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Thoughts on Inclusion & Diversity With Meghan Fernandes

Almost exactly six months ago, I made a post acknowledging that a very important conversation was happening online regarding inclusivity and diversity in the knitting/crochet/yarn community. It’s not hard to find, because I only post about once a month. It’s a picture of trees flowering outside my grandmother’s house in India. Most of you following me here are knitters, so you probably have a good idea what I am talking about. Even if you aren’t, a lot of the same conversations have been happening in so many different communities - the most mainstream perhaps being film or sports. So much has happened over the last six months, And enough to fill a whole novel has happened just in the last week. Most of my acknowledgement of this movement has been via the business I share with @lydia_shmidia - @pompommag. I am going to get a lot more personal and wordy than I usually do here, and I think I might be saying that more just to prepare myself for it, than any of you, but here goes.

Firstly, and foremostly, my world was cracked wide open by the reaction to the Fringe Supply Co blog I referenced in my original post. A lot of things that I would have ignored, or quietly disagreed with, and maybe just rolled my eyes at, suddenly were out there and NOT OK anymore. That was eye opening and really vindicating. That it was ok and even RIGHT for me to feel the injustice of some things that I had just lived with for a long time was mind-blowing. The people behind @_unfinishedobject deserve the most credit for opening my and others’ eyes in this respect.

I, with Lydia, have had to make some hard decisions about how we run our business and who we feel comfortable featuring and therefore endorsing in Pom Pom’s pages. Like, really, really hard decisions. Decisions that we are proud of. Decisions that kept us up all night, that had us emotional all day, and that seem to have lost us some treasured friends.

I think most people would think of me as polite and friendly. Last week, after reading many posts and comments on Instagram, I felt like literally flipping over the desks in my office in anger. This isn’t the first time I have felt my blood boil like this. But it’s come to a head now, because six months in, it doesn’t seem like a lot has changed when it comes to our community truly working towards being anti-racist. I can’t blame marginalized people when there is anger when it comes to this stuff - it is SO justified. Let’s listen to these angry voices instead of calling to silence them, or asking them to say it in a way that makes you more comfortable.

I have heard more than once over the last six months that if we are all in agreement that racism is bad, then we are all on the same team, so to speak. But you really don’t have to be wearing a white hood to be racist/have racist biases. Telling people to calm down, or be more “polite” is not hearing them - and it IS racist. It’s saying “you’re too angry about this thing for it to be important enough for me to listen to you.” And making yourself into the victim, no matter how hard it is on you to hear you need to do better, sure isn’t helpful - it’s the opposite.

So, what do we do now, now that knitting shows are a place where people fear violence, our community is a place where women aren’t believed THE FIRST TIME, where BIPOC are told they aren’t allowed to be THIS angry about systemic racism? I think the first step is that we accept that we are not perfect people. We didn’t have all the answers to begin with. I say “we” because as an often white-passing person, I had and have a lot of learning to do too. Can we just let open a door enough to really ask ourselves if we don’t know it all?  That someone else - someone who lives through racism everyday, might be the expert? That no matter how much money we’ve donated to the ACLU, or RAICES, or how diverse our city was growing up, we can always learn more, do more, always listen more?

The people who have been “angry”, who have been “shouting” - they’re why we are all here having this conversation in the first place. Not because of people like me, who have sat back and been “polite”. They’ve challenged the status quo and they’ve been doing it on social media - without social media we wouldn’t have got this far, this fast. And without social media, a lot of marginalised people would not feel safe or comfortable enough to use their voices. Thank god for these little squares.

I have seen a lot of people and a lot of businesses called out here on Instagram. And in every instance I have witnessed, even when it was hard to watch, even when it was people I know personally, or had admired, it has been justified. That has become painfully clear over the last week.

I really don’t think I am saying anything revolutionary here, or anything that hasn’t already been said by other BIPOC in our community. But I know that a lot of you reading this know me personally, and you know how “polite” I am, and I think that maybe a lot of you (especially those of you who I don’t get to see a lot any more) maybe hadn’t realized how fervently I am in agreement with the angriest - or better yet - most impassioned - voices here on Instagram. I am in awe of them every day. And I think they deserve to be thanked, rather than vilified.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Maybe I’ll post again in another six months? I hope I’ll have half as much courage as some to post more. What a year, guys. I guess I am a polite person (to a fault), and I am also an optimist. Sometimes it feels like one step forward, and a million steps back, but I know through all of this there has been progress ❤️

-Meghan Fernandes
Founder & Editor of Pompom Magazine


I wanted to add Meghan's statement to the blog, because I think that it's a really great example of how brands and companies can approach these discussions. This was originally posted on her Instagram account and she added to it for this post. I'm currently working on summing up my own thoughts and feelings about what is happening in the community. I also recommend that if you aren't already following makers like @tina.say.knits and @creativececi that you take a look at the content that they have been putting out on this topic. It's pretty on point.


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