Black Lives Matter (BLM) is, in my opinion, one of the most important recent protests in the world and I fully, whole-heartily support it. But the Safety Pin Protest is not an off shot of BLM and here is why.
The BLM movement is a massive protest by African Americans in the US (now spreading to other countries) who have at enough of feeling like their lives do not matter to police officers in particular and the majority of Americans in general.
I would never join dare to write seriously about it, not because I do not support them, but because BLM is a movement start by African Americans and for African Americans.
If BLM of some of my black friends lend me an hand an invite me into their protest, I will gladly join them, but it’s not my part to interfere with it and several blogs from African Americans have specifically called for white people to more or less stay away from their movement.
For example, in the article “Your Guide on How to Support Black People After Incidents of Police Violence” by Alan Pelaez Lopez, Alan writes:
Don’t Share Content Created by White People Narrating Black Experiences
You see, they are angry and for them, the BLM is a cry of pain; a public mourning for the numerous fallen unarmed African American teens and young adults killed by police officers.
But the one thing I can do, is to try and use my own privilege to try and make a safe bubble around me protecting any minorities and that’s what the Safety Pin Protest is about.
I will give an example of such a situation, to show how people of privilege can help.
In my daughter’s first year of high school, she had a racist teacher who only punished Black kids and who did so with the maximum extent of the rules while ignoring the transgressions of White and Asian kids.
As soon as my (White) daughter realized what was happening she explained the situation to her parents, my wife and I.
The very next morning, my wife and I were in my the vice-principal office opening a formal complaint of racism against her teacher.
As it turns out, numerous parents had complained earlier in the year, but they were Black parents complaining of racism against their own kids and, as we were told:
“You know how Black parents are, everything is racism to them!”.
What would you have done? Take a second to think deeply about it. You have just discovered that your school has a racist teacher which in a way, helps your White daughter since it reduces the chances she will be disciplined, and you discover the vice-principal is equally racist.
Pushing further could cause prejudice to your daughter. To me, it was a simple decision.
I called the school board to report both the vice-principal and the teacher and explained that I would not back down, going to the press if they didn’t act.
I was told to let the school board investigate and was asked for a two weeks delay.
Two weeks later when I called back the school board, I learned that the vice-principal had just resigned from the school, possibly after pressure from the school board and that the teacher was warned. Until the rest of the year, she became suspiciously mild regarding discipline against Black students. I wanted more about the teacher, but for the rest of the year, the obvious racism stopped and she was transferred the next year (bad teachers are notoriously hard to fire).
It had taken a while for my daughter to fully understand the extend of the racism of her teacher: not being the target of it, she was in a position of privilege and couldn’t easily spot the issues despite having been raised to be sensible to them.
Black parents had tries for months to resolve the situation, with no effect.
And yet as a White parent, from the moment I stepped into the ring to fight for the Black students, it took a mere two weeks to resolve the issue in class and get rid of a racist vice-principal, who was replaced by a very pro-active vice-principal who regularly met with my daughter to see if she saw more racist behavior and, more importantly, listened to the complaints of Black parents.
This is what the Safety Pin Protest is about. It’s about using your privilege to protect those without.
Black Lives Matter is about Black People protesting their lack of even basic safety.
I feel like both protest go hand in hand, but they are not the same, and I do not expect Black People to join the Safety Pin Protest.