0 In People & Places

Why are people wearing safety pins? How this little gesture leaves a big impression


It might be at the PTA meeting at your child’s school. Or at the supermarket, standing in the fresh produce aisle. Perhaps it will be on dark sidewalk late at night as you make your way back to your car. But the odds are good that at some point in the coming weeks and months, you will pick up on a certain pattern: people wearing safety pins.

At first, you may not think anything of it. You might think it’s a little quirky but, hey, to each her own. What you may not realize is that those little pins symbolize something much bigger.

To really understand the sweeping scope of this movement, we have to go back to April of 1940 and Nazi Germany. At that time, World War II had just begun. Adolf Hitler set his sights on occupying neutral Norway in a bid to gain control of Norwegian waters for transporting in goods.

As was Hitler’s way, he tried to force the Nazi doctrine on the people of Norway — insisting they adhere to his ideals. Not surprisingly, this included anti-Jewish legislation. In addition to 700 Norwegian Jews being sent to Auschwitz, mass executions took place.

Those darkest days, though, gave birth to a resistance. As a symbol of their solidarity with their Jewish counterparts and rejection of Nazi ideology, students at Oslo University began wearing paperclips on their lapels.

The symbolism suggested behind the paperclip is that it is a device that exists to bind things together. Over time, the Nazis caught onto the symbol and began treating it as a punishable offense.

Throughout history, the paperclip resistance evolved into safety pins — but the spirit remained the same. Inclusion, acceptance, love, sanctuary… these are the things wearing a safety pin has come to represent.

In the wake of Brexit in the U.K. earlier this year, people across the U.K. began wearing the safety pin to stand against anti-immigrant rhetoric.

And now, in the wake of the U.S. election, safety pins are popping up on lapels and shirtfronts in the States. Amid growing reports of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, and ableism, the small pins send a big message:

You are safe with me. 

Heather Matarazzo on Twitter

I am here, I stand with you. You are not alone, neither am I. #safetypinamerica #safetypin

Sarah Lill on Twitter

I wear my #SafetyPin to show I am a safe place.I will protect those who are treated unfairly bc of gender, race, disability, & indiv beliefs

Rodger Dobry on Twitter

I put on my #SafetyPin today. Whoever you are, I am a safe person and I will help you! #HopeNotHate #lovetrumpshate #notmypresident

So if you see me wearing a safety pin, know that you are safe with me. I offer sanctuary. When you need me, I will be home for you.

The words to a song kept popping into my head as I wrote this post, so I want the share them here, as they capture the sentiment of what I want people to know they can find in me and that they can still find in others.

It’s a four letter word
a place you go to heal your hurt
It’s an alter, it’s a shelter
One place you’re always welcome
a pink flamingo, double wide
One bedroom in a high rise
a mansion on a hill
Where the memories always will
keep you company
whenever you’re alone
after all of my running
I’m finally coming

The world tried to break me
I found a road to take me
There ain’t nothing but a blue sky now
After all of my running
I’m finally coming

Well they say its where the heart is
and I guess the hardest part is
when your heart is broken
and you’re lost out in the great wide open
looking for a map
finding your way back
to where you belong
well that’s where I belong

The world tried to break me
I found a road to take me
There ain’t nothing but a blue sky now
After all of my running
I’m finally coming


Love and light always,





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