Third Verse, Same as the First

img_2981Oh Lordy me- here we go again. Racism continues to rear its ugly head in the knitting community and prominent white ladies continue to miss the point rather spectacularly.

First, Kristy Glass rushed waaaaay too quickly to “hug it out.”

We’ve taken to calling this “second wave Karen-ism” in the Republica Unicornia: the Karen Templer incident revealed the problems around race and inclusivity that have always existed in the knitting community, and many BIPOC were open and honest about their experiences of racism in a world that many white women (myself included) have found to be affirming and safe. And the hurt that has always been there came to the surface.

In my nicer moments, I’m able to give Kristy Glass the benefit of the doubt—that she saw people she cared about suffering and wanted to use her sizeable platform (and what a friend recently called her “high cheekbones and doe-eyed charm”) to smooth things over. Hugs are great, right? Love is the answer, right?

But my nicer moments are few and far between these days, however, and what I saw was a white woman who wanted to avoid prolonged unpleasantness: the turning away from justified rage and deep pain because it was uncomfortable. I bristle at rushes to “healing” and “reconciliation” that do not allow the wound to breathe. If there was one thing I learned as a hospital chaplain, it’s that healing is not a nice process—it hurts, it’s not linear, and pretending that everything is okay does not make it so. And healing always takes time—so much time.

If a physical wound takes more than a week to heal, imagine the time requirements of the psychological, spiritual, emotional wounds of the last five hundred-plus years of human history for BIPOC? Calm your tits, white ladies.

And then this week, Third Wave Karen-ism happened and it got even worse.

A summary—when the original Karen Templer stuff happened, a white lady indie dyer flounced off Instagram, citing “self-care” and “being bullied.” I’d love to know the content of the post actually was, but this chick is the queen of revisionist history (more on that later). Best I can tell, she said something about how terrible it was that KT’s business was being harmed by all these scary people of color overreacting on the Internet. And people responded. So she went off in a sad little huff, and that could have been the end of it.

But white privilege is so pervasive, and so strong, that this human being decided that what she really needed to do was to take to YouTube and talk about how wronged she had been.

I tried to watch the video, for research. I made it ten minutes in and it literally turned my stomach. It was a master class on How To Be A Modern Rascist: gaslight the hell out of BIPOC, call racism an “issue,” talk about people speaking their truth as “spreading hate,” re-center yourself as the victim, surround yourself with sycophants through policing of comments section, generally fail at practicing true empathy, act like your hurt feelings are worth more than the lives of other human beings, say that everyone feels the same way you do but they’re too afraid to speak out, cry.

There’s no “conversation” or “reasoning with her” or “approaching her privately,” since she has shown that she polices and deletes even the most gentle of comments, direct messages, and emails from people who look like her—to say nothing of what folks she has deemed “scary” (read: not white) people say.

She decried division and this—this is where I lost my shit.

As you may know if you’ve been around for a minute, I used to be a United Methodist pastor. The United Methodist Church has continually denied the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ folks in the full life of the church—declaring that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” And at the churchwide meetings every four years, there is a lot of yelling about and fighting about the sacred worth of all human beings, even as there is mounting evidence that these teachings cause real damage in real lives. One would think that the high suicide rate among LGBTQ+ teenagers would spur a church to action, but you would be wrong. And because The United Methodist Church has historically decided that “unity”, not justice, is the ultimate good, the church has remained at an impasse. (That may be about to change, about 30 years beyond when it would have been interesting). I left the ministry for many reasons, but I left The United Methodist Church because of this bullshit.

In my almost ten-years in the church, I heard this referred to as the “issue of homosexuality”, a “distraction from the real work of the church,” “divisive politics.” Let’s just get back to our knitting, shall we? And just be nice to one another?

“Unity” has become the coded language that oppressors use when they want oppressed people to get back in their place—it is shorthand for “the way things used to be.” Make Knitting Great Again.

I want no part of this—if speaking the truth and fighting for justice and true inclusion is “divisive”, sign me up. There are grey areas in life, to be sure, but the equal worth of human life is not one of them. Pretending that your feelings and business success matter more than the safety of black and brown bodies is deeply immoral. The failure to practice real empathy is the failure to be a full human being.*

I am grateful for the ways in which making things has allowed me to live into my humanity. When I’ve talked about this before I’ve talked about it in the personal sense—that making things makes me feel like who I am. And the current shakeup in the knitting world has called me to be who I am supposed to be—a human who gives a shit about other human beings and acts accordingly.

I am grateful for the voices that are speaking up and holding those of us with white skin accountable for our speech, our silence, our actions, and our inactions. I see you and hear you and affirm your labor. You are a blessing to this world.

More reading here (also, buy these amazing humans a coffee- links are in their profiles!)

@burkehousecrafts (Her posts always make me laugh and cry at the same time)

@tyneswedish (Her stories are the best)

@lemontangos (Her post about Vogue Knitting Live is beautiful and heart-wrenching)

@su.krita (Fierce and bullshit-free)

@astitchtowear (Just so good)

@ajabarber (Calling for accountability in the fashion world)

@knitquiltsewstitch (Her post “Here We Go Again” is fabulous)

 

I’m here for the long haul, y’all.

xo

Kathleen

 

*Disclaimer- Don’t come at me with false equivalencies about how I am not being “empathetic” to a white girl’s hurt feelings. Actions and choices have consequences. She chose to spew rascist BS and is experiencing the consequences. Friendly reminder that being born with more melanin in a world that values whiteness above all isn’t a choice.

 

 

 

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