Thursday, June 30, 2016

Not Your Mama's Safety Pin: How a Household Item Can Change a Life

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Hey hey, Tucson! I am thrilled to be writing to you about all the delicious shenanigans, and points of ponderance Tucson (and the world) has to offer! I grew up reading the Weekly, and my plan for my inaugural post was to take you on a trip down memory lane; share a bit of MY Tucson with you. But then I read this Huffington Post article about a local family that is being terrorized by some racist bigots.

Um, that's not MY Tucson.

According to the article, the family of Syrian refugees recently came home to find a note taped to their front door with phrases like "Go away killers!," "America hates terrorists like you!" and "You are Muslim and not welcome!" among other hateful things.

What? Did we enter some weird Twilight Zone vortex of idiocy? Has the heat finally fried our brains to the point of bumbling lunacy? I simply cannot wrap my brain around this, and I certainly cannot accept it. This family fled a country where they lived in fear every day because of terrorists and came to America—the land of the free (for some, but that's another post altogether).The family came here under the promise of relief from fear, bigotry, and certain death. Then they came all the way to Tucson—TUCSON; the liberal stepsister to the uber conservatives 2 hours north. Tucson—artsy-fartsy, retired hippy, live and let live, WE BUY SONORAN DOGS FROM DIRT FIELDS ON CORNERS AND TAMALES FROM WOMEN WE KNOW ARE HERE ILLEGALLY BUT DAMN, WE CAN'T GO WITHOUT OUR TAMALES—Tucson, and then we have the nerve, the gall, nay, the absolute audacity to do this?

No. This is not MY Tucson. If you're reading this right now, I'm willing to bet it's not YOUR Tucson either. In Tucson, we don't stand for bigotry. We don't stand for hate. And we sure as hell don't stand for cowardly fear tactics played out against our most vulnerable citizens. Hell-to-the-hot-ass-desert-NO.

What we do, however, is stand up for the little guy. We let them know that love lives here, safety lives here, shelter, refuge, and basic human civility lives here. I know this because I watched local business after local business put rainbow flags in their windows when the state was trying to pass the "We reserve the right to be bigots, er, I mean, refuse service to the LGBTQIA community" bill. I pass by house after house in my neighborhood with placards in their yards that read "We Stand With Rosa." I watch the kids in my daughter's elementary school go out of their way to make sure that my daughter is included in everything they do, despite the fact that she uses a wheelchair, a walker, and a communication device. THIS. THIS is my Tucson. We take care of our people.

So, how do we take care of this family, and other refugee families here that may be facing similar ass-hattery? How do we let them know that they are safe here, with us, their adopted Tucson family?

With a safety pin.

Yes, a safety pin. The thing you use to keep your shirts from popping open, and the hole in your underwear from getting bigger. A safety pin. The idea was started by a woman named Allison (an American immigrant living in the UK) who, appalled by the treatment she witnessed against the immigrants there after the #Brexit vote, devised a simple plan to wear a "safety pin" everywhere she went, indicating she was a "safe person" for refugees. She then took her idea to social media, and in a short time, the word spread about the meaning of the safety pin, using the simple hashtag #safetypin.

According to Bethann McKernan of The Indy 100 Independent, "The National Police Chiefs' Council said on Monday there had been a 57 per cent rise in reports to an online hate crime reporting site between Thursday and Sunday compared to a month ago. The majority of attacks appear to be aimed at immigrants, or people perceived to be immigrants and are along the lines of "We voted. Leave, you're going home." When Allison would hear this rhetoric she would remind people that she too is an immigrant, only to be rebuffed with "Oh you don't count. You're not the kind of person we're talking about."

So, isn't that kind of what's happening here? We'll let Rosa stay, but not this Syrian refugee family? C'mon Tucson. That's not who we are. So if you're reading this, maybe put on a safety pin today, and let our refugees know that they're safe here. Own a business? Maybe put a giant picture of a safety pin in your window to let local refugees know it's a safe space for them. Take a picture and put it on your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds. Use the hashtag #safetypin. Yes, it's a simple safety pin, but it literally has the word "safe" in it.

It's simple, it's easy, and it says "you're safe here, with us".

You can't get any more Tucson than that.

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About The Author

Adiba Nelson

Adiba Nelson is a local word addict, advocating for disability rights and body love/size acceptance. If she looks familiar, you may have seen more of her on stage as a local burlesquer. She is also the author of the children's book Meet ClaraBelle Blue, and is currently working on creating the series to follow...
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