On Ravelry's Trump Ban

The following questions were originally submitted to Vice News writer Nicole Clark. Extracts were published in this article.

1) Is Ravelry's announcement surprising to you? Do you feel it's a step in the right direction in fighting white supremacy and white fragility in the knitting community?

Ravelry has been following the anti-racism discussions in the community quite closely, and if anything, we expected them to take a big step sooner. Our main concern is that the decision was reactive, and only occurred after violence towards a WOC. It is late and overdue, but necessary. We hesitate to call it a good first step; only time will tell if it really is.

Banning Trump supporters does not address white supremacy in its all-pervasive form. Allowing room for conservative politics does not protect many of the most vulnerable members of the community: immigrants and LGBT+ people, for example. The truth is that a lot of our (global) politics legitimises hatred, bigotry, and violence. Trump is only a symptom of greater underlying issues.

Hopefully these can be addressed by Ravelry moving forward. For example, by banning hate speech of all forms.

2) I feel like a lot of people assume racism is perpetuated by conservatives only, but in my experience it's also clueless liberal white woman (pussy hat wearing/white savior tourism) contributing to this by benefiting from the system, demonstrating lack of awareness etc. Do you agree with this/have experiences that reflect this?

Yes -- how much time do you have?

The biggest challenge to a safe community comes from white people who see themselves as intrinsically good. Their ignorance causes great harm all the time, and most are oblivious to it. Many will defend themselves to the extent of claiming victimhood saying, 'I didn't intend to cause harm,' while never fully understanding why the actions were harmful, nor changing their behaviour in the future.

There has been a lot of fragility from white people in the community lately, especially from those trying to be 'allies'. The tendency is to get caught up in white feelings rather than to understand why we are all doing this work. No criticism or calling in/out is personal in this space, and should not be taken as such. White people need to recognise the extent of their privilege and realise the far-reaching positive consequences of increased self-awareness.

3) Do you feel like there's a strong community within knitters that is working to fight against white supremacy? How would you characterize it?

Yes and no. BIPOC in fibre art have stepped up for each other and continue to be our biggest source of support and strength. It is worth pointing out that none of us are anti-racism educators; on the contrary, we are all committed to decolonising our own thought and life processes, and questioning our unconscious biases persistently.

The white community has left a lot to be desired. BIPOC are left doing most of the work, facing most of the backlash, receiving the least recognition. You can see this quite clearly in how it’s easier for some to say “I/we are in solidarity with Ravelry” than “I/we are in solidarity with the most marginalized in our community.”

White-owned platforms, magazines and events are attempting to include more people, with varying degrees of success, but all have fallen short so far.

We can only hope that white business owners and those with a platform take concrete steps to address it in their spaces, without bringing more harm to BIPOC, making sure to properly compensate them, being open to feedback and criticism, and simply appreciating and valuing all that this community has to offer.