Listening, Learning & Having Conversations

It’s been a difficult but fruitful week in the knitting world. (See my previous post if you don’t know what I’m talking about). I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned, and link to some amazing people that I didn’t know existed until this week.

What I’ve learned-Listen up white people:

Diversity matters. “If you stop seeing diversity, it stops existing”. That holds true for your town as well as your Instagram feed. Pay attention. Change what you can. Change what you see on the internet. Assume companies with algorithms like Facebook, Instagram and Youtube will only show you more of the same, more of what sells, more of what you are. If you don’t see People of Color on the internet, fix that.

Similarly, Inclusion: Being sure that you are including People of Color in your groups, your advertising, your news feeds, and in the way you greet someone if you own a business…big topic…

Do not expect anyone else to do what’s called “emotional labor”.  Now I’ll admit, I’m older and keeping up with terminology used by twenty somethings, people from different cultures/races and people who use the internet way more than I do is not my strong suit. But the short of it is, do not ask People of Color questions that you yourself can go find the information on. Educate yourself, don’t ask other people to do it for you (that’s a white entitlement thing-most of us have no idea how much we do it.)
People of Color are not resources. They may have resources but it would take their time and “emotional labor” (meaning explaining it to you is triggering or upsetting for them) to explain it. So don’t ask them to. And don’t directly message people with your own emotional stuff, especially during times like this when lots of other people are messaging them as well.

Sit with it-Do your own emotional work: Don’t do something (immediately), just sit there. Yep, for now, if you’re feeling emotional or challenged, or angry, or you don’t like what you hear/see, SIT with it. Ask yourself why you’re getting emotional. If you are, there’s a reason and you need to address it.  (For myself, it’s been because I know I have People of Color further back in my family tree and those that denied it-and those that still do-piss me off. Angry to the point of tears sometimes. They isolated their families and that isolation still reverberates in my bones. They are denying people who existed, who’s blood runs through their veins and that’s wrong.)

Decentering:  It means taking the focus in a conversation away from the point, away from People of Color, away from racism or anything that makes you uncomfortable, usually putting it on yourself and your experiences. It might work in white culture to say “Well for myself and from my experience…” but to do that  in the middle of a conversation about racism is wrong. It’s decentering.

Liminality: A term I learned from this post by Francoise Danoy. I had heard this word but never in conjunction with race or culture… It means being mixed race being on the edge of more than one group, not feeling like you fit in to either group… That one does hit home to me personally, because of my Native and African ancestors who were perpetually on the edge, not fitting into any place they lived except perhaps with their own extended families. Even my grandparents lived in a liminal place with others who shared their ancestries…My dad had the privilege to walk away from this and he did.

Signal boosting: If you can support a Person of Color buy buying from them, supporting their business, that’s great. If not, one of the things you can do is now called “Signal Boosting” meaning sharing their links, their websites, their work, blogs and podcasts.

So on that note, here are just a few of the people that I’ve found over the last few days, some who’ve been doing their work for many years and I’ve never come across them.

Jeanette Sloan, knitwear designer
Aroha Knits ( Designer who’s having a shawl challenge) and who also has a podcast!
GGmadeit and her video podcasts that have been going on for years and NEVER came up in my searches for knitting podcasts (yeah you Youtube).
Ocean who’s been putting a lot of work into sharing links…
Yarn People a new magazine that is Intentionally Inclusive and gives a portion of proceeds to charity.
And many many more People of Color who have joined in the conversation and done a lot of work to link us to makers of Color who are farmers, spinners, quilters, knitters, crocheters, dyers and more.
There are many conversations going on, on Instagram, Ravelry (See the discussion here) and other places. Ravelry is a great place to start. Please, go read.

People of Color Resource lists (to support them) can be found on Ravelry and here.

And if you really still don’t understand why it should effect you, what racism has to do with you in the fiber community, check out Knitting Vicariously’s most recent podcast and if you don’t want to hear about her projects, go straight to minute  56:23 and listen…she explains it really well.

 

This list is in no way meant to be comprehensive or all-inclusive only a mere fraction of what I’ve read and found in the last several days and an attempt (however imperfect it may be) to share what I’ve learned.  It’s been a good week for the knitting world, one that I hope we never forget!

 

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