The great safety pin debate

Because society sucks and I don’t know what else to do.

I am a white, able bodied, mentally fit (mostly,) straight-passing (sorta,) Catholic (technically,) white woman in Canada. I pretty much won a genetic lottery based on both the historical racism North America was built upon and the recent #TBT to those awful times that America has just voted-in to run their country for the next four years.

I’m not perfect, and I’m no saint, but I do try to understand my privilege. On top of that, though, I want to make a difference while distancing myself visually from the people who look like me who are to blame for the win that misogyny and racism had five days ago. The only way I can think to do that is to wear a safety pin. And as a Canadian, it feels especially poignant to wear it in November. The month Canadians spend remembering and honouring fallen heroes who fought for the freedoms I and many others enjoy today.

Since I put the pin on my jacket, not much has happened. No one has challenged me for wearing it, no one has thanked me, no one has started any kind of conversation about it. And yet, maybe delusion-ally, I feel I’m doing the right thing not only for me but for people around me.

I’m not using this pin to say “not all white people” to people who are rightfully angry and sad about what a large number of white people have allowed to happen. I’m not wearing it to say I’m somehow better than anyone who isn’t wearing one. To be honest, I don’t think I’m even wearing it to make other people feel safer. I mean, it’s fantastic if they do, but honestly I am just skeptical that; a) anyone on the street is paying enough attention to me to notice to over-sized pin on my lapel, and b) that they’ll see it and do anything other than roll their eyes or c) they might just think I’m a fan of Sid Vicious.

I’ve done a lot of reading and a lot of thinking about this small accessory, and I have come to the conclusion that I am wearing it selfishly. But I also don’t think that’s a bad thing.

I wear it to remind myself what I stand for and to hold myself accountable for what needs to be done to reduce the distance between white people and people of colour, men and women, the mentally fit and the mentally ill, the able bodied and the physically handicapped, gay and straight.

There are a lot of reasons to hate the safety pin movement and think of it as white people patting themselves on the back. There are a lot of reasons to think of it as a nice gesture, and there are a few reasons to think of it as something more than that.

I wear it for me. Because it’s insane to think I represent anyone else. But I want to project that I won’t sit quiet when I see racism. I won’t ignore the difficulties of others just because it’s depressing to think about, and I will do whatever is in my power to fight the progression of fear, anger and inequality that seems to be taking over the world right now.

 

TL:DR

I know that my safety pin is kind of stupid and on it’s own means nothing. But I also know wearing it is a reminder to myself to be a better person. For anyone who says I’m not doing enough, you might be right. You don’t know me or how I spend my time, but it’s true. I could always do more than I am. But I’m just a person. I give money to groups I support. I volunteer my time when I have it. I try to listen to opposing viewpoints to better educate myself, and if anyone has an argument for why my pin is hurting them more than it’s helping me I will remove it.

For anyone else who wants to “make the world a better place” and help America through the rough times ahead, please check out this awesome list of charities that the crew of Strong Female Protagonist has suggested,  donated to and researched;

The American Civil Liberties Union is a fierce watchdog for violations of the constitution

Planned Parenthood provides critical health care for women and others

The Council on American-Islamic Relations advocates for Muslims in the U.S. and fights Islamophobia 

The Human Rights Campaign fights for equality for all LGBTQ+ people

The Transgender Law Center focuses on helping trans people

The National Immigration Law Center defends the rights of low income immigrants

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is a resource for survivors of sexual assault

The Southern Poverty Law Center works to prevent and combat hate crimes

 

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