Let Me Be Clear

I set out to post food recipes this week, but some STUFF went down in the knitting community with regards to racism last week. Again. Still. I’ve been watching how influencers with large followings, knitting companies, and people like myself have responded. And I’ve been doing lots of thinking.

So I’m a white American woman. I grew up in an openly racist conservative family in the South. I heard the n-word pretty often, along with some others that I didn’t fully understand until much later. I heard all the stories about how whites were better than black people because yada yada yada. I won’t even repeat them here because it’s such crap.

I was also raised that women should be quiet, never speak up, and never go against the menfolk. Women shouldn’t vote because they might “cancel out” their man’s vote. This, among other things, has taken a lifetime to begin to undo. Side note: My kids and I don’t have contact with them and I’m raising my kids not to have these backward and bigoted beliefs.

But here we are in 2019 and I think Trump has given legitimacy to racists. They are being who they always were but now they do it out in the open. I think the knitting community has always been this way but maybe there are enough BIPOC knitters who have shined a light on how things have always been. I think on some level I knew something was “off” but now I know what it was.

Knitting can be an expensive hobby. True, you can buy yarn at big box stores (and I do), but if you go to a local yarn shop (LYS), yarn is expensive. And there’s a competitiveness that I’ve seen with who can knit a blanket or a sweater in the trendiest yarn. People can be “yarn snobs” and looks down on people who can’t afford the “nicer” yarns.

Knitting takes a lot of time. If you are barely making ends meet with multiple jobs, or you’ve got young kids, or whatever, you probably aren’t knitting a lot. This means that it tends to be older white women that dominate the craft. I always felt a little out of place at get-togethers at the LYS because I am not retired and couldn’t hang out there all the time.

Local yarn shops aren’t exactly welcoming. They are owned mostly by older white women. If I don’t feel welcome, I can’t even imagine how POC feel. I have had my head bitten off because I couldn’t name something quickly enough. I’ve been flat-out ignored only to have the employee help someone else and then go back to ignoring me. I’ve been rudely addressed. I’ve seen owners be cold to another customer and then loudly talk about the customer after they’ve left. It’s no wonder LYS are here one day and gone the next. I refuse now to shop at any of the stores and I’ve left all of them without spending a dime.

But lately I’ve seen designers say racist and misogynistic things and when the you-know-what hits the fan, they have an illness of some sort. This is deflection and an appeal for sympathy so they don’t have to take responsibilty for their actions. The playbook goes like this time and again. Then the posts are deleted, or entire accounts deleted. Their hardcore supporters come out of the woodwork to defend them. There’s never any real apology made. If anything, it’s putting blame on their readers for misunderstanding their words. Or they double-down. Finally they resume posting like nothing even happened.

All of this is enough to make me want to put down my knitting needles and walk away from all the hatred. But knitting has always been political, as has food. And the ability to walk away is a privilege that POC don’t have. So, no, I won’t quit and I won’t be quiet. We cannot “just get back to knitting” until everyone feels like they can safely be a part of the community and we aren’t there yet.

I’m glad you’re still reading because I want to say clearly that I don’t condone this sort of behavior. I set out to make food accessible to everyone. I try to be mindful that not everyone has equipment such as a food processor. Not everyone can afford a ton of spices or specific ingredients. I’m by no means an expert cook. I am very distracted and pressed for time in my tiny, messy kitchen because I have 2 kids. (I’ve always said I’d like to see these celebrity chefs have to make dinner with 2 toddlers during the “witching hour”.) I feel a little bad that my food photography isn’t the best, but I’m working with what I’ve got.

If I misstep, I will apologize and learn from it. I am learning every day. Just this week I learned about “tone policing”. I finally understand gaslighting. I have so much more to learn and probably unlearn. But I’m willing to do the work. I will absolutely confront people’s hatred in order to make this a welcoming place for everyone.