“There are a lot of opinions floating around on social media about the donning of a safety pin on one’s apparel. Some would agree that it is a visible sign that the person wearing it will help provide a safe place for people who identify as a member of the many targeted groups who have experienced hate crimes throughout history. Others have argued that it is something of a shield—an easy way for the wearer to escape any real action helping the same marginalized groups while still identifying themselves as one of the “good guys.”
I would like to respectfully address the latter.
I understand the argument comes from a place of anger, and perhaps the writer’s own embarrassment. Believe me when I say, I’m embarrassed also. I’m embarrassed that, despite my belief that those in the LGBTQ community should always enjoy the same rights and freedoms I occasionally take for granted, I let their recent victory in the Supreme Court make me lazy.
I’m ashamed that I took my extra money over the last few months and bought coffee or treats for myself while women in more conservative states feared that key resources like Planned Parenthood would disappear because of the life-saving, professional services they offer to some patients who choose not to carry their pregnancy to term for whatever reason.
I’m furious with myself for not engaging with those on social media who posted memes about gun control, subtly and not-so-subtly identifying Muslims as the force behind the violence we’ve witnessed in recent months. Additionally, I’m horrified that pressing a “delete” button or demurring from the “sensitive” topic of immigration and violence against minorities was my choice approach for so long. It was such because I believed that we lived in a country where yes, fear has a voice, but compassion, kindness, and acceptance were so close to eradicating it.
I’m embarrassed, but not by my safety pin.
We are surrounded by distractions that let us fall into the monotony of modern life without considering the hate and discrimination befalling humans across this planet and across our nation. A tragedy occurs and we change our profile pictures to represent our sympathy, but by the following week things are back to normal unless you are directly affected by the incident. Nothing is ever going to change unless we realize that we have a responsibility, as humans, to stand up for one another. Even when it is uncomfortable. Even when our newsfeeds are filled with engagements, babies, and accomplishments.
If my safety pin tells you that I am a safe space, that is a wonderful thing. I will stand next to you, and I will give you a shoulder on which you can cry, lean, or use to climb up and achieve your dreams.
But that little silver trinket is not, nor will it ever be, a plea for recognition or a pat on the back.
It is a reminder that history, in fact, does repeat itself if we aren’t careful. The Emmett Tills and Matthew Shepards of this world are still out there suffering. And when I look at my wrist, I make a promise to them that I will never let myself get lazy again.”