In the past week following Trump’s win, the nation has seen hate speech and hate related assaults by his supporters carried out in his name on the rise at an alarming rate. With that, a campaign to show allyship to people or colour, the LGBTQ community, and Muslims, White people have been encouraged to wear a safety pin proclaiming- “You are safe with me” for those seeking aid . While shows of solidarity are appreciated, it simply is not enough. Marginalized communities need accomplices in fighting for rights, not ally’s whose actions do not create real and transformative change for those they claim to stand with.
As Lara Witt for Medium writes:
Have you seen people wearing those safety pins on their lapels, tops and coats? They’re the latest trend in allyship. For the low cost of $2 for a pack of 10 pins, you can show people that you’re one of the nice ones without having to actually dismantle white supremacy and do any hard work..
I’m taking a hard position on this because as nice as solidarity can be, it isn’t solidarity if nice white people aren’t confronting their racist relatives, co-workers, friends and acquaintances.
A safety pin is cute but i’ve seen solidarity trends come and go, and i haven’t actually felt safer around people who label themselves as allies. I’ve seen white people avoid oppressive situations, avoid interactions which require more than a shake of the head all because it was too much work.
A safety pin does not give PoC any proof of you actually dismantling oppressive structures. It’s a badge white people want to wear so that PoC don’t associate them with Trump. It’s performative allyship at best. It’s a sign which says, “don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for him! I’m not racist!”
This form of performative allyship is rooted in a pathological need that white people have for praise. But your safety pin is lazy.
With their privilege White people must act with the intention to actually create equity for others. In our society White men’s voices hold the most value, therefore for real change they are the ones who have the biggest opportunity to still be well received when trying to tackle topics aimed at dismantling injustice.
The nice white people don’t actually confront white supremacy in the workplace, they’re not aware of microaggressions and even when they are they would rather not use their privilege to dismantle the pervasive inequalities around them. No, they have a safety pin, they didn’t vote for Trump.
Meanwhile they can maintain their own biases and fly under the radar. Wearing a safety pin does not show us that you challenged racism in the last eight years, it does not stop you from talking over our experiences within our spaces, it alleviates any pressure you may feel to actively tear apart the racist structures of this nation.
It is of note that “In America, where 62% of the population identifies as Caucasian, white people are easy to find.” Yet are the least visible to stand up in aftermaths of recent and ongoing injustices, namely those aimed towards Blacks in this country, such as the Charleston massacre, and the multitude of unwarranted deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement.
Rose Hackman of The Guardian writes:
But white people have not been as visible in the aftermath of the Charleston massacre, where a young white man and his white supremacist ideals entered a historically black church and shot nine churchgoers dead.“People who are not black can no longer sit on the margins. They can no longer just express their sympathy: those are shallow words,” Arielle Newton, a 23-year-old black blogger said at a rally. “Black people didn’t enslave themselves. It shouldn’t be on them to correct that. White people have the responsibility to understand that they live in a racist society, a racist society they have created.”
Allyship allows people who don’t intend to create tangible change to self gratify.
Tanvi Yenna for krui.fm describes many types of Allyship (summarizing the writings of an woman anonymous over indigenousaction.org) that are less than affective in creating real meaningful change for marginalized individuals. If you find yourself identifying with one of the following- think of what you more you can do to create real and meaningful change for others without the same privilege that you may have.
This kind of ally has romanticized notions of oppression, and treats oppressed people like victims and tokens instead of humans. They engage in things like exoticization, whitesplaining/mansplaining/etc., and other microaggressive (sometimes macroaggressive) commentary.