October has come and gone, and despite promises to “raise awareness” by the hundreds of pink ribbon marketing campaigns that pop up during “Breast Cancer Industry Month,” it is estimated 43,000+ people will dieThis year, the U.S. has seen a significant increase in breast cancer. In fact, 2021 will be the year of breast cancer. breast cancer surpassed lung cancerTo become the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer worldwide.
Breast cancer activists don’t fall for the pink ribbon hype that is constantly bombarding us on our newsfeeds, TV screens, and in empty proclamations from our legislators. Every year, more people discredit the pink ribbon promises made in their targeted ads and turn a critical ear to these profit-driven programs.
Yet one egregious pink ribbon promotion has escaped heavy scrutiny since its inception in 2009 — the Pink Ribbon Banking Program, a partnership between Susan G. Komen and Bank of America.
The banking program consists of a credit and debit card, and — you guessed it — the renowned pink ribbon graces the front of the card, suggesting a philanthropic intent with each of your purchases. Bank of America offers the program. pledged to donate $1.5 millionSusan G. Komen, 2021-2023
Just as this banking program has snuck under the radar and escaped the scrutiny faced by many other pink ribbon marketing partnerships, so too has Komen’s near-refusal to acknowledge the environmental causes of breast cancer.
Despite decades of research that has led to a number of positive results, growing body of evidence definitively indicating there is a connection between environmental factors and breast cancer, Komen’s website dubiously classifies breast cancer and the environment as a risk factor “under study.” The limited information the organization does provide on breast cancer and the environment conveniently omits information on corporations contaminating our air, water, and bodies with chemicals linked to a range of diseases and disorders, including breast cancer.
One obvious reason for this omission is that many of the corporations responsible for toxic environmental exposures are some of Susan G. Komen’s biggest co-conspirators. In the case of Pink Ribbon Banking Program, the large contribution pledged by Bank of America (a major fossil fuel funder) results in a conflict of Interest where Komen is unable to acknowledge or act on the connection between fossil fuel exposures, breast cancer, and Komen.
The fossil fuel continuum exposes us all to chemicals such as benzene, dioxins, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, (PAHs), dioxins, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substancess (PFAS) in the extraction, processing, and manufacture of fossil fuel products. This creates environmental exposures. linked to increased breast cancer risk. Bank of America has made investments $42.1 billionIn 2020, the institution was the largest financial institution to invest in fossil fuels. fund worldwide fossil fuel expansionBetween 2016 and 2020
By accepting Bank of America’s donation — an arguably a small one given the institution’s financial prowess — and providing the feel-good marketing of the pink ribbon, Komen props up the fossil fuel industry, an industry that can cause the very disease the organization claims to want to end. The money is the key to the progression of the Pink Ribbon Banking Program to the proliferation of cancer-causing fossil fuels. This partnership is clearly evident. pinkwashing.
Worse, Komen has increased its efforts to stop this. anti-racist talking pointsThe fossil fuel industry has been guilty, over the past year of environmental racism. Fossil fuel infrastructure disproportionately harms Black, Indigenous, people of color and low-income communities, and the construction of this infrastructure — including the Canadian oil giant Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline, also funded by Bank of America — results in the violation of numerous Indigenous treaty rights and human rights. Water Protectors are subject to criminalization and state-sanctioned violence. Indigenous communities have reported increased rates for human trafficking, missing and murdered Indigenous women, as the fossil fuel industry ravages their communities.
This is unacceptable. This is unacceptable. pride in this partnership. After years of accepting funds from partners whose products have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, it is safe to say that Susan G. Komen’s cause marketing program is toxic.
The organization has partnered up with corporations such as KFC, Ford Motor CompanyAnother controversial profiteering from fossil fuels fracking company Baker Hughes. Komen accepted $100,000 from Baker Hughes in 2014 after the oil giant produced 1,000 pink fracking drill bits, in an effort they claimed would “serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening, and education to help find the cures for this disease.”
We don’t need absurd pink drill bits or pink ribbon banking cards to address breast cancer. We need corporations — and especially leading breast cancer organizations like Susan G. Komen — to take decisive action to stop breast cancer before it starts.
Susan G. Komen has been compromised. Komen must end the Pink Ribbon Banking Program, which has a long history of complicity in pink-ribbon cancer-causing partnerships. Komen must stop banking on breast cancerStop pinkwashing and get out of it now.