07 February 2019

In Which I Think About Life Lessons

Hi everyone - I've had an interesting few days, and they have given me a lot to think about, which for better or worse, I'm sharing with you.

I have been flabbergasted at the stories of the governor and attorney general of Virginia, and their current problems resulting from at one time or another in the 1980s, wearing blackface.  This is something I just cannot wrap my brain around.  I knew as a child that it was beyond wrong.  I had a father who was not in any way fond of pretty much any minorities, but he always let us know that in that particular way, we should NOT be like him - and he would enforce it, even if we did or said something without consciously planning/realizing it.  So to think that in the 1980s, *anyone* would do it, even as a joke, just does not compute in my brain.  And yes, I realize that sadly there were and are plenty who still see it as either funny or not harmful, but wow, pay attention to the world, would you?  And I know that each of them claim it does not reflect their persons now, and I hope that is the case, but at least in the case of the governor, own up to it and resign.  Geez.

Staying on the topic of white privilege/prejudice/stupidity, we move to the discussions recently on Instagram about the exclusiveness of the crafting community.  (If you are not aware of it, it all started with this post.)  The past few weeks have seen so many people speak up for themselves and others like them, and have helped others realize just what is actually going on.  For example, there have been non-white knitters who have told numerous stories of not being welcome in yarn stores, knitting groups, etc., to the point of being followed around by yarn store staff while they are browsing!  (While I am not surprised, I will admit that it never occurred to me when I worked at a yarn store to be suspicious or iffy around any customers except for some regulars who could just suck the life force out of you even if they just stopped in for 10 minutes.)  I believe that the dialogue has been important and illuminating.  There have been backlashes against a few people who do not believe it's been a problem, basically only because they have never seen/experienced it themselves, and I do wish that could be handled in a better way somehow, but I have no solution in mind to be honest.  Anyway, in a new twist on the whole thing, apparently the other day the company Knitters Pride put a post on Instagram with a photo of some products, and the caption was: "Tell us your #CraftyProblems & you could win one of these great prizes!" A personal friend of mine, who I have actually worked with in a yarn store, commented that her problem was (and I am summarizing as I don't have the exact quote) that there was a problem in the crafting community related to BIPOC, and rather than continuing to deal with it, we were just moving on with contests and giveaways.  The company blocked her, and now the comments are blowing up. 

I have to be honest with two things here.  First, it was stupid that they blocked her, as her comment was not rude or vulgar, only her honest thought.  And second, I have to say that on a personal level, I was somewhat annoyed by her comment.  (White privilege, I admit.)  Because the first thing I thought was that we can still work on being inclusive and understanding others' problems and at the same time still have some levity and fun with contests or giveaways.  Admittedly, using the term #CraftyProblems" was tone-deaf.  But I am a firm believer that you can devote every bit of your being to resistance, change, helpfulness, etc., and still be able to enjoy  something or have fun.  In my opinion, life is not pie where you can only deal with a piece at a time, and people are capable of many things and many feelings at once.  I also admit that I am too chicken to post this to her, because I could face her wrath, but don't want to deal with everyone else's.  I guess you can call me #chicken.

If you are still reading (and bless you if you are), now let's move on to something that I have found to be such a positive and happy experience, I wanted to share.  I'm not going to name anyone specifically, because it is not overall my story to tell.  But here is what happened.  Yesterday, I read a blog post by someone whose blog I regularly read.  She was writing about something she watched on TV and how it made her feel.  It was a well-written and thoughtful post about her reactions and her thoughts.  It struck a chord with me, but mainly because I disagreed.  I almost just moved on, but rather than be a #chicken again, I wrote a comment on the post stating my own thoughts about things.  Of course, once I hit "Post" I thought it was a mistake.  Not because I hadn't said my piece, and tried to make it as thoughtful as her post, but because I didn't want it all to become A Thing.  Later that day, I looked at her blog again, and she had written a very kind and thoughtful response, clearly understanding that I was disagreeing BUT NOT SHOUTING and saying she was wrong.  Shortly after I saw that, she sent me a direct message on Instagram, asking if I had seen her response and saying that she hoped I was not offended. 

This is one of the best experiences I have had recently.  We disagreed.  But we exchanged opinions in honest and civil ways, without devolving into name-calling or personal grudges.  As far as both of us are concerned, we are still cyberfriends, and are moving on to the next thing.  I am forever grateful for her kindness and her understanding of what I was doing when commenting on her blog. 

Finally (sigh of relief heard), I just wanted to say that I know that I have a long way to go before I fully understand other people and the world.  But one thing that has been helping me lately is listening to the Pantsuit Politics podcast.  The women who are on that podcast are opposites in so many ways, yet they can have a reasonable discussion on a level we should all aspire to reach in our dealing with those who may disagree with us.  They sometimes have guests who delve further into some fo the topics they discuss.  Occasionally, religion comes into it, but it's not something that I would call overly   "Jesus-y" (my term).  I am especially looking forward to reading a book they just published, called I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening).

For the record, I'm not in any way a representative of theirs, or being paid in any way to promote their podcast or book.  I'm just sharing, because I think the way they handle their discussions is a valuable example to the rest of us.

And that, my friends concludes this post at last.  I shall return to my usual blather and ridiculousness in the next day or so, but these thoughts were spending too much time swirling in my head, and since I had no one else to discuss them with, I wanted to post them here.

Have a good day, and remember to try and be kind.  There are days when I'm happy if that is the only thing I can accomplish.


Nance said...

All of this makes a lot of thoughts go swirling around in MY head! (You could have gotten several posts out of this one.) Because I am not on social media platforms, I'm entirely oblivious to the controversy there, so all I can say about that is just that: I'm completely unaware. Of all of it. That's not to say the aforementioned situations do not occur.

The only "exclusivity" I've ever encountered among some knitters online is the occasional snootiness regarding yarn. Some knitters act as if they would not be caught dead in a Commercial Yarn Emporium, let alone cast on with its yarn.

I disregard such stuff online because it's simply unimportant. And, as you bring up, Unkind.

Your positive commenting experience is what I try to foster at my blog: as you know, I respond to every comment there, and we have a nice back-and-forth among each other. I think having that dialogue is the fun part of having a blog.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

I am with you in a lot of ways. If find this intense polarizing of the world very disturbing - we can't solve anything if we're all sitting at one end or the other shouting "You're wrong!"
And the constant -"I don't agree with you so now I have to boycott you and every one who associates with you."
And I'm not religious...(at all)... but whatever happened to forgiveness? People make stupid mistakes - if they sincerely apologize for it, and never do it again, do they have to continually apologize for it for the rest of their lives, and lose out on a billion opportunities because it's continually thrown in their face? (and I'm not talking about sexual predation - that's an entirely different matter.

There's a lot wrong with our world...and I think we could go a long way to making it better, if we just stop, take a deep breathe, and try to understand a different point of view.

AsKatKnits said...

Great post, Bridget. And, my opinion on those dimwits in VA is that they should all resign - every.single.one. The governor, the lt. governor, and the state attorney general (who also confessed to having blackface memories) I realize that the next in line is not a democrat, but really - that should not even be a discussion.

I was unaware of the Knitters Pride faux pas, but perhaps I can share some ideas from your friends side of the coin - I think once you "rip the bandage off" and share your open, raw, very painful wound - someone saying, that really is not bad at all or ignoring the large gaping wound makes being silent hard. I think her sarcasm was well placed in light of the stupid hashtag.

And, always - civil discourse is a beautiful thing! XO

Kym said...

What a thoughtful post, Bridget. I have just finished reading the book "White Fragility" by Robin DiAngelo -- and I think you'd find it really interesting. Fascinating -- and a bit mind-blowing.

KSD said...

Son and I often have the conversation about how no one seems to be allowed to disagree anymore without being shouted down (literally or in print) as a Hater. As you said, it is possible to hold more than one thought at a time. It is possible to disagree without destroying.

Araignee said...

I saw all the discussions about the knitting issues a few weeks ago and ran the other way. I'll fight all day with Nazis and alt-right trolls on Twitter but angry knitters can be MEAN. I learned the hard way on Ravelry. I love it for patterns but I would not go near their forums for all the money in the world.

Kim in Oregon said...

Honestly, I think some of the reasons we have so many problems is that people don't address disagreements head on and it just festers and turns incredibly ugly. So basically, this story is a good one!

Helen said...

Thank you for your post. A little love and lots of yarn, in any color. And the biggest discussion should be knit vs crochet, or both!

Mereknits said...

I had no idea this was going on, see how much I am on Instagram, not much at all. I love that yo had a conversation and politely disagreed and that was that. Here is the thing I have blocked only one person from my blog who was very disrespectful and plain ugly in her comments. I have stopped visiting just three other blogs in all the time I have been blogging, all three stated that #45 is a here because God has chosen him and we should all be praising him, or some such nonsense. I rarely comment if I do not agree, but have a few times to correct false information with facts. I hope I am respectful when I do it. As for Virginia, there was a hysterical cartoon in the paper today as the government staff are frantically looking for someone to fill the Governing spots. I had a good chuckle over it. Have a good week Bridget.