You need a mindset change, not more gatekeepers.
What is the point of these posts even? Earlier this year, when I ran a knit-along, my intention was to be a curator of sorts, to find and promote POC and LGBTQIA+ makers in the fiber community, to create a community that cares about these things, and to help develop all of our collective mindsets around these issues in the knitting world. Since then, my position has evolved. I’m not really interested in telling you who to follow or which hot new BIPOC maker there is out there. I am not a tastemaker. I am not a gatekeeper.
And I’ll tell you why: These last few years, we’ve seen influencers and designers with large followings behave in racist ways then issue non-apologies over and over again and we are all so tired, we people of color. And special shout out to Black women, who are extra tired because of the hostility they face just existing in this world and particularly in the knitting community. Isn’t it so ironic, and timely, that I published the words “It’s serious labor to just exist in this space, fielding racist and homophobic comments and DM’s, while trying to make a living as an artist,” just days before the latest Incident went down and another white knitter showed their true colors? And you know what? I don’t even care who it is. I don’t care what they do or even the specifics of what they said this particular instance, except that they’ve harmed people, real people, in our community (and thank you, Adella, GG, and countless others who stepped up and told us what they went through, even though they owe us absolutely nothing).
And as it turns out, they have done the same thing to dozens, maybe hundreds of POC in our community over and over again, and gotten a pass from white people looking on, over and over again. They even developed somewhat of a reputation for being a tastemaker or influencer or whatever for people looking for POC makers to follow. While being harmful and racist the entire time. I don’t want to be the next tastemaker as a POC.
I have no interest in holding that kind of influence over large swaths of knitters. That’s just not who I am and absolutely is not my role in this community.
I am here to help our community explore mindset changes and develop new frameworks to help inform our decisions so that we don’t have to rely on the influencers of the world to tell us who to buy from.
No one person is perfect, just as there’s no such thing as morally perfect yarn, or morally evil yarn (post coming soon on yarn snobs and why they are the ~woooorst~.gif).
Look, I’m not perfect either. I’ve been learning how to navigate my identities of being a queer, nonbinary person of color in homophobic Asian spaces, then being in a racist but slightly less homophobic white spaces my entire life. I’m simply transferring what I’ve learned in some of those experiences and the work I have done academically, but translated into the knitting experience. Because these issues are not only present in knitting communities, but in every facet of our life in the Western world.
And I am still learning all the time. I fuck up… all the time. And lots of other POC also fuck up. I mean, some of us are real problematic (AHEM Candace Owen and AHEM Andrew Yang). Just because we are POC doesn’t make us infallible or automatically perfectly empathetic to marginalized populations all the time. POC can and do often perpetuate white supremacy too! You should definitely not trust me to tell you who to follow or what causes to support. And I’m not here to limit your experiences or tell you who’s problematic or to tell you to prune your feed and unfollow certain people (though you should do that, certainly–it’s just really not my job to tell you exactly who).
All of those things are reactive and in the moment and don’t help us develop a better system for going forward. If you are still depending on other people to tell you who to follow and support rather than doing the hard work yourself to evaluate whether a business is aligned with your values or not (which requires learning about what those values are to begin with), or to evaluate whether you are implicitly biased in who you support and follow (the answer is yes), you are then shifting the responsibility from yourself to others. Take responsibility for your actions and what you’re doing.
My mission here is really simple. I’m here to facilitate joyful knitting experiences for thoughtful people. I want to help you develop a sense of what your values are and how to find makers who align with those values on your own. I want you to be able to put words to that feeling you’ve always had about justice and try to give you the tools to make those words into action yourself. I want to help you examine those implicit biases and root them out of your making practice. Clearly, this is work that cannot solely be done externally, by supporting POC, LGBTQIA+, or disabled makers financially, although those are all things that should be done and should bring you joy—we bring so much to the community and so much of our art is present here.
To change the knitting community from the inside out, we have to change our collective mindset, and do the introspective work to learn our biases, then turn that internal work into action. We have to figure out what drives our choices and our words and our actions, and then slowly move the needle on equity by making deliberate choices to change… one tiny change at a time. That’s the purpose of this blog series. It’s the slower, harder way, rather than have someone else tell you what to do, who to support… but it’s a path well worth taking, even though it’ll take an entire lifetime.
Be under no illusion.. this is not something we do in a few days, a few month, or even a few years. However, it is the only way we move forward and change the knitting community for good. The good news is, this work is the important work that you will take with you into every other facet of your life so that you can create greater change everywhere. The real question is, are you ready to do the work, or are you just gonna keep going along the way knitters have for all of time? Because it’s long past time. We can and must do this work, together.
So stick around, if you want to keep working on these mindset changes. If you haven’t yet, read the other posts in the series to get an idea of where we are all starting out, together. Join my newsletter in the sidebar to receive updates when new posts arrive.
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2 Replies to “You need a mindset change, not more gatekeepers.”
Awesome blog post, dear Aimee! 👌🏻👌🏻👌🏻 Love to you, Ros X
Absolutely, full hearted agreement. Perfectly said.