Posted on October 28, 2021

Tania Katan is a powerhouse, a dynamic force of nature whose 2019 book “Creative Trespassing” was the Porchlight Book Award Winner for Best Business Book in Creativity & Innovation. She’s also co-creator of the global viral campaign #ItWasNeverADress for which she reimagined the women’s bathroom symbol as the cape-wearing super hero she’s always been.

When Tania completed our Stop Banking on Breast Cancer letter to Susan G. Komen®, she personalized her writing to Komen, laying bare the disconnect between Komen’s stated goals and how they actualize their visions and values:

“Hi! I’m writing because I used to support Susan G. Komen. As a 2x breast cancer survivor (once at 21 yrs old and once at 31) with 2 mastectomy scars, I decided to run a race to raise money and awareness of breast cancer for Susan G. Komen in Arizona.

After finishing the 6.2 miles (in pretty good time and with two mastectomy scars exposed, to boot!) I strutted over to a large pink sign that read: SURVIVOR’s CAFÉ! “YASS!” I thought these are my people!” So, I glided into the Survivor’s Café, feeling A-MAZING and what happened next at the hands of a board member from the Susan G. Komen organization was so shocking and traumatic that I wrote about it, went to therapy about it, and eventually turned it into a TED Talk so that no other breast cancer survivors would have to suffer this kind of indignity at the hands of the very people who claimed to lift us up.

That day I noticed a clear lack of alignment between your organization and the event; between creating a SIGN that says, “Survivor Café” and creating a SPACE that feels like, “You BELONG.”

As someone who is deeply concerned about people at risk of and living with breast cancer, I am writing to demand your organization to phase out the pink ribbon banking card with Bank of America, a primary funder of the fossil fuel industry, an industry that is fueling the climate and breast cancer crises.

If Susan G. Komen® is serious about creating “a world without breast cancer,” you will focus on meaningful action and take seriously the environmental causes at the root of the breast cancer crisis. The first step to show you actually care about breast cancer and health justice is to phase out the hypocritical Pink Ribbon Banking Program.

The pink ribbon banking cards use the goodwill of the breast cancer community to increase Bank of America’s profits, and Bank of America in turn invests in and props up the cancer-causing fossil fuel industry. All along the fossil fuel continuum, from extraction to processing, we are exposed to harmful chemicals such as benzene, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, and PFAS. The Pink Ribbon Banking Program has created a cyclical profit cycle whereby Bank of America contributes to causing the very disease you raise money to cure. This is unacceptable.

The fossil fuel projects that Bank of America funds are the source of high levels of hazardous air and water pollution that increase myriad health issues, including breast cancer. This industry also directly and disproportionately harms communities of color: during fossil fuel construction the treaty rights of many Indigenous communities are violated, they are over-policed criminalized, and subjected to state-sanctioned violence, and the rates of human trafficking and missing and murdered Indigenous women are reported to increase.

Breast cancer is a public health crisis and a social justice issue. Only through meaningful action that centers on health justice, and the knowledge, stories, and demands of those most deeply impacted by breast cancer will you truly contribute to addressing and ending the breast cancer epidemic.

Susan G. Komen®, you are in deep partnership with a financial institution that props up the fossil fuel industry, an industry that puts profit before people. If you truly want to be where the end of breast cancer begins you need to stop facilitating the harms proliferated by the fossil fuel industry through this pinkwashed partnership. It’s time to phase out the Pink Ribbon Banking Program with Bank of America.

Thank you for reading.

Tania Katan

To add your voice and tell Susan G. Komen® that their fossil fueled partnership with Bank of America is unacceptable, use our easy advocacy tool. You can personalize your letter like Tania did, or use our pre-written form.