Monday, November 14, 2016

11.14.16 Holding it together... feels like that's what a lot of us our trying to do right now.  In the few days since the US Presidential election, we are trying to hold ourselves, our communities and our country together...and we're doing it with safety pins.

Such a simple thing, the safety pin.  I always have a few of them in my handbag - most moms I know do, too.

A few years ago, when a friend of mine got married, the bustle on her gown wouldn't stay buttoned up during the reception.  "Do you have a safety pin?" she asked.  I did, and so did a few other guests;  we pinned up the hem and bustle of her dress and danced with her.  It was a beautiful wedding and a lovely memory.

Photo credit - adaptive reuse

You may start to see more safety pins over the next few weeks - for reasons much darker than my wedding memory.  People have begun wearing them to hold together the fabric of our nation.

It took almost no time after the election ended for acts of violence to begin -  directed at women, people of color, religious and ethnic minorities and members of the LBGTQ community.  As are most of the people I know - regardless of political inclination - I am saddened to see just how deeply divided we are as a country,  and desperately wanted to do something, ANYTHING, to outwardly demonstrate my objection to this kind of behavior.  I am an ally, and I want everyone who is fearful to know that.

Photo credit: JenniferHeartsArt
Then I started to see the posts about safety pins.  It started in Britain, after the Brexit vote - so similar to our own election - which spurred violent outbreaks.  Over the past few days, it has come across the pond to America, people are wearing them, and the hashtag #safetypin has reappeared on social media. 

Some Austin artists have started making safety pin jewelry.  One is making safety pin necklaces, with the proceeds going to SafePlace, a non-profit organization that serves the survivors of abuse and neglect, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. Another is making small upcycled solidarity hearts to be worn on the pins.

Photo credit: BuzzFeed

It's a good thing, a small thing, you can do easily - BUT DON'T DO IT WITHOUT A PLAN.  Wearing a safety pin is not about making you - the wearer - feel better, it is about sending a visual message to someone being harassed or bullied that you are a safe person and willing to help them.

BuzzFeed has a great video based on this illustration - and this technique can be used when any type of harassment is taking place. If you witness this kind of behavior, you can report it to the Southern Poverty Law Center. SPLC is tracking hate crimes in the wake of the election.

Don't stop with a a safety pin, because it is a short term solution. Our national fabric is ripped in so many places - and mending will require vast amounts time, energy and standing up for each other. 

Until next time.

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