Why I Don’t Care About Your Safety Pins
Courtney Wilburn

Thank you for your thoughtful response — I couldn’t agree more with the statement that what we NEED is for “homophobia, xenophobia, gender and racial hegemony to end.” You, me and everyone else need to feel safe and have our basic humanity acknowledged, respected and preserved and it’s certainly true that at least part of the impulse to don a safety pin is to proclaim “it’s not *my* fault” and even more true that it’s imperative for people to do actual work to fight hegemony and not rely on symbology for personal affirmation. That said, (I’m an artist and I’m studying at THE Bauhaus) I have to put in a slight defense of symbols as I think they are more powerful than most people would believe — of course someone’s safety pin is not going to end racism, islamophobia or homophobia (nor cause someone woke to run towards them with open arms seeking sanctuary or whatever savior theme some of it’s wearers may imagine, but you (and I) as you said are super unlikely to approach them for help anyway) but millions of them could — IF people utilize them to remind themselves of their commitment to doing such work. (Hey, if someone even used one to poke themselves every time they did something meh or outright wrong, I’d at least be mildly amused.) Not terribly likely — true, but not completely impossible. As I am sure you know, the right uses symbols and shorthand to great effect (‘The Wall’ — the effigy of the ‘Libertard’ — niche internet clips to provoke homophobia claiming that consensual practices between consenting adults are the sum of queer sexuality (and what we plan to do to your children) etc. etc. etc.) and in my semi-informed opinion they could be harnessed for greater good. And if it’s just a symbol, well lots of people find it easier to simply don one and while it can never be enough, I’d rather see a lot of holey (and holier than thou?) white folk than a sea of “Make America Hate Again” hats since the primary visual dichotomy will remain unless I go back to nyc, chicago or somewhere else where I’m not an anomaly. Not to mention the fact that I’m getting *old* and should the real Nazis come for me (it’s possible, I am in the place of their origin) I *do* plan to run towards the nearest multicolored hair angry punk anarchist I can find (who I thank for their opposition to racial domination on their bodies via tats and actually *coloring* themselves, (interior critiques of appropriation aside) since a) i know it makes the neonazis target them when they can’t find one of us and b) makes them easier for ME to find if needed) and hope that all the “never againing”, rallies and jeet kun do lessons are enough for them to do the actual, real, on the ground ally work that all those symbols suggest and put their bodies on the line for me and mine. It’s actually happened before here and I *do* appreciate *that* level of commitment and opposition to neonazis and racist policies everywhere, and hell I’ll take the pin too as good, even misguided intentions are a start — I hope they lead to change.

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