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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
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Opinion: Take “Pride” in your choices as a consumer

Sometimes, “putting our money where our mouth is” can be just as easily done as said

Being berated for our choices as consumers can feel irritating and overwhelming. It’s uncomfortable to assess the weight of our decisions when all we truly want out of a transaction is our desired good or service. That is why it’s easy to brush off conscious shopping practices as performative or meaningless. 

It doesn’t help that with comparatively smaller purchases, such as fast food or fast fashion, we adopt the attitude that revoking our business from unsavory corporations won’t put a dent in its revenue. Withholding $3 won’t have a real impact, the voice of internalized American consumerism tells us, so we indulge in our chicken sandwiches and move on with our lives. It doesn’t help that, as college students, we neither have the sufficient time nor the money to split hairs and examine the ethics of our purchases. At the end of the day, we need to eat, and we take what we can get. 

June was Pride Month. Nationwide, people take these four weeks to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and reflect upon the difficulties that are overcome in order to make progress. It is an important time for American University’s LGBTQ+ and ally community. While things have certainly improved for LGBTQ+ folks in recent years in terms of policy changes, media representation and more, there is still a long way to go. Practices that oppress members of the LGBTQ+ community continue to plague our society, and they are funded, largely, by us.

Chick-fil-A famously has a poor track record with the LGBTQ+ community. It has funneled thousands into anti-gay foundations — most notably, Exodus International, a group that promotes conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is an abusive practice that has deeply traumatized and killed many gay and transgender youth. In 2019, Chick-fil-A announced that it would be donating to a different set of organizations. In 2021, however, it was found to be donating to lobby against the Equality Act. The third largest fast food establishment in the United States clearly concerns itself with stunting progressive policy more than improving their product or giving back to its community. Another example is concert promoter AEG, which hosts Coachella. The owner, Phil Anschutz, consistently donates millions to similar flagrantly anti-gay organizations. 

Of course, we cannot look to a corporation or a millionaire to be the pinnacle of morals and ethics. There are countless other “bad” companies that just don’t get as much media attention, and can make money off of our blissful ignorance. There are others that are simply inescapable. I have likely contributed to most of them, both knowingly and unknowingly. However, we cannot hide behind statements of futility to enjoy some chicken or let loose in a festival mosh pit, especially when these things are easily replaceable. Look at the hundreds of other establishments that serve fried chicken sandwiches. Catch your favorite artist at another festival or stand-alone concert. 

Pride isn’t just about reposting validating Instagram infographics — it’s also about being conscientious and truly supportive. We can and should minimize the indirect harm we inflict upon others, especially since we cannot fully avoid it. As a campus community, we cannot claim to be truly forward-thinking and progressive if we do not do the bare minimum. 

Diana Gertsenshteyn is a rising sophomore in the School of International Service and a columnist for The Eagle.

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