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More on Ribbons

So, it seems that my anger towards awareness ribbons has been confirmed. Through a friend of James, who posted a similar list on her Myspace blog, I've come across a full list of the meanings of these ribbons. Actually, I've come across several lists and not all of them are consistent. I figured red just meant HIV/AIDS awareness, but apparently it also means:
  • DUI Awareness
  • Heart Disease
  • Love
  • Pro-Life
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome
But another site claimed that white was the color for "pro-life", another still said it was lavender. But the fact that it means several things means an actor at the Oscars with a red ribbon isn't necessarily concerned with AIDS. Has anyone ever asked? "Oh, Mr. Spacey, I see you have an AIDS ribbon." "No, actually, it's against DUI. Don't drink & drive, kids." Most colors are famously associated with a certain cause- so why try to attach so many things to a color that is already spoken for?

Yellow can mean you are in support of adoption or concerned about missing children, or supporting troops or fighting against bladder and/or liver cancer. (Or suicide?) If you wanted to support all those things at once, would it call for multiple yellow ribbons, or is one enough? Clearly yellow is know as the "support our troops" color since at least WWII ("Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree..." Anyone?)


Once again, George Carlin was right. Awareness ribbons (on your jacket or your car) as well as those stupid wrist bands, are just an example of what Carlin called "slackivism". In that you can show support for a cause, without actually doing anything or donating money. Or if you do donate money, why do you need credit for it? It's also a display of how everyone wants to belong to a group- everyone wear the same colors! It's like being in a gang, only more positive and non active. Super.

Show your support for issues by volunteering, donating or simply spreading awareness (verbally). What you wear hardly helps anyone.
Read more: http://www.blogdoctor.me/2007/02/expandable-post-summaries.html#ixzz1Ygp5vxLJ


  1. Hi Danyell,

    I read your comments about ribbons, their meaning and why people wear them. I would like to share my thoughts with you.

    First on the subject of different colors having different meanings. I agree, it is confusing.

    With all the activism throughout the nation and the world, there's bound to be some overlap.

    A yellow BOW was used to signify support for the troops for many, many years. However, it was not until this recent conflict (and only in the last two years) that we have seen the emergence of a yellow RIBBON to show support for the troops. Historically, it was always a BOW!! And...actually, teh song..."Tie a Yellow Ribbon ROund the Old Oak Tree" was about a man coming home from prison adn if his love did nto tie the ribbon, he woudl not get off the bus, he woudl disappear from her life forever. So even that symbol was highjacked and used for another meaning (support for the troops).

    Additionally, on the Yellow Ribbon specifically, I would like to let you know that the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program was started in 1994 (15 years ago) following the death of my 17 year old brother by sduicide. It was his friends, actually, that selected a yellow ribbon as the symbol they wanted to wear to his funeral and in the days following his death.

    This was in memory of him and his cherished 1966 Yellow Mustang that he used to help many, many of his friends. You see, earlier in the year of his death, several of his friends were walking home from school after band practice and shot in a drive by shooting. None were killed but one was injured very seriously and my brother, Mike, was so impacted by this event and that his friends came so close to dying, that he urged all his friends not to walk home anymore. Not to walk to or home from school, the mall, work or anywhere else. He promised them that if they called or paged him (this was back before everyone had a cell phone) he would come get them, no questions asked. He became known as Big Mike or Mustang Mike and was known for how much he cared about his friends and how he was always there for them.

    Their activism was (and continues to be) an effort to bring awareness to this issue. Suicide is preventable and happens when someone is feeling hopeless and helpless.

    There is so much negative stigma in our society about depression, mental illness and Suicide, that many people suffereing from any one of these feels they cannot seek help or they will be ridiculed.

    Mike called 6 of his friends the night he died. He wanted help, he didn't want to die. But, they didn't know how to help him, they didn't know what to do for him.

    Conversly, Suicide is the second leading killer of youth and teens in American. 10 -14 year olds are the fastest growing age group that are dying by suicide.

    I loved George Carlin, his comedy and insights, however, I disagree with his assessment of "slacivism" because many, many programs, organizations and issues need to have a symbol for their work, their cause and to help raise awareness and break down barriers and stigma.

    I proudly wear my Yellow Ribbon Pin and Bracelet every day!! Not just in memory of my brother but as a symbol of my support for all those fighting this issue.

    I welcome your thoughts and comments in reply. You can reach me at Becca@yellowribbon.org and I encourage you to visit our website www.yellowribbon.org

    Perhaps you will be moved to "show your support", "volunteer" for one of our local chapter, clubs or program sites or just join our membership and help our program that way.

    Becca Emme

  2. Becca,

    Thank you for sharing. Obviously, I don't mean to imply anything offensive about this causes themselves, as they are all good and well-intentioned. My issue is with the ribbons themselves. You agree that the fact that so many causes using the same color is confusing. Then why use a color knowingly associated with supporting troops for suicide prevention? Whether it is a bow or a ribbon is splitting hairs. A black armband or a black ribbon both stand for mourning. The color is the important symbol, not the type of material it's on.

    I understand why these symbols are important to you, but 90% of people who wear ribbons or those rubber bracelets are fad followers. I'm sure you noticed when those bracelets first started, teenagers were collecting them like keychain charms or something. For them it didn't mean anything. If you'd read my post about the pink breast cancer ribbon specifically, I talk about how companies slap that symbol on everything to sell more products to sympathetic shoppers. The colored ribbons and bracelets so over saturate us, that to most people, the actual meaning gets lost and the symbol becomes a replacement for action. Clearly, this is not the case for those who are actually active. But I also don't think choosing not to wear one means you don't care, or that you have to wear some kind of symbol if you do. I think you clearly do good work and your action speaks for itself. If you need to have something visible, why not a button that actually says something about suicide prevention?-Rather than a color that stands for many things and will confuse people, or have them make assumptions.

    I understand the need to have to "show your support"- but I am always confused about who you are showing it to. Clearly those you work with in your organization know what you support. But if people see your yellow ribbon and thinks it means you have a child fighting overseas, then it isn't serving its purpose.

    Again, thank you for sharing (and most of all, for being respectful even though we disagree. That's so rare on the web). Please continue the good work that you do.

  3. oh. i agree.
    it seems like a "scam"
    too much product placement..