If you are a Facebook user (sort of sounds like Crack addiction, doesn’t it) you seen the post-Trumpalyptic safety pin solidarity meme. By the way, there is a sentence never before written in Human history, but I digress. The safety pin was a means of showing solidarity, encouraging dialogue, creating sympathetic spaces and reminding one’s own self of the nature of the struggle. It could have been a safety pin, or an armband or an imogee. And by itself, true, it is rather meaningless, but collectively it helps to define a community. It helps fill in the gaps where others find silence and isolation in the dangerous silence of a community. Isolated communities of the past, such as our LGBTQ brothers and sisters knows this silence and isolation only too well historically. All the brothers and sisters of color shot by police under suspicions and questionable circumstances before the age of smartphone video decry it from their graves. The millions of American Muslim brothers and sisters demonized as a community as part of a manufactured enemy to hide a robbery of our nation by the wealthy, they know that silence and isolation.
Fellow white Americans, and I am talking to those of you on the left predominantly, don’t be silent and don’t be distracted. To safety pin or not to safety pin is not the debate. Wear a feathered hat, a backwards tee shirt or swim fins. The issue is that you should not be silent, even when not speaking a word. But don’t be silent about the proper issues, such as white nationalism, misogyny, bigotry, racism, women’s autonomy and the reversal of hard-fought actual civil rights.
This non-issue is fully one of privilege. Guaranteed in communities who are about to bear the brunt of this administration’s policies, they are mobilizing and organizing to protect their civil rights, their families and one another. I fully understand the pressure many whites feel in the post-Trumpalyptic world. I have faced scorn, derision and isolation from white friends and family, but it isn’t about me, and my eye has always been on the prize described by truly heroic men and women sacrificing, often their lives, for the rights of all Americans. Understanding that, I can comfortably withstand being un-friended on Facebook, an uncomfortable argument at Thanksgiving or never talking with uncle Bert with the gun collection in his double-wide trailer again.
Be afraid, not of the people who might threaten or even follow through with violence, nor of those who will slip inside your community to sow discord, or those who are weak and afraid, but of silence, and most especially self-imposed silence. You may feel like an island in the sea of humanity, but that is the curse of our collective silence. Open your eyes and wear your conscience publically and soon enough you will find you are not an island but an archipelago, and then a bridge and then a continent…