I’m not sure how to best convey this message to those who have consolidated their regret, remorse and perhaps guilt at voting/not voting/wasting their vote down into the tiniest possible form of resistance: a safety pin.
You know, the thing you can get in any convenience store? The product that’s never sold in a pack of one, that’s worth close to nothing to purchase?
Yeah. That one.
I don’t need your cheap, low-commitment, ridiculous attempt at showing “solidarity” with myself and people like me. See, here’s the thing: when I’m out and about in the real world – you know, the one off of social media, the one where a demagogue is quite literally assembling an administration that rivals history’s most horrific leaders – I’m focused on not just surviving. I’m focused on thriving.
And I have learned, time and again, that those who say that they’re on my side during an instance of assault, harassment, or taunting only come out and say it after the hate incident finishes.
See, I’ve been here in the United States since I was six years old. As a teenager, I had men harangue me on buses and trains, and had to swallow my fear and stand up for myself because the people around us in those packed buses and trains all seemed to be busy during the harassment.
I know people whose scarves have been ripped off publicly, and nobody in their vicinity did or said anything. My friends have been stalked and harassed in person and online for their faith, and nothing was done.
This past summer, I was attacked by thousands of alt-right evangelicals, and I was told by officials sworn to protect the public that “everyone dies” when I showed them the death threats.
And you’re telling me that your moment of solidarity, your attempt to assuage your guilt, your only action is to put on a safety pin? And that this solidarity is only happening because that shit’s viral now?
Who’s going to look for that safety pin on those around them when they’re fearing for their life? Nobody, that’s who.
That’s because that safety pin is as useless in the real world as our President Elect’s plan to force another country to pay for a massive wall.
Without your organizing, public speech, action, donations, and efforts to ensure that our country doesn’t move hundreds of years back, that safety pin means nothing to me. I showed up and voted against hate – where were you? Did you work to get out the vote prior to elections? Did you speak out against hate speech of all forms among your friends, family or coworkers?
Hell, if you’re wearing that safety pin, are you standing up for my rights even when you’re in a conversation that turns bigoted, and it’s not really that trendy to speak up?
Are you holding your elected officials accountable for their complacency amidst what might just be a hellish next four years for people of color, undocumented immigrants, religious minorities, and the LGBTQI community?
And by that, I don’t mean writing a cute little Facebook status or comment. I don’t mean tweeting at your official. I don’t mean buying a coffee.
I mean doing something. Standing for something, even if it terrifies you. Making a difference.
Because, guess what, my dear-safety-pin-wearing-friend? Standing up for the rights of the disenfranchised might be terrifying, but it’s even more painful being one of them. So your weak attempt at “making a difference” isn’t something I count.
Your solidarity isn’t enough. Your smile isn’t enough. Your half-assed whisper to me about “standing strong” following a hate incident I have to stand through on my own isn’t enough.
I don’t need your damn safety pin. I have my own.
I don’t need anything from you. In fact, more than ever before, the person who needs support the most is you: person who feels the need to wear the pin. But you won’t get it until you start showing up for everyone else, and choose to set aside your cheap attempt at self-congratulating-at-being-such-a-great-ally.
Because we don’t give a damn about safety pins when hate crimes are on the rise. And we won’t give a damn about cheap solidarity as long as there’s action that can be taken.
And trust me, if I needed a safety pin to save me from a hate crime, I have more than enough hiding in my turban to use.
There. I said it.