Day One: Allyship
My friend Clair posted this today and it seems to be consistent with some feelings I’ve also seen on Twitter. And I can’t argue with any of it. But…
And that’s the thing. I always have a “but.”
Here is the comment I left on Clair’s post:
I understand the frustration people have with the safety pin activism, but at the same time, I will continue to wear mine. It’s something small. It’s something I have to think about every day. When I take it off today’s shirt and put it on tomorrow’s it’s a promise to myself.
It makes me visible. Maybe people will roll their eyes, but maybe someone who need it will see it.
And if I do see a situation where I should step up to be a better ally, the pin is there to remind me that I’ve promised not to stay silent, to let it slide this one time.
I’m very privileged. The things that would make me a target (outside of being a woman) are generally invisible. No one can tell my sexual preference or religion just by looking. So this is a reminder to myself maybe more than a signal to someone else.
So, I guess that’s where I stand. I’ll keep wearing my pin. And I absolutely LOVE the images that children’s book authors & illustrators have been doing. Because, yeah, kids need to know that the characters they love are there for them. So, I think that’s amazing too.
Author Anne Leonard commented on a thread where I was discussing this issue over on Twitter.
She said, “Any sort of organized resistance is going to have infiltrators. They’ll wear safety pins.” And that’s totally true.
But, that doesn’t mean we don’t organize. And I know that there are better ways to do it than to wear safety pins. And I’m positive people who are much more competent than I am are working on it (which doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it too.) But for now, a safety pin is what I’ve got to make my promise. So, I’ll be wearing it.
Since the election, a lot of people have been posting about wearing safety pins as an outward indication that you’re an ally. Unless you’re backing that up with your dollars, time, and actions, it’s not enough. In fact, a Facebook post indicates that white nationalist groups have already co-opted the problematic symbol.
If you want to be an ally, please don’t ask your People of Color, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, people of faith, people of no faith, and Othered communities. And for the love of everything holy, don’t tone police them, especially not in this time of grief.
One tough thing to keep in mind: Being an ally isn’t about you. It’s not about shouting your views from the rooftops, it’s about your actions. And yes, I recognize my privilege and the irony in posting on my personal blog about how to be an ally. There’s not much more I can say on that end…
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