Britons adopt #safetypin campaign against racist attacks

safety pin

Photo via Mauro Cateb/Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA)

People in Britain are hoping this subtle sign of solidarity against racism makes a difference.

In the days since Britain voted to leave the European Union, reports of racist attacks have skyrocketed. So, in a show of solidarity against racism, people have turned to an unexpected symbol: the humble safety pin.

The idea started with Twitter user @cheeahs, who suggested the idea of wearing a safety pin as a sign of support for immigrants in the U.K.

#Safetypin was inspired by "I'll ride with you," an Australian campaign to support and protect Muslims from backlask in the wake of a terrorist attack. By wearing a safety pin, people are marking themselves out as allies in the fight against racism. 

While the #safetypin campaign's heart is in the right place, it has already inspired a lot of criticism. It's been described as "the visual symbol for 'not all white people,'" and a reason for people to "take selfies and make it all about them." And if well-meaning white Britons decide to just wear a safety pin and go no further, those criticisms are probably accurate.
After several days of fear and uncertainty in the U.K., #safetypin's virality feels like the direct result of a nationwide desire to "do something." It caught on like wildfire, and people have already reported instances of it having an impact in real life. But for #safetypin to really make a difference, wearers must take its meaning to heart. That's why, alongside the viral hashtag, two instruction manuals have become very popular over the past few days: A 2015 Guardian article about responding to racist attacks, and a guide to intervening against public harassment, from the organization United Against Racism.
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Who's winning the #Brexit Twitter war in the U.K.? It's hard to know exactly
As the U.K. prepares to vote whether to leave the European Union, tensions over the impending “Brexit” vote have reached a fever pitch. A bizarre stand-off between a pair of dueling floatillas on the Thames River in London earlier this week bordered on the ridiculous, but a fatal attack on an anti-Brexit MP the following day by a suspected neo-Nazi who yelled “Britain First” in the midst of his assault, turned the mood deathly serious.
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