Saturday 4th April 2020
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Not everyone is on board with the safety pin as symbol of solidarity  and resistance to racism—it’s being criticized as an emblem of white guilt—and of course just wearing one is not enough; it’s just a gesture, and gestures have to be backed up by actions. But I’ve gotten a few emails, and a text from my much-loved sister in law Shirim asking help in finding safety pin jewelry, and I’ve decided to do a post on it because I believe that these small gestures help us feel better, and that’s worth a lot too. First up: this pendant couldn’t be simpler, and the price is right on point.

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A stunning cuff from Giles & Brother.

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Also from Giles & Brother, and a good bit splurgier: this chain version, which I really love.

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These safety pin earrings are not cheap, but they are pretty perfect. (Here’s your cheaper version.)

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I’ve been wearing a kilt pin, much like this one, on my coat this week.

Posted on November 15th, 2016 54 Comments

54 Responses

  1. Julie Tynion says:

    Could you please repost the link to the pictured safety pin earrings? It currently links to the silver bracelet. Thank you.




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  2. DeDe says:

    I can see both sides of the safety pin argument. Whether you decide to wear one or not, here’s a really good (short!) article on what to do if you see someone being harassed: http://metro.co.uk/2016/07/07/how-you-should-react-when-you-see-racist-abuse-5992530/




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  3. elizabeth says:

    As Julie Tynion says above, can you please correct the link to the gold safety pin earrings? I love them and would buy them in a heartbeat. The link is currently to the Giles and Brother cuff.




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  4. Lisa says:

    Dammit Kim, I wore my mom’s kilt pin on my shoulder yesterday. She has Alzheimer’s. As a dyed-in-the-probably-navy-wool New Englander, she’d have done the same. My feeling is, I’m also donating, and sorting out how to help prepare for redistricting. The pin, even here in Northern California, might just make someone feel better. And that’s worth any sheepishness, or it isn’t enough kind of feeling I might have. Bless you, from an atheist. <3




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  5. kristen says:

    These are a bit pricey, but I love them and plan to buy them because I’ve always wanted them and now even more.

    http://www.ileanamakri.com/earrings/en-safety-pin-yxs




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  6. shelly says:

    Love all of these and I think I must get that gold cuff. I agree with your assessment Kim. I think the symbolism is beautiful and don’t understand why people would assume that those wearing the pins wouldn’t also be taking actions to make things better. I’ve been wearing a kilt pin too, and I donate regularly to the ACLU and just donated to Foster Campbell’s campaign: http://www.fostercampbell2016.com/




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  7. MG says:

    Oh no. Longtime reader, rare (but recent) commenter. This could not be more misguided. If you’re buying expensive safety pin jewelry, you’re really reallllly making your “allyship” about you. Please rethink this!




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    • Louise says:

      Hi MG,
      I appreciate the point you are making, but I think it might be more helpful to get out of your head and open you heart to what is being demonstrated. People are feeling devastated, frightened, and disempowered right now and want to find ways to share these feelings and offer some sign of hope. If wearing a safety pin achieves this for them, let’s support that! Getting into a protracted academic argument over what it means just isn’t helpful. This tent is big enough for everyone, let’s put aside judgements and embrace a diversity of expression.




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    • KimFrance says:

      As I said in my post, MG, I feel strongly that gestures must be accompanied by actions. And if engaging in the gesture of buying a safety pin bracelet helps somebody negotiate this crap moment we find ourselves in, I’ve got no problem with it. Also, what Louise said.




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      • MG says:

        I appreciate both of your thoughtful replies and I agree we need a big tent. But if you want to voice your support by what you wear, do something louder- for example a black lives matter shirt. I know this is primarily a shopping blog and it’s a fun diversion and I do really appreciate that.

        However, we need to listen to people of color and marginalized people right now and I have really only seen white folks defending the safety pin. I don’t think this is a protracted academic argument- it’s about listening to what the people we are supposedly allying with are saying. I also agree with Mary Alice below- if you really insist on the safety pin, wear a cheap one and donate the money.

        If you care to read a little more about this, here is a useful article by a woman of color about her experience questioning the safety pin.

        http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/11/13/questioning-safety-pin-solidarity-revealed-why-i-cant-trust-white-people/

        Again, Kim, I really enjoy your blog! Just feeling compelled to push back on the things I can right now.




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        • KimFrance says:

          Push away! I’m all for debate, as long as we keep things civil. And thanks for the link.




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        • Marina says:

          I’ve been wearing a kilt pin. It’s 4″ long, so it’s really visible. I found an assortment of 32 pins in different colors for $16. Cheap AND chic!




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        • Marina says:

          It is interesting that the people who have noticed my safety pin – and commented positively – have been people of color. Maybe that has something to do with where I live (in Washington DC).




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        • Jenny says:

          Hi MG — I appreciate you adding your voice and linking to the article, which I found really illuminating and challenging. Perhaps it’s not pushing back, as much as pushing forward.




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          • MG says:

            Glad to hear it. Lord knows I am not perfect and I am trying to work on ‘calling people in,’ rather than calling them out. Maybe I did this above and if so, I do apologize. And if wearing the safety pin helps you call people in, good on you.

            Also want to add that I don’t see a big problem w safety pins themselves- it’s that fetishizing something originally intended as a sign of solidarity w marginalized people into a luxury item, well it strikes me as tone-deaf at best.

            I really appreciate the dialogue going on up and down this post!




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        • Lib says:

          I read this post last night and couldn’t put my finger on exactly how to say what bothered me so much about it so I came back this morning to try again.

          MG, you nailed it. Spending money – lots of it – on a symbol that you’re woke (but not really) just feels so wrong. A loud “clang” of wrongness. Thanks for putting it into words. Words are failing me a lot lately.

          KIm, still love the blog.




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          • Annie says:

            Chiming in to agree.

            Kim, I acknowledge your points about action and your thoughtful comments. But really, I don’t think this is the time for allies to spend money on buying fancy safety pin stuff.

            Regardless of how anyone feels about the pin idea (I’m not crazy about it, personally) I think it would be better for people to wear a pin they already have—and then donate to the ACLU, SPLC, NAACP, or BLM.

            I know the intentions behind the pin “movement” are good, and a lot of white people feel confused, angry, helpless—and want to show solidarity. But buying things to prove one’s solidarity rubs me the wrong way. Particularly because we don’t know the politics behind the people who are selling these items. Wouldn’t it be lousy if a bunch of people funded brands/designers that support Trump?




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        • Carla says:

          “However, we need to listen to people of color and marginalized people right now”

          THIS. Thanks for saying it. While no group will ever be in complete agreement on anything, dismissing criticism from POC seems really rather to miss the entire point.

          I’ll defend some of this jewelry only in that I’m pretty sure much of it predates this movement. It was out there before it became symbolic, so I doubt most of these designers are jumping on the political bandwagon with pricy pieces.




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      • y.k. says:

        & the reality is people like to spend $ on themselves too -that’s why fundraising auctions work. winners get to walk away with stuff while some of the $ goes to a cause.

        as for why we’re doing this -every single day the news has a fresh plate of crazy – guiliani for sec/state… the conflict /interest with his kids as advisors…the complete lack of understanding of supreme court decisions &impact…and there’s Bannon. it’s been really hard not to feel hopeless.




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        • KimFrance says:

          Just more than anything, guys, I don’t think we need to be arguing about symbols when there is so fucking much at stake. Once again, the left stands in peril of becoming subsumed by petty infighting—I’m talking about out there, not the tone of conversation here—and it depresses me. We all have to keep remembering that we are on the same side.




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  8. Leslie says:

    Might it be better to wear a cheap safety pin, but donate the $50-400 to a charitable organization that could be devastated by the new administration?




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  9. Mary Alice says:

    I totally support the idea of wearing a safety pin – any gesture of kindness should be supported and celebrated – but how about wearing a free one from the dry cleaners and donating the 375$ cost of the bracelet to the ACLU or the charity of your choice?




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    • Mamavalveeta03 says:

      I am short on funds, so any money is going to donations and my safety pin remains symbolic, not jewelry. But while to some, it might seem inconsequential, I see it as holding me accountable to what I believe. I.e. One can’t stand passively around the water cooler at work listening to someone make bigoted or misogynistic statements while wearing a safety pin….it kind of defeats the purpose? Right? We have to put our money where our mouth is and speak up!




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  10. Ligeia says:

    I see the symbol as support for we women who supported progressive and informed economic and international policies, and who lost to lies and empty promises. I am white and do not feel guilty, I feel gutted and despondent and lost.




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  11. Shirim says:

    I love all of these safety pin options and don’t think it has to be a zero-sum game. I plan to wear my pendant while volunteering for Planned Parenthood as an escort. As always, thank you Kim for your thoughtful posts.




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  12. Reed says:

    Also with evil eye protection




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  13. Reed says:

    at the evileyestore.com




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  14. emmy KONDO says:

    I also found great ones on louisonfine.com. And would add that I love safety pin jewelry and would wear it anyway, now it seems especially apropos. It doesn’t mean that I am donating any less — in fact I am donating more — to the organizations that need me right now. Why wouldn’t we wear a symbol of solidarity? I personally do feel better knowing that another person who’s head I cant see inside of believes in the same values that I do. And if it really matters, I am not a white woman. And I am not a black woman.




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  15. emmy KONDO says:

    And p.s. If you would like to use your money today in a way that would really make a difference, this is a great place to do so: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/fostercampellforsenatedonate




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  16. Debra says:

    I live in the south. Some folks hide a lot of their racism/sexism/hatred of the “other” down here. Some folks are blatant about it. In the past, whenever anyone was so bold as to make racist statements or jokes. I called them out. I gave them heck. But maybe there times when it was more subtle and I missed it. I’ve asked myself about a lot in the aftermath of this election. Did I have opportunities to stand up and I missed them? So, maybe wearing the pin gets my head right each and every day. Maybe it says: be alert for every opportunity to stand up for others today. Maybe it causes a co-worker to ask: “why are you wearing that pin” and I can tell them and, suddenly, maybe they start to ask themselves or their friends important questions. Maybe.




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  17. Jessica Jernigan says:

    Cute stuff here. All about the person wearing it. Except for the kilt pin. A simple safety pin on the lapel is visible and accessible. An adorable little safety pin pendant is neither. Ditto the bracelet and the earrings. POC and other vulnerable people have had some things to say about the safety pin, in the UK and in the US, but FFS please don’t make it an adorable piece of virtue signalling.




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  18. Amy says:

    I agree with director Lexi Alexander that co-opting an existing movement for your own message (white guilt) isn’t right, and that there is a real need to know who is “friendly” in our most scary moments.

    http://www.lexi-alexander.com/blog/lexi-alexander/blog-2




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  19. c.w. says:

    I want to stay out of the safety pin discussion because I go back and forth on where I stand.

    I do want to pass on one piece of advice I received from someone who is a therapist that works in mediation…when speaking to people––particularly family members who voted for trump they will hear you more open mindedly if you don’t use the word “angry”––i.e. “I am so angry about the election.” The word, angry, puts people on the defensive and they immediately turn away from what you are saying. If, instead, you use the word “sad” you keep that door in their brain open. i.e. “The results of the election have made me sad.” It’s hard to be angry or turn away from someone who says they are sad. And those neural pathways stay open so the line of communication stays open. You won’t necessarily change their minds, but at least you will feel like you’ve been heard and that does help.




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  20. KimFrance says:

    I just want to thank you guys for keeping the debate here so civil. Means a lot to me.




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    • Mary Alice says:

      You set the tone, Kim; This is such an intelligent and thoughtful forum where a difference of opinion is respected. Thank you.




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  21. kelly Heidtke says:

    Love this post!




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  22. Viajera says:

    I appreciate all the points of view. I think when we are in a certain frame of mind, pretty much all gestures will seem small and meaningless. I don’t get though why people would assume that wearing a pin is all someone is doing. And I don’t see why anyone who didn’t vote for that person should feel guilty, either, in this post-election contest. (Now, if there are people wearing them who *did*…. that would be an interesting conversation.)

    As for the dough, who cares? Some people have a lot more money. Does that make them bad people? (Answer: it depends.) The pin is a pledge to stand up for people- including women, some of whom are even white — not a vow of poverty.

    I see it mostly as the Left trying to defeat itself again. We’re good at it.




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  23. gg says:

    Respectfully taking ‘Taking Requests’ literally…

    Any interest in helping identify good hooded wool car-length coats? Here’s the closest so far >> bloomingdales.com/shop/product/sofia-cashmere-fur-trim-dolman-sleeve-coat?ID=1745855

    thanks.




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  24. Nancy says:

    Hey….it seems like most viewpoints have been covered, but I wanted to once again emphasize the points made by women of color. My BFF has been having an on-going debate on her FB page and getting a ton of push back. She came down on the side of this article: basically, if you feel that you can ACTUALLY stand up for someone, ANYONE, who is being harassed, bullied, etc and you are safe doing so, by all means, identify as an ally in this way. But, once you put that pin on, you don’t get to pick and choose who that person is. Gay bashing and xenophobia and misogyny all fall under this umbrella. Islamophobia and racism and anti-semitism. Once you put it on, you are standing up for everyone and you need to be able to follow through. So, put on that pin with actual knowledge. Otherwise, find another way to help. The need is enormous. We can all, especially all of the awesome women who follow Kim, find ways that are both safe and effective. https://isobeldebrujah.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/so-you-want-to-wear-a-safety-pin/




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  25. Kate says:

    Another kilt pin story…I too, am wearing my mother’s which was given to her as a bridesmaid gift by my paternal aunt. It’s HUGE which to me is helpful as you can see it so clearly. And hey I want to help, white guilt be damned.




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