On stretching

(I will be posting about each of the patterns in the Eleventh Hour collection soon. In the meantime, this post takes precedence.)

It feels impossible to find words that carry enough weight to say what I want to say here. I apologize for the fragmented nature of this post. Despite editing it numerous times, it’s been hard to make my words come together.

If, like me, you live in the United States, it has become impossible to ignore the systematic and continued injustice of the racist state and its callous disregard for Black life. This is not to say that state and economically sanctioned violence is new, different, or unfamiliar, merely that, thanks largely to the work of young activists, privileged people like myself cannot close our eyes to it.

Too many Black people have had their lives stolen by a state that views Black people as potential threats. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Alan Blueford, Rekia Boyd, John Crawford, Miriam Carey, Tamir Rice, Shereece Francis, Oscar Grant, Yvette Smith, Rumain Brisbon, Jonathan Ferrell, Sharmel Edwards, Ezell Ford, Darrien Hunt. This only-partial list is too long. There shouldn’t be such a list. And worse, these are only people killed by police. Systematic injustice takes many forms, steals lives in many ways. Lives are taken or interrupted by inaction, by imprisonment, by a culture that continues to impede the accumulation of Black wealth.

The Free Marissa Now campaign is raising money for the legal defense fund of Marissa Alexander, a Black woman jailed for defending herself against her abusive husband. Some months ago, they put out a call for donations from artists and craftspeople, asking for handmade goods that could be sold, with all proceeds going to the Free Marissa Alexander Legal Defense Fund. You can buy any of those items here. At the time, I donated three knitted samples. One currently remains, a red ribbed hat knit in Cascade 220.

There is a tendency among those of us who sit at the outskirts to try to contribute to a movement or cause without actually doing more. We shift ourselves in gentle ways that don’t inconvenience or stretch us. I am trying to be cognizant of my own desire to make this thing that I already do, knitting, fit into my activism. It is not enough, for me, to knit without doing more. Everyone’s abilities – physical, mental, financial – are different, and there are many ways to contribute to a movement, so I make no attempt to say what others should or can do. For White people who want to be allies (and we cannot define ourselves as allies; that is not for us to do), we need to follow rather than lead, and we need to stretch ourselves.

I am not letting my activism stop at knitting, but I have been thinking, as we head into 2015, that I want to make my hobby serve my activism more. In addition to knits I do for new patterns, I tend to have a project on the needles that I carry with me when I’m out, something a little more mindless and familiar. These projects could become items to contribute to causes like Free Marissa Now. People often ask me if I sell my knitting, and typically, I don’t. But if I let go of the idea of making money off of knitted items, I don’t see why I couldn’t change my on-the-go project to something that I will sell to raise money for causes that need it. I will be posting more on this as I think it through further. I’d also love your thoughts on this matter, if you want to share them.

Tomorrow is a national Day of Resistance. You can find actions in your own communities through Ferguson Action. Not everyone can march, and that’s OK, but if you can, turn out.

Much love to all of you and your families at this year’s end. I also want to point you all to this post by the Bad Advisor, which says much more eloquently many of the things I wanted to say. I’m wishing us all a more just 2015.

One Comment

  1. Caroline aka FiberTribe

    Thank you so much for saying this and for taking the action you have. I no longer have a blog or I’d join you in this. More of us need to shout out at the madness that’s happening in our country.

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