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On Racism, Part 2

Chantal Ratnam

Posted on January 30 2019

Ok guys, so this is not the blog post that I originally intended to write today.  I originally planned to write about all of the handmades that I gifted to my cousin at her baby shower, starting a new sweater that has been on my to do list for awhile, the official launch of Rosarito by Annie Haas and maybe a couple of the other crafty things that I’ve been up to recently. All of that is going to have to wait, unfortunately, because the last couple days I’ve been overwhelmed by feelings of anger and frustration that I have not been able to reason or deep breathe away.

Now part of me wants to let you know in advance that I promise, I PROMISE, not to turn this blog into my SJW soap box but the other 90% of me is screaming, “USE EVERY TOOL YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE!!”  I guess after this blog post, if I feel like I still haven’t vented my spleen, maybe I’ll have to consider some other avenue to get that done.

Guys last week’s blog post was the product of two weeks of careful thought on the topic of racism in our community and it came from a place that was kind of happy that this topic came up and that a lot of people were saying, “hey, racism in our community is no longer a thing we’re going to tolerate.”  I guess my happy place was in going through my feed and realising that a lot of the makers that I happen to follow are clearly progressive people with zero tolerance for this bullshit.

And then, in the last week, videos started coming out from people with other points of view.  The first one Ash and I decided to pointedly ignore, having already heard enough feedback to not want to give it any attention.  The second video, I made the phenomenal mistake of watching.  Now I absolutely want to name and shame because I was so utterly offended by what I saw and I think the only reason I don’t is because Ashley probably would not approve. Let’s call her my better angel.

The video was basically this pearl clutcher going on for about 15 minutes about how she needed to take a break from Instagram because of bullying around a certain ‘social issue’ which we were all calling a conversation but she felt was very one sided.  This, in itself, was enough to make me fume but then yesterday I found out that I was fuming about this at the exact same time that Jussie Smollett was being viciously attacked in Chicago for being black and gay.

Now I fell into the path of this video by way of Liz (@knitquiltsewstitch) where she was openly saying that nothing I could say would make this person change her mind and that we should focus on dismantling racism within our smaller circles and for all of the sense that makes, I still want to scream a tirade at the woman who posted this video.  I want to shout, “YOU AND YOUR KIN DID THIS! DID SOMEONE ASK JUSSIE IF THE CONVERSATION FELT ONE SIDED WHILE HE WAS BEING ATTACKED?”

Martin Luther King Jr. said “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him,” and on days like today I STRUGGLE.  Is it not normal to hate someone who squats in their privilege and refuses to offer care and compassion for the people around them?

Worse than her video was the myriad of women in her comments, thanking her for having the courage to speak up.  I go on her Instagram account and I see that she had 12, 000 followers and I can’t help but wonder what percentage of these people a) agree with her b) don’t care about her politics, they’re just there for the yarn or c) aren’t paying attention. When I think about it, I think of 12, 000 people standing there, watching Jussie get attacked and either doing nothing about it or feel as though that attack was justified.  

Here's what I don't understand: if you don't agree with her politics, how do you bring yourself to a place where you say, I'm just here for the yarn?  As I sit here, I ask myself, what could a person offer me to make me turn a blind eye to this type of ignorance?  Maybe from my seat of privilege, I can afford my integrity.  Maybe if I were brought to a low circumstance I would compromise.  I'm going to hope that her followers just haven't been paying attention because I sort of suspect that most of them should know to do better.

I have no answers and I think that’s the most frustrating thing to deal with.  How do you make people see when they’re committed to keeping their eyes closed? I caught myself wishing this woman a taste of her own medicine and then realised that is a waste of time.  More than anything, I wish her clarity and perspective and empathy.  The next time she discusses this issue, I hope it's with some of all of that.

Today I don't feel peace but, as always, I will wish it for you and yours and hopefully sometime soon we'll get back to happy knitting. xo.

Chantal

2 comments

  • Janet Loughheed: February 01, 2019

    Canada has a lot of covert or implicit racism, we are more sneaky, and ever so polite about it, but it is there and needs to be called out. I am in Health research and the results are consistent, our indiginous population are consistently under diagnosed, thrown out of emergency rooms when they are desperately sick, dismissed when they need help. We have other problems too, women’s pain is often underestimated and under treated. Anger has a place, anger over injustice, inaction is important and do not let yourself be silenced. So what one act can you take today, what one thing moves all of us forward as a society? Margaret Meade never actually said it, but that small group of motivated people surely can and do change the world.

  • Amy C: January 30, 2019

    Oh yes! I see you. I hear you. I’m so so angry (and sad and frustrated and sickened too).

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