Friday, May 25, 2012

IF YOU MUST BUY PINK, HEED THE SIGNS


It’s not easy being a smart ass.  It takes work.  It also requires fact checking.  I try not to jump to conclusions.  I try to keep my big mouth SHUT until I do a little digging.  It’s wrong to presume there is a self-serving agenda behind everything and everyone.  It’s me.  I’m jaded.  I’m suspicious.  I’ve been burned.  You know the way that goes.  Once bitten, twice shy…..  In my case, shy is hardly a word I would use to describe any aspect of my personality. 

Unfortunately, in most cases, an agenda is present and what’s even more unfortunate?  Most agendas are not for YOUR benefit.  You are being used to benefit An Agenda.  Someone else’s goals.  If you share common goals, it’s win win.  Being duped into playing a role in something without proper vetting is never a good idea.  You might find yourself participating and later realize it’s something you vehemently oppose. 

Let’s have the pink ribbon conversation one more time, shall we?  Some of us embrace the pink ribbon.  It makes us feel good.  Some of us abhor that ribbon because for us, it’s symbolic of decades of failure and a constant reminder of the senseless deaths that we blame directly on that failure.  Some of us could care less.   Those are the choices and we all fit into one of those three categories: Love it, Hate it, Don't give a shit.  Oh... I suppose there COULD be a fourth category although I have no idea in which galaxy this might exist but technically, category 4..... What's a pink ribbon?  Yeah.  Didn't think so.  Not even in my wildest fantasy dreams.

Moving right along......In this land of the free, I believe we must live with an understanding that we are all different and I’m not a proponent of cramming my feelings down another’s throat.  I will explain my position.  I will listen to theirs.  One of us may change our opinion.  Or not.  But in an honest and healthy discussion, in a constructive conversation, each party should walk away with a better understanding of views different than their own. 

This is good.  This is diversity.  This is what it means to be free and to live in a country where we have the ability to exercise our right to free speech.  Most importantly, in listening to others, we learn.  We broaden our views.   I believe my life is enriched each time I learn from another, whether we are polar opposites or we appear to be long lost twins separated at birth.

Similarly, the language of cancer elicits some rather strong opinions.  The war metaphors are distasteful to some of us.  To others, those words are empowering.   In the home of the brave, it’s not up to me to sit in judgment of others.  If those words are comforting, who am I to be critical of a grieving family for referring to the death of a loved one by using phrases like “lost her battle” or “after a brave and valiant fight.”  Because that’s not my preference, does that make it okay for me to impose my will upon others?  I think not.  It’s up to me to be a mindful and decent human being.  It’s up to me to respect the feelings of others.  That doesn’t mean I can’t state my opinion, but I’m mindful of the fact that this is solely my opinion.

I think my opinion is better than yours because I feel like inciting a riot at the moment.  I'll find the quote and give it proper credit but the fact is we aren't fighting any battles.  Our bodies are the battleground.  Littered with lingering toxins and who knows what else..... and then, we die.  We just die.  No fighting, no losing.  We already lost when we were told "Dude. Cancer."

If you’ve gotten this far and wonder what happened to The Real AnneMarie, hang on.  Tightly.  Here we go.  There are opinions, there are points of view and then, there ARE facts.  Let’s get back to the damn ribbon.  Whether you hate it or you are comforted being draped in pink, can we agree on this?  Breast cancer is not a brand and The Pink Ribbon isn’t its logo.  Can we agree that no one should be profiting from our misfortune in pulling the short straw.  The breast cancer straw.  Are we all okay with that?

If someone wants to slap a ribbon on a product, can we agree that we should know what’s happening with the money being made from the sale of that pink thingamajigee?  There is no one who broke this down and called Bullshit better than Rachel.  Her blog, The Cancer Culture Chronicles is filled with information on every item she ever found and every organization whose methodology wasn’t up to her standards.

We are not going to untangle this mess quickly or by attacking the problem haphazardly.  This is going to require the efforts of all of us.  If we do this in a very focused and carefully coordinated manner, we will succeed.  Let's ALL master these skills first and then use this as a foundation to go deeper.  As long as there are pink ribbons, let's make sure we are getting our money's worth.  Let's make sure WE, those for whom the pink bells toll, are squeezing every red cent out of those bills and then sending those dollars to people who are going to make sure to get the most bang for the buck, whether it's research, helping the underserved, assisting women after surgery, buying groceries... whatever matters to YOU... just make sure those who are spending YOUR money, are doing so wisely.  We have to start somewhere.  I think this is a good starting point.  Three simple questions. 
  • How much money from this purchase is being donated to a charitable organization (and is there a cap)
  • What organization is receiving the funds?
  • How does THAT organization spend their donor dollars? (Lumping a mess of stuff under the heading of "programs" is NOT an acceptable explanation for me, either.  Demand DETAILS)
I hope you will take the time to explore Rachel's blog.  Her information is far more intelligently written and explains these points in great detail.  And with a sarcasm and snark and quick wit that is uniquely Rachel.  She wasn't unreasonable as you can read for yourselves.

This is the last comment she left on my blog.  She died just weeks later.

"Great post here AM in wading through the subliminal tricks and slick marketing techniques we see all too often in the breast cancer universe. But I think you really hit it home in demanding honesty and transparency rather than playing on our fears. Some have interpreted my posts about Komen to mean that I'm anti-pink. No. What I want to see is this honesty and transparency. Given the amount of money that is at stake, why should we expect anything less?"   --Rachel Cheetham Moro


Yes, Rachel, why indeed?


8 comments:

  1. Good stuff, AnneMarie. I always think "There is no 'winning.'" WE ALREADY LOST!!! And we lost the minute that first cell mutated and split. Put a &$%*( pink ribbon on that, amigos."

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    1. Put a flippin' pink ribbon on THAT, amigos.

      I love that, Mary!!!

      I'm beginning to feel like a one trick pony as they say. Except, if we don't keep repeating ourselves AD NAUSEUM, we have no chance of making any sort of ever seeing any meaningful change. I really want things to change.

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  2. Excellent post, AnneMarie!! I agree that Rachel called it and was so on-target with the pink business. I love your style of writing, so don't stop the snark!

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    1. :) Thanks, Beth. Writing keeps me sane. And it opened up a world of friendships which I wouldn't trade for anything!!

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  3. You spell it out girl friend!!
    I have pink fingernail polish on right now WHICH I might add has nothing to do with my breast cancer ....It went with my blouse. lol

    I have been asked often times why I don't have more of a loyalty towads the Pinking of the populace!! Pink on stuff sucks!! I refuse to support everything and anything that tries to exploit something so personal to the women who are battling this horrible disease. Myself included. The donations towards so called research by fruit juice companies, even on my dry cat food there was the Pinkk Logo.... How does cat food & Breast Cancer have a common element?? EXACTLY!! They don't..
    Keep plugging keep shouting and lets begin to dismantle the idea that in supporting a brand, you are helping us.....

    Love Alli........XX

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    1. Oh Alli...

      I can't even reply to you because I just went to your blog and I have tears streaming down my face over the new and wonderful things happening in YOUR life....

      The Pink Stuff? Yep..... I'll keep making noise. If the cat food company wants to slap a ribbon on the food... FINE with me.... Just make damn sure every dime they make from the sale of THOSE bags is going to a "quality" breast cancer organization.

      I'm shifting my stance a little because I guess we have to break this thing apart piece by piece. The first piece I'm choosing? Make sure if something sports a ribbon, ALL the money is being donated. That way we can weed out the ones who genuinely want to help from those who are making a profit on US.

      We have to start somewhere. Demanding transparency and insisting the only beneficiaries of the ribbon are women in need or researchers trying to help us is a start.

      MUCH LOVE TO YOU, Alli.... xoxoxox

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  4. Excellent as always! Thank you for sharing Rachel's comment! Brilliant!

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen and a very special thanks for hosting the tweet chat to discuss how we can turn Awareness into Action. This is precisely my point. We will need to "compliment" this piece with your blog post on Monday.....

      I appreciate your voice and your support for all of us trying to see a change....

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