I've read all sides of the pro/con/whatever views on the idea of people wearing a safety pin as a statement about what's happening in America.
I agree with some points made by different sides.
Yes, this is not enough.
It's not a way to lessen any feelings of guilt.
But, after thinking long and hard about it I have decided to put one on.
It's not about guilt. I feel no guilt about what's going on. However, I feel a deep sense of responsibility. I feel some shame about how folks that look like me are acting. Especially when I think that many of their families came here only a couple generations ago, many of their families came as refugees both legal and otherwise, and many of their ancestors were not really considered "White" upon their arrival.
For me the pin, for now, is a statement of commitment.
Most importantly I've decided that It's not about me, it's you.
My intent is not to say "hey, look at me, I'm a cool white guy," it's about saying "hey there, I see you and recognize your humanity and will have your back," it's about saying "hey, racist shithead, I see you and will not tolerate your noise."
I owe a massive historical debt to those that stood against hate, xenophobia and yes Fascism at their own risk to help mine in their time of need.
To those who's ancestors’ enslavement was the foundation upon which this nation became the place where my peoples could find refuge, I recognize and understand that history -- I see that in my families’ brief time here, we have found access to opportunities that have long been denied to yours. I will stand with you.
To those who are being targeted because the way you dress signifies your religion: I will stand between you and those that threaten you.
To those that have long been denied opportunity and are about to be pushed down again. I will do my best on a daily basis to be your ally, through actions not empty promises.
To all who stand outside gender, sexuality, and other norms of society. I love you.
None of this makes me happy, it freaks me out and scares the shit out of me.
I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about how, why and when my families repeatedly fled other lands.
What I remember from my maternal grandfather's stories is that he left when 2 factors became impossible to ignore. First was that he could not dress in a way that indicated his beliefs without fear of random violence. The last straw was when he learned that even dressed as a "normal person" he was no longer able to play football (soccer), win a game and not expect to be beaten physically by opposing players and random spectators.
The stories are rolling in, women being accosted in liberal NYC for wearing head coverings. A runner at the NYC Marathon was denied water and called a "dirty Muslim" by a fluid station volunteer (he's actually Sikh).
I hope history does not repeat, I hope America does not become the place that people talk about fleeing and how lucky they were to get out before it was too late.
None of this makes me happy but it is time for us to stand up and say "no more." for now, the pin is my commitment to not be silent and to take action even if that puts my own safety at risk.
I've got your backs.
See you at the barricades.
(photo above is my Grandfather’s football/soccer team)
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