This in response to a series of conversations happening within the Instagram/Fiber community:
Here’s the thing, I’m a loud and proud Puerto Rican woman.
Here in the knitting/fiber community, we often hear that knitters, et al are “the nicest people in the world”, My guess is that the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) crafters would beg to differ.
While I have met some amazing people of all colors, shapes and sizes in this community, I have also had to justify my existence no less here than anywhere else. Over the 40+ years that I have been primarily knitting (I also spin, weave, crochet, needlepoint, and embroider) I have had to ignore or respond to the following:
- “But you don’t look like one” — WTF does that even mean!
- ‘She says that she is Puerto Rican, so I guess it must be true” — It’s true
- “OMG, are you Puerto Rican too?” — Asked incredulously of my brother by a very sweet, clueless friend of a friend.
- “You can’t be Puerto Rican. You are white and you knit!” — I say, again, WTF
Expressions of surprise at my…
- Religious NPA status (No, not all Latinx people are Catholic or even (gasp!) Christian)
- Career path
- Design creds
Then there are the yarn shops where I have been…
- Steered towards less expensive fibers (Especially, when I am with my accented or darker family & friends. When my brother would go in with me, I was ignored in favor of the inherent munificence of a man in a yarn shop, but that’s a post for another day).
- Admonished as not being “A woman of faith” after declining to participate in a particular knit along.
Realistically, it is probably no ones fault more than my own that I put so much emotional labor into trying to educate people on the toxic, abusive, colonial history of Puerto Rico’s relationship with the US. Also, I think, it’s a function of my growing fury over the post Irma/Maria humanitarian crisis that so many people are intent on ignoring or exploiting. (“I am just so mad that I think I will…I will… I will EDUCATE you!)
I spent many years taking a “same [poop] different day” attitude towards the ignorant, casually racist things that white people say, but over the last three-ish years, I’ve lost the facility to dismiss the daily micro aggressions as your emotional wart, and not my problem. Now I call people out, and I call people in, depending on the circumstances.
Consequently, I no longer join any group that does not have at least one WOC in leadership (No guarantees, but the odds are in my favor). I am so very tired of feeling hurt and/or angry, of never feeling safe.
None of this will sound new or different to people of color. My point is that while we experience these things in the crafting community, we also experience these same things in every other community we function in. I’m actually relieved that these conversations are happening. Maybe, just maybe, some good will come of it.
#diversknitty #latinasknit #latinaknits #weknittoo #representationmatters. #knittersof #knittersofinstagram #BIPOCknitters #BIPOCmakers