crafting + racism + hipsters + bacon = hot mess
It’s been quite a while since my brain has hurt this much at the end of the day like this. And I like it. But I think my brain hurts because it is out of practice in thinking about things like this and certainly out of practice preparing to write about things in a connected way.
So here are two links that you may want to read before continuing to read my post. It’s going to be disjointed and sketched and not coherent and before anyone criticizes me for that, understand that I’m aware of this ahead of time. I’m thinking, out loud. Nothing said here is final and I may change my mind drastically in the next hour.
First a couple of posts about Knitta, Please and racism. I came across this post yesterday read it, commented, and then mulled it over like wine and decided to read the other posts she linked to. Today I read this one at One Grand Home. And before I could figure out how reading this post made me think and how the comments that weren’t just ridiculously and intentionally offensive made me think, I got hit with a sucker punch by my lovely friend Veronica who makes it hurt so good.
She sent me a link to Vegan Feminist Agitator.
And in my head they’re connected. And I can’t quite put a finger on it, hence the disjointed disclaimer, but I know this:
• cultural appropriation happens all the time, but is it ever okay? Is it okay for an Austin-dwelling, crafting, educated, white woman to adopt and adapt a term used by and against a more urbane and hip-hop centered culture? Is it okay for an educated, urban-dwelling, pork-eater to base their identity off of a cut of meat that was created by and for people who couldn’t afford to throw away any part of an animal?
• hipsters are the cause of all these problems, right? I’m so painfully conflicted by the term hipster. I really don’t consider myself a hipster, but people have said that I am one. I’m not sure why, not sure of the distaste for hipsters (not completely anyway) and it just generally makes me feel uncomfortable. But thanks to reading Vegan Feminist Agitator I realize I’m too old to be a hipster, which explains my unease with the term. Or it doesn’t at all, maybe it just defines that I’m old.
• waste is a privilege, not a right. And I despise it, try to eliminate it, to not take things for granted, to understand that if you waste things now you’re likely to wish you hadn’t later on. I know this from experience. And whether the waste is related to the scraps left on a Thanksgiving turkey caracass, or the scraps of thread (I have a bag of every waste bit of thread I’ve cut off embroidery dating back to when I was 14 because I knew one day I would turn it into paper.) I don’t like it. I’m not always as diligent about eliminating as I should be. Bacon started out as a method of preserving food to make it last longer, keep it from going to waste. But I don’t believe for a second that the current bacon craze is related to a dislike of wasting materials. And while I know that Knitta, Please and other knitting graffitistas don’t see their work as wasteful, part of me does. Part of me has always wished that they put their work into creating items for charity groups. But I often wish that taggers would save their spray paint for a better purpose. Even if their sigs make me smile on occasion (thanks, “madeyoulook”).
• intent can rarely be addressed, just effect. One person can rarely say that another person’s intent behind a comment was racist. One person can rarely say that another person’s love of bacon is not ironic at all. UNLESS, that is, these two people discuss the issue. Many years ago I made a comment on this site that was perceived by people who didn’t know me as racist. I was appalled and sickened to realize that I’d said something that had caused that reaction, that I had caused people I respected anger and frustration. But I learned an important lesson. Intent can’t be addressed, only effect. Even if Knitta, Please doesn’t intend their name or stance to be racist, the effect is that it has made several people (who have bravely spoken publicly) feel uncomfortable. And I like bacon unironically. But I consider it one small part of a larger diet.
• The craft world isn’t white. It never has been. However, the current indie, urban-led, alternative, ironic, craft movement has a disproportionally large number of very vocal white proponents and faces in it. I am obviously one of them. However, I am incredibly fortunate to live in a town that is not entirely white. I am also incredibly fortunate to be one organizer of a larger, local craft show. and I am proud of the fact that we have the most diverse craft show that I’ve attended. And I mean diverse on many fronts, not just racially or ethnically, but gender, religion, style, and more. When we sit down to pick vendors I don’t think any of us pay attention to the names of the people we’re voting on. But once we have the vendors chosen, I like to do a tally of how many men we have, how many people of color we have, how many people make overt statements about their gender, sexuality, religion, race, etc. on their sites. And then I compare it to Chicago and I often find it lacking. I can always find room for improvement in myself and what I do. But I recognize that improvement is my goal, not perfection. That said, there need to be more voices about crafting coming from mouths that are not white. There are amazing crafts being made by people who aren’t white. Look at the Gee’s Bend quilts. The first time I saw them it was a religious experience. And that was before I knew who, where, how they were made. Craft and art can move the soul.
• I like Anthony Bourdain a lot. And he’s dissed vegans and vegetarians a great deal. But he’s also dined with vegans and vegetarians and exclaimed that if all vegetarian food could taste that good, he’d be happier with people giving up meat. He’s all about enjoyment, not murdering as many animals as possible.
• conversation leads to understanding when the possibility of listening is presented. A speaker won’t be easily heard, if it is apparent that they refuse to listen in response. “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as often as we speak.” We bloggers forget that. And we’re more likely to recognize the troll who intentionally tries to derail the comment train more than we are willing to recognize the person who says “I’d never thought of it this way. Thanks.” Perhaps, sensitivity to criticism is just as much a part of hipster, online culture as irony is?
So not finished, not in anyway. But better. And possibly late for dinner.
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