For some, the post-election trend of wearing a safety pin offered a way to show allegiance to the marginalized people who were feeling unsafe. For many of the marginalized people, though, it was seen as a shallow act that served no real purpose. As the safety pin movement gained popularity, it grew into something even more superficial: Fancily decorated safety pins began to pop up on Etsy, and designers, such as Versace, adorned their clothing and other items with the pins. Once the safety pins became “for profit,” the gesture completely lost its meaning — and that’s when Marissa Jenae Johnson and Leslie Mac stepped in to create the Safety Pin Box, a monthly subscription service that teaches white people to be better allies.
The Safety Pin Box is a service in the same vein as Birchbox, except each box is filled with a different task and set of assignments for white people who want to become better allies to marginalized groups, more specifically to black women.
“If people want to actually do something useful, they can pay us reparations. And we can literally tell them what to do even though we’ve already been telling them, and they haven’t been listening.”
The box has three different subscription levels — $25, $50, and $100 per month — and each delivery tackles a particular racial bias, outlining tasks for the subscriber to perform in an effort to tackle that bias. The money from the subscriptions is then used to fund black women activists’ work.
According to Johnson, the target audience of the Safety Pin Box is white people who already consider themselves allies but need more direction. Each box has a specific theme, such as “Radical Compassion,” which focuses on compassion for the elderly black community, or “Marsha P. March,” which will help to raise funds for the Marsha P. Johnson institute to educate people about the trans activist.
When asked about the response from the white people participating in the service, Johnson said, “They really struggle sometimes. There’s the person they think they are, and there’s the person that we’re asking them to be, and that’s new to a lot of people and it’s challenging.”
We’re sure it is very challenging, but the work is so necessary. How lucky are we for such resources.