Kerry Washington: Skin cancer does not discriminate, brown skin people get it

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Kerry Washington stays booked and busy. Beside producing and starring in shows like Little Fires Everywhere and being a spokeswoman for Neutrogena, Kerry continues to level up. Kerry is executive producing a documentary with Neutrogena Studios about skin cancer and the damage caused by sun myths in the Black community. In an episode of the People Every Day podcast with Jane Rubenstein, Kerry discussed her relationship with the sun and why she chose a diverse group of seven participants to be in her documentary. Kerry wants to tackle the misconceptions about sun exposure and skin cancer in the Black community. Here are few highlights via People:

Washington, who executive produced the project with Neutrogena Studios, told Rubenstein that she learned a lot about misconceptions regarding sun safety in the Black community when creating the documentary.

And over time, the Little Fires Everywhere actress had personal reasons as well as professional ones to protect herself. “I think for a lot of my life, I have tended to focus on the vanity around my relationship with the sun,” she said, adding, “People say … ‘black don’t crack,’ but we know that sun is one of the things that really causes aging in the skin. Those are things that I’ve thought about through the years.”

“It was really important to me in the documentary to address a lot of those myths,” she explains. “Because people … tend to think that skin cancer doesn’t have anything to do with them. Obviously that’s not true, when you look at the numbers of how many people are diagnosed every year.”

Skin cancer, as Washington noted, is considered the most common cancer in the U.S. and worldwide. According to skincancer.org, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70 and more than two people die of it in the U.S. every hour. In addition, the site states, having five or more sunburns can double your risk for melanoma.

“Our misconception that we’re not impacted means that oftentimes, black people or people of color are diagnosed later with later stage in cancer, because we’re not checking for it,” she said. “We’re not looking for it. We’re not aware. And so that increases the danger.”

“I’m very grateful to the seven families who appear in the documentary, because there’s incredible diversity in these stories around diverse ages and races, ethnicities, gender,” the star says. “Skin cancer does not discriminate and brown skin people get skin cancer, fair skin people get skin cancer. So it’s important that we understand our risks, that we protect ourselves.”

[From People]

I’ve been a fan of Kerry’s since Save the Last Dance and I have truly enjoyed watching her career and activism flourish these last two decades. I am looking forward to this documentary, especially as a Black person who has had at least three decades of over exposure of the sun thanks to the myths about Black skin being a layer of protection. It isn’t. And as dark as I am, I actually burn, badly. I did not know this until the sun damage (spots) started showing up. In fact, I must admit that my dislike of tropical climates has a lot to do with the fact that I burn easily (tears). Now, every spot that crops up on my skin I freak out. Now I definitely use sunscreen, especially the spray kind because the ointment always leaves that horrible white film on dark skin. And the one thing I am not gonna do is look ashy all day.

I applaud Kerry for focusing on the dangers of skin cancer in our communities. Many Black and Brown people still live under the delusion that they are safe from sun damage and skin cancer. The numbers for skin cancer are appalling and I can’t believe two people in the U.S. die from skin cancer every hour. I actually believed that we had gotten skin cancer under control because you rarely hear about it. The fact that one in five Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70 is scary. As far as black not cracking, I guess this statement is only true if Black women and men take care of their skin and protect it from sun exposure. So lather up babes, pull out that parasol and buy that sun hat because it is never too late to start protecting your largest and most important organ, your skin.

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