Thanks, H. Real quick—

1. I am worried that the pin will have an adverse affect. If the people wearing them are targeted, they are no longer going to be helpful to anyone.

I say “don’t worry,” not in a dismissive sense. Worry is not guarantee or predictor of the future. We can’t let a fear of what may or may not happen paralyze us from inaction. People have to weigh the risk versus the benefit as it applies to them personally.

2. The pin could actually escalate the problem, when we are supposed to be intervening to DE-escalate, especially if it is seen as a symbol of ‘I disagree with you.’

See above. People have to determine their own level of involvement. In one instance, the presence a 75-year old grandmother at the grocery store might be enough to squelch the unseemly comment of a cashier at the grocery story. That same grandmother might not be so effective on a subway. You never know. The level of involvement is all up to the person wearing the pin.

3. The pin is meant to delineate white people’s opinions, costing white people one of the invaluable assets we have — our privilege of blending in with the dominant culture. How does it help marginalized people not just FEEL safer, but also BE safer if that privilege cannot be leveraged to help people who might be attacked?

White people don’t blend into the dominant culture. They ARE the dominant culture. If a white person is not willing to temporarily lay down there privilege in order to make a statement by wearing the pin, they shouldn’t wear the pin. It’s a simple matter of cost vs value. Is the cost of wearing a pin worth the value. For some people, yes. Others, no. A both answers are okay.

Wearing a pin in and of itself no more makes the world a safer place for marginalized people, no more than the wearing an AIDS ribbon cures AIDS. But it does bring awareness to a cause/situation and can potentially prevent situations from arising. Keep in mind, this whole thing is a process. We didn’t get here overnight, and we won’t get beyond it by next month. A problem can not be remedied if it’s not recognized as a problem. This pin thing has the potential to be the beginning of bringing awareness. But what’s more important is the action that follows the awareness.

For me, someone willing to aid my cause says, “hey, I see what you’re doing/going through. I support you.” I’m just grateful someone has taken notice. It may not be enacted the best way, but something is indeed much more than nothing.

I have been attacked — I don’t need to go into details about that now — there are plenty of posts in my profile regarding my abuse history. I bring this up, because I know for a fact that I didn’t have the presence of mind in any of those situations to look for a safety pin on someone’s shirt.

I’m sorry you’ve experienced the horror of being attacked. I truly am. Know that someone’s wearing a safety pin isn’t a guarantee of protection. The wearer has to be aware of their surroundings. Would I head out to some rural areas wearing a Hillary t-shirt? Unfortunately, in some areas of the U.S. that wouldn’t be a wise decision. In fact, it would be a foolish decision. Pin wearers have to be aware of their surroundings, just like people of color.

And it’s not fair to the wearer to place that expectation of physical protection upon them. Many people don’t have the physical wherewithall to get into a physical altercation. This pin is a symbol of support, not the equivalent of a badge or modern day deflector shields. (That’s not a glib statement, but the only thing that came to mind.)

(SOME OF) The reactions to being challenged about this make me very weary. People are being challenged by people of color and they are ARGUING with them, dismissing them and saying the same old things. Namely — “how dare you judge me,” “you don’t know me,” etc. Refusing to listen…

Then I’d say, the folks who are pushing the pin issue need to put together some sort of literature that explains what it’s really about and give some suggestions on to interact with people in different situations. I’m not defending people who arguing with others, but let’s be real here, not everyone is necessarily prepared to interact with those who might get in their face. I mean really. As you’ve seen, we Americans can be a little opinionated and aren’t the best when it comes to civil discourse at times.

Remember, I’m in no way speaking for the imaginary monolithic black community. These are my own opinions. Three other people will have three different opinions, I guarantee.

Written by

Artist, actor, author, editorial director of Our Human Family (http://medium.com/our-human-family). Connect via social media: @clayrivers. Love one another.

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