The other day I shared an article on my Facebook page about the safety pin trend that I somewhat agreed with but want to address more fully. The author berates White people for wearing safety pins as a sign of solidarity with people who are at risk in a post-Trump-election world. In a few short paragraphs he manages to turn off any White person who is on the verge of taking real action and hopefully working toward dismantling their privilege from the inside.
I want to note that I am speaking directly to White people in this post. While you may be White and also fall into a category that isn’t privileged (for instance, being a White gay man), I’m speaking to your Whiteness today. I’m hoping to start a conversation, not preach at you. I’m not always good at this, but I hope you will engage me despite any shortcomings present here. Oh and also, I’m absolutely addressing myself here as well. I’m just as new to this, just as nervous about getting involved, just as confused about what to do and say and think.
I shared the article, though, because I think it’s important to talk about some of the points he brings up. It’s so very important that we recognize that even wearing these pins is a privilege. While wearing a pin, you may encounter some assholes harassing you, but you’re not likely to experience any physical harm because of it–I will, of course, note that this very well may change if tensions continue to mount as Trump’s presidency looms ahead. Regardless, if there’s two people on the street, you wearing a pin and a Black woman, we don’t even have to guess who is at higher risk.
It’s also important to back that pin up with some action. I think so many of us spent the majority of this election cycle sharing over social media things that we felt were important. Articles, posts, videos, all talking about how fucking awful a Trump presidency would be so get out and vote, alright? But what most of us (myself included) didn’t do was, you know, do much else.
I went to one Showing Up for Racial Justice meeting and then it kind of slipped my radar. I talked with some like-minded White friends about privilege but unfriended people who “liked” Trump’s Facebook page. I donated some money to the Bernie Sanders campaign but afterward stopped reading his newsletters talking about progressive politicians I could be supporting. I thought of the issues often, but it was also easy to set them aside.
That’s my privilege.
After Trump won, I realized what I was doing was very obviously not enough and I know most of you are in the same shoes. It looks like we have some very trying times ahead, friends. Please do wear your safety pins, if even just a few people find it helpful and comforting, it’s worth it. But stopping there means that you care more about looking like you care than actually getting your hands dirty. I know that’s uncomfortable for some of you to read, but it’s good to get uncomfortable now and again. We can’t dismantle privilege if we’re not uncomfortable. So what can you do? Google it. No seriously, there’s a wealth of information out there and I’m no expert on the options available to myself, let alone you. But here’s where I’m starting and I would love to hear some of your ideas as well.
- I looked at who was elected in Missouri so I could understand the political climate better. I found their Facebook pages and either liked them or started following them. I also figured out who else represents me that wasn’t in the election this year. I’ll list some of them below but a quick Google search will tell you more about your specific area. I also made sure I was following the pages of Jason Kander and Chris Koster to see where they would be going in the future. I wanted to have quick access to my representatives should the need arise, and I’m guessing it will arise. –United States Senators: Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill serve for Missouri –United States Representatives: We’ve got 8 Congressman and women from Missouri, I’m with Emanuel Cleaver in District 5 (lots of the KC metro, minus Indep, extending East) -Governor: Eric Greitens –Missouri Senators: Here’s a district map where you can figure out who your state Senator is, Ryan Silvey is in District 17 (Northland) –Missouri House of Representatives: Lauren Arthur has District 18 which covers most of the Northland, minus Gladstone and Parkville -The MO Government website has tons of information
- I read this article about being an “ally” or “standing in solidarity with” and plan to read it over and again.
- I followed the Showing up for Racial Justice KC page on Facebook and put the upcoming meetings in my calendar. I really love the focus of this organization (White people working to dismantle racism within White communities) and strongly support it. If you are interested in coming and need to carpool, please reach out. I’m happy to help you get there.
- I’m starting to follow Stand Up KC on Facebook and am curious about what they’re doing. I don’t know enough to report on anything else.
- When I have some money to spare, I’m focusing on donating to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.
- I’m submitted an application to volunteer with Planned Parenthood. There didn’t appear to be any opportunities in our area currently, but they have me on file for the future.
- I’m beginning research on spiritual White privilege so I can speak to my community about it.
Alright friends, what are you doing? Tell us so people who don’t know where to start can get some ideas!