a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Your Safety Pin Can’t Be Your Only Action

Posted on: November 14, 2016

Safety_PinSince the election the British “safety pin movement” has take roots in the United States, and for some folks it feels like the wrong move. Some news sources are saying that it’s a silent protest of drumf, others are saying that it’s meant to show marginalized people that the wearer is an ally, some are just doing it because it’s cool and what people are doing. My question is why people are people really wearing it. Is it to make the wearer feel part of a movement? Is it to make the wearer feel like they’re doing an action? Is it to make the wearer feel like they’ve done something in this time where it seems like there’s nothing to be done?

(psst, there’s plenty to be done).

It’s my understanding that the safety pin is meant to show that the wearer is prepared to be an ally to a marginalized person come what may. To me that means that if I am on the bus in Seattle and the person next to me starts swearing at me, calling me a nigger, etc. that you, Safety Pin Wearer have signaled by wearing your safety pin that you will help me. This means that you might come and sit next to me to ask how I’m doing, ask about the weather, distract me from the man harassing me.

By wearing a safety pin you are signaling to the woman wearing the hijab that you are there to support her, to be an ally for her. So that means that maybe you smile at her if you’re waiting in line behind her at the market perhaps you ask how her day is going.

To me it seems like the LGBTQ Safe Space stickers in places of business that signal to an at-risk person that they are safe. My only concern is that it means so many things to different people that I wonder that people aren’t prepared¬†to do what the symbol means.

I’m aware that folks of every race and religion are wearing the pin, and I get that not everyone has the ability to take to the streets in protest. For folks who feel hopeless in this time wearing a pin is an incredibly easy thing to do.

It just can’t be the only thing. It has to be a step, not the end all be all. There are many “action” items that folks can do from the comfort of their home, here is my incomplete list.

  1. DONATE! This week I’ve donated to RAINN, an organization that helps victims of sexual abuse; CAIR, an organization educates the general public on Islam and advocates for Muslims,¬†ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and a local immigration rights organization.

    Donate and encourage your friends, family, colleagues to do so as well.

  2. MARCH! Many cities are holding local marches on January 21st in protest of “president” elect drumpf. There’s also a National March on Washington planned for the same day. Almost every day cities are holding local protests. Can’t march? Perhaps donate to the organizations who are marching, bring protesters hand warmers, coffee, food. Maybe help someone who wants to go to the Washington March by making a contribution to their flight.
  3. USE YOUR VOICE! The reason we got to this place isn’t only because a 50 million people voted for an asshole racist fuckwad, but because we the people have allowed injustices to go on without raising so much as an eye from our smart phones. From the Flint water crisis to militarized policing of brown and black bodies to Standing Rock we let this happen. Every time we laughed at a homophobic joke, a racist joke, an Islamophobic joke, an antisemitic joke we let this happen. Because it didn’t touch us personally we chose not to see the hatred build and now we’re stuck with it.

    Don’t do nothing, don’t despair, use your voice to call your elected officials and demand that they protect the rights of ALL Americans. Something as small as noticing that your child’s school only celebrates Christmas or that the books in the library aren’t diverse is a step in the right direction.

  4. CHECK IN! Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers who are marginalized folks if they’re okay. I have been incredibly moved by the people who have reached out to me to ask how I’m doing. The thing is, if you do this it’s your time to listen, not to commiserate, which can be incredibly hard. After they’ve told you how they’re feeling during this time of unrest your job is to tell them that you’re there for them, and to show up when they need you. Your job is not to then go into how you’re feeling.
  5. RACISM IS REAL, DON’T HIDE FROM IT! Talk to your kids about racism. This can be incredibly scary for parents, especially white parents, but you owe it to your children to talk about race and racism because they already know more than you think they do. I read somewhere that by age three a child already knows the “order of the races”. Which means that by three your child knows that it’s better to be white.
  6. FIND SOME NEW FRIENDS! After you’ve talked to your kids about racism (keep talking, btw) re-evaluate your friend group. Do you have only friends who are white? Are all of your friends the same religious group as you? Are the only POCs in your life the help?
  7. DON’T GET COMPLACENT! It’s only week one, ya’ll. Shit is going to get real real in January and shit will only get worse before it gets better once the drumpf takes office with his cronies of racists, bigots and antisemites. Life may not change for you, and if that’s true all the more reason to visit the above suggestions.

 

 

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