When October ended, I thought I was putting pink commentary to bed, at least for a little while.
As it turns out, I’m guess I’m not quite ready to “tuck in the pink and turn out the lights.”
Recently the Sacramento Bee featured a response from Nancy Brinker, Susan G Komen for the Cure®’s founder and CEO, to the question, Do you think there can ever be too much pink?
Ms. Brinker was reacting to an earlier piece called “The Conversation: Pink Inc. Has Many Starting to See Red,” by Francesca Lyman, also featured in the Sacramento Bee. Clearly Ms. Brinker was on the defense in her response. She answered exactly how one might expect she would. She stayed true to her perfectly canned PR form by simplistically stating that, of course, there can never be too much pink. In fact, she wants more pink. She went on to say that nearly all people Komen recently surveyed agreed with her; seemingly implying disagreement is almost unthinkable.
Ms. Brinker took things a step further in her response and referred to the concerns of those (like me) who disagree with her as “grumblings.” Immediately a chain of reaction of sorts was set off in the blogosphere. Bloggers were offended. Bloggers were upset, even angry. Bloggers felt dismissed and brushed off. Some immediately challenged Ms. Brinker. Bringing up Goliath offered an excellent commentary as did new (to me) blogger Mommography. Check out these and other great posts.
Once again, I struggled as I contemplated taking on the big “K.” Should I keep quiet or should I speak out? Does it really matter? Perhaps everyone has grown weary of “pink dialogue.” I know I have. And October is behind us, so it’s time to move on now, right?
If only we could. For those of us directly impacted by breast cancer, there is no moving on from breast cancer awareness month. We are acutely aware of breast cancer 365 days of the year.
So much for keeping quiet!
Like so many others, I found Ms. Brinker’s word choice to be condescending and patronizing. I found her word choice to be demeaning, belittling and perhaps even bordering on insulting.
In my opinion, it’s simply because the word “grumblings” has a negative connotation. No one wants to be labeled as a grumbler. No one even wants to be around a grumbler, at least not for very long.
By making such a dismissive reference, it seems to me Ms. Brinker would like all the annoying grumblers to just go away, or at least keep quiet. It seems she feels as if we are like that pesky, buzzing mosquito one cannot shoo or slap away.
But why does she wish to so casually dismiss the “grumblers?”
I can’t figure out why someone in Ms. Brinker’s leadership position doesn’t instead simply state she wants to listen to “grumblings,” that in fact, she is eager to listen to them.
Isn’t that what leaders do?
Wouldn’t that better serve everyone’s “agenda”?
Another question that keeps coming to mind is if “all things Komen” are so perfect and so “untouchable,” why does Ms. Brinker feel the need for all this defending?
Is it perhaps because the 98% five-year-survival rate statistic thrown around is often misused or even misrepresented?
Is it perhaps because some 40,000 women are still dying every year from breast cancer?
Is it perhaps because only 19-24% of Komen’s funds are allocated for research?
Is it perhaps because the faces of those living with metastatic breast cancer have almost been lost in the pink?
Is it perhaps because there hasn’t been quite as much progress as Komen claims there has been?
Maybe it’s not so surprising after all you are being so defensive, Ms. Brinker.
But back to the grumblings…
All we grumblers have ever wanted is genuine awareness. All we grumblers have ever wanted is to be listened to. All we grumblers have ever wanted is true discussion and an attempt from Komen and others to realize our discontent with pink really has nothing at all to do with a color.
In true discussion opinions are stated. In true discussion there is an equal amount of listening to the other side.
The latter still seems to be missing from your “discussions,” Ms. Brinker.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
And by the way, the “grumblers” aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, we’re starting to unite!