1. The "You Weren't There For Us Before" argument.
Okay. We were really shitty allies. I didn't even know that there had previously been a registry for Muslims
. This is horrible. There's no excuse for those times we didn't stand up. I'm not about to make one. If anything I feel the crushing reality of the fact that by not protesting this kind of thing earlier is EXACTLY how we got where we are today.
But, we fucked that up. That's not the question. In fact, that seems really obvious. The question is what do we do now
Reminding us we fucked up is fine, but it makes me sad because I think there are some people who are being pushed away by this rhetoric. People who are finally showing up, waking up, and want to NOT fuck up this time. Can we please hand them the tools they need without the slap on the wrist?
Okay, I realize that people are tired of having to deal with "white fragility," but I'm actually scared that the Neo-Nazis are watching us bicker and doing _their_ ugly work while we sputter and stall out over stuff like this.
2. Safety Pins
I'm sad people are being pressured to take them off
. It happened to me again. I got a random smile from a guy who looked like he might be a recent Somali immigrant at the coffee shop. I can't be sure he smiled at my pin or because I was saying rather loudly that the hassle of growing old is that I swear I have to pee every five minutes. Maybe I'm just the sort of person people smile at. But, it's also possible that seeing a symbol of solidarity made someone feel a little less alone.
A friend of mine and I were talking about this and she told a story about the AIDS ribbon. You remember when those were trendy? I do. She remembered a friend being incensed to see ribbons on Hollywood stars, because they made is seem like all you had to do was wear a ribbon and your sins would be absolved. I get that. I've been mad about a lot of token gestures in my day. (Don't get me started on Willow in "Buffy.") But, I said, okay, yes, all of that is true, but that mainstreaming of gay people and gay causes that, in a way, led us to the acceptance of freedom to marry. So, okay, so a bunch of people adopted AIDS Awareness as a fashion statement. Did that cure AIDS? No. But did it raise awareness? I'm going to say yes, yes, it did.
I know I'm supposed to shut up and listen to PoC on this one. I'm reading the articles, I'm really trying to listen. But, for instance, in the article that's listed above I'm supposed to tell off my racist relatives, contribute to anti-racism causes, etc., and then ends with a note that wearing a pin is going to get me the side-eye from PoC.
This makes me sad. What if I don't have any racist relatives that I talk to any more because I shut them out years ago for this exact bullshit? What if I don't have money to contribute (and did anyway and am volunteering)?
Look, I don't have a burning need to prove I'm your ally or to get a cookie for my non-effort efforts, but I have literally been giving the side-eye to other white people wondering, "Did you vote for him?" Maybe the safety pins are for white people. Maybe that's absolutely accurate. But, maybe this white person needs to know which other while ladies/men are on her side.
And maybe the Somali immigrants in my neighborhood didn't get the memo. Maybe I'm going to wear the safety pin until THEY start giving me the side-eye.*
Edited to add: am now starting to believe this _is_ actually me. I just went to Menards and had another Somali woman in a hijab smile at me. I paid attention this time and I realized that I was smiling first and cooing at her crying child (like I do to all frazzled parents with crying children.)
It occurs to me one way in which we're all showing some privilege is the assumption that anyone but insiders even know what the heck the safety pins are. Working at the library has really made me aware of the number of people who do NOT have access to the internet, newspapers, or cable TV.
Ultimately, the lesson might be this simple: smile at people. I'm still wearing the safety pin and my pink triangle (though I lost my nice enameled one, so I've been stuck with an old political button for some organization or other, but it has a pink triangle and the word community on it, so I guess that will have to do.)