By Brittany Dekorte
A woman wearing a hijab walking near U of M’s campus was forced to remove the hijab after a man threatened to set fire to her. Students at DeWitt Junior High school in DeWitt, Michigan formed a human wall to block minority students from getting to classes.
Stories like these have been popping up all over the country and filling Facebook feeds since the election of Donald Trump on Nov. 8, along with reports in an increase in use of suicide prevention hotlines aimed at LGBT communities.
This uptick is causing a lot of fear in the affected communities. Hanaan Abouzahr, a liberal arts major at WCC, is a Muslim woman of color.
“I’m shocked that we, as a nation, have gotten to the point that we are so divided that we voted in a racist, sexist, homophobic clown, and condone such horrid, backwards views. The most disheartening thing about Trump being elected is having to cope with the fact that half of my country hates me for existing. Trump is holding up a mirror to this nation, and the reflection is pretty ugly,” Abouzahr said.
Because of this fear, a trend has started, based off of similar trends that popped up in Australia after the 2014 Sydney Hostage Crisis, and after the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, in which the country decided to leave the European Union: the wearing of a safety pin. The idea is straightforward, the safety pin represents safety and solidarity.
Jess Miller, who lives in Plymouth, started the “Safe With Me” Facebook community two days after the election to promote the safety pin movement. Within the first day, the group got over 1,100 likes.
“I’ve been obsessively staring at Facebook, full of rage, fear and helplessness. I am queer, poly, neurodivergent, female and in a low socio-economic status myself. Two of my partners are black and many, many of my friends are trans, neurodivergent, gender nonconforming, non-christian. We are all feeling equal parts terror, rage and betrayal,” Miller said.
The page’s mission statement is simple: “If you feel unsafe here, I will support you in real, tangible ways. You are Safe with Me.”
The site’s about section quotes an anonymous meme that has been circulating social media sites since the election: “If you wear hijab, I’ll sit with you on the train; If you’re trans, I’ll go to the bathroom with you; If you’re a person of color, I’ll stand with you if the cops stop you”, and continues to talk about other ways to speak out and help.
Since the movement started, there has been some backlash against it, with people worried that those wearing the pin won’t actually stand up for people when the time came.
WCC’s Out-Space club, had safety pins available at it’s latest group meeting. Chris Wheeler, the club’s leader, is optimistic about people who choose to wear the pin. “I can’t see why people would assume people wouldn’t help. If someone could do something to keep both people safe, I feel they would do it. It’s a built in safety net.”
“I like the “Safe With Me” system, though it’s saddening that we need to have such a safeguard in place. These are tough times; let’s all watch out for each other,” Abouzahr said.