People Who've Actually Experienced Racism Are Unhappy About The Post-Brexit Safety Pins Campaign

"I'm frustrated that when people of colour spoke about our lived experiences of racism before, we were dismissed and told to stop exaggerating," one critic said.

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In response to a rise in racist and xenophobic attacks reported across the UK post-Brexit, an American woman living in London suggested people wear safety pins to show solidarity towards EU citizens and other communities who are targets of abuse.

Luke Johnston / Via Luke Johnston / SWNS

Kashmir Meat & Poultry in Walsall, West Midlands, which was attacked by a petrol bomb this week.

Allison, who didn't want to reveal her last name, told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday why she started the #SafetyPin campaign: "I thought about something that would cost nothing and had no political affiliation. Something that says, ‘I am a safe space, you can sit next to me, you can talk to me, you can ask me for a help'."

However, the campaign has been criticised on Twitter, particularly by people of colour who have personal experiences of racism.

Wear your #safetypin with pride! Anything for some much needed attention LOL yay I feel so safe!

Racism has ended. Just like that. A safety pin ladies and gentlemen, why didn't we think of this 100s of years ago? https://t.co/ZtNXYQY5P4

Some complained the safety pin wasn't a helpful tool to combat racism at all, but rather a way of making people feel better about themselves.

"Oh look that persons being racially abused, let me just pretend I'm deaf but thank God I got my safety pin I'm such a great person"

#safetypin solidarity is a cowardly response to a cowardly problem

Please don't wear a safety pin around me. Don't try and say I'm safe around you in some meek effort to absolve you. I'm not here for that

Some have noticed it was predominately white people who participated in the hashtag.

The safety pin is literally the visual symbol of "not all white people" https://t.co/hFkQ3TmxM9

Jason Okundaye, 19, a student at Pembroke College, Cambridge, told BuzzFeed News he was frustrated by the sudden acknowledgement of racism from peers "who usually turn a blind eye".

"Thousands of Britons have pledged to combat racism by wearing a safety pin" sorry but that actually sounds parodic

"What prompted me to tweet about it was my surprise at seeing peers who usually turn a blind eye to racism in everyday situations suddenly becoming the saviours of all immigrants and people of colour," Okundaye said.

He added: "I'm sure people mean well but there is a very transparent 'white knight' narrative which underpins the campaign as many seem to have used this 'safety pin solidarity' as a way to capitalise off the escalating racism and xenophobia post-Brexit.

"I'm frustrated that when people of colour spoke about our lived experiences of racism before, we were dismissed and told to stop exaggerating. I'm frustrated that people won't challenge, for example, the fact that racism is the infrastructure on which Western society was built, or consider the damaging racial bias prevalent in things like presentation of beauty or media representation."

Other users have shared their experience of racism in the UK to explain how someone wearing a safety pin isn't going to provide a solution.

I've been screamed at and abused on the street before. Seeing you wear #safetypin doesn't make me feel safer. https://t.co/hHTNLOp0CD

People have suggested that more vocal support from bystanders was needed to really tackle racism, whether in public or private spaces.

you'll wear a safety pin, but are you going to speak up when someone's racially attacked on a bus?

It's nice you wear a safety pin but if you aren't asking your dad about why he keeps calling brown people the p word then what good is it?

I don't need you to wear a paper clip rn. I need you to call out your mates from back home who still describe me as 'coloured'.

If you're gonna wear a pin, make sure you're ready to step in when you witness racism in public. Don't you DARE wear it and stay silent.

However, the creator of #SafetyPins reached out to a number of people to discuss the campaign further.

@veedzo behind it. but this isn't the ideal world. I'm sorry. this thing really got away from me faster than I was prepared for

In one exchange, she tweeted: "Just want to say I am listening, and paying attention, and always trying to be better."

@Ankaman616 hi there. Just want to say I am listening, and paying attention, and trying always to be better.

Victoria Sanusi is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Victoria Sanusi at victoria.sanusi@buzzfeed.com.

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