Ericka Hart, a 30-year-old Black, queer New Yorker and sexuality educator, was one of thousands who flocked to this year’s Afropunk festival in Brooklyn to show off her uniqueness. But for Hart, attending the festival was about much more than her personal style. She showed up topless, revealing her warrior scars as a breast cancer survivor.
“I love to be what punk is is like a resistance to what the norm or what is supposed to be,” Hart explained of the music festival to Clutch, “It’s a space to be in your truth. I love Black people being care free in their truth and just listening to music.”
Though Ericka is seemingly carefree in her photos at the festival (which have since been featured on the Afropunk Festival website), the scars on her uncovered breasts, reveal a deeper story. Ericka Hart was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and since endured a double mastectomy to rid her body of the deadly disease, which claimed her mother’s life when she was only 13-years-old.
“Two years ago I went to AfroPunk while I was on some really strong chemo,” she explained, “My then wife was like you really shouldn’t go, but I went anyways. I rolled up in a blanket (it was really hot out but I felt like I was freezing because of the chemo), a tank top and jeans. I was there and I was so happy to be there. And it was then that it hit me. Even though the festival is about no ableism, where was the visibility for non-able bodied people? Or those suffering with illnesses?”
Hart attended this year’s festivities topless in a fearless act to bring about awareness for Black women who are battling with or have battled Breast Cancer.
“We are not the target women for breast cancer awareness, “ Hart explained,” Whenever you do a google search of breast cancer, images of White women popped up. However, breast cancer has huge impacts on many different people. It impacts queer women at a morbid rate. I identify as queer and I am a Black woman who survived cancer.”