August 21, 2007
Lack of Color – What Black Stands for in Awareness Causes
While many causes and organizations are represented by different shades of the same color simply because there are far more causes than there are colors, there are not that many causes or awareness subjects represented by the black ribbon or pin. That may be because black is traditionally a color of mourning and is not looked upon as a color of hope.
Police Officers generally wear a thin black ribbon over their badges when attending the funeral of a fallen officer. Military personnel often wear a black armband when attending the funeral of a comrade. With black being the universal color of mourning, it is not reserved for members of the military or police force. Ordinary citizens have long worn black to represent their mourning status.
Black ribbons were also worn after hurricane Katrina as a way to express mourning for the tragic loss suffered by so many. Many wore black ribbons as a symbol of mourning after the massacre at Virginia Tech. There is no one particular type of mourning or class of mourning in which to wear black. It is simply understood that those who wear black adornments of this type are typically in mourning.
Sometimes a large group of people will wear a black ribbon, arm band, or other type of black adornment when someone of prominence dies. Some officials wear black armbands at the funeral of a sitting president.
Black is also the recognized color for melanoma awareness, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Ribbons and pins of all colors, black included, are often sold to raise money for the particular cause for which they stand. Sometimes you may walk by someone wearing a particular color of ribbon and wonder what it stands for. You can find information online for the colors that represent just about any charitable organization or cause.
A black ribbon or pin is also used to signify awareness of those who are or who have been POW or MIA. This was especially popular during the Vietnam War but is still appropriate today.
Another meaning tied to black ribbons and pins is gang prevention. Those who are affiliated with this type of awareness often wear and/or sell these ribbons or pins to raise awareness and to raise funds to help keep kids off the streets.
Sometimes there is more than one color intertwined on a ribbon or pin. For example, a black and pink ribbon will identify a bone marrow donor. This is a very painful process but involves saving the lives of those with certain blood disorders or diseases. Finding a bone marrow donor that matches the recipient is not easy to do and those who are willing to donate their bone marrow are brave souls indeed.
A black and white ribbon also has a special significance. It stands for Carcinoid Syndrome Cancer. Although this is a slow growing cancer, it is often not detected until it is well into the advanced stages so it is important that awareness and money be raised for this particular disease.
Just about any color you can think of represents at least one charitable organization or cause. How many of us have walked past someone and wondered what the pin on their lapel stood for. While many people will be able to guess that black stands for mourning, there are many colors out there that represent a variety of causes and affiliations. Don’t be afraid to ask someone what their pin or ribbon stands for; usually they will be happy to tell you all about it.