rainbow_capitalism

Illustration by Blake Fernandez

With many corporations jumping on the Pride bandwagon, many of them may not have the best intentions when they slap a rainbow on their logo. Once July comes around, these companies will most likely leave these communities behind while they made millions off them.

Pink or rainbow capitalism is when corporations attach themselves to social movements, such as the Pride movement or the feminist movement, to make a profit under the guise of activism.

For example, corporations will sell products that are themed around pride and say that they are giving a portion or all of the proceeds to a charity, such as this makeup collection. Although it seems like a charitable act, these small donations pale in comparison to how much these corporations actually make and how much more they could donate. The corporations also rarely disclose how much they actually donated.

Often, the actions of these corporations contradict whatever movement they are pandering to. For example, companies may mass produce shirts that read “girl power” regarding the feminist movement while they utilize sweat shops where employees are underpaid with terrible working conditions to produce a product. Exploiting people and their labor isn’t what the feminist movement stands for.

Pink capitalism is merely a marketing tactic to create an inclusive illusion. Companies that sell these products may also discriminate against the very people they are pandering to. People in the LGBTQ+ community may be discriminated against by these companies in the workplace. Up until this month, LGBTQ+ discrimination wasn’t prohibited.

Women may also face discrimination in the form of lower wages and less opportunities for career advancement. Vox reported that women make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. That number is even smaller for women of color in that comparison, with Black women making 61 cents and Latina women making 53 cents.

At the end of day, most corporations have a main goal to generate the most revenue, even if that means exploiting activism groups in the process.

The only way to curb this problem is to donate directly to these organizations or charities. Instead of buying a rainbow T-shirt from a company, give that money to a charity that benefits people in the LGBTQ+ community, such as The Trevor Project. This ensures that every cent goes to the organization, rather than a majority going into an executive pockets.

Another alternative is to buy these products from people within these communities. Thanks to marketplaces like Etsy, people have direct access to so many artists and their products. This way, there’s no need go through a corporation and you are supporting a person and their art directly. Supporting a small business is much more rewarding that supporting a massive corporation.

Although buying these products may feel like activism, no substantial change will come from simply buying products. Even if corporations are sincere, they still have the ability and resources to donate and do more, no matter what time of year. Capitalism is what actively marginalizes these communities, so taking part in consumerism is not going to solve these issues.