YOUR PUT DOWNS OF SAFETY PINS ARE NOT ENOUGH!
& YOUR PETTY CALL OUT ACTIVISM
IS AN EMBARRASSMENT!
There have been a few articles and several social media posts mocking the proposal that people wear safety pins to proclaim, in this new UhMurikan landscape, that “I am a safe space.” It’s a way for those of us in an unfamiliar place or under attack to identify an ally who will defend us or accompany us if we encounter violence, hate speech, threats or intimidation because of our real or assumed membership in a targeted group. One article appeared, written by a white presenting cis het presenting man, in the Huffington Post, that bastion of social responsibility and grassroots mobilization. (Snark!)
Of course the safety pins are NOT ENOUGH.They’re a symbol, a statement, a promise and a commitment.
Are these publish worthy leftists also for the abolishment of: buttons and t-shirts (which must be manufactured, marketed and sold), banners, signs. How are these any different? Are we against any symbolism? What about ribbons? arm bands?
This petty self promotion and put down of other activist efforts is tiresome. After all not EVERYONE gets Huffington Post press access.
The safety pin solidarity started in England after the passage of Brexit with the targeting of immigrants. In England there may have been an issue with the pins, that it was a white thing: an insufficient badge of respectability, guilt, remorse, penance. But in the U.S., Occupied Amerikkka the targets are MOST OF US. And there are still people totally complicit from all demographics, so the symbol is important, easy, accessible, inexpensive, UNFUCKINGMARKETABLE, so we can let people know we are ready to take action; (and then we need to come through; that we are here for each other). After all with the increased rhetoric and the emboldened extreme right, white supremacist (rebranded, normalized, alt-right), only white Christian cis het, ENabled, body normative men aren’t targeted. The vast majority, the rest of us are!
For way too long activism has moved from the grassroots, to self promotion, individualism, survival of the fittest, scarcity resources and competition. Allies who aren’t movement stars (there’s a clear double standard here!) are told they should just not show up, not take up space, sit down, shut up, listen, read more, go shopping. There has been very little engagement in what real allyship might be, what solidarity looks like, how we check each other and check ourselves, from a position of responsibility, accountability and transparency, and not from a place of obedience, acquiescence and silence. Hopefully the broad targeting of so many of us is a wake up call, that we need all our bodies on the line, and that we can’t do this in separate groups (which fuels the alt right’s rebranding, as it appropriates that language with claims that it is simply a civil rights movement for white people and that we all have our place in our separate nations.)
Maybe the movement stars who are so used to making it all about themselves: the self promoters, the individualist who have for too long used “activism” as their own personal starting line in that great competition for speaking engagements, publicity and non-profit managerial positions can show some solidarity instead of crapping on this very basic grassroots organizing effort. Maybe we can move the dialogue from whose voices matter to how we can assure our movement is as large and inclusive as possible (day care, DISability access, language translation, financial accessibility). Maybe we can start to have the difficult discussions around transparency and accountability around unlearning racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, classism and all the other ways marginalization keeps us down and apart.
So let this be the start and not the end. Let the lists of other ways of showing solidarity, of putting our bodies, minds, reputations on the line for each other begin, but let us start with “AND” and not “BUT”.
Sure the safety pins are not enough, and your grandstanding is getting real tired, too.