25 June 2019

Life on the Margins

I just wanted to put this out in the universe, because I've been thinking about it a lot, and if nothing else, it needs to leave my brain so I can have some personal peace.  Having said that, feel free to stop reading if you aren't interested, or for other reasons that you may have.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard about Ravelry's statement released just this past Sunday regarding their new policy dealing with support of the current occupant of the White House and his administration.  It's been trending on Twitter, all over Instagram, and even covered by CNN, The Washington Post, and The Guardian in the UK.

I will admit that I was really surprised when I first heard about it - because I didn't realize that anything was happening, though upon reflection, I shouldn't have been surprised.  Knitters, crocheters, weavers, etc. are all people.  People think (well, at least some of them), and they have feelings, and they react to things.  As a knitter, I enjoy thinking about patterns, yarns, seeing what others are doing, and laughing when things go wrong.  I also have strong opinions about many things and many people, and have no qualms about expressing them when the spirit moves me.  I live in the world, and have serious concerns about what is happening locally, nationally, and globally, and I do what I can to support individuals and organizations that share my values.

Some people I know think and believe differently than I do, and for the most part, I can respect them even if I disagree, because they have come to their feelings and decisions based on experience, thoughtfulness, and consideration of facts.  I have no issues with these people, because it is a live-and-let-live sort of relationship.  We agree to disagree, as it were.  I don't preach to them, and they don't preach to me.

This is completely different than dealing with extremists, no matter what the cause or belief system.  I will admit that I am in no way a supporter of the current occupant of the White House or anyone of his ilk.  Do I think they are to blame for every single bad thing going on in today's society?  No I don't.  But - and this is a big BUT - I think that they are responsible for bad things getting worse, because they do not condemn them.  They are not going up to individuals and saying, "Yes, have a rally against minorities," but they are not condeming them when they happen.  They are allowing every base, terrible instinct to become just another part of our lives.  For example, toxic masculinity and obvious racism has always been around, but through the example from the top, it's more publicly prevalent than ever.  Some would say, "Well, at least it's out in the open," but when actions follow that hurt or endanger others, it needs to be stopped.  We should all strive to be better than this.

Growing up, I was often at the margins of "normal" life.  We moved a lot, so I spent a lot of time being "the new kid," which is as much about being someone no one knows in school as it is about being a curiosity because you're not part of "them."  My family didn't have money, so I didn't travel to exotic places on school breaks or vacations, like nearly every other kid in my school did.  I was never popular, and was often bullied.  The fact that I was smart (i.e., got decent grades) meant that sometimes, kids were nice to me because they hoped I would do their schoolwork for them (I wouldn't).  I was never boy-crazy, which as a teenager made me a really suspicious character.  It was usually unpleasant, often lonely, and sometimes heartbreaking.

But here's the thing.  I was never left out because of the color of my skin.  I've never been the recipient of cruelty or negativity based on the person I chose to marry.  No one's ever told me to go back to where I came from, even if I was born here.  I've never had to explain my decision to change my gender.  I've never had anyone threaten to kill or lynch me.  No one has ever followed me around a store because they were sure that I'd steal something, even if I'd never even considered doing such a thing.  No one has ever called me terrible names related to my ethnic background or religious beliefs.

These are examples of people who are truly marginilized.  These are the ones who get hate mail, or mocked on Twitter, or in worst-case scenarios, have people call them on their phones to spew filth, or show up at their homes to harrass them.

There are not "very fine people on both sides" of extremism.  Ravelry took a stand, which was within their rights.  The First Amendment protects free speech, but only regarding the government.  Individuals and private companies can decide for themselves what is acceptable and not acceptable.  Those responsible for Ravelry decided where the line in the sand was located, and unlike many other websites, companies, and individuals, they said enough is enough, here is how we will go forward.

We all need to follow their example.  Thank you for reading.

EDITED TO ADD:  Thoughtful comments, as always, are welcome.  Rude, abusive, or threatening comments will be immediately deleted, because, to use a popular saying, "Ain't nobody got time for that."


Wanderingcatstudio said...

Love that comic.
I generally keep my beliefs and views to myself (unless asked), but it's pretty simple. I tolerate everything but extremism. You're Muslim? Cool. Muslim extremist - not cool. Christian - cool. Christian extremist - not cool. Atheist - cool. Atheist extremist - not cool.
And discrimination of any kind (sexual, racial, etc) should never be tolerated.

Vera said...

Well said Bridget, well said.

Kym said...

Bravo, Bridget. Thanks for sharing your thoughtful, heartfelt words. XOXO

Kim in Oregon said...

Thanks for writing this. I have many strong thoughts and feelings about what Rav did, and you did a great job of sorting them all out.

Araignee said...

I was a first grade teacher for 27 years in a very diverse area. We had kids from all over the world who spoke every language you could imagine and who had every skin color imaginable and who had every gender imaginable and NOT ONCE did I ever hear a hateful remark from a student towards another for being different.
It's not natural for humans to hate each other for such silly reasons. As the saying goes...you have to be taught.
Carefully taught.
Shame on us.
I support Ravelry's decision.
It has to stop somewhere.

Caffeine Girl said...

Well said!
And that comic is just perfect.
This year, 8 teachers in my district have lost their jobs over saying the n-word. Many of my white co-workers think that is too harsh. I do not. First of all, what white person says that word? Second, what white teacher says that word at school???
I see the effects of racism on young people all year long, and I breaks my heart.

AsKatKnits said...

Bravo to you - well said.

(and in my life on the margins - freedom of speech does not mean that I can say things that incite others to others. Or, in a better case in point - The Orange Idiot can't encourage others to hurt people under the guise of free speech. So, yes - I think he is very much bears some of the responsibility of where we are today)

Bonny said...

Thanks for sharing your well-reasoned and heartfelt thoughts. Racism and extremism in any form are just indefensible, and while I'm still mulling over Ravelry's response, I heartily applaud them taking the stand of enough is enough.

kathy b said...

I think as knitters Revelry made a bold, very bold move. It may alienate some but I for one was pleased with the thought behind it. I was glad it got National Attention.

Deb said...

Well done, thank you for living your beliefs.

karen said...

agree and well said, much love to you!

Nance said...

I could not possibly agree more. With you and with Ravelry. And with all the Commenters here thus far.

Lilly's Mom said...

Your an excellent writer Bridget to explain this about Ravelry. I don't agree with their policy because it marginalizes people. I've been researching that many self employed individuals in the fiber arts world were boycotted and lost their livelihood because their views were different. And, they were not extremists in any sense of the word. My husband immigrated to the US because of religious discrimination. I feel this is going to happen to me because of my political association. Ravelry should be a non political platform across the board for ALL people. I love your blog and you,so of course I'm still be here. My best to you dear friend. 🤗

Lorette said...

Well said. I’m really hoping that this serves to spark a conversation about what is OK to disagree about, and what isn’t. I think it is perfectly OK to disagree about issues such as government spending, how we pay for health care, education, etc. Just because someone disagrees with me on that doesn’t make them an idiot. Racism, hate speech, misogyny, discrimination of people who have a different sexual identity are not differences of opinion. I believe that we need to get to a place where we can have discussions about the former, and all agree that the latter are just wrong.

Barb in Texas said...

a great big "YES" from here- there has come a time when peopled must know the difference between "free speech" and hate-mongering-I proudly stand with Ravelry!
all regards- Barb

Mereknits said...

I am so glad you posted this as you said it much better than I ever could. Ravelry is not saying you can't support the president, it just is not the place to post that support and I agree, although as you know I do not support him or his administration at all. I am proud of them for taking a stand, and for those who have their feathers ruffled so be it.