ight? I mean, you gotta’ do it, because if you equivocate, you never get a good night’s sleep. I linked to this post from Alexis L. a bit ago. If you click on the link and go to her site, you’ll see a whole lot of mixed up stuff about race taking place. The constant in all of that is Alexis’ measured and thoughtful mediation of the comments. She doesn’t let anyone get away with anything, but in a way that is so measured, it makes me think she should be a social worker. She”s good. I don’t know how she does it, but reading it has made me think about how I walk in the world, and I’ve added Alexis to the list of people to emulate in 2010 (along with Joe Garrido, et. al.)
I should probably say that as soon as I happened upon Knitta Please, it hurt my stomach. I get that people think it’s ironic, or a hipster play to reclaim a negative word. That would okay… if they owned that word in the first place. Who ever owns a racial slur, after all? The target, or the one who wields the words? It doesn’t belong completely to one or the other. It’s as if we took Solomon up on his bargain and split the baby in half, but at the middle. And here, we find out, both halves suck and we all got screwed. One gets the half that cries in anger and pain, the other gets the half that shits all that out. Neither is better for the bargain.
It could be the founders of Knitta Please thought the name was cute, or, at the other end of the spectrum, that they thought it was a rallying cry, something to affect social change, inspire urban reclamation of forgotten or under-served communities. And, you know, the latter would be laudable, I think. But how do we know? Surely, it’s not for folks who weren’t in the first meeting, and who had nothing to do with selecting the name, to presume the intentions of the founders. We can never know. We can just be told.
But I do think it’s the right of people whose experience is reflected in that witty turn of phrase that is the name Knitta Please (for it is kind of clever) to say, no, we don’t find it funny; no, it’s not hip; and no, it’s not ironic. It hurts us. That feeling is a fact. It’s not fair–no, it’s not appropriate–for the (largely anonymous) commenters on Alexis’s site to say that what I feel is wrong. What I feel is what I feel. And, what you feel is what you feel. And it is what it is.
But the thing is, to want to understand how each of us feels differently and why, and to work it out thoughtfully. That’s hard to do. As much as the people with whom I disagree are primed to pick out the phrases in my response that offend them, so, too, am I equally primed to pick apart their words to find the thing that adds fuel to my fire–or, ire.
I am working on that. The thing that unites all of us is that we create, which is so awesome. To make things? I wouldn’t have chosen any other path. But, in that creation, we often deconstruct or reconstruct what was there before we got here. So, why don’t we do that same de- and reconstruction with material that’s less tangible, but equally important?
Feeling marginalized in a world that I didn’t choose for myself, that I was just born into, is okay. But, in this particular world–the one that crafters built–where we are ostensibly (regretsy not withstanding) artists, and a group of people whose purpose is bringing the’ something’ into the nothing that preceded it–it’s shameful that we don’t put every effort into celebrating more hands atthe task; that we don’t invite and encourage and embrace every single person who wants to create, welcoming them into the fold; and, that if we do things that parts of our group find hurtful or don’t understand, that we don’t make every effort to explain it or change it. We are better than that.