Contributed by Executive Director, The Rev. Tara Soughers, PhD
This last week has been a difficult one for me.
It isn’t that the candidate that I backed did not win the election: I have had many times in my voting years where that has been the case. That happens in a democracy. In every other election, however, I felt that the person who won truly cared for the country, even if I thought that their policies were flawed.
This time, however, it seemed to me that hatred had won: racism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, and Islamophobia. It seemed to me that the worst impulses of America and the human heart had triumphed. It seemed to me that violence and threats of violence, slander and lies had triumphed over those qualities that I valued about America: respect for others, tolerance, generosity. I wasn’t really surprised, but I was very, very depressed, and I felt enclosed by darkness.
It did not take long for my fears for what this might mean for our country to be manifest. On election day, just as the polls were about to open, my husband was driving to work through an area where there were many, many Trump signs. Someone tried to intentionally force him off the road and wreck his car. He was the victim of road rage, apparently by someone offended by his bumper stick supporting Clinton and Kaine. A day later, he was still suffering panic attacks.
Within hours of the election being called, there was a dramatic rise in hate crimes, as supporters of Trump asserted their rights to abuse women, people of color, and gays. The picture above is one of two Episcopal Churches (my own denomination) who have been targeted by Trump supporters. No place feels safe.
And yet, I am safer than most. I only fit one of the categories that was targeted during Trump’s campaign, but with men asserting their right to grab women’s private parts because Trump normalized such behavior and the election of Trump condone it, I am at risk along with most people in this country.
But I am more afraid of for my loved ones who fall into even more hated categories than I am for myself, and so I have started wearing a safety pin, to show that I will stand with anyone who is being targeted for any reason. The rise of the safety pin movement was the first sign of hope I saw in this dark week.
By itself, this gesture is not enough, not nearly enough. Yet for me it was a place to start. I know that there is a story going around the internet of the KKK trying to co-opt this symbol, to make it meaningless or even dangerous. There is no symbol that cannot be co-opted or turned from its original purpose.
Yet I will wear a safety pin, both to show my solidarity with those who are being oppressed, as well as to remind myself that even in the darkest times, there are reasons to hope.