Why I wear a safety pin and don’t go to anti-Trump protests - or on becoming an ally.
I’m a French citizen white woman, who worked 2yrs in Philadelphia, and since 1yr in New York City. If I care so much about the US, it’s because I’m planning on living here for a while and eventually have a family, with my american life partner, who’s from Alabama.
This is such a grave and historical moment. Whatever says the debate about the grass roots or not dynamics of this election results, we are all shocked, all of us, even the Trump supporters.
How to think about this, what to analyze, what to say to kids, to students, to scared friends, how to react and what to do? What the f* is actually going to happen??
Both politically and humanely, for many of us, all this questions are the nonstop thoughts-roller since almost a week now.
We are all confused, and scared, and for some angry, and I think for good reasons, whatever happen during the next 4yrs.
Because, YES, it happened, the people voted. This is democracy going on, and you cannot deny it.
Yes, it sucks. But something expressed itself, and in particular through all the people who changed their traditional vote, and the ones who didn’t go to vote this time (see the participation graphics). Many may regret now… it doesn’t matter. They made a (non-)gesture, conscious or unconscious. A lot of politics dynamics is actually driven by unconsciousness.
First good reaction is to try to understand that, and it’s complicated because it is really a multi-factorial environment which produced this event.
But I am not going to talk about that here, I want to go to very concrete things: the discussion around the safety pin, and beyond, what should be the general attitude of people who want to better at being ally right now.
If I’m writing this, it’s because, if an really good thing happened to me from living in the US, is that, from my French background (much more about social classes fight), I’ve been learning thinking progressive again, and I’ve been trying to become a good ally.
First thing: in absolute, it’s HARD, and it takes time, and maybe, like many subtle important things, it takes life time.
But it’s such a rich and interesting journey! For what comparisons are worth, I think it’s no less difficult and fascinating than *really* loving your signifiant other.
Now, an other absolute truth: if you don’t start one day, and be bad at it, well you have zero chance to be good at it.
This is my absolute argument, as an educator, for wearing the safety pin.
YES, it is naive, YES many people who are going to wear it are still discriminating lot (being openly or silently sexist, racist, homophobic, and a long list of bads).
But you know what? I am for sure still discriminating too! Even being a life time socialist and after 3yrs of efforts, after protesting many times after police murders, after having read n articles about racism and how to be a good ally by some of the best american black thinkers.
This is reality of white straight male dominated society, it’s *beyond* your own consciousness. You can try as hard as you can, it’s everywhere, it’s like “fighting a cloud”.
As you start to recognize that, you only become a better ally.
And for that I also like the naivety of wearing safety pin. Because it’s very UNCLEAR - and so somewhat ridiculous indeed - what it actually means in practice!
But this fight in general is not clear neither. Yes, there are MANY good article lists of things-to-do to be a good ally (just google it). I keep reading them and trying to apply… it's like a good guideline… but truth is, many times it is not that clear how and how much you should or could do something.
I keep 3 fundamental rules: “listen”, “speak up” and “don’t wait for any rewards”. And the order matters!
Before writing this, I went to read people who are complaining about the safety pin as a sign of superiority, patting yourself and actually-not-doing-a-shitness from white people. I listened to their arguments. And for once, I am pushing back the advice from the very people I should listen to.
Because I'm convinced that people reaction now is too important, because I actually also know my own bit about politics dynamics, and because, as I said at the beginning I think that people are still not realizing what’s going on. Yeah, also the LGBTQ and black and feminists activists. We’re all pedaling in air right now on our old tracks which just vanished.
That’s another reason why I, personally, don’t want to go to protests. Hear me right, I LOVE protests. I’m a French AND a socialist person!
But I think I would be there on my old tracks… while I actually need to adapt my fight gears for a moment. Doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything right now. But for the long path waiting us, I want to be sure this next couple of months that I’m adapting my engagement toward the most important and efficient things.
Meanwhile, I’m only certain of one thing: fear is a brain damaging thing. This shit is serious.
I should not bear that millions of people - and in particular non-citizens - are all sudden feeling a new (or worst) type of deep fear, because of a political outcome.
There are certainly more concrete things I am going to do in the next months and years, but for now, very sincerely, and naively and with humility, I wear the safety pin. And I hope somebody is also wearing it for me. As we all need to clearly re-affirm to ourselves first, that we care for and are ready to defend each others.
Which brings me to the last point, as many are wearing (or going to wear) a safety pin, they indeed feel better with themselves - which is good and bad - but please trust me on one thing: you don’t feel that good that long. Because it indeed means so much and so little!
The people who are actually caring (I don’t give a damn about the others), as they enter the “trying to be an ally” world… have then to very seriously think and freak out about it, as they just tag themselves, and can now imagine or see a lot of skeptical sights at them.
I see two ways this can go: for a majority they will remove it, and return to their comfort zone, but hopefully, for a part, people will have to learn what this “safety” is about, and we all are going to fight and progress.
I’m gonna wear that pin, for 2yrs at least, for 4yrs if needed, for 8yrs if needed.
It says of me “I’m a humble naive confused but learning and caring resistant”.
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