As many of you will be aware, for the past couple months there has been a lot of conversation around racism and white supremacy within the context of particularly the knitting and slow fashion communities online, both of which have a lot of crossover into the sewing and quilting world. For some background, this article on Vox.com, "The knitting community is reckoning with racism", has done a good job of summarizing what sparked this.
I've followed the conversation closely, hearing so many stories about experiences with racism both in daily life, and specifically in craft and slow fashion spaces (both online and offline). While I can't say any of this shocked me - I know racism is far from being behind us - the personal nature of what was shared, mostly via Instagram posts and stories, really brought this to life in a way that resonated with so many people. It has been like nothing I've really seen before, as far as the reach and effectiveness of these posts - and because of that, there has been both immense support and some very disappointing and harmful backlash.
Many People of Colour (POC) in the craft and slow fashion communities called out for anti-racism statements from companies, to ask they make it clear that they stand against racism and white supremacy. Requesting they be explicit so that there could be no room for their silence being misinterpreted as not caring, or worse yet being part of this simmering covert racism that was starting to bubble over and become very overt. Some businesses have refused to do so, and have been very defensive about this, and it has caused immense harm and heartache among POC crafters to be confronted with invalidation of their concerns, and even frank harassment.
In late February, I drafted and put up an anti-racism statement on our Instagram account (Instagram being where much of this has taken place), as the nature of hosting an online space like Textillia truly does demand taking a clear stance about such things. While we've had anti-racism rules in our Terms of Service from the moment we launched, I realized how buried this info is and felt compelled to be more explicit about where we stand. While it was in the back of my mind the last couple weeks that it was probably a bit of a cop out not to also post this more publicly on the website itself for those who are not on Instagram, admittedly I had been putting it off. Learning yesterday of the mosque attacks in New Zealand, I was reminded why this matters so much. Being that the whole racism in knitting discussion has been heavily centralized around the local knitting community in Sydney, Australia (see the Unfinished Object blog for more info), the proximity of the attacks in New Zealand really emphasized the importance of again taking a clear stand.
Here on Textillia, we have zero tolerance for any kind of racism, or other discriminatory behaviour towards any marginalized groups. Furthermore, here is what I posted on our Instagram:
Hi folks! I've seen renewed calls from crafty POC (people of colour), so we're more than happy to make this crystal clear. It's not very dramatic, but rather focused on specifics, here goes:
We're grateful to all who have shared their stories and knowledge these past weeks. The nature of Instagram has clearly enabled more attention and empathy toward folks who've often been unheard and felt unwelcome. It’s also clear how exhausting, time consuming, and emotional it has been for those doing this work. I’ve tagged several folks whose posts I’ve appreciated on the photo, please listen, learn, and donate $ if you can! We hope one day this work is no longer necessary, but till then our hope is minds and hearts keep opening. ✂️💕
- Bruno and I (co-owners of Textillia) are in steadfast solidarity with those speaking out against racism and white supremacy.
- This is written into our ToS (Terms of Service). Members who violate it may have content removed and/or be permanently blocked. It is imperative that Textillia be safe for POC, especially black and indigenous people of colour (BIPOC). If you can’t abide our ToS, Textillia is probably not the right place for you (that's not what we mean by "for everyone").
- We welcome discussion of political issues on our platform. While the line between criticism and bullying is [a fine one], we don't consider calling out racism or pressuring a company to be transparent about their ethics, “bullying”. We do however consider using accusations of bullying to shut down discourse to be a form of oppression.
- We intentionally promote diverse representation on our homepage and social media.
- If you see any problematic behaviour by us, or by others on our platform, please let us know - we’ll do our best to respond quickly and productively. We know we'll need to be more vigilant as our membership grows.
- While we’re not yet in a position to sponsor textile/craft related social and environmental projects, we hope to once we're out of beta + have revenue. We commit to supporting projects by BIPOC and other marginalized groups.
While we'd like to believe that our members will all be on board with this, we're also not naive especially given the sheer number of members we have, which is only growing by the week. We are ready to enforce our ToS as needed to keep Textillia a welcoming refuge for all manner of marginalized sewists - whether due to race, gender, sexuality, disability, age, size, financial status, etc.
We invite any members who want to show your support to leave a comment below (you'll need to be logged in to comment), demonstrating your solidarity and commitment to upholding these values on Textillia, especially as our community grows.
ps. Bruno will be helping to monitor comments on this post while I'm going through my usual post-infusion side-effects, which tend to get a bit hellish. Forgive me if I'm delayed at all replying over the weekend, but I thought it was important to get this up sooner than later! - Ariane