Gap

Stand in the Gap | A Call To Action

On May 25, 2020 I was once again reminded that the color of my skin was powerful: read..not in a good way. On May 25, 2020 I came to terms with the fact that most (not all) people, feel Black people deserve to be slaughtered. The fact that the automatic response is why are they (Black people) here hurts, everyday and in every way. I said this or something similar on my Instagram feed. The same questions came over and over again. My fiber friends wanted to know how could they help me. They wanted to know what they could do for me. My answer was and still is Stand In The Gap. 

A gap according to the dictionary is defined as a break or hole in an object or between two objects, or an unfilled space or interval; a break in continuity. I define “The Gap” as the space where inequality lives and breathes. “The Gap” is the residence of racism, it is the great divide and I am asking all non Black people to stand in it. Now that you are aware that it exists, let’s narrow the focus to our beloved knitting community. 

The Gap in the Knitting Community 

If you have been knitting for 20 plus years or 20 days, you should be aware of January 2019. That was when our community was forced to face “The Gap”; although at that time we simply called it diversity and inclusion. If you ask me they are one in the same. The face of knitting had absolutely no color and it was time to stop acting like that elephant was invisible. It was a very uncomfortable time at best, but absolutely needed. We need to see EVERY face that made up the community, not just the norm. 

The Gap is the belief that Black makers, designers, dyers, bloggers, podcasters and YouTubers didn’t exist. The Gap is the absence of Black vendors at the major fiber festivals and I could go on and on, but I won’t. There have been clear actions taken, sincere and some not so sincere, to finally make a change. We had settled back into the comfort of our wooly corner of the world , feeling a bit better about our community. Opportunities were being offered and accepted; we were getting along. Then George Floyd was killed and as a Black person, I felt like I was first dragged and then thrown into “The Gap”. It was like I was being reminded of my place in this world. 

Stand in the Gap is essentially a collaboration if you will. It is us working together to fill a need. In this case the need is to close this gap. There are two ways we can work on closing this gap in our community, as well as the world. Those two things are communication and collaboration. 

Communication

The first way we can work on closing “The Gap” is communication. Yes as simple as that, let’s talk. Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information or news. The information that needs to be discussed is this: outside of my skin color we are the same. Instead of assuming things about me (other Black people) why not ask a question. I often hear “I didn’t know where to find Black makers”. Did you ask? Did you search? This is where communication is the key. Every one will get a chance to ask their question.

If you will indulge me, I have a few questions. First, why are you shocked when I enter a yarn store? I have two functioning hands just like you. The fact that I am in the same yarn store says I have access and can afford the same yarn you can. So what is the issue? I have access to YouTube. If I decide to, I can use the same tutorials as you, so what made you stare when I walked in? Did I come in with a gun and threaten anyone? No, I simply came to purchase yarn, just like you. 

In my opinion, I feel a good conversation, an honest conversation would put every one at ease. We don’t talk to one another, we talk about one another. If we are going to close this gap we must communicate. Without dialog, we will continue to believe things that are not true. We knit too, if that is what we want to do. 

The other vital part of communication is you all talking to each other. Say something when I am ignored in the yarn shop. When you are on the council planning the next event; suggest a Black person. When you are in a room and stereotypes are being thrown around, don’t just sit there… communicate. 

Collaboration

The second way to work on filling this gap up with love is collaboration. Collaboration is defined as the action of working with someone to produce or create something. Are we not the epicenter of creating things? Imagine if we all decided to work together, can you see that? If that major designer used yarn from an unknown Black dyer…or the most popular knitting publication reaches out to the unknown Black designer. Are you picking up what I am laying down? Together we are a force. 

Collaborating will not only increase business for all parties involved. It will also increase exposure, more for the lesser known maker…but exposure non the less. A collaboration will solve the issue of those who sincerely didn’t have any Black people in their feed. It’s unfortunate, but true, if you introduce me (the Black Blogger) your friends are more likely to give me a chance. 

We have all heard the phrase actions speak louder than words right? Stand In The Gap is about action, you have to do something if “The Gap” is to ever be closed. I have had folks say they are not confrontational, ok I get that, don’t say something…do something. You can show them or you can tell them. If you want to Stand In the Gap, start with two simple things…communicate and collaborate.  Are you with me?

Have a fabulous day…on purpose

GG

92 thoughts on “Stand in the Gap | A Call To Action”

  1. I’m with you. Well-written essay with a clear message. I am taking it to heart. Will also share with family and friends. Thank you.

  2. I’m with you. You really help me with my depression by talking about the things that matter. Thank you for being YOU. YOU have saved my life.

  3. I am reminded of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s writing from the Birmingham jail, “Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.” Thank you for surfacing the “hidden tension” that is indeed quite alive and for giving your followers ways to deal with it. It is my work to do. Amen.

  4. Yes it is unacceptable that skin color determines one’s value in this world. Communication is truly key. I have many I know who don’t know what white privilege is. They aren’t aware of “the talk” people of color have with their children. As a privileged white woman I recognize the struggles for my black spouse. I also see my children who aren’t fully accepted by either race as they are “mixed”. Saddest to me is that things have changed very little in 400 years. We have a long way to go and lots of difficult conversations. We are all people, equal in the eyes of our Creator. Thanks for speaking out.

  5. FINALLY the world will see what a lot of us have been screaming for many many years,,,, it isn’t the protesters causing the riots, burning and destruction it is the anarchist’s, the crazies, the good old boys, the white supremacists in all their glory and arrogance. The events of January 6, 2021 was a magnificent example of what the United States has been harboring in bars, barns and the senate chamber for 100s of years. If you are like me you already realize that the color of our skin is not important at all to me it is you and me that is so very important.

  6. Jennifer Hallan

    When I see your beautiful bold orange self, I settle in and know I’m going to read something *important*. Thank you for sharing your vulnerable, authentic self. ❤️

  7. Thank you for posting this today, GG. There is still so much work to be done. Re-committing myself to stand in the gap and do better.

  8. I wondered often why I didn’t see more non-white knitters/crafters in the spaces I went to. What I didn’t see or understand yet was that crafters of Color were being shut out, pushed away and made to feel unwelcome. I am frustrated with myself that it took so long for me to actually see what was happening.
    Your writings have helped me see more blind spots I missed in my world. I want to Stand in the Gap, and make a safe and welcoming place for all. It is long overdue.
    Thank you for just being you. I see your face and I am always in a better mood.

  9. Standing in the gap…until there is none? Yes, necessary work for human-ity.
    Thank you for your eloquence, GG. The act of knitting is a metaphor as many stitches gather together, ONE unified project emerges. Fiber friends, let’s aim more to communicate as well as collaborate as GG writes and come together to create o something truly beautiful to behold.

  10. Thank you for your message. I will do my best, now that I am more aware than I was. I live in Canada and what I hear and see in the news about what’s happening in the US is frightening. May you and yours remain safe and healthy.
    BTW Your information popped up in my feed under Knit Stars. I clicked to read then went to ‘merch’ to show support. Love the for the Tshirt design… ‘Let it Snow’. I live where there is snow and a stormy ‘snow day’ is a great day to sit and knit by a fire. Take care

  11. So well said. Thank you for the reminder that there is no expiration date on speaking up & out & making a difference. #standinthegap

  12. I may have thought I was standing in the gap, but you help me see I was barely touching a toe across the gulf. Thank you.

  13. Barbara Tetley-Anderson

    Reading this breaks my heart, because I feel there is so much misunderstanding. You walk into a yarn shop and blame other women for not jumping up and welcoming you? Maybe they assumed you just wanted to come in, buy yarn, and go home. I am saying this from the perspective and experience of moving from my hometown to another town where I knew NO ONE. I felt like no one was interested in wanting to be my friend nor to get to know me. It was a smaller town, everyone seemed to be related to everyone else. It took 4 years of trying to break through. I soon learned that I could not be mad at these other people for not being interested in my friendship. They had parents, in-laws, and long-time friendships enough without having to seek out a new friend in me. SO, I took responsibility for myself. I became involved in my children’s schools and very slowly and gradually made “acquaintances” with like-minded parents involved in the school. After 13 years in that town, I had some good friends, but it was MY responsibility to find them, I did not sit back and blame them for not seeking ME out first. My husband’s job then transferred us to a much larger town. It was even harder to not feel invisible. BUT, I learned from our first move: People are not going to reach out to you, you have to reach out. You have to be willing to introduce yourself. For weeks I volunteered with other mothers at our daughter’s high school, tried to get to know these women who had all known each other for years. Very seldom did they ask me a question about ME, but I learned to keep asking them questions about them. We did not become the best of friends, but I have learned that if you want to meet people, you have to be the one to believe in yourself and introduce yourself. I can relate to your feeling of walking into a yarn shop. In that larger town, there was a regular group of women who congregated around the beautiful fireplace on a regular basis. I would walk in, look around for yarn for my next project, hear them talking, but did not want to “impose ” on their conversation. Mainly because I was usually on a mission to get in and get out! BUT, one day, I just happened to ask them if they were all working on the same project. One lady replied “Oh, no! We just come here and take over this knitting shop! Feel free to sit down and join us!” GG, please do not assume that the knitters are not welcoming. I bet they would LOVE to get to know you if you would introduce yourself and give them the chance to get to know you. Rather than assuming the worst, place yourself in that “Gap” that you feel is there and offer up your friendship to them. I bet they will tell you to pull up a chair and join them.

  14. I’m with you. Thanks for taking the time to communicate. Story telling works. I’m sure you’ve seen me spouting out a specific idea before – to take a structured storytelling practice – from San Francisco State University – which hosts one of the most diverse student populations in the country and has declared as their mission – to build multicultural competency – and spread this peer practice – called “critical reflection” thru public – and integrate it into society. Like, what would it take to spin a whole network of story telling groups – a fellaship – peer based, volunteer driven, small groups, all using the same five prompts to go around and round the group reflecting and building a story around one experience each of us had, from our prior week. Story telling works. It helps to generate the skill of empathy and a sense of belonging, the practice of holding objective listening space, which – who doesn’t want that – just the chance to be understood – not fixed, not advised, just welcomed. Story telling allows us to broaden our world views through hearing each other …plus, there is a hint of like a “talking meditation” element, in critical reflection, where everyone starts out, going around and just “gets present” in the room, by describing as objectively as you can, what you see, hear, smell, touch and taste. This is an exercise that reduces stress. This is critical reflection thingie is such an easy practice to adopt – and it’s like going to yoga – just doing it is healing and over time, it also gets easier and easier – but it’s never really hard. The value of having a concrete system is it creates safety for building healthy group development. Frgive me, because I can sooo nerd out here. I am a social scientist who specializes in healthy human and group development – not a therapist, actually someone who works with groups – boards, businesses, start ups…and a healthy structure creates suitable participation and concrete expectations so everyone experiences a sense of belonging. What would it look like to bring together five to ten folks once a week and spend an hour story telling? What if instead of bringing together the folks we know the best, we bring together folks we know the least – to strengthen the social fabric of our society – and story telling – it’s not about being indoctrinated or being compliant or being educated or expectation of changing – it’s about being autonomous, and embracing each other’s stories – embracing our diversity. And our diversity goes deep! Our world views are all so distinct. So, to be clear, critical reflection, which is short for critical thinking and self reflection, It isn’t a group “discussion” where people lob back and forth their opinions and conduct a debate, it’s a dialogue, where folks practice being infinitely curious about each others stories and practice just acknowledging each other with their ears – no cross talk, just going round and round the group, breaking down our stories with five concrete prompts, where everyone responds to the first prompt before everyone goes on to the second. Always the same five prompts, which can also be used to journal out the story ahead of time for people who are more comfortable preparing. The goal is being present for each other. Such a hoot! What’s especially fun is that after a little while, anyone who participates, well, you learn the five prompts, and you see how the one person who “facilitated” the group operated (which is basically reading the prompt and being the first one to share!), which means it’s feasible for the group to expand and grow into more circles. The rule of thumbs is to have no less than five people and no more than ten in a group, so if the group grows past 10, it can be split into two story telling groups. This happens, because it’s that much fun. It’s the thing you do that helps you handle everything else going in your life. It’s called a resiliency building practice as well as a harm reduction practice, because it only takes one sane experience in your life to help you recover from the myriad of insane experiences – like your child’s micro aggressions simply because they have the COVID crankies, or the awkward silence that consumes a dominantly “colorless” space when a “colorful” person comes in. It’s easier to cope with the experiences where we aren’t seen or understood is we have one experience where we are. Now, if this idea just seems too weird or confusing, I have another suggestion. the Aspen Institute created a new project called WEAVE: SOCIAL FABRIC PROJECT. And they have a web site and you can become a member, it’s free, and just join this community of “weavers” which basically, is about community service – including this call to stand in the gap – and they have space the web site to hold discussions – also they have zoom gatherings on Friday afternoons sometimes – and coming up in February, they are putting together a program called “Circles” – which I haven’t done before, but I sure am curious about. Thanks for listening.

  15. Thank you, and I try everyday. Since Jan. 2019, I have worked to educate myself (currently on The New Jim Crow – horrifying!), friends and family. My college daughter proudly displays her Stand in the Gap sticker on her laptop for all to see & engage.

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