, TeriJo, H., Meg, and anyone else who’s been in on this pin thread—

I’m still new to the community (and watch from the periphery, which is not about anyone that’s my own emotional carry-on), but let me tell you and anyone else in this little love “bubble” something: you should never be afraid to express yourselves. Especially, with this network you’ve created.

Do not get hung up on the safety pins, you guys. Each of you has something far more effective than a safety pin—your face. Your countenance is hanging out there for all the world to see at any given moment. And it’s a lot more visible than a safety pin. Idunno about you, but when I’m looking at another human being, I’m not looking at or for an emblem. It’s going to winter soon. Remember? Cold, brrr, layers of clothes, scarves, etc. Y’all are going to be layered up to your eyeballs, the last thing you’ll be looking for a safety pin. You want to know if the person across the bus from you is open-minded? Look them in the eyes and turn the corners of your mouth up a teensy bit. Or nod. Or do whatever you like to convey, that you acknowledge that person’s existence. If they break your gaze and look away; they’re emotionally closed off. No biggie. Nothing to see here. Move along.

I think back to my first year with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I flew into LaGuardia on Monday, October 1, 2001. Let that sink in for a moment. That was less than a month after the 9/11 attacks. You can imagine the mood in all of Manhattan. Despite the understandable dismal mood of the city people were yearning to connect with one another. I could see it written all over their faces

.Now I’m from the south, even if you don’t consider Orlando “the south” proper, it is. We’re friendly down here. Hello, good-bye, please, thank you, all that stuff is still very much in play. Call it ignorance, habit, or my desire to connect with people, but I spoke to people. At the cash register at a local bodega. I gave a nod to folks on the subway—not everyone, but people I thought were open. And I engaged taxi drivers. A few times people said, “you’re not from around here, are you?” But not once did anyone not respond. And they seemed to be a little happier for the interaction. I’d like to think they appreciated the fact that someone broke the ice tried to connect with them, if only for brief 5-second or two-minute connection.

This staying-human-loving-one-another thing is something we all learned in grade school; but life has gotten in the way. And fear is getting the best of a lot of people. Everyone’s wanting to connect on some level, but if everyone’s waiting for the other person to make the first move no one will ever move past the barrier of silence.

All of you who have commented on this pin thread, I know you have it in you. How do I know? You’ve bared your souls to one another in one way or another and I’ve seen a glimpse of who you are. Hard hearted people can’t do that. You all have the capacity to do it. I’m not talking about giving away free hugs to everyone on the C train, but simply recognizing the humanity in one another is what I’m talking about.You’re confused because you don’t want to do the wrong thing. Anything is better than nothing. You make a mistake? Big deal, it won’t be the first time. Learn from and move on.

What makes me an expert on this?


Nothing but living for x-number of years on the planet as a short-statured individual. And I can read people like a book. I’m the person that everyone notices when I walk into a room. Any room. A-NY ROOM. So I’ve become an expert at reading people. Some people want to say hello, some people are enthralled, some people don’t want to get caught staring, some people can’t help from barging over and saying something embarrassing. And with 90% accuracy, I can predict what the interaction will be like. Not because I’m some genius, but I’ve learned to read nonverbal cues.

It’s not elfen magic I’m talking about. You all can do it. You all have done it. You’ve been living among people much too long to not have that same ability. Fear’s just clouding the view.

Ré, I too can feel the potential of depression off in the distance; but I’m not going down like that. Not over this. This? Are you kidding me? No. People are losing loved ones, people are fighting cancer, people are homeless. You want to talk depression … that’s something to get depressed over. I’m not minimizing what people are feeling, but you all have more power than you realize. You think any of those Bozos in D.C., Democrat or Republican, are concerned about whether or not we’re wearing pins? We all know the answer to that. They’re too busy trying to figure out their next move. As should we. You have husbands, wives, spouses, kids, loved ones, and pets depending on you; not to mention selves to look after. I want to have a Cher in Moonstruck moment with y’all and say, “snap out of it!”

(I’m kinda laughing to myself here. I hope y’all are, too.)

Black folks deal with this stuff all. The. Time. If we can do it. You can do. Your membership card’s in the mail.

Did you guys even read my piece on staying human?

If you didn’t, read it. If you did, go back and read it again.

Step away from social media, if you need to. I was going to start my social media detox today, but the whole Pin-dora’s box thing exploded and well, I had to speak up.

Care for yourselves with the intensity and purpose you would for a very good friend. You knuckleheads have already have all the pin you’ll ever need. Trust yourself. When people look one another in the eye, they’re looking for something. Sometimes it’s the same thing you’re looking for.

And do the rest of that stuff I said.

(BTW, I hope I’m not doing “the guy” thing. You know we like to fix things. I know sometimes women just want to be heard. We all do. I’m not trying to fix things, I’m here to tell you that you already know what to do. But I feel like the kid in class waving his arm in the air because he knows the answer. You guys know the answer, too. And it’s not necessarily a pin.

Now put your freaking hand in the air! You got this.

Love one another.

Author, artist, accidental activist, founder Our Human Family (http://medium.com/our-human-family). Social media: @clayrivers. Love one another.

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