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BuzzFeed falsely paints cancer issue as race issue

BuzzFeed News reports in a new piece cervical cancer kills women because they are Black. The very report they take this information from says this isn’t true – cervical cancer kills poor women. Actual investigation tells us that poor Black women do better than poor white or Hispanic women by this measure of getting or not getting cervical cancer. So it’s really, really, not race which is the issue here.

But you wouldn’t know that from reading BuzzFeed News [1]:  “Why A Treatable Cancer Disproportionately Kills Black Women” Well, no, not really, it doesn’t. “The mortality rate is more than twice as high for Black women as that of white women, “ Well, no, not really and truly.

“But Black women in Georgia, particularly in rural areas, are less likely to get those screenings, or to be diagnosed, the Human Rights Watch report found.” And that’s not true at all.

“We see this as a human rights failure, when you have Black women dying at such high rates,” Daniel said. But it’s not a race issue.

Looking at a report on cervical cancer in Georgia, we find what we’d expect to find. The cancer incidence rises with failure to receive the HPV vaccine, with early pregnancy, with many pregnancies, and, of course, with being uninsured and poor – those last two often being the same thing of course. For the start of any cure or treatment for cervical cancer is a Pap smear which the uninsured out in the boonies are unlikely to have.

It’s still not a race issue though. From that State of Georgia report [2]: As we can see, richer (we are taking “insured” to mean richer, “uninsured” to mean poorer) white and Black women have similar cervical cancer screening rates. Poor white women have worse screening rates than poor Black women.

This isn’t a racial issue. It’s a poverty issue. Yes, certainly, something we might well want to solve and all that, maybe an expansion of free medical services is the way. Or possibly working to make everyone rich enough to not be in poverty. But it’s not a race issue now, is it?

BuzzFeed News is part of BuzzFeed which is the 25th-ranked news and media site globally. It gets over 100 million visits a month. It’s a major part of the news media infrastructure. At which point it really does have a duty to at least try and do some research into the stories it prints.

Even, possibly, to read the study it is reporting upon. The original source, from Human Rights Watch, says [3]: “ low-income and uninsured Georgian women—who are more likely to be Black “ The distribution of poverty is unequal across races, so therefore so are the diseases of poverty. This isn’t a race issue at all, it’s a poverty issue.

Which does mean that any solution is to be found in curing poverty, not some actions about race. After all, to solve a problem we’ve got to know the cause, right?