18.5.14

Why I won't wear red (or pink, or any other color)

Recently students at MPOW were encouraged to wear red to support the rights of girls to have an education. I chose not to participate.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge supporter of girl's education. I'm just not a supporter of wearing a color to prove that support. Or signing petitions to the White House, the U.N. or some other passive form of support.

Here's the problem with those "protests": they accomplish nothing. When you're dealing with completely unreasonable people, or a dreaded disease (like pink for breast cancer) or some social cause, t-shirts or ribbons don't make a difference. Action makes a difference and quite honestly, a school in the US won't have any impact on the situation in Nigeria, or Pakistan, or where ever else girls are denied the opportunity to get an education. Signing the White House petition feels good, but the promise on the website is to bring the matter to some appropriate person's attention. It doesn't mean that the White House will actually act on the petition's request.

Years (ok, decades) ago, my mother stopped buying grapes in support of the Cesar Chavez-led strike. Later she convinced me to Boycott Nestle. Those actually accomplished something (in a perfect world, Nestle would have completely mended its ways but progress has been made!). Shortly after I left college, friends built shanties on the college quad and forced the trustees to divest their South African-connected investments. Again, there was a definite result stemming from that action. Wearing a pink t-shirt to "combat breast cancer"? Unless the money directly goes to a research facility or to help people battling the cancer, it doesn't do much (and many people wear their own pink clothes). The same with wearing red. Etc..

Before encouraging our students, or children, to participate in one of these protests, maybe we adults should think more carefully about the message it sends. Is there money going to help with the cause? Does it put pressure on someone/some company/some country to change? Or is it a feel-good, with a message that by wearing a color, or stating you support a cause without getting directly involved, will actually help?

Give me the former, every time. And leave my wardrobe out of it.

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