Now that Donald Trump is president-elect and marginalized people are terrified as to what the future holds for them in the U.S., some people are wearing safety pins to show solidarity for those most vulnerable to Trump’s dangerous rhetoric and proposed policies.
We live in a capitalist nation, so obviously there are enterprising folks on the Internet taking this as an opportunity to make a little money. Refinery 29 found a $335-dollar necklace boasting two 14k gold safety pins on Etsy. The necklace’s designer, Rebecca Cullen, has been enjoying a renewed post-election interest in the piece, which she designed in 2009. “I love what the safety pin has come to symbolize,” she wrote on her Etsy page. “I have always fought injustice and intolerance and I will continue to do so. I think we should all go forward with positivity and hope. If I have offended anyone with my jewelry I apologize.” A small amount of the proceeds, 10 percent to be exact, will go to Planned Parenthood. There’s even a Tiffany & Co. silver safety pin for sale on eBay for $678.
In the past few days, there has been a lot of talk about the safety pin movement. Although the sentiment of solidarity is appreciated, it seems a little empty if the person isn’t actually getting involved to help battle the very real issues marginalized groups may face under the Trump administration. It might feel good to proclaim to the world that you want to be an ally, but that isn’t going to help when people’s lives are actually affected by Trump’s policies. It also doesn’t help to simply separate yourself from people you might see as unsavory, instead of engaging them on how their decision to vote for a man who has been a champion of such inflammatory discourse and backed by the country’s most notorious hate group is an issue for many Americans.
This symbolic activism may feel nice, but it’s not enough. Put your money where your mouth is. Go out and volunteer to work with people from marginalized communities. You can make donations to social, health and environmental organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Campaign Zero, the Human Rights Campaign and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund — to name a few. If there is an issue, like climate change, police reform, or women’s access to health care that you are passionate about, take the advice of those who have worked for Congress people and call your local representatives or go see them in person. There is a lot of work to be done.
This is not to say don’t wear a safety pin to show your support. But if you’re going to wear a safety pin, do more than just make a sartorial statement. Solidarity means nothing if no one puts the work into accomplishing real change.