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Our stance on racism and white supremacy (in craft)

Update #2 (June 4, 2020):

While I've been making updates on our Instagram since Saturday when the protests of George Floyd's murder began, I have been remiss not to also do so here front and center. I've turned this anti-racism statement into a running post, and it has a bunch more info on our stance below, so I'm pinning it back onto our homepage.

Black Lives Matter.

We (Textillia's owners) fully and unequivocally denounce the murders and police brutality towards George Floyd, and the countless other Black people that have been killed by police brutality, not only this past week and month, but for years. We support the protests going on in the US, here in Canada, and around the world. The sewing industry is still very white and very averse to "being political", and it is critical that businesses and platforms like ours speak loudly in support of important humanitarian issues, within and beyond our actually very diverse community.

While our current resources are extremely limited and I'm not physically able to be out on the streets protesting, I've been doing my best to amplify the voices of Black sewists and crafters on our Instagram in solidarity, share resources, and encourage other companies to take clear anti-racist stances. And Bruno and I have been discussing other ways we can both keep progressing our understanding of the issues of racism, white supremacy, and police divestment, and make more tangible contributions in the future, both personally/locally and on a wider scale through Textillia.

Sending love and solidarity to everyone hurting, take care of yourselves and each other so we can all keep fighting for justice and equality.

Update #1 (June 24, 2019):

Over the weekend, Ravelry (the world's largest knitting website, which inspired Textillia, [admin note: edited to remove no longer current info]) created a new policy extending their anti-hate speech rules to include banning any pro-Trump content. (If you want the backstory, there's a good summary on TechCrunch.) The story blew up and has been all over the news, and we have received some emails demanding to know whether we have a similar stance (clearly from people who are new here, and/or didn't take a minute to look around before emailing). So, although there is barely any room left for (mis)interpretation, to be crystal clear:

  • We stand 100% in solidarity with Ravelry.
  • We stand 100% in solidarity with marginalized people and those doing anti-racism work. (This includes people who are LGTBQ+, disabled, immigrants, BIPOC, and other marginalised groups.)
  • Like on Ravelry, promoting Trump and/or white supremacy, hate speech against marginalised people, bullying, taunting, etc. will not be tolerated on TextiIlia.
  • We welcome people across the political and religious spectrum, but if your beliefs are harmful toward marginalised people, you are not welcome to post or promote them here in any fashion.
  • Textillia is our family business and not a public service, so we make the rules here. Our politics and stance on hate speech have been enshrined in our Terms of Service from day one, and we have been more than forthcoming about what role that plays in our business.
  • If you have a problem with our beliefs or how we run our business, then we suggest you find a different online community to join.
  • This is not up for debate. We will not waste our time and energy "debating" any of this. 
  • Any antagonizing comments will be removed. Any antagonizing emails will not be responded to.
  • Any hate speech or antagonizing of members in good standing or admins will result in your account being permanently (or temporarily with a warning, depending on the incident) suspended. If you aren't sure what constitutes hate speech, a good rule is: if you're not sure, keep it to yourself.
  • Again, this is not up for debate. If any of this is a problem for you, do not become a member [edited to add: or cancel your account].

Thanks as always to our community members for continuing to be excellent to us and to each other. Let's continue to keep Textillia hate-free.

Original post (March 16, 2019):

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:
  1. Bruno and I (co-owners of Textillia) are in steadfast solidarity with those speaking out against racism and white supremacy.
  2. 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").
  3. 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.
  4. We intentionally promote diverse representation on our homepage and social media.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
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. ✂️💕

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