In Media


Race, Culture, and Breast Cancer
Harper's Magazine
September 1997, page 18.


From a questionnaire given this spring to African-American women in New York City as part of a breast-cancer study being conducted by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Participants in the study were asked to respond to several surveys; the cultural survey excerpted below was criticized in the Amsterdamn News, a weekly newspaper published in Harlem, for being "racially offensive" and irrelevant to breast-cancer research. Sloan-Kettering defends its use of the questionnaire, which was developed by an interracial team of researchers and culled from a study originally published in the Journal of Black Psychology, saying that African-American women die of breast-cancer at a rate far greater than white women and that cultural traditions, values, and beliefs "may affect a woman's willingness to seek medical care." Respondents were asked if they "totally disagree," "sort of agree," or "strongly agree" with the statements below.

I feel more comfortable around blacks than around whites.

I know how to play bid whist.

I listen to black radio stations.

I read (or used to read) Essence magazine.

I try to watch all black shows on TV.

The person I admire most is black.

When I pass a black stranger on the street, I always say hello or nod to him or her.

Deep in their hearts, most white people are racists.

I.Q. tests purposely discriminate against black people.

There are many types of blood, such as "high," "low," "thin," and "bad" blood.

I was taught that you shouldn't take a bath and then go outside.

I believe that some people know how to use voodoo.

Some old black women know how to cure diseases.

If doctors can't cure you, you should try going to a root docotr or to your minister.

When I was young, I was a member of a black church.

The biggest insult is an insult to your mother.

I went to mostly black schools.

Dancing was an important part of my childhood.

I usually add salt to my food to make it taste better.

I save grease from cooking to use it again later.

I eat chitlins once in a while.

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