Safety pins and political clarity

Letter to editor

blacklivesmatterbuttonFollowing the selection of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States, a strange suggestion has appeared via the internet and social media. The suggestion is that people wear a safety pin on their shirt or jacket while in public to show they are “safe” people to those who might feel threatened by a Trump presidency.

People who are genuinely considering this move in solidarity with the most oppressed should consider wearing a Black Lives Matter button instead.

For sure, they aren’t as easy to come across as a plain safety pin, but whoever sees it will know that you went to a bit more trouble to make a bold antiracist and anti-capitalist statement in public. If you can’t find a Black Lives Matter button, consider a pro-LGBTQ, anti-sexist or anti-fascist button. Get a button that says “Refugees Are Welcome Here.” Buttons are powerful organizing tools; this is why labor activists fought to be able to wear union buttons at work.

Many correctly identified Trump as having fascist tendencies in the run-up to the election, but now that the chips are down, the corporate media are backpedaling, urging “unity” behind a racist, sexist monster like Trump. The bourgeoisie are unwilling to self-indict and hand power over to the working class and oppressed. This means we are facing a period of intense struggle. This means wearing a Black Lives Matter button instead of a safety pin.

Which message is clearer to the most oppressed? A button signaling your support of the movement fighting for Black lives, or a piece of metal that sends no clear message? Fascists, the Klan and the alt-right cannot appropriate a Black Lives Matter button. It signals disgust with a system that allows Black lives to be stolen away by racist cops, whether into prison or into a coffin. It is the same system that locks up Chelsea Manning for exposing U.S. war crimes and is the same system that prevents women and trans people from health care. This is the system that enabled Trump’s rise to power — not white workers, not third-party candidates and not by popular and universal suffrage.

If someone feels like people might not otherwise know they’re safe in their company, it means self-reflection is necessary. Cryptic signals are not a step in the right direction, nor are they needed. It should be immediately apparent to everyone that you stand with the working class and the most oppressed, including incarcerated people and migrants.

We can’t always be out in the streets fighting with signs and our bodies for an end to a system that delivered us both killer cops and Trump. So when you’re just running to class, work or even to the store, consider wearing a Black Lives Matter button that will deal a heavier blow against white supremacy and capitalism by uniting the working class.

Taryn Fivek
Nov. 15