Of Elephants and Mice

For this week’s blog post, I had originally intended to introduce a new monthly segment titled Pattern Envy, where I would talk about FO’s and favorites from friends Ravelry pages. While I still may post about that later this week, the topic of race in the fiber arts community has been bubbling all across social media recently, and I wanted to take an opportunity to voice my opinions and share my values.

Before continuing, I encourage you to read the following:

Conversations about race can be difficult, uncomfortable, frustrating, and emotional. For me, one of the most uncomfortable parts about engaging in these conversations, is that I come at it from a place of privilege. I’m a white, middle class, cis-gendered gay male living in the liberal bubble that is California. Having the ability to choose whether you want to talk about these issues or not is privilege in itself. However, making a conscious effort to stop, listen, learn, and at times yielding the floor to those with less privilege can make those conversations a bit less awkward. It is amazing what you can learn from people when you stop and listen, and I mean LISTEN to their experiences in dealing with racism and other forms of inequality and injustice in the world. Utilize your privilege to be an ally, a true ally to those who are being oppressed.

Often, speaking up when we see inequality and injustice can be more uncomfortable than having a conversation about it. This should not be an excuse for speaking up, if anything this (and your/my privilege) should be used to stand up for those who are being oppressed. If you’re willing to talk the talk, you need to be willing to walk the walk.

Also, it should be mentioned that is not the responsibility of any BIPoC to educate you, me, or any other non-BIPoC about the injustice and oppression that has and is still occurring across the globe. There is plenty of research, use your privilege to educate yourself. All you need is an internet connection or a library card.

It is totally acceptable to be corrected, whether it happens gently or harshly. Just because you’re saying something for the first time, doesn’t mean that the person hearing you hasn’t heard that same inflammatory statement a million times before. For me personally, I expect my friends to hold me accountable for my words and my actions. Friends call each other out on that crap and help each other to be better humans.

Now, you might find yourself saying “This is a knitting and fiber arts blog, and I like to keep my politics/personal beliefs and my crafting separate.” But here’s the thing, not engaging in these difficult conversations is not going to make them any less difficult. Desmond Tutu once said “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” If we’re not politically engaged and choose to not fight for justice, and instead choose to sit back and let discrimination and hate happen right in front of us the issue will only get bigger, and will only get worse before it has any semblance of a chance to get better. It is not about us vs. them, it is strictly about being a decent human being and treating others with respect and courtesy. These issues as a whole are nothing new, but more and more people are starting to join the conversation… and we’re all learning and growing together which is great. Remember that actions speak louder than words.

Be kind to each other. None of us is perfect, but we can help each other be better.

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