This is not a political post.
We can talk about standing up against hatred and bigotry without delving into politics. Standing up for what’s right should be something that unites us, not something that separates us.
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Last weekend I posted, first on Instagram and later on Facebook, a picture of me, Luna, and my safety pin. I received some positive feedback and a lot of “likes” … but there was one comment, decidedly un-positive, that led me to write this post.
Why am I wearing a safety pin?
Short answer: It means I am a safe person to be around. It means I won’t discriminate against people based on… well, anything really. It means that if I see that someone is being harassed or bullied I will do my very best to help them stay safe.
Get it? Safe-ty Pin.
And that is all it means.
You can–and should!–wear one, too.
Wearing a safety pin doesn’t mean that you are anti-Trump, or pro-Hillary. It doesn’t mean that you are contesting the election results, or even that you are unhappy with them.
Like I said. This is not a political post. I’m not going to tell you who I voted for in the most recent election, and I’m not particularly interested in hearing who you voted for either.
What does it mean to wear a safety pin?
For you historically minded folks, the concept of wearing a safety pin began in Britain last year when there was a rise in racially and xenophobically motivated crimes after the Brexit Referendum passed. If you wore a safety pin, it meant you were a safe person to be around and it meant you would stand up against intolerance and hate. You know, a person could count on a safety pin-wearer to not say anything nasty to them, to let them sit beside them on the bus, to be a friend if necessary.
Americans began wearing safety pins for similar reasons. A safety pin is a statement of humanity, not politics. You could have voted for Trump, be thrilled with the election results, and still wear your safety pin!
While it is true that a lot of people who are anti-Trump are also wearing safety pins, they are two separate things. I mean, a great many of the anti-Trump protesters are also wearing pants… that doesn’t mean Trump supporters are expected to chuck their pants and go through the winter with their bits hanging out in the breeze does it?
Of course not.
I think we can all agree that we need to be kind to one another. That we need to stand up for justice, equality, and love. That we need to stand up against hatred, bigotry, and injustice. We all need to be understanding, empathetic, respectful, and kind.
To wear a safety pin means you are not going to discriminate against people based on where they live, where they are from, how they speak, what they wear, who they love, the color of their skin, their physical features, their disabilities… or anything else that might cause a person to be hated, marginalized, or unheard.
In fact, I think that Trump voters, in particular, need to get on board with the safety pin idea. There are a lot of misconceptions about Trump voters, and I think the people who put Trump in office need to stand up and say, loudly and clearly, that hate is NOT okay.
I decline to believe that a quarter of the population of this country are racist, homophobic, hate Muslims… or whatever else the media is painting them as this week. However, another quarter of the population does happen to believe this. As a country girl turned city mom, I am seeing this very clearly now.
A safety pin can bring us all together.
I appreciate that there are many different kinds of reasoning that might have gone into a vote for Trump, but let’s face it–while campaigning, Trump stirred the pot of this country and lot of not-very-nice things came floating to the surface. Some very bigoted people had their ideas validated… and a few of them acted on it.
In my neighborhood a couple of rainbow flags were burned. At a construction site less than 5 minutes from my house someone put up a sign that said “KKK” on it. My cousin lives in an idyllic little town not terribly far from here and swastikas and anti-Semitic statements were painted all over the Jewish cemetery there. In the same park where the Boy had his some of soccer matches, a man got out of his car to knock a fifteen-year-old kid to the ground—the kid was Black, autistic, and running in a cross-country meet at the time.
I think we can all agree that these sorts of things are a million kinds of Not Okay.
(And, if we can’t, please… stop reading my blog and unlike me on social media; we can’t be friends anymore. For real.)
Somewhere in this country right now there is a Muslim woman wondering what she’s going to make for dinner because she needs groceries, but is too afraid to go to the store. There is a little kid whose grandparents came from Mexico, wondering if his family is about to be deported. There is a Black man… or a gay man… or a trans man wondering if it is safe to walk home from work.
Please. Help me stand up and say that this is NOT the sort of country we live in.
I have a safety pin on my coat and I pin one on my shirt each morning.
On the one hand, it takes almost no effort. On the other it is a conscious commitment to be a kind person. It’s a commitment to listen to what others are saying, to not judge or react out of hatred or fear. It’s easier to do the little things that we should all be doing every day–to smile and hold the door, to return the loose shopping cart, to let the car merge in on the expressway–when you have reminded yourself that, today, you are going to be kind.
It’s a commitment to stand up against hate and intolerance–wherever you see it. It’s a commitment to not share unkind memes on social media. It’s a commitment to step in if you are witnessing harassment. If you aren’t sure what you might do in such a situation, this cartoon, is a good place to start.
When I put on my pin, it really is a commitment to go to the grocery store with you, or even for you, if you can’t go yourself. It’s a commitment to be the safe adult who hugs you and says that, no, you’re an American, sweetheart, you can’t be deported. It’s a commitment to walk home with you.
“We wear the pin, then we do the things, ya’ dig?” as my friend’s kid said. I might have phrased it a little differently, but the sentiment comes across loud and clear!
Wearing a safety pin might be uncomfortable.
A lot of people associate wearing a safety pin with being anti-Trump, so wearing a safety pin might cause some discomfort. But this is important, so if a friend or family member judges you based on your pin, just explain what it really means to you… and invite them to wear one, too. I’ve been keeping a stash in my coat pocket and handing them out as necessary.
But what if someone is judging you without actually saying anything? Yeah. It happens and it’s super uncomfortable. Call it an empathy exercise and move on. Because no one likes to be pre-judged.
So put on your pin. Do your part to make the world a better place.
Thanks for listening.
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