If November 8 saw a flood of people on social media posting selfies with “I Voted” stickers on their chests, the days following Donald Trump’s win have seen the proliferation of a different kind of accessory—safety pins, which are meant to symbolize solidarity with people of color, LGBTQ people, Muslims, immigrants, and other minorities that are currently under threat. The idea of safety pins being worn to denote a “safe space” emerged in the wake of the Brexit in England, after which there were reports of increased racist attacks and heightened anxiety among an ethnic minorities.
Last week, thousands of Americans, including celebrities, students, mental-health counselors, activists, and educators took up the mantle, fastening pins to their chests (and ears, and waists) in a show of support with marginalized peers. Perusing the “#safetypin” hashtag, it looks like more than a few even got safety-pin tattoos on their wrists.
Not everyone is impressed by the gesture, however. On Twitter, there has been a backlash from people skeptical of how much an accessory, however symbolic, can really do—it is, after all, easy to put a pin on your lapel, and much harder to actually do the work of standing up to racism, misogyny, and hatred in your community.
If you are going to wear the pin, it’s worth taking a look through the Twitter threads and essays arguing both sides of the issue—on the one hand, that a small token of allyship has to be backed up with real, difficult, uncomfortable work, and on the other, that people of color, LGBTQ youth, and more have said that they take comfort in seeing people wanting to show their support. For instance, in the comments of a recent Huffington Post essay titled “Dear White People, Your Safety Pins Are Embarrassing,” commenters spoke out about their reasons for wearing the pin:
In the slideshow, see how Instagram users are wearing the pin, and read some of their thoughts on why.