I've been so sad and frustrated this past week.
I know that I'm not alone in this & it breaks my heart when I see the rampant cyber bullying, bigotry & hatred that has exploded in our fiber-filled corner of the internet. Dyers, designers & fiber friends are being attacked from both the Left and Right wings, they're being attacked by people who claim to be fighting for fairness & equality, and (thanks to press coverage) they're being attacked by random internet folks who have never knit a stitch in their life.
It doesn't matter if you're pro- or con-Ravelry, shouting your views from the rooftops or trying to just sit quietly in your corner until this whole thing blows over, everyone in the fiber world is being heavily pressured into sharing their stance at this point. And the worst part is that no matter what your opinion, there's a horde of trolls in the waiting to tell you in no uncertain terms just how wrong you are.
If you're out of the loop, Ravelry enacted a new policy on Sunday, June 23, 2019. This policy has opened the floodgates for hatemail, trolling, and all kinds of general terribleness in our knitting world. This wasn't Ravelry's intent. They were trying to do the best they could to quickly counteract a situation that had already escalated to dangerous levels and I do commend them for that.
I do not, however, agree with the assumption that Trump Supporters = White Supremacists. I feel like this assumption paints an entire group with too broad of a brush. The blurb also doesn't offer enough context for those who just visit the site for some happy crafting time. This has caused a huge divide because (if years of working retail has taught me nothing else) people rarely read the fine print & usually see what they want to see in generalized statements. That being said, as @Yarnharlot said it is their living room so they get to make the rules.
I've been struggling with finding my own voice in this matter because I want to make sure that my opinion isn't just a knee-jerk reaction and that it truly is a belief that I'm willing to defend. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll notice that I've only been posting other people's posts & comments to my stories lately. I was sharing these posts because I felt like they voiced valid points & helped me to clarify my own conflicting thoughts on this issue.
There is a lot of confusion out there about what prompted this seemingly rash decision from Ravelry because not everyone saw the cowl that sparked this decision. I was not a part of the things that transpired, but from what I've gathered a pattern for a "Trump 2020" cowl was released on Ravelry & there was coded discriminatory language used in the pattern description so it was reported. At that point Ravelry didn't have an option for anonymous reporting so the reporter's information was shared and she started receiving hate-filled messages & threats. Someone who she had done a swap with in the past had her home address & shared that with the group as well.
Long story short, things escalated very quickly and reached very dangerous levels for those being threatened so the Ravelry staff had to act swiftly in an attempt to deal with everything. The designer was banned, her patterns have been removed from the site and anyone who was participating in the hate is being dealt with. This is where I do applaud Ravelry for very firmly standing up for those being attacked and trying to create a safe space for everyone.
I acknowledge my ignorance in most political and social matters and am doing my best to quit being an ostrich with my head in the sand when it comes to uncomfortable discussions. Last weekend I attended an event hosted by @JustRunKnit & @Jknitma that featured @CreativeCeci as the keynote speaker. The event itself was an amazing boost for me personally & Ceci's talk made me rethink how much avoiding I've been doing the past few years. (My privilege is definitely showing with that statement because I've been able to so easily hide from uncomfortable things.)
I'm working on educating myself on all the issues that Ravelry's ban on Trump has brought into my world and I urge you to do the same. Reach out in kindness to each other even if you have differing opinions & strive to have an actual conversation with one another. We're all ignorant about some things & the only way we can learn is to be taught.
Please be kind to each other, this whole messy thing is confusing and frustrating for everyone. Approach each conversation with good intentions & if the other person doesn't reciprocate you can always try to converse with someone else who is willing to have a thoughtful discussion.
I will be staying on Ravelry as a designer and infrequent poster to the forums (I mainly just play knitting games, lol). On June 18, 2019 (before any of this happened) I made the decision to close my Ravelry group due to cyber-bullying. At the time I was unsure if it would be a temporary closure or a permanent one. I now feel the need to keep it as a permanent closure since I am unable to moderate it effectively.
I support Ravelry's decision because I feel like it was the best option in the moment, even if the wording was poorly selected and offensive (in my opnion). I feel that they're intent was in the right place and I think that intent is what we really need to look at here. Like Ceci & Megan said at last weekend's event, "We all deserve grace."
I'll be posting next week about options for group chats & pattern purchasing off-Ravelry for those of you who don't wish to support their site any longer. I'm trying to look at everything from both sides & want you to know that all are welcome & all are loved here. Sometimes life sucks, but things will get better.
I hope your having a great day & happy knitting!
Edited to add this thought from @Drawfour:
"I read your blog and one of the important things to remember is that support of a white supremacist is effectively support of white supremacy, whether one considers themselves a white supremacist or not. And also important to note that racism isn't just hoods and burning crosses—it's countless microaggressions that white people may not even realize they're doing. It's time to look at who we support with a critical eye—and it's past time we turned that critical eye inward as well."
Not gonna lie, she kinda blew my mind with the bit about white supremacy. I hadn't thought about it quite that way and am so grateful for her input in the discussion on Instagram. Just something else for you guys to think on as I leave you with all the thoughts from this week. Next week I'll be sharing some of my thoughts about cultural appropriation and microaggressions that have been sparked by a blog post I read over at Ysolda.com
PS: Just incase you haven't seen it yet, this is why I love StevenBe so incredibly much & I second everything he shares in this video:
Note: Everything in this post is my own personal opinion. I've linked where I think is helpful & shared a few quotes that have made sense to me as I struggle to find my voice in this challenging situation. I'm sure that I'll unknowingly offend someone so I apologize in advance & ask that you help myself & others grow in our understanding by posting helpful (not hurtful) commentary below.