I apologize for being AWOL this week but I want to be perfectly honest with you. I don’t really care right now who has a cute new pattern out or what I’m going to knit when I finish my WIP. I mean, I do, obviously, but not nearly as much as I care about trying to do my part toward helping build a more inclusive knitting community. So to that end, I’m trying to facilitate a conversation on Instagram. The first two questions are here and here. I hope you’ll join me, or feel free to answer here in comments if you’re not on IG. But please be aware that comment moderation is on and I’ll only be approving comments from previous commenters and/or those who demonstrate a genuine interest in a productive discussion.
Thank you for understanding, happy weekend to you, and I’ll be back next week!
I absolutely care! I want to do all I can to support the creation of an inclusive community that both includes without discrimination and also honors the special contribution of all kinds of folks, including those with diverse capabilities and older people. That’s a tall order, and complex, because often it’s difficult to be non-discriminatory of individuals while simultaneously inquiring, recognizing and honoring the contribution and richness that each person brings because of the cultural experience behind whatever makes him/her special.
Yes, I’m open to feedback, and I think all of us can use some coaching in the art of listening, speaking productively, and working to be open. There’s a lot of stuff to sort out, and I think the process begins with listening and being heard.
I’d like to add that many of us do not know very well what has gone on in the discussions thus far in the “fiber community”, and how the issues have been framed for discussion. In some way, the concentric circles of folks around those most in the know (“the inner circle”) also represent people who need to be informed in order to be included. We’re just out here, caring very deeply and wanting to encourage inclusion, and we need to be able to access information about the history, talking points, hot topics , so we can take part.
Your survey, Karen, is a wonderful way to provide for discovery as well as a forum to help move forward. Such a great opportunity we have at this juncture to make an inclusive community and perhaps have it be a model for the larger population.
Perhaps your blog can be a place where individuals can introduce how their group or culture expresses its heritage and richness via the fiber arts. In that way, we could be fed from the rich banquet of diversity, and what better way to stimulate positive feedback and encourage a sense of being a really inclusive and appreciative community.
Thanks for making terrific use of your blog to address this important topic. Thanks for caring!
Thank you for your comment. It raises a lot of thoughts and I’ll be back to respond when I have a minute to organize them into something hopefully coherent!
I really appreciate that you are doing this, Karen. Despite my being a POC, I am acutely aware of how much privilege I have in pretty much every other aspect. That privilege allows me to navigate the world very differently and serves as a shield, these discussions have made me acutely aware.
What I am worried about is a situation where every non-BIPOC person is walking on eggshells and constantly looking over their shoulder worrying about a potential misstep. I don’t know that that is a healthy environment or point of arrival either.
And to be honest, participating actively in the discussion is taxing. Most days I just care about who has a cute new pattern out or what I’m going to knit when I finish my WIP, or spending time with my family. So yeah, there is my privilege talking again.
Thank you, Deepa. I take your point about the eggshells, but I think the scales have been tipped way too far in the direction of white obliviousness for too long.
It IS a taxing discussion, especially for BIPOC, and I think the whole point is that it’s us who should be taxing ourselves. If we want a world that all people can move through (concentrating on cute new patterns or whatever they want) without bumping up against an issue of skin color, then we’re the ones who have the work to do to make that happen.
This should be a world where you can think about new patterns or whatever you choose and not be made to think about the color of your skin (while we aren’t asked to think about ours), and only we can make that change.
Thank you for taking a stand on this. At a time when the world is seeing Americans being rewarded with media attention for sexist and racist rhetoric, it’s encouraging to know that someone is brave enough to support inclusive practices. I sincerely hope that it makes a difference in the fiber art community and that it ripples outward to make a bigger difference in our national and global conversations.
It’s definitely a conversation that is happening in all niches and corners right now, as it should be, and I would love nothing more than for the knitting community to be the example of figuring out how to get it right. But right now I feel like all the people who are making real concerted efforts (of which there are many) are being drowned out by those resisting it. So I just want us to sort out how to start moving the ball forward.
I’m a person who believes all individuals are equal. I have spent the week trying to figure out how we managed to ever get to the place, where we thought some people weren’t as good as others. I still don’t have an answer. Being naive, it never occurred to me that all people wouldn’t feel welcome in the fiber community. I hope these honest discussions will heal bad feelings, that happened in the past.
i don’t do instagram or twitter, but i totally care and i am open to feedback. if we worry about walking on eggshells, how do we develop the awareness of biases we have? inclusion and true safety is too important. mistakes will be made in striving to include people different from us. it is beautiful even if it is painful to participate in this process.
I absolutely do care! I want all of society to be inclusive, not just the fibre community. Personally, I think IG is a horrible platform for this kind of discussion, or any kind of discussion come to that. It’s hard to have an open and honest discussion online, I think. People are nervous about being dogpiled if they put a foot wrong, yet there needs to be a space where people can speak safely and clumsily, where people can be wrong, and be corrected so they can learn and grow.
Deepa also makes a good point about us not relying on POC to always have to point things out to us. We should be having these discussions amongst ourselves to work out these issues. On the other hand, part of me wonders if we can do this exclusively on our own? I grew up in the 60s. By the standards of the day, my parents weren’t racist, yet I find myself having a lot of discussions with my mum when she comes out with something that makes me cringe (and not just about race either). It makes me wonder how much I’ve absorbed without being aware of it. I know there must be things that I just can’t see, and that I wouldn’t notice in someone else.
It’s not just about race either. Diversity means including everyone regardless of sexuality, gender, religion and race. It’s always been important to me, but I think I’ve become more aware of in the last few years as my eldest son is trans. Not just because I don’t want people to discriminate against him, but we’ve had a fair few ding dongs over things that seemed trivial to me, but were important to him. It took a little while to admit that it didn’t matter what I felt about them, if I felt they were unimportant; they were important to him, and they had a big effect on him. He deals with enough crap out in the world, he doesn’t need it at home too. That thing of being defensive to cover up guilt, shame and/or embarrassment? I’ve been through that. It’s not nice, but it’s very worth it. I suppose the main thing I’ve learned is that it’s OK to still be learning :)
I also think these conversations are important because it can be easy to fall into assuming that if we can identify with prejudice as a woman/POC/LGBTQ+ person that doesn’t mean we know everything about someone else’s experience. We don’t get to tell them if they can be angry about it. We don’t get to tell them they’re over-reacting, or imagining it, or being over-sensitive. As a woman, I’m familiar with feeling unsafe sometimes, with being discriminated against in a variety of ways, but I’m also straight and white. I’ll never have to worry about holding hands with my husband in public, and I’ll never have to have a discussion with either of my sons on how to behave if stopped and questioned by the police.
I care. I don’t follow all that goes on, but I become more aware of my white privilege almost daily.
Open to feedback. Oh this has been one of the hardest things for me to do in my life, about anything. Because, you know, I am right. Over the course of 60 years I have come to realize that I *might* not always be right, that there *might* be another side. And I want to learn, to grow and expand, so I make a conscious effort to hear and process the feedback.
Yes, I do care – deeply. And, yes, a part of me wants everyone to “just play nice” and “get along” but reality tells me that only works in kindergarten with adult supervision. But, yes I care. It makes me so angry that anyone would ever say or do something to make someone feel unwelcome, uncomfortable, or unsafe. And, though I am not monitoring IG every hour of the day, I am well aware of the environment that exists there and, sadly, I do not speak out enough. That is on me… I do not expect anyone to do the work for me – though many are doing just that. Your question stirs me to make my caring a reality. Not just words… but actions.
And, yes… I am absolutely open to feedback! If I say or do something that hurts or offends – I want to know. If I speak up in an inappropriate way, please tell me!
And, thank you for this!
I care. But this is a hard conversation. I live in a pretty multiracial community and I have good friends who are BIPOC. But I think I still have not really understood how race affects people in a day to day way. Reading “So You Want to Talk About Race” was an eye-opener. It’s hard to think that you are prejudice-free and then see your attitudes laid out and examined by someone who has been hurt by those attitudes. It’s necessary, but not really pleasant. Lowering my defences has been harder than I thought but also rewarding.
Also two friends who are POC were talking about how they were afraid to travel in the US (we are Canadian). I was gob-smacked, as this never crossed my mind as a white person. I can sail through the world (and across borders) without a thought that my skin colour is going to be an issue. There’s white privilege for you! But my two friends, who are educated, employed, middle-class people, feel threatened because they are brown. Ouch!
I feel proud of the crafting community, that we are opening up to this conversation. But I also feel horrible for those who are being hurt (again!) by attitudes of prejudice. As a society, we seem to have lost the ability to have debate that’s not personal. Attacking the other is hurtful and doesn’t result in anything good or productive. I can only hope that those who are on the front lines fighting this battle will see some change and feel that it’s been worth the grief. I know those voices are speaking to me and changing the way I think and behave.