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#SafetyPin: Racism, Solidarity And Minorities In The UK And USA

The “Safety Pin” is a symbol (and subsequent hashtag) representing the fight against racism, aimed at showing solidarity with immigrants and minorities. The campaign alongside the symbol began after Brexit – the referendum which took place on June 23 where British citizens voted for the UK to leave the EU – and aimed to show immigrants that, despite the rise of racism and bigotry, they are not alone, that there are people that care and will stand with them. 

A Twitter user (@cheeahs, miss pommery 1926, real name Alison) proposed that people wear an empty safety pin to show that they are “a safe person to sit next to on a bus, walk next to on a street, even have a conversation with” in the wake of Brexit.  

Since then the hashtag #SafetyPin has been trending, shared over 30,000 times and has been seized by people showing photos of themselves wearing safety pins and supporting the campaign. 

This act of wearing a safety pin is more than a sweet gesture, it is becoming a necessity. The National Police Chief’s Council announced that there has been a 57% rise in hate crime reports post Brexit. One such incident occured at the Polish centre in Hammersmith, London, in which the centre had racist graffiti scrawled on it. 

Alison, the owner of the Twitter account previously mentioned, stated that “this is meant to be more than just a symbolic gesture or a way for like-minded poeple to pat each other on the back. If people wear the pin and support the campaign they are saying that they are prepared to be part of the solution. It could be by confronting racists behaviour or if not possible at least documenting it. More generally, it is about reaching out to people and letting them know they are safe and welcome.”

Alison is not from the UK – she is from New England, USA – but she considers herself an “undercover immigrant” due to the fact she is white and English speaking: “I am not a British citizen, I cannot vote but I am a part of this society. I am married to an Englishman and have lived here for six years. It is important for me to stand with others who can’t go undercover.” She has also said that “anybody can wear a safety pin no matter how they voted in the referendum. It is not a political allegiance, it’s just about being a decent human being.”

Even though the referendum took place in June of 2016 the safety pin campaign has resurged recently in light of the USA elections. In America, only one day after Donald Trump was elected for President, women, people of color and other minority groups have had to face an increase in the likelihood of being subjected to hate speech, hate crimes, and the kind of stuff that point to the terrifying days that are to come. 

In reaction to all this hate speech and the crimes that have been committed, I personally believe that people in the USA, UK and all over the world should start supporting and wearing the Safety Pin in order to fight racism and bigotry, and to stand in solidarity with minority groups that are fearing not only for their rights but their lives. Now more than ever when hate is on the rise we must stick together; we must trump hate with love!

We must all stand together and make a pledge: “I will use whatever privileges I have to help all of you, and I hope you will do the same for me.” #IStandWithYou #WeAreOne

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Alexandra Panagiotou

Exeter Cornwall '18

Wildlife conservationist 
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