if you wear a safety pin, has mostly been a performance poem. So, each stanza has been a real breath between moments, I hear this poem more than see it!” Liz Argall
See if you can hear it speak as you read….
If you wear a safety pin
If you wear a safety pin, make it for yourself.
Make it a commitment that means, it starts with me.
Make it a reminder when you transfer it from article of clothing to article of clothing that you will do the work.
Make it a reminder that like first aid training, anti harassment, anti bigotry training must be ongoing.
Make it reminder that watching a bystander intervention video or seeking out and listening without interruption to marginalized people speak is something you should do, without prompting, regularly.
Make it a commitment.
Make it a conversation starter with other people who need empathy bridges and communicate the experiences to marginalized people.
My mother wore a reconciliation pin until the day she died.
That was the smallest part of that daily commitment.
It was a reminder for her and the ongoing work.
It was to prompt and remind.
It was not about being a saviour
Or asking harassed people to see beyond violent threats to someone that needs to be prompted to help
Instead the pin is there for you to remind you that you made a promise and you must keep it.
My mother’s pin did not force a connection
And it was less coded than a humble pin and made a stronger statement.
If you wear a pin and you use it as a promise, as an expectation for how you conduct yourself in the world, this is strong work.
If you wear a pin as a marker of tribe, be aware of how broad this tribe may be. You cannot ignore the whole of it or take it from its broader conversations.
If you wear a pin and you make a promise, be prepared to talk about that promise, be prepared to communicate how you are doing the bigger work.
If you wear a pin, own it, know the depth of your promise and do not freak out if a person questions or criticizes.
If you own your work you should be able to listen, you do not need to snap or burn or be derailed if you understand your work.
If you own your work it is not about an approval stamp, it is your pin, your commitment to work.
So listen, act, do top ups, have the hard conversations with people you care about, the intimate relationships where it is most hard and you have most power.
Wear a pin as a symbol of work
And then work.
Liz Argall is an Australian author and cartoonist based in Seattle. Her connection to the south coast is through her father who lives in the Shoalhaven. Liz created this comic recently in support of Black Lives Matter and published it along with a poem that she wrote in 2016 when there was a brief concept that folks wear safety pins to communicate that they were allies. This idea and poem, of course, are just as relevant today.
Liz Argall’s work can be found in places like Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Meanjin and frequently on the stage with Pulp Diction. She creates the webcomic thingswithout.com, check it out for more heart warming content, and worked on roleplaying games like Geist 2nd Edition and 13th Age. She lives in Seattle, but her heart misses the big silly birds of Australia.