No more knitting as usual.
I’ve not been able to locate the author of this quote, but it always makes me pause:
“It isn’t the date on either end that counts, but how they used their dash—for that dash between the dates represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.” –unknown
What will that dash on my gravestone, between my day of birth and my death, stand for in my life? That is the work that I need to keep in front of me from the moment I awaken until the moment I die.
In the wake of the murder of a Black man, George Floyd, and the murder and abuse of countless other Blacks, there is a judgment against me when I feel outrage and anger because, although I am feeling that fury now…
- why has it not been my fury every morning when I have awakened these 60+ years?
- Why have I believed my voice cannot make a difference…that my actions cannot make a difference in the face of systemic, institutionalized racism?
- Why have I believed that it is enough for me to try to treat all people kindly and with respect?
I am seeing now the cop-out of this posture…that these placid, vapid, actionless principles are rooted in my own white privilege and fragility. Unless I wake up each morning, recognizing I am complicit and fueled by the pain caused by my lack of action, fueled by righteous outrage at injustice, and ready to act meaningfully and in ways that cost me—real actions, not simply placating words but with my feet in protest and my wallet in support—I am trying to feather my nest with the benefits of white privilege and I am not acting as if Black Lives Matter.
I want to take to heart and put to action these words from Dana Williams-Johnson on her blog “Yards of Happiness” (please read the whole blog here, scroll down to locate her June 1, 2020 post)
“…And let me say this right now, I do not need your apologies or concern. I do not need you to post a Black Lives Matter picture on your Instagram feed or tag me in a post where you’re stating Black Lives Matter. I am not asking for that and do not want any of that because those things do not do anything for me or Black people. What I need is for those with privilege (White people) to step up and do something. I need people with privilege to acknowledge and accept the fact that systemic racism is real and on display because until those with the privilege acknowledge it and actively work to change it – all of this chaos will continue to happen…If you’ve felt like everyone should get back to knitting and not talk about politics – that is a clear sign of privilege and acceptance of the white supremacy that you benefit from.”
She wrote again in her column (June 5, 2020) on the Modern Daily Knitting (fka Mason Dixon Knitting) Web site: https://www.masondixonknitting.com/danas-edit-see-me-not-just-what-i-knit/ (again, scroll down the page to see the article).
Dana Williams-Johnson writes: “I’m asking during this time of unrest in our country, when I cannot find the calm in knitting I once used to, for you to take a look at me. I want you to see ME. I am a Black woman filled with fear, sadness, and frustration right now at how white supremacy is still holding this nation back…See me. See what I’m grappling with, see what I’m struggling with, and take the time out to learn. Get a broader view of history, read about race and have those difficult conversations with family and friends. See me and acknowledge that my pain is real. See me, and not just what I knit.”
More ways to get to know Dana Williams-Johnson:
- “Humans of Ravelry” Feature (1.18.2019)
- Podcast (7.31.2018)
Dana Williams-Johnson inspires me to recognize the privilege I was born into comes to me with a price—BUT who will pay the price? I can use my privilege to fight against injustice and racism and it should cost me to do so or it isn’t honest. If it doesn’t cost me in my fight against injustice and racism, then the price of my privilege will be paid for by Blacks. I show my gratitude for her inspiration to wake up and live a life of justice by paying it forward. I show my anger at the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Botham Jean, Pamela Turner, Michael Brown…— and the many whose names I do not even know—not by empty words or easy actions, but by acting in a new way that requires courage and effort.
Are you with me?
Southern Poverty Law Center. “Dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.”
American Civil Liberties Union. “Exists to preserve and protect the liberties and privileges guaranteed to each individual by the Bill of Rights. These liberties include freedom of speech and expression, equal protection under the law, due process of law, and the right to personal privacy.”
Equal Justice Initiative. “Committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S., challenging racial and economic injustice, and protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”
National Action Network. “NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, citizenship, criminal record, economic status, gender, gender expression, or sexuality.”
Contact your Congress member and Senator, as well as your governor, mayor, and city council member—they do count the number of calls, emails, and letters they receive.
Follow BlackLivesMatter for concrete up-to-date opportunities to act meaningfully. Let’s do so as if our lives depend upon it. They do.
STOP! THINK! ACT!
3 June 2020
A thoughtful writing on racism in the knitting community with some great links and resources at the end: https://www.knitsonik.com/racism-in-the-knitting-community/
3 June 2020
Want to be supportive of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People of Color) knitting, crochet and craft community? Put your money where your mouth is. Follow this link to Vickie Howell’s work-in-progress **list of BIPOC designers and business owners to shop from, hire to speak at your next conference, interview for your podcasts, or commission to design for your publication.