“Not So Safe” by Amy Dame
This is one in a series of posts featuring an artist whose work is included in the Threads of Resistance exhibition.
After the Nov. 8, 2016, election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, a trend emerged on social media. Wearing a safety pin was celebrated as an easy way to show support for those negatively affected by his win, and the idea spread rapidly.
Those in favour of the concept claimed that a simple safety pin attached to one’s coat would show that person to be a “safe space” for people who were being further marginalized by Trump and his followers. As the idea grew, even people who voted for Donald Trump celebrated it as a way to show the world that the wearer was “still a good person,” despite voting to limit or deny the basic human rights of others.
People who were actually affected by Trump’s racism, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, ableism and more were less enthusiastic. While certainly some People of Colour (POC), immigrants, LGBTQ, or Muslim people appreciated the thought, many more questioned why a true ally would need a visible symbol of their support for human rights. Wouldn’t they be visible as an ally because of their actions? Wouldn’t marginalized people learn that they were trustworthy because the person has been taking actions and speaking out against oppression as they witness it?
Oppressed people know all too well the history of well-meaning allies who claim to support them, while simultaneously keeping quiet, refusing to take actions that might endanger their privilege, or outright causing harm to the people that they purport to protect.
While many of the people who wear safety pins may have the best of intentions, marginalized people have no way of knowing which of those safety pins will pop open and harm them, which means that the safety pin movement really doesn’t symbolize anything other than the guilt of privileged people looking for forgiveness from those who are oppressed.
Hear a message from Amy about her piece below: