Britain’s #SafetyPin Campaign Aims To Fight Xenophobia After Brexit

Racially-motivated crimes are happening around Britain following the decision to leave the European Union, as a major motivation for leaving the EU was to limit the number of immigrants coming to the country. Some Brits fed up with the radiating xenophobia decided to personally stand against the hatred by wearing safety pins on their clothing as a sign of safety and togetherness. While social media and clothing campaigns can definitely bring attention to important issues and create bonds of solidarity across the world, the post-Brexit #SafetyPin campaign isn’t protecting anyone.

Someone with the Twitter [email protected] started the safety pin movement as a way to signify that you’re safe to sit next to or talk to, tweeting: “I quite like the idea of just putting a safety pin, empty of anything else, on your coat. A literal SAFETY pin!” The idea was essentially that wearing a safety pin would signify to the non-British that you won’t harass them. The #SafetyPin campaign took off on Twitter, with Brits posting photos of themselves wearing safety pins around town.

This is a nice idea, but it doesn’t accomplish anything. That safety pin on your jacket isn’t going to stop harassment or xenophobia in the slightest. Good job for voicing your concerns and standing up as an ally to foreigners living in the U.K., but actual steps need to be taken to make the nation safer.

The British police are investigating several racially motivated crimes following the controversial vote to leave the EU, and disgusting leaflets saying, “Leave the EU — no more Polish vermin,” were found on cars the day after the decision. So, anti-immigrant rhetoric and violence is definitely an issue, but something needs to happen to actually protect foreigners and change the national rhetoric that’s currently putting them in danger.

The user who started the #SafetyPin campaign, @cheeah (also known as Allison), recognized the limits of her good deed, telling CNN: “By all means write letters, go on marches, do everything you can. But this is just a quiet way to show, ‘Hey it’s fine, I’m with you.'” She added: “From the beginning, I’ve always said if you’re going to wear the safety pin, you’ve got to back it up. So if you put it on, you are pledging to support people and to intervene and report if you see incidences of racial or xenophobic abuse.”

But, you should be doing that regardless of whether or not you’re wearing a safety pin. By all means, wear whatever you want to show the world you support immigrants and aren’t a racist idiot, but don’t expect a safety pin to make Britain a safer place.