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Lisa A. Kramer: Woman Wielding Words

Writer, theatre artist, educator and woman of many dreams


Small Symbols, Big Intent

By Lisa KramerNovember 13, 2016Comments Off

I woke this morning angry. I decided not to write with that anger, because I truly want to move forward finding ways to make change that put positive energy into the world. It does no good for me to go on the attack.

But now, I find myself needing to write in anger again. Why? Because people have been trying to turn something good into something negative yet again.

It starts with a Safety Pin. Yes . . . that small symbol which began after Brexit, as a symbol of solidarity with immigrants. It is meant to say “I am a safe place, come to me if you are afraid.”

But no. . . in this country it seems we can’t have anything nice. Today the internet is filled with statements that this is just a symbol of white guilt or white supremacy or something like that. I won’t even link to any of the articles, they make me so upset.

Yesterday, I created this image as my Facebook profile.


The tree…a reminder of my connection to nature and my family. The Star if David and the sign for life… a declaration that I will not be afraid. The safety-pin for anyone who fears.

Of course, I know that wearing a safety-pin is not enough. It must be followed by action. It means that if I witness something, I will step in (safely) and not be a bystander. How is that a symbol of guilt? How is that a symbol of supremacy?

Maybe I just don’t understand.

I will continue to wear this, because it is a symbol for me that means something. I also will look for it in others, because I know that someday (probably sooner rather than later) I will be afraid. Perhaps people don’t look at me and say, this is one of “the ones” we want to get rid of, but anti-semitism is on the rise too. I too have the right to feel safe.

I am angry, because I am tired of being told that no gesture is enough for a white person. I am sure someone will be offended by that remark, but it is my truth right now. If we can’t make small gestures, with the intent that they will become larger, then is there room for us to do anything right?

And of course, that issue of whiteness–that issue of race–has always bothered me. Long ago I asked the question, “When Did Jews become White?” Ultimately, it comes down to definition, not skin color. But, in our world, I am perceived as white. And in this country–because of so many white people who cling to perceptions of whiteness that have nothing to do with reality–I am told I cannot do enough.

So now I am angry. I am sad. I am afraid.

But I will still wear my safety-pin. My arms are open for anyone who needs them, even if yours aren’t open for me.