By Zoe Christopher, BCAction Resource Liaison
Lately I’ve been having a hard time reconciling our focus on a “pinked perfume” with the realities of the current global crisis. Sometimes I feel small and ineffective, climbing a short ladder set against the wrong tree. So what if corporate pinkwashers keep the profit cycle churning? So what if an organization’s successful marketing strategy depends on a few lies? This is not new. And pink is just a color. Let them have it. Give it up. Women are dying, for God’s sake – how does this matter?
Then on Saturday I marched with OccupySF, and I listened and I watched closely. As hundreds of us navigated the city streets, the crowd continued to grow and I felt the giant embrace of the world’s activist community. It hasn’t come easy but I realized that this is what happens when we educate each other one at a time. This is what happens when a truth is revealed, shared. This is the energetic locomotive of social justice. This is how change happens.
At BCAction, as the Resource Liaison, I’m the one on the receiving end of most of the emails, letters and phone calls. I hear both the inspiring and the deeply disturbing stories from our members; I do the research to find answers to their questions; I distribute messages of support and love that come our way; and I field and respond to the criticisms. I ride an emotional roller coaster that descends into the dark, disturbing truth of our atrocious healthcare system and soars with the personal and political victories that we all work hard for. My coworkers know that my best days always include a convert, someone who approaches BCAction from the opposite side of the field but is receptive to and ultimately awakened by our position.
In late September, I was contacted by an organization that assumed an alignment with our work. They were developing an online resource for pink products that would help “…support breast cancer research and funding.” Well – you know how we feel about pink products and cause marketing but apparently they didn’t. I took a deep breath–and 24 hours–and then replied to their email with copies of our critical questions, our current TB4UP campaign (“Raise a Stink!”), and some truths about pink ribbon cause marketing. I didn’t expect to hear another peep. Two days later, the company’s co-owner wrote to me: “Thank you so much for the information, it was eye opening! Your email prompted us to reexamine our breast cancer awareness page and completely change it.”
I always get teary when things like this happen. I wept many times during the OccupySF march for the same reason: people are waking up. “One at a time” has become thousands. I believe that if every one of us would take a stand for all of us, we will see change. Corporate profiteering at the expense of the vulnerable and pinkwashing on the backs of women living with breast cancer must stop.
Today I know I have my priorities straight: whether we are calling out corporate greed in general or revealing the egregious practices of individual pinkwashers, acting on what we know to be true is of vital importance. It’s our responsibility. Each of us must teach our friends and loved ones – no act is too small. The truth is spreading like a fire determined to burn clean.
“In a time of universal deceit — telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”