost her husband and others close to her who died of cancer years ago. She passionately explained how the memory of those experiences, coupled with knowledge of continuing high incidences of cancer in our communities inspired her to no longer sit quietly. She spoke of her personal determination to now use her platform as a new Board member to create increasing opportunities for open discussion and actions that would ultimately lead to identification of positive community-based actions and a reduction in cancer rates in African-Americans. She acknowledged that it would take a village working together to make this a reality.
She asked that each person in the room identify themselves and as that occurred, it became quickly apparent that every person in the room had been affected by cancer. Some were cancer survivors, some had a history of cancer in their families, some had friends and/or colleagues who had died of cancer, etc. The dialogues emerged against that backdrop of unmasked realities. This was just the beginning. The group provided a plethora of written feedback which will now be used to move forward into additional dialogues and impactful action.