Safety Pin Solidarity
I’m not really good at ranting. It just isn’t me. Very seldom do I actually get mad, and when I do, the last thing I am capable of doing is focusing that anger into anything coherent. Usually, when things bother me that I could rant about, I usually just feel sad. But while rants might not be my thing, there is something that I can do: spread happy news.
Immediately following the last Presidential election on November 8, 2016, I felt like completely crushed. In the process of trying to feel better — to do something more than I was already doing — I wore a safety pin. Despite thinking that demonstrating solidarity with others was a good idea, I didn’t wear the safety pin too long. Everywhere I turned I read articles about how wearing a safety pin was an insult.
After a few days, I quietly removed the safety pin from my shirt and tried not to cry. It seemed like even trying to feel solidarity with other people that were suffering was anathema.
While showing solidarity with other people that are suffering isn’t really anathema, too many people seemed to think that by wearing a safety pin to show solidarity, the person wearing the safety pin was trying to absolve themselves from actually having to do anything. That wasn’t the way that I looked at it. The way I viewed wearing a safety pin was that the person was actually doing something even more than they were already doing. And since so many people were doing such wonderful things over the last eight years, doing something more was going above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak.
It might actually be that there is no easy way to show solidarity with people that are suffering, but there are enough people that are fed up with the seeing others suffer that they are getting creative in showing their support.
Solidarity In Speech
On November 26, 2016, The New York Times posted an opinion piece by R. Derek Black that should warm the heart of anyone that is looking for allies.
Mr. Black was born into a “prominent white nationalist family” that included David Duke as his godfather and the founder of Stormfront as a father. Despite being socialized into such extreme white nationalism, Mr. Black overcame his background to stand by the people that he once stood against.
… For me, the conversations that led me to change my views started because I couldn’t understand why anyone would fear me. I thought I was only doing what was right and defending those I loved.
I think the “Hamilton” cast modeled well one way to make that same connection when they appealed to Vice President-elect Mike Pence from the stage: “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us.” …
The entire article is worth reading if you want to feel the power of what is possible.
But there is more to solidarity than a one-time enemy turning into an ally.
Solidarity in Symbols
In Ann Arbor, Michigan, a woman had been flying a rainbow American flag. Originally, it hadn’t brought much attention. That all changed after the previous election when she was left a note about someone’s disappointment with the flag she was flying.
In truth, after reading the original note, I can understand the point of view of the writer. While he didn’t seem to have any intention of being divisive, Ms Pearlman, who has a daughter that is lesbian, was hurt. Her neighbors, after finding out about the note, showed their solidarity with symbols.
Her neighbours reacted swiftly to the incident – with dozens of people also buying rainbow flags and flying them in solidarity.
Ms Pearlman continued: “How did my wonderful, loving neighbors respond? They built a wall of flags.
“As of today there are 20 flags flying and more are to come. Love will always trump hate.”
In this instance, you might be telling yourself that there was no need for a show of solidarity. After all, it is possible to argue that the man didn’t mean any harm with his note. He might have just been insensitive to the pain he caused. Even if that is true, there are enough people out there that are trying to hurt others that any show of solidarity should be welcome.
Solidarity in Lights
A woman that left the Mormon church was visited by another woman that still belonged to the church. The visiting woman didn’t realize that they weren’t of a similar mind on the question of LGBTQ issues. The story describes how the visitor proceeded to say things like this:
“Anyway, thinking that we were allies, she went on to tell us how horrified she was when her son got turned down for prom because the girl was already planning on going with her girlfriend.”
The neighbour’s anti-LGBT views just got more open as she told the ex-Mormon couple how they disagreed with the local school raising awareness about transgender issues.
“That, coupled with the school’s justification for letting lesbians attend the prom together and doing an assembly that taught kids the facts about being transgender were just too much for her,” Mrs Rosey Crotch writes.
“She said that she had to move away because she was so sick of the gays and transgenders and everyone making their ‘lifestyle’ okay.”
Her solution to show the visitor, and anyone else that was interested, where she stood on the issue of LGBTQ equality was to create a display with 10,000 rainbow colored Christmas lights.
So yes, symbols of solidarity are important. While I might have to find another way to show solidarity with those that are suffering, I will continue to praise anyone that takes a step — no matter how large or small — to show solidarity with those that need their support.