At a high school near me, someone drew in chalk on the sidewalk a picture of a wall with the message underneath “build that wall.” A Muslim student’s hijab was ripped from her head. The n slur is flying fast and loose and white kids are telling black kids that soon they will be back to picking cotton. There are similar reports from across the country of hateful episodes, and it worries me to no end that the election of a bullying racist misogynist has just legitimized this.
We have found a way to strike back, though, thanks to a little help from our allies across the pond. After the Brexit vote people started wearing safety pins to let immigrants and refugees know they were safe to ride on the train with and would be welcoming and friendly. Now Americans are wearing them to show solidarity and support for women, LGBT, immigrants, the differently abled, pretty much anyone who Trump has insulted.
I got mine yesterday and feel better wearing one now. Granted, the only place I went to today was a remote park so I could spend some quiet, healing time in nature with my kiddos, but I did run into a few people, all of them POC who looked devastated and like they were there for the same reasons I was. I have no idea if they knew the symbolism of what I was wearing, but I hope they did and I hope it makes it easier.
The second part of this? Bystander intervention. Please read to link for information on what to do if you witness harassment. The steps are,
1. Address the person being harassed, do not address the attacker.
2. Offer to sit with the person, walk with them, engage in harmless conversation until the attacker leaves.
3. Once the attacker leaves, offer to escort them to a safe place, but be understanding if they just need you to leave so they can process what just happened.
I have a bad feeling that things are going to get very ugly. These are simple things we can do to fight back against the ugliness.