For those of you who don’t know, Americans have adopted the symbol of the safety pin from post-Brexit in the U.K. which was used to show solidarity with immigrants and stand up against racism. Americans are now using the same symbol after the election of Donald Trump who ran a campaign on an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, racist, and sexist (just to mention a few), platform. After researching both sides of the argument of pro-safety pin and anti-safety pin, I decided to make a safety pin sign for my yard.
Let’s start with the backlash of the safety pin movement. Christopher Keetly from the Huffington Post is anti-safety pin:
And make no mistake, that’s what the safety pins are for. Making White people feel better. They’ll do little or nothing to reassure the marginalized populations they are allegedly there to reassure; marginalized people know full well the long history of white people calling themselves allies while doing nothing to help, or even inflicting harm on, non-white Americans.
This may be true historically, but times have changed. Like I said in my post Protesters Aren’t “Crybabies” all white people are not responsible for the Donald Trump presidency, that falls on middle aged and older white people. Don’t criticize all white millennials and young people for wearing safety pins when we are the ones taking action. This isn’t about us making ourselves “feel better”, we feel awful, and that is why we are a part of the movement. I have said it before and I will say it again, the millennial generation is the most accepting generation this nation has ever seen. As a whole, race is a non issue for us, cultural barriers are no longer barriers, but bridges to other perspectives and experiences that we share among us. We campaigned against Trump, we stormed out of classrooms, took to the streets, and continue to do so. DO NOT attempt to bring a symbol that we are embracing to spread awareness and kindness into the dirt because an older white generation didn’t vote in the oppressed’s favor.
Philip Henry wrote an article for mic about white guilt in association with wearing safety pins:
A safety pin is literally one of the most insignificant things one could wear. They are nothing but badges made for white people to assuage white guilt and declare themselves allies completely autonomously. It’s convenient and puts the wearer under absolutely no scrutiny from their peers. It signifies almost nothing at all. It is a self-administered pat on the back for being a decent human being. Privilege at its finest.
There is a distinct difference between not being racist and being anti-racist. This safety pin nonsense shows the majority of people are very comfortable with being the former and not the latter. The complacency of well meaning white people got us here and this safety pin isn’t gonna hold it all together now. About 70% of voters in this election were white and about 60% of them voted in support of a racist troglodyte. The white electorate mobilized in massive numbers to protect the power and privilege they’ve spent years telling POC they don’t have.
I don’t have white guilt. I never will. I was not intentionally born white, and there is literally nothing I can do about it. Do I have white privilege? Absolutely. And I recognize that it exists and I am against it because of the way minorities are treated as a result. However, black people shouldn’t feel guilty for being black, Mexicans shouldn’t feel guilty for being brown, etc. This is another concept that I believe will be eliminated if not with my generation, then my daughter’s generation. I do not feel guilty about the Trump presidency because I did not vote for him, I changed initial Trump voters to vote democrat/green party for the first time in their lives, I have campaigned and rallied against him actively, and I was devastated by his victory. Stop condemning white people for offering a peaceful symbol to vocalize an alliance, especially young white people.
Lexi Alexander gives a great perspective in her article:
Not all of the threats we face can be solved with safety pins and it certainly isn’t a tool that will help fight racism…but the people who are endorsing it for personal safety never claimed that.
Imagine you’re a 14-year-old Hijabi girl getting on a subway car, you turn your head to the left and spot a group of young, loud white men already giving you dirty looks, so you turn to the right and there you notice a group of eclectic strangers, 3 of them wearing safety pins…two of them adult women. Chances are pretty good that those 3 people are not secret Nazis who went through the trouble of getting safety pins to commit premeditated assault. Could it happen? Yes. But the chances of that happening are much slimmer than our Hijabi girl getting hurt by the vile, fuck boys to her left.
I’d like you to consider not ruining something that could help this one, vulnerable group…just because some people misinterpreted its meaning or because it doesn’t help the much greater danger you’re facing.
If wearing a safety pin makes any minority, person of LGBTQ, or anyone in general feel more safe, just one person, it is absolutely worth it. I’m straight, I’m white, but I am a female, and the fact that Mike Pence is Trump’s right hand man, my rights over my own body are in danger. I have family and friends who are a part of the LGBTQ community, and their way of life is in danger. I have friends who I love deeply that are minorities, my best friend is a mix of Puerto Rican and African American. What happens to all of them, happens to me too.
I made a yard sign for my yard which I painted safety pins on. I live in one of the few states that went blue this election, but of course I am in a red county. However I live in the city, and therefore in a diverse area. I see my neighbors and look at my colorful neighborhood, and I have deep empathy. I am an ally of those impacted by this election, I am impacted by this election. My advice to you if you are confused about the movement: don’t let middle aged white men tell you what to do and tell you to feel guilty. Of course they are trying to make a kind gesture seem shitty because they are shitty themselves, they are responsible for the Trump presidency. Not me. Not us. Not millennials. So let them feel guilt and shame for electing a racist, but instead of us sharing that guilt, we will fight. We will stand with those who are afraid.
I will be in DC to march with other women on January 21st. My safety pins are not a symbol to say that I am not a racist/sexist, they are a symbol to say I am anti-racist/sexist, and I am going to do something about it.