Image by Kent Buckley
Last week, we witnessed a backlash against the stunt by oil company Baker Hughes to paint 1,000 of its drill bits Susan G. Komen pink in the name of breast cancer “awareness.” The fact that an oil company was “pinkwashing” this time may be why the otherwise complacent left was up in arms—this was just too ridiculous—but in reality unsavory companies everywhere are painting themselves pink, red, white, blue, and in rainbows to show off just how much they care.
Awareness, of course, is a huge step towards making meaningful improvements in quality of life, but that’s only if the process includes significant educational aspects. The color pink might make people aware that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it won’t teach me to give myself a breast exam. Worse, and I say this as a child of a breast cancer survivor: All this pink paint really does little to represent the true victims, and even less to illustrate what they need from the community at-large.
Having a color, or a flag, or a slogan, or a symbol can help unite a team, can foster solidarity. But put into the hands of corporations and certain non-profits, such tokens are just visual hashtags for easy sorting.
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