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White Ribbons and Safety Pins


Whether you voted for our President Elect or not, whether you are thrilled or not with the election results and our trajectory as a nation, one thing is true: we are a nation divided, and we seem to be divided by fear. Minorities of every kind, color, shape, and size are reeling this week, grieving the loss of even an illusion of security. People are straight up afraid.

The maddening thing about fear is that it can’t be argued with. When someone feels unsafe, you cannot argue that person to a different conclusion. Fear doesn’t go away with control. The only cure for fear is compassion. We are a people in need of the largest, greatest doses of compassion.

My friend Jamie wrote this morning, “The worst part of all of this, the absolute worst part, is that I have friends who no longer feel safe.” Jamie lives in New York City, and she works as the Director of Event Production at Madison Square Garden. She works closely with people like Adele and Barbra Streisand, making their New York City concerts come off without a flaw. Her work is enviable, and she lives in the heart of things that happen, but she doesn’t waste her influence. Jamie is a voice of social justice.

She wrote about the fear she has seen around her since the results of the election. She said, “They have good reason. Just this morning a friend with brown skin was called a ‘spic’ by construction workers as he drove by with his windows down, and they added that they had elected Trump. As though electing him made their blatant racism acceptable now. Wouldn’t you be afraid?”

I would. I am. A lot of us are.

She wrote, “All day I’ve been looking for a way to help my friends feel safe. I’ve been racking my brain for what I can do or say to let them know that I am here for them. I will protect them to the best of my ability. Them and everyone else who is afraid.”

Here’s Jamie’s plan:

“I’m going to tie a white ribbon to my purse (or backpack, or coat, or car, or whatever). Why white? White is the color of peace.

If you see me with that ribbon tied to my purse and you are in a situation where you feel unsafe, come to me and tell me you noticed my ribbon. I will help you. I will call the police or get you to a safe place or simply walk the rest of the way with you to your destination.

For the woman getting harassed for wearing a hijab. For the black family being followed. For the Hispanic sisters told they should ‘go back to where they belong.’ For the woman who was just grabbed by the p*ssy because, hey, the president does it. For the gay couple who are being threatened for simply holding hands. For anyone who feels alone and afraid. Look for the ribbon. I will help you. I will protect you. I will stand with you.img_4032-2

Maybe it will catch on and maybe it won’t. But this is what I can do right now. And I have to do something. We ARE stronger together.”

I was ready to rock and roll with this campaign, and then I learned that Brexit had already inspired and started a similar movement with safety pins.  And since the point is not who starts the initiative but just that there actually is one, let’s join the one that’s happening.

When someone feels unsafe, you don’t get to argue with them. You can show them you’re with them and for them, that they are safe when you’re nearby. It’s how we soothe children at night, and perhaps it’s how we can soothe the people around us. I’m joining the campaign for safety, the crusade against fear, the movement for peace. Look for the ribbon, or more likely the safety pin, and wear one of your own.

Let’s share the word: you’re safe with us here.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
    John 14:27

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