On a flight back to Dallas this weekend, my peppy stewardess handed me a drink with the square napkin that usually reads something like, “Fly Higher” or “Thanks for flying with us!”
But this time, the napkin caught my eye with bright pink letters and the image of a pink ribbon. The napkin read, “We’re adding color for a cause. Be Pink.”
It needed no further explanation because everybody knows that the color pink is associated with breast cancer awareness. I even asked my seatmates and two of the flight attendants what they thought of when they saw the color pink on the napkin. The first thing they all said was “breast cancer.”
The napkin reminded me that October is breast cancer awareness month.
The University of Dallas is taking part in this effort with a Pink Out at athletic events organized by the Blue Crew, our newly founded school spirit group, and the Residence Hall Association. The Provost’s office, Student Life and the Admissions office have also been encouraging their faculty and staff to wear the pink T-shirts recently sold in Haggar to their offices and classrooms this Thursday, Oct. 8.
But is a Pink Out the most prudent decision for a Catholic university seeking to raise money for breast cancer research?
I instantly thought of two things when I heard about these events: Planned Parenthood and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Why Planned Parenthood? Because just last week, their president, Cecile Richards, organized a Pink Out Day for a show of solidarity among “reproductive health” supporters as she testified in front of Congress to answer questions raised by the now infamous undercover videos. Details of the Pink Out Day can be found at istandwithplannedparenthood.com, one of the first websites that popped up when I Googled “Pink Out”.
My second thought was of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an important breast cancer research organization often identified by their iconic pink ribbons. But Komen was embroiled in controversy recently when they revealed that they give money to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood supposedly supplies mammograms, a preventative breast cancer screening. In reality, not one of Planned Parenthood’s 600+ clinics offers mammograms. Richards was even forced to admit this last week in front of Congress when she testified under oath.
That our Pink Out and Planned Parenthood’s Pink Out coincide is unfortunately bad timing. The money raised from UD’s Pink Out is going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, so fear not, UDers: the group is Texas Right to Life-approved and the money is not going to an organization supporting morally reprehensible medical practices.
Regardless of this unfortunate coincidence, using pink in order to call attention to breast cancer now has questionable connotations. Pink has bad associations for some Catholics concerned about where their charitable donations are going. So if organizations on a Catholic campus are going to use a potentially controversial color or idea in their fundraising, they should be explicit about where the money is going.
Catholics are already in the difficult position of having to look past the title and into charities asking for donations. So many that seem flawless directly or indirectly support activities condemned by the Church. Just like the phrase “reproductive rights” translates to abortion for many Catholics, pink has now become a code for something else.
UD is commendable for encouraging participation in charitable giving, an important part of our Catholic identity. Most of us, myself included, have felt the effects of breast cancer one way or another, so no one is denying the importance of the research.
But I hope that in the future, the administration, Blue Crew and RHA will reconsider their advertising strategy as they encourage support for valuable medical research.