Lead the way!

Hello, Knitting Friends! I sure have missed you!

Work kept me extra busy this past year, and then in November a cascade of bad, sad things happened in my family. They are things people face every day, but it’s taken a bit to get through it all.

Life is different on this side. My mother is now living in an assisted living facility near us here in Tennessee. My work has taken a back seat to other things. And I’m trying to get reacquainted with the knitting, reading, spending-time-with-friends routines that keep me sane.

The last time I posted, I was working on the Tecumseh sweater. I still am, but there is finally some real progress. I expect to finish the body today and then be on to the sleeves.

The most important thing I have to say now that I’m back in this space is Holy Moly! Have you seen the discussion going on in the knitting community about diversity? If anyone were ever going to argue that the online world of Instagram and other social media platforms was superficial or disconnected from real life, the last couple of months have put the lie to that.

Some important, challenging, maybe even life changing conversations about race and what inclusion looks like are going on. It’s overwhelming to see the number of people participating and engaging as they try do better–speak more openly, listen more carefully, take risks, be exposed, fall down, get up, move on, and keep going in an effort to build a better community. It’s turning out to be a messy, painful process, but it is beyond way overdue and is essential if we are going to call ourselves any kind of community at all.

Besides doing a lot of listening and thinking, I have been working through a program that many on Instagram have recommended called the Me and White Supremacy Workbook. Its creator Layla F. Saad describes it as “a first-of-its-kind personal anti-racism tool for people holding white privilege to begin to examine and dismantle their complicity in the oppressive system of white supremacy.” If I thought I was one of the good guys, that I wasn’t part of the problem, that I didn’t really have a role to play in this fight, this workbook is making me think again.

The book Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving has also been eye-opening. Irving walks the reader through her journey from well-intentioned fool to the point where she finally begins to realize that when it comes to racial bias, “there’s no such thing as neutral: either I’m intentionally and strategically working against it, or I’m aiding and abetting the system.”

This was echoed for me when I read a post by @antigonanyc on Instagram. Yamil Anglada says it feels like those who have the option of talking about race would

. . . rather be able to read our stories as though they’re pop novels you can put back on a shelf and forget about in a few days or weeks. The fact that they moved you makes you feel good about yourself and how big of a heart you have.
But that’s weak. Anyone with a morsel of human decency can sympathize with accounts of the experiences of BIPoC. It takes a bigger and much stronger person to be moved into action, to say, “not anymore—not on my watch—what do you (BIPoC) need me to do? Lead the way!” That would require humility. It would require work. It would require courage. It would require frequent discomfort.

Link to post on Instagram

Let that sink in.

This work has already made me uncomfortable. I cringe to think of so many things I didn’t know I didn’t know. It’s embarrassing and worse. But here I am. I am realizing that as Irving says, “Color-blindness, a philosophy that denies the way lives play out differently along racial lines, actually maintains the very cycle of silence, ignorance, and denial that needs to be broken for racism to be dismantled.”

In addition to the reading I’ve been doing, I’ve begun following the Instagram accounts of people like @antigonanyc, @su.krita, @knitquiltsewstitch, @tina.say.knits, and @heartbunknitsandmore. I’ve joined the Solidarity Swap being hosted on Ravelry. I’ve started to actively seek out designers and vendors who are Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPoC) and People of Color (PoC).

Do I think these small gestures will change anything? Not right away. Am I worried I’ll not do enough or that I’ll say or do the wrong thing? I am. Is it worth those minor risks to stand up and be counted? Absolutely! And so I say, and for the record, “Let me be moved to action, let me be one who says loudly and clearly, ‘not anymore—not on my watch—what do you (BIPoC) need me to do? Lead the way!’”


  1. Wooliefeatures

    I love this blog post – so happy to see you back! Sorry you’ve been through a tough time recently. I hope things are on the up for you and your family. I’ve been working through that workbook too – it’s made me face some hard truths to be honest but definitely worth one to go through. How are you finding it?

    • melinda

      Thank you so much! It does feel like things are moving in a better direction these days. 🙂

      I know what you mean about facing hard truths with the workbook. It’s striking to me how my perceptions have changed just in the time I’ve been going through it. When I started reading it and responding to the prompts, it was hard to get my mind around some of the ideas in the early sections. Now, I look back at those things and think, “Yeah, that’s exactly how it is. How did I not see that?” It’s nice to know that you are working through it too. If you want to compare notes at any point, please get in touch.

  2. So sorry you’ve been through a trying time. I have missed your blog posts to be sure. Thank you for your candor about what you are learning–what we all need to be learning–about racism and how white privilege has surely distorted our abilities to be objective, and not just objective, but proactive! I am going to get the Me and White Supremacy workbook. I enjoy your Instagram posts and love to here about your knitting! Hugs from me too!

  3. You already know I’m a hugger so super tight hugs for you re the “lows of life”. Sometimes I wish they would give us all a break.

    Thank you also for being willing to participate openly in the conversation and for committing to do the work. We can’t do it alone, we need allies. What you think are your small measures are already impacting lives in a big way so keep doing what you’re doing. We need you.

Talk to me!