Because of the recent election, many minority groups are under emotional and physical threat. A new symbol has emerged to show support for these groups: a safety pin.
This safety pin movement initially began after the Brexit referendum results. According to the New York Times, Great Britain saw a 57 percent rise in xenophobic incidents after they voted to leave the European Union in June.
In response to these incidents, people began pinning a safety pin on their clothing to show support for minorities and to demonstrate allyship.
As hate crimes began to rise after the election of Donald Trump, the safety pin movement crossed seas and became a way for Americans to demonstrate support for minorities, immigrants, women, and members of the LGBT community.
Tanya Copas, coordinator of the Tutoring in Math and Science program in the Tutoring Learning Center, wears her safety pin almost every day and has the image of a safety pin hung up on the door outside of her office.
Copas said she wears the pin to show support for any students who may be struggling with the weight of oppression. She believes the pin is effective because it allows her to silently communicate support.
However, the safety pins have been met with resistance by people who fear that the pins promote ‘slacktivism’ or slacker-activism.
In this situation, slacktivism means that people can become part of this movement without knowing anything about the issues that the minority groups are facing.
Sophie Hart, senior biochemistry major, acknowledges that the safety pin may help some people. She also fears its main purpose is to absolve ‘white-guilt’ instead of using it to show support,
Hart said that the positive benefits lose their effects when it becomes, “Like people that give to charity for the photo-op.”
She added that wearing a safety pin should always be about supporting minorities, not something people do to draw attention to themselves.
Hart said that even if it is not about absolution of guilt, wearing a safety pin is the bare minimum amount of work, and therefore will benefit the minimum number of people.
Hart encourages people donning a safety pin to take steps to educate themselves on the issues facing the oppressed minority groups.
While Copas acknowledges that wearing a safety pin should never be a stand-in for action or self-education, she maintains that it is a symbol of hope. Even if it only helps one person, is still worth displaying.
Copas said, “For me, it’s a statement showing anyone who’s experiencing acts of hate or bias. It’s a sign of support for them.”
Olivia De Valk