As most of you know, one of my favorite activist/charity groups is Breast Cancer Action. So, each year I promote their Think Before You Pink campaign. This is an annual event to bring attention to the Pinkwashing centered around October, aka breast cancer awareness month. Pinkwasher is a term coined by Breast Cancer Action in 2002. It is a company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products containing chemicals that are linked to the disease. (Text from the BCA website.)
Susan G. Komen®, one of the largest breast cancer organizations in the world, has a history of minimizing the environmental harms linked to breast cancer — and their pinkwashing partners like Bank of America are fueling the problem.
Breast Cancer Action’s 2021 Think Before You Pink® campaign is calling out Komen’s partnership with Bank of America and the Susan G. Komen® Pink Ribbon Banking Program, which is comprised of both a credit and debit card. These cards use the goodwill of the breast cancer community to increase Bank of America’s profits, which fund the cancer-causing fossil fuel industry.
A Line of Credit or Pipeline to Cancer?
Every purchase made through the Pink Ribbon Banking Program goes toward the $1.5 million that Bank of America has pledged to Susan G. Komen® between 2021 and 2023.
Here’s the problem: These banking cards emblazoned with the notorious pink ribbon are a blatant example of pinkwashing.
Bank of America is a top financial contributor to the fossil fuel industry, an industry that increases our risk for breast cancer through environmental exposures produced all along the fossil fuel continuum. We are exposed to chemicals such as benzene, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, and PFAS along the continuum, from extraction to processing, to exposure to fossil fuel products and byproducts.
Susan G. Komen® is pinkwashing by accepting money from a Pink Ribbon Banking Program that also grows the profits of Bank of America, an institution that funds the cancer-causing fossil fuel industry. Susan G. Komen® cannot claim to care about ending breast cancer while pocketing MILLIONS from an industry that causes the disease.
Fossil fuel infrastructure disproportionately harms BIPOC 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 disproportionately exposed to high levels of air, water, and soil pollution.
Bank of America currently finances a tar sands pipeline, commonly known as Line 3, which runs through Anishinaabe land in Minnesota and violates the treaty rights of many Indigenous folx. The pipeline, and the spills it has already caused in production, expose Indigenous communities, and all of us, to high levels of hazardous air and water pollution. Additionally, we cannot ignore the human rights violations that occur in erecting pipeline infrastructure.
Water protectors are over-policed, criminalized, and subject to state-sanctioned violence for protesting pipeline construction. Furthermore, under the oil boom, Indigenous communities have reported increased rates of human trafficking and missing and murdered Indigenous women in their communities.
Bank of America claims to care about the environment yet they continue to invest in this outdated, profit-driven energy source that is rapidly destroying our planet and our health. A recent report from Rainforest Action Network found Bank of America was one of the top three financial institutions to fund worldwide fossil fuel expansion between 2016 and 2020. In 2020 alone, Bank of America invested over $42.1 billion in fossil fuel projects.
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’s pink ribbon cards not only distract from the catastrophic devastation that is being caused; the program also exploits breast cancer for good publicity. But as always, we see right through it!
Card Declined: Stop Pink Ribbon Banking
Komen has partnered with the Bank of America for over a decade and has received more than $10.8 million since 2009. The bank is a National Presenting Partner of Komen’s 3-Day Walk®, Race for the Cure®, and More Than Pink Walk®. Komen’s continued partnership with a top fossil fuel investor exposes us to toxic chemicals, props up fossil fuel industries, violates human rights, and validates pinkwashing.
It’s safe to say that making money from an industry that puts profit before people and funds fossil fuels is fundamental to how Komen meets their budget goals, and it’s time for that to come to an end.
Komen has a new bold goal to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths by 50% in the United States by the year 2026. This is a meaningless goal if they continue to allow industries to CAUSE the very disease they claim to care about ending.
Susan G. Komen® claims to be “where the end of breast cancer begins.” If this is true, they must stop banking on breast cancer and divest from pinkwashing! Phase-out the Pink Ribbon Banking Program with Bank of America, a primary funder of the fossil fuel industry—an industry that’s fueling the climate and breast cancer crises!
Learn more about Think Before You Pink here.