Contact: Tibby Reas Hinderlie
Breast Cancer Action Communications Manager
(October 1, 2021) This year in their work to end pinkwashing, Breast Cancer Action is taking on Susan G. Komen®, one of the largest and wealthiest breast cancer organizations in the world, and the mega-nonprofit’s collaboration with Bank of America through their “Stop Banking on Breast Cancer” campaign. Although it appears to be well-intended on the surface, the Susan G. Komen® Pink Ribbon Banking Program is misleading in its mission as it increases profits for Bank of America, which in turn funds the cancer-causing fossil fuel industry.
The beginning of October ushers in a period brimming with hope for meaningful change and action. However, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is often a time where we are inundated with baseless statements from corporations that claim to care about breast cancer, and pink ribbon marketing campaigns that sexualize, infantilize, or trivialize this devastating disease. In response to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, BCAction’s Think Before You Pink® campaign calls out pinkwashing corporations and mega-nonprofits, and instead seeks to address the systemic issues at the heart of the epidemic. Dr. Krystal Redman, Executive Director of BCAction, explains, “At Breast Cancer Action, we demand accountability and transparency, and we expect our allies in the breast cancer field to follow through on their promises to address and end breast cancer. We call out those who use the pink ribbon with no intention other than virtue signaling, or worse yet lining their own pockets.”
For those unfamiliar with the Think Before You Pink® campaign, Susan G. Komen® may seem like a strange target, as the organization claims to be “where the end of breast cancer begins.” Each purchase made through the Pink Ribbon Banking Program goes towards the $1.5 million that Bank of America has pledged to Susan G. Komen® between 2021 and 2023. But by partnering with Bank of America, the organization is acting in direct opposition to its stated objective to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in the United States by 50% in the next five years.
The problem lies in the fact that the bank is a top financial contributor to the fossil fuel industry, having invested over $42.1 billion in related projects in 2020 alone. Fossil fuels increase the risk for breast cancer through environmental exposures that include chemicals such as benzene, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, and PFAS, from steps like extraction, processing, and exposure to fossil fuel products and byproducts.
Furthermore, fossil fuel infrastructure disproportionately harms frontline workers, BIPOC communities, and low-income communities. This is due to decades of racist urban planning practices, industrial zoning, and lending practices that lead to communities of color being exposed to higher levels of air, water, and soil pollution. Because Breast Cancer Action is committed to social justice and to ensuring that no one community bears a disproportionate burden of the disease, the organization cannot remain silent as the partnership promoted by Susan G. Komen funds fossil fuel projects that disproportionately harm these communities.
Breast Cancer Action’s Program Manager, Jayla Burton, points out that “the financial industry’s continued support of fossil fuel projects proliferates a legacy of climate destruction, environmental racism, and public health negligence. The Pink Ribbon Banking Program not only distracts from the wrongdoings of Bank of America’s practices, it also exploits breast cancer for good publicity.”
Komen’s continued partnership with a leading fossil fuel investor promotes fossil fuel industries, increases the public’s exposure to toxic chemicals, violates human rights, and directly contributes to the breast cancer crisis. Susan G. Komen® must divest from pinkwashing and end its Pink Ribbon Banking Program with Bank of America.
For more information, please visit: https://bcaction.org/about-think-before-you-pink/ , https://bcaction.org/pink-ribbon-marketing-culture/what-is-pinkwashing/
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Breast Cancer Action is a national education and activist nonprofit organization whose mission is to achieve health justice for all people at risk of and living with breast cancer. Launching the first day of “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Breast Cancer Action’s annual Think Before You Pink® campaign demands transparency from and pushes back on corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies claim to care about breast cancer while promoting products and policies that increase breast cancer risk. To Breast Cancer Action, October is better known as “Breast Cancer Industry Month.” Breast Cancer Action has a strict conflict of interest policy and refuses corporate funding from any company that profits from or contributes to breast cancer.