It looks like we have some dark times ahead and could all use some hope. Minority Americans are especially, and justifiably scared. The ascension of Donald Trump has emboldened hate mongers throughout the country. Racist, xenophobic and anti LGBTQ graffiti has appeared in schools and on shops, the KKK of North Carolina even plans a parade to welcome the dawning of what they see as their man winning the white house. In the wake of his election, the Southern Poverty Law Center has launched the hashtag #reporthate in order to document these rising incidents.
Keep these incidents in mind as you begin seeing a lot of people wearing safety pins. Remember the voices of LGBTQ friends and family members who refuse “to be tortured again.” Expect to see them on teachers, concerned about “The Trump Effect,” in our schools. The safety pin is a symbol adopted from Great Britain after the Brexit vote led to a rise in hate crimes (Check out “Why Saftety Pins Symbolize Resistance.”)
A Huffington Post opinion is circulating on social media that reads, “Dear White People, Your Safety Pins Are Embarrassing.” Don’t believe it. Don’t share it. When you see it, point out it’s flaws. The author, Christopher Keetly, (who is as white as I am) is making the point that a simple safety pin isn’t enough to support threatened minorities. In many ways, he’s right, although his title is unfair and will often be all that most people see.
The safety pin isn’t enough, by any means, but movements can start with something tiny and become so much more. Showing solidarity and designating yourself safe IS important. Telling people who are legitimately afraid of white people right now that we aren’t all full of hate is really important. Expressing empathy and solidarity with those who are afraid is always important.
These expressions are all important as minorities, immigrants and people of the LGBTQ community are becoming victims of hate crimes. Expressions of protest or dissent can come in all shapes and sizes. They can be in the streets, bordering on riots or come in the form of peaceful candle light vigils. Ideally, all compassionate Americans need to stand, walk out, march on Washington for Women’s rights, and loudly protest all forms of hatred. In the meantime, however, don’t be shamed away from a show of solidarity in the stand against Trumpist Hate.
You might also be surprised at the honest conversations it inspires. You may have the chance to have a frank, open and honest conversation with neighbors who are different than you – maybe even for the first time. The same thing can happen at the workplace. Listen to others; hear their fears, anger, and their hopes. These conversations can’t happen unless people from all over this country’s are willing to show that Trump doesn’t speak for them – that the White Nationalists do not share our true American values.
We can all make simple statements to show we care. We can attach safety pins to our clothing to show minorities that they will receive equal treatment and friendship from us. So put on those safety pins. Post them on your social media accounts. But don’t stop there. As Hillary Rodham Clinton said in her concession speach, “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it… We need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives.”