I started wearing a safety pin in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. A trend started after the vote to Brexit in the UK, it is a small outward sign that one is a “safe” person. It is a sign of solidarity between the “to-the-privilege-born” and the not.
My safety pin. It is my advertisement that I am an accepting face, a safe space, a zone of comfort. And every day I pin up, I pray I do not need to step up to support my safety pin.
But I will do my best.
(How not to be a bystander: 6 Tips for Responding to Racist Attacks)
My safety pin acknowledges privilege of all things I had no choice in – the traits I was born with that gave me privilege that may have passed by someone with more talent, more intelligence, more drive because of their skin color.
And the lovely paradox. When I’m putting on a pin to acknowledge my privilege, I am pinning on some privilege.
For my birthday this year, I was given a 3-foot long, working wooden safety pin. It transcends “décor”. In addition to fitting into an industrial glam decorating style¹ ², it is loaded with meaning.
Similarly, the safety pin is not merely a sartorial choice. It is a bold whispered proclamation that I’m watching, I’m present, and I don’t trust the system either. (See also, old white guys declaring the end of racism.)
The pin I wear is an old-timey diaper pin. It is bigger and more robust than other safety pins. It is from the days when baby waste management used cotton cloth diapers and I’m sure this pin has seen some real shit, some real poo in its day. But as a child with real live baby brothers, the plastic pants covering whole butt of the personal sewage system always seemed to be the biggest barrier between bio-hazard waste and polite society, bio-hazard waste and the rest of the world.
But I can’t wear a pair of old diapering plastic pants as a sign against all the shit – the racism, the sexism, etc. It would be unseemly and any point to be made would get lost in the explanation.
The safety pin will do, pig.
Behaviors I thought would disqualify Trump as a candidate for president, didn’t; behaviors that I thought would be confined to the Trump Hotel in Washington, aren’t. Those behaviors have taken up residence part-time in the White House. He is The Grift with his grown graft that keep on grifting us all.
Most of the questions about my safety pin have been from white, middle-aged women which disturbs me. Pinning up in the morning is a reminder that 53% of my demographic – white, middle-aged women – voted for The Grift. And I want them to recognize that the pin sets us apart, separates us. I am not your color white.
And ‘demographic’ is just a fancy word for profiling.
My answers to “why are you wearing a safety pin?” have been woefully inadequate. But Ann reassures me that my little safety pin, my little whimper, my stumbling explanations make a difference, plant a seed of thought that could take root.
Small steps. All is not lost. Know hope.
After reading “How to Easily be a White Ally to Marginalized Communities” by Christopher Keelty, I started ACTIVELY looking for “marginalized voices and perspectives.”
I check ‘The Root’ daily. I typically read the articles about events I’ve seen reported on in mainstream media to see what a difference point-of-view makes from a person of color. And it is eye opening. For example, all the dog whistles I can’t hear.
Michael Harriot recently identified the taxonomy of “The 5 Types of ‘Becky’”. I’m a “Becca” and I’m okay with that. Keeping in mind that I don’t know what to do or what I’m doing, I will push beyond my Becca-ness of being “willing to do the work … but not really.”
I will do work. Really.
This tweet story by Adrian C Jackson is a simple, yet powerful description of how systemic racism works and how to be an ally to even it up: #NotAllTShirts
And in a real-life-not-a-tweet story, Aaron Rodgers (a white T-shirt) is taking lunch with Colin Kaepernick (a brown T-shirt): Aaron Rodgers takes a sledgehammer to Kaepernick myth.
Struggling for a more perfect union. Pin up.
¹ The wooden pin was procured via covert ops which makes it all the more special. </insert big grin emoji with kisses>. Thanks, Liz!
² Industrial glam decorating style is currently the catch-all description for our stuff, (Mr. Viva and me). It sounds nicer than ‘mid-Century garage sale with 70’s plaid and 80’s disco ball overtones’.