“Stay Safe”

I understand. This is a scary world sometimes. You know there are threats your LGBT, PoC, and women friends and family have to face. Perhaps you feel powerless, so you say the one thing that provides you a moment of relief: “Stay safe.” You say this out of love. 

You may not know what “staying safe” is really asking of us, or what long lists of “rape prevention tips” and “how to placate a cop tips” we’ve pored over. You may not realize that “Stay safe” to an LGBT kid can sound exactly like “Stay in the closet.”

When who you are is a risk factor for violence, there’s a limit to how much you can protect yourself. “Stay safe” might mean “Text me when you get home” to you, but still be heard as “Don’t be out after dark.” One man’s self defense classes is another woman’s crippling agoraphobia. 

The fact is the world is not as safe as we need it to be. That’s going tyo take more than individual caution to address. Broad cultural support for racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia needs to be addressed and dealt with. We can’t really “stay safe” until then. 

Combat these attitudes every day. Confront the casual hatred of your friends and family. Don’t excuse grandpa’s racism because he’s old. That just means he’s had longer to get it right. Don’t forgive the homophobic sermons of your preacher because you get a lot out of services. Demand your state process its backlog of rape kits, and push for minimum sentences for domestic and sexual violence. 

Each time you tell one of us to stay safe should be matched by at least three times you’ve told others to be safer, to stop hurting and killing us. If we’re the only ones you’re talking to about this danger, it won’t get better. Do something. 

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