How to Easily be a White Ally to Marginalized Communities
Christopher Keelty

Christopher, I plead with you to rethink this tactic of outrage.

I’m not trying to judge, but it sure feels like you’re shouting at me, in as condescending and inflammatory a way as possible.

The vehemence is nigh-palpable. Did you get beat up by a safety pin? Why the aggression?

Most of your points are valid — if a bit rushed — but I fail to see how choosing not to visually identify with a cause is such a good thing. That is what I need you to explain. How is the safety pin different from a rainbow flag in support of gay rights, or an IWW card in support of fair labor?

Of course a symbol won’t effect change alone — but it can be an incredibly powerful tool to get people in solidarity… which is why Trump spent more money on “America Great Again” hats while Clinton spent on polling.

The safety pin is one small step down a long and winding journey of human enlightenment.

So I urge you to consider a tried & true cooperative tool used in improv; “Yes, and…”

Yes, we need to leverage our privilege to support marginalized people, and one of the first ways we can do that is by signaling our willingness to support — in a non-threatening way that minimally steals attention away from the people who really need our attention. A symbol of solidarity.

We want a symbol we can rally behind. We want deep human freedoms defended at a grassroots level for all people.

Maybe the safety pin isn’t the best symbol. Maybe we start with two or ten or a hundred different symbols, but the goal ought to be convergence. We have to keep getting organized.

It’s our job to imbue that symbol with meaning. It’s our job to build and defend a culture around that symbol. It’s our job to help share existing resources and symbols, as well as point people toward existing leaders in the space. Everything you suggest can and must be done, pin or no pin.

For many, this symbol could be a vital first step. In a lot of parts of this country, allies will be few and far between. And there will, and should, be discourse on the meaning of a symbol. Does it mean nonviolence at any cost? Do we prioritize who we help, how we help, and when?

This is not a good time to be shutting people down. We need to be activating them. Please reconsider your stance. As an icon, as a beacon of hope, signifying the unbroken chain of human kinship across the globe… what’s the harm in a little pin?

Like what you read? Give Brad Sealfon a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.