I'm in the airport waiting for my flight, so I figure now is the time to end my 4 day facebook and blog hiatus, although I have been posting on Facebook through Instagram. Over the last couple of days I've been reading a lot about different things that are going on after the election, and I will be addressing them with this and other statuses (far too many to get to), but one of the main ones is the Solidarity Pins that have been causing a lot of controversy.
First off, safety pins? That's Awesome!!
But Why? Oh, to stand in solidarity and show POC and other minorities that you're safe.
How does it do that? Oh, because we'll see you, and have a reminder that 'good' white people exist, and are here for us.
Oh great, how did you come up with this brilliant idea? Were POC and minorities asking for a reminder? ...
Dear Allies (this goes to anyone that views themselves as an ally to any group of people),
It's entirely unreasonable for any group to expect you to know how to be supportive of them, and ALL other groups. It's also entirely unreasonable for you to expect that you know exactly how to support all these different groups. What is reasonable? Asking the individuals you're trying to support and supporting them with all their intersectionality. You do not go to a Muslim and ask how to support ALL Muslims, neglecting all the other identities that Muslims carry. Same with ALL other groups. But you can ask. For some you might hear that they just want you to wear a pin, and for others they expect a bit more before learning to trust and believe in you.
For me, I expect you to be supportive of ALL the identities I carry, and those I don't even carry. That means that you need to be an ally to Muslims, individuals with Mental Illness and Disabilities, Women, LGBTQIA communities, First Nations worldwide, and so many more. You do not get to support one and disregard ANY others and expect me to accept you as an ally. As a perfect example, a few weeks ago, on a flight, I met an amazing woman in her 70's from Hungary. She had moved to Canada after the war, and during the two hour flight she shared her entire life story. I shared my background, and she was in complete solidarity with Palistinians. We connected on a deeper level, and I felt safe. Then she started talking about BLM and how they're disruptive, useless, and overreacting. Instantly, she went from someone I could picture as an ally, to a threat because of her White Supremacy. You do not get to go around asking me to trust you, if I am not safe around you for ALL my identities, and those of others. This goes to everyone, if you're a Muslim, you are not instantaneously my ally. Same with any other group.
This might sound a bit demanding, maybe a bit too much for me to expect. But what do you expect? I'm a human being, I don't accept things that threaten my survival, and you, by not being an ally threaten my survival. So wear a pin, or a dozen, but don't get disappointed when I don't feel safe around you because of a piece of metal. And again, if you think this is me being ungrateful of the support others have shown the marginalized, look at it this way, it took us hundreds of years to lose our faith in Whiteness. We have forgiven every step of the way, and we suffer everyday because of it. You (you know who you are) have supported these systems until a White Male rose up and taught you otherwise, and now you believe us. It's taken hundreds of years for us to learn, do you really expect you can regain that trust by wearing a pin? Or walking with me to the train station, when I never asked you to? I do not forgive or forget all the years of dehumanization and denial on your part. Again, this is for ALL communities that did not listen to our calls all those years.
Lastly, we have lived our entire life with this threat, which many of you are a part of. You think, that you can just make an appearance once every 400 years and everything is going to be okay?
I look forward to working with you on fixing these social problems. But that's the thing, it's called working together to fix a problem that your ancestors started, and you continued to build and benefit off of. You should be thanking those of us on the ground every single day for trying to clean up your mess. If you're in this with us, don't expect the full gratitude of minorities, because 1) we've survived this long without you and we can continue to do so 2)if you clean up your mess you're rectifying something wrong, not doing anything extra.
In the same sense that I should not be thanked for being a feminist, and standing up against Sexual Assault, you should not be thanked for doing what you should've been doing for hundreds of years; treating us like humans.
This isn't about pointing fingers and laying blame on whose fault is what, but at the same time apologies have never been made, and responsibility has never been accepted. Forgiveness and solidarity takes a lot more than just wearing a pin. It takes acknowledging past failures, and creating a plan (with those you've harmed), to rectify the situation. Until then, there's no healing from our past, and present, because what you view as the past has always had a home in out present and even future realities
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.