Why My Safety Pin Tattoo Matters

by Kiran
Originally Published: 
safety pin

A few people have asked about the significance of the tattoo I got this week. I think there’s a lot of questions out there about the safety pin movement, so rather than address each message specifically, I figured I would open up here.

As many of you know, after the Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom saw a vast increase in xenophobic abuse toward minorities. Someone suggested using the safety pin as a sign of solidarity and so it began. It was a way of letting someone know “I am a safe person.”

But the real history of the pin goes much further than that. During Nazi occupation in the Netherlands, the Dutch showed support by discreetly wearing the pin — under a collar or something that could easily be flipped. The Norwegians used paper clips to let people know they were “safe.”

Over time, these small acts of rebellion became extremely dangerous and people took great risk in wearing the pin.

In America right now, there is a similar movement to bring the pin back, given the tide with which the president-elect has come into office — riding on a wave of nationalism, incendiary speech against minorities, and Islamaphobia.

Many people think the pin is stupid. Or not enough. In fact, some Neo-Nazis are co-opting the pin so they can appear to be safe.

To me, it is not stupid. It’s a reminder of what happens when people don’t come together and unite. It’s a reminder that people need to know who their allies are in times of darkness. It’s a reminder that I will never remain silent if I see the liberties, freedom, and safety of fellow Americans being threatened. That I will always speak loudly against that injustice.

As for the lightning bolt. Well, it’s a little throwback to Harry Potter, some of my favorite books. As many of you who read/watched the series know, when Harry was a baby, Voldemort tried to kill him, but he was unable to. Harry was left with the lightning bolt scar but survived. The reason he was able to was because of the protection of the love of both of his parents.

Voldemort was without power for many years, in hiding. While many of his followers, Death Eaters, were imprisoned, many remained within full view of society, disavowing their loyalty to Voldemort. Until he returned.

This election has shown me while the results pretty much suck, there were Death Eaters (racists, misogynists, ethnocentrists) within my midst who I never even knew about. I am not saying you are one if you voted for Trump. But you sure as hell were complicit. As I watch hate crimes increase daily since election day, I want it on full display that those principles have no place in my heart.

The lightning bolt also represents that I will choose my associations carefully. I hope you do the same.



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