Today I made a safety pin necklace.

When I finished my graduate program, I decided to get a class ring. My school’s ring has maintained popularity and cache; surprising considering such rings have mostly fallen out of fashion. I imagined I would only wear it on special occasions — such as alumni events. I began, to my surprise, the habit of wearing it every day that I work. I have even developed a personal ritual: I take the ring from its box, slide it on my finger, and repeat an affirmation my mother taught me: I can do anything.

This ring, whose bevel and sides are riddled with meaning, broadcasts its own messages to those who gaze upon it; that I’m part of this particular “club” or perhaps that I share a bond with another alumnus. Yet and still, to me, it is a reminder that I can do anything I set my mind to and part of a ritual of self-affirmation.

We make meaning.

Today, I made myself a very simple safety pin necklace. For me, it will be part of a new daily ritual. Where I clasp on my necklace or adorn my lapel with a pin, and say to myself, “Attack everyday of your brief bright life in struggle; the struggle, in and of itself, has meaning” (Ta-Nehesi Coates, Between the World and Me).

In 2 years, when we are fighting for the Senate and the House, and in 4 years when we are fighting for the presidency — and every day in between — I hope that my safety pin will signal to others where I stand. And in so broadcasting that message, I hope it will signal I am friend, ally, confidant. In solidarity.

For me, the pin is neither the beginning nor end of my actions to combat the Trump presidency and conservative regime elected on November 8th. It is just what I could do today. And it is the one thing I will do every day.

There have been many hoorays! for the safety pin and many jeers of this “passive” action. I would like to submit that it can be many things at one time.

Like the many symbols we are surrounded with each day, the pin is imbued with meaning by our society and by each of us individually. Like my ring, symbol interpretation and meaning making are both profoundly personal and corporate activities.

The pin can be a signal of safety and kinship; as I walked home tonight 3 white people approached, walking towards me. Even here in San Francisco I wondered, “Were they friendly?” Perhaps one of the men could sense my anxiety, because he greeted me with a silent high five. I felt so relieved. In a time where I fear to travel to certain parts of my homeland to visit family, a safety pin can serve as a subtle signal — some assurance. I have heard similar testimony from Muslim women who wear hijab or those who are vulnerable because of their visible “difference.”

We make meaning.

The pin can be protest. I saw a post from a pin-and-pant-suit wearing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). She said someone at the worship service asked her if she was going to go home and change! She didn’t; she stayed right there in her church with her pin and pant suit. In places of worship, offices, factories, bars, and board rooms across America, the pin can be a risk. Pin wearers will face real questions, marginalization, and challenging conversations. So to suggest it is just an easy cop-out for white allies suggests that signaling about political affiliation in America is easy and safe to do. Even silently aligning one’s self can have consequences; both good and bad.

We make meaning.

The pin must be the start. As I have shared, the pin is a part of how I will start my day, but not the extent of my activism. Whether you wear a pin or not, you have to get out into the world beyond the internet and make an impact. Some things I currently do and will do in the future include:

- Attending the March on Washington/Million Woman March

- Attend protests in San Francisco/Bay Area

- Supporting Senate Candidate Foster Campbell in Mississippi

- Working with friends in the NGO and private sectors to turn their organizations and corporations into anti-racist institutions

- Working with refugee families resettling in my area

- Donate to organizations that can make a difference, like the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Planned Parenthood

- Moving my money from mainstream financial institutions to member-owned credit unions

- Learn more about how to intervene during harassment; be ready to practice this skill!

We make meaning.

Will you wear a pin? What will your safety pin mean?

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