Updated: Oct 7, 2021
If you've visit my 'About' page, you may have seen that I've added a section about my commitment to inclusion and racial justice, and there, I reference a 'framework' that I use when I make decisions.
I also talk there a little bit about White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun, a document that I've found tremendously helpful in defining and naming the toxicity we find ourselves battling, and in identifying concrete opposites. At one point, I found myself throwing up my hands, "if this entire culture is messed up, what the heck are we supposed to do instead?!" I find the antidotes offered in this document so salient, and have used them very much as a starting place to explore the kind of culture I want to create in my spaces.
Sharing my personal framework
I'm publishing this framework for a few reasons. First of all, I know that knitters want to know who they're buying from! Giving you some transparency on how I make my decisions and how I plan my community is something that feels right for me.
Second, I consider this an organic document, and if there are things you're doing in your own practice, I want to hear about it!
Finally, I know many other small businesses (and consumers!) struggle to translate their values into something that feels concrete, and authentic, and valuable. I'm not quick or snappy when it comes to social media, I'm someone who likes to have a long conversation, to think deeply about things for a few days, to go deep with a few trusted friends.
And I think that's okay. I think we have the right to be different people in different spaces, and if I'm not snappy when it comes to more general posts, I definitely am not snappy when it comes to my thoughts on important issues. So my thoughts on racial justice or other social issues rarely show up on Instagram. But I think we do have a responsibility to use our voices, and long-form writing *is* much more comfortable for me, so it makes the most sense for me to show in this space with my thoughts.
So - I'm sharing this. It's a systemic approach (it's not prescriptive), and it's personal, and it's ever-evolving. Maybe this will be valuable for you, maybe not, but one of the things I feel like I can offer is grappling 'out-loud' as I try to navigate my own learning better and doing better.
Consuming and participating in social media
Who and what I see shapes the way I see the world. Whose voices, stories and images am I seeing? Who am I following? Does the media I see confirm the dominant culture, or does it challenge it?
Whose ideas, work, and joy am I promoting and sharing?
Whose content to engage with, post on, or respond to?
Am I gently challenging 'one right way', the centering of traditional white ways of making, or forms of yarn or making snobbery?
I value the work of activists who share and reshare thought pieces about justice on social media. Although that form of leadership isn’t authentic for me, I acknowledge and respect that leadership and express appreciation whenever it is appropriate to do so, and financially whenever possible.
I'm not owed comfort when my actions cause harm, and I appreciate and value when folks in my community do me the courtesy of establishing a boundary, help me understand something better, or otherwise call me in.
Choosing and structuring partnerships
Consciously evaluate the power dynamic in my collaborations, and offer to pay for the yarn for my project if my position is privileged.
Consciously evaluate how collaborations build equity for partners - how can I help someone grow?
Consider multi-party collabs to create momentum for small artists.
Connect other artists to each other.
Be explicit with expectations - what I need and what I commit to providing.
Grade patterns before making samples, to ensure all design elements work in every size.
A purchase is an investment in someone else. Am I investing in creating a world that makes more space for more makers? Source yarns, notions, and services with intention.
Consider design elements - are they culturally appropriate for me to include?
Use gender-inclusive language to refer to bodies.
Honoring the contributions of others
Tests are long.
My commitment to testers is explicit.
Testers are credited on my webpage.
Reflect on my unconscious bias before selecting testers.
Include the work of testers in my email newsletter, including imperfect photos whenever it makes sense to do so.
Actively solicit feedback.
Welcome multiple ways to contact me, both public and private.
Encourage yarns at multiple price points.
Solicit knitters with a range of experience.
Review testers' public social media accounts to ensure I’m creating a safe environment.
Talking about privilege
Talking about race all the time means it doesn’t feel weird to talk about it when it’s in everyone’s stories.
I have an opportunity to use my space to reflect on my experiences in a way that can help others connect with their own anti-racism efforts.
Recognizing my privilege and sitting with discomfort ‘out loud’ might help others contextualize their own experiences.
If you have some practices that work for you that you'd like to share with me, or if you'd just like to chat about this, please feel free to leave a comment or email me. I'm constantly learning and growing, and in no way consider my work in this area done. New thoughts are very welcome!