A noticeable number of people in Great Britain have been wearing a tiny safety pin in the past couple of weeks. Some may be surprised that this small new accessory is related to the recent Brexit vote (the recent vote where British citizens voted for their country to separate from the European Union). According to the National Police Chief’s Council, there has been a 57 percent increase in reported incidents of xenophobic abuse since the vote, and victims of this abuse have shared their experiences on social media.
People have been subjected to name calling, threats and vandalism of cultural institutions. Acts of racism and bigotry have been so widespread that they have prompted Britain’s outgoing Prime Minister, David Cameron, to issue a statement denouncing the harassment and calling for an immediate end to it.
Ironically, it was an American woman who came up with the idea of wearing the small safety pin as a sign of solidarity with and support of immigrants in the UK. She felt that, although she is also an immigrant, she is not subjected to abuse and ridicule because she is white and she speaks English. The people wearing them are silently displaying that they are against the nationalistic and racist violence that has been occurring, and the pins also identify those wearing them as safe ally.
She first suggested her idea on Twitter, and it gained traction from there. Many people have since taken to social media to share the idea and announce their own participation. It has been a successful movement because people don’t have to go out and make a conscious purchase to participate in it, and it contains no language or slogans. Some have disregarded the idea as superficial, but according to the woman who came up with the idea, it has been a very simple way to show support and make a clear statement in the midst of a divided nation.