Mary J. Blige’s latest project is all about Black women’s health.

The singer has launched a new campaign that specifically encourages Black women to get regular mammograms. Called the “P.O.W.E.R. of Sure,” the initiative urges Black women to care for themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. Blige kicked off the campaign in partnership with the Black Women’s Health Imperative and Hologic, a women-focused medical tech company, in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“I lost my aunt to breast cancer — and that has crossed my mind … when I’ve gone in for my annual appointments,” Blige said in a video about the initiative.

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Black women are disproportionately impacted by breast cancer, studies show. They are more likely to develop it earlier in life, and more likely to die from it, than any other demographic group.  

But the subject is more than just numbers to Blige. It’s personal for her — because of the Black women in her family whom she’s lost to cancer, and the Black women she’s never even met. “Black women are often very private — we don’t want people knowing our business,” she said. “But the more we open up, the more it allows us to share information that can be life-saving.”

Linda Goler Blount, the president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, added in an interview with Katie Couric Media that societal shifts are needed to protect Black women, too. “[R[acism shapes society and our healthcare systems,” she said. “The fact that Black women die at a much higher rate of breast cancer simply reflects who got access and who didn’t.”

A dearth of research is also a problem, Goler Blount notes. “We don’t have a single longitudinal study on breast cancer in Black women — clearly, we need to study what’s going on, and why we get it younger. But until that happens, the last thing we need to do is to tell Black women to wait to start looking for breast cancer.”

Blige agrees. “The best way to address worry is with facts and information,” she noted in her video testimonial. “And a mammogram is going to provide both.”

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