Here’s the statement I found on the main page of Ravlery’s website on Sunday, June 23, 2019:
“New policy, effective immediately
We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry. We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is unambiguously support for white supremacy. For more details, read this document: https://ravelry.com/content/no-trump”
Yup. Any support for the sitting president now makes you a white supremacist on the big R.
I’m not an eloquent or an outspoken person and I kept my opinions to myself after the “reckoning with racism” that happened on Instagram over the winter. The folks who started and continued this “conversation” had good intentions. Just about everyone agrees that racism is a horrible thing. We all want everyone in our community to feel welcome and included. However, the ends do not always justify the means. We learned as children that two wrongs do not make a right. The bullying, threats and harassment were shocking. Behind the scenes, many business owners were scared for their livelihoods. They submitted and made statements even though they disagreed with what was happening on Instagram. To be clear, they totally agreed that racism is bad. They disagreed with the tactics used but were afraid to say so. The only prominent person that I saw speak up was Tusken Knits and she paid dearly for it. I encourage everyone to find her blog and read it. And when disabled Kate Davies wasn’t militant enough in her statement, a write in campaign began to have her removed from the Edinburg Yarn Festival.
Fast forward to today. The dust had finally settled in the knitting world and people were hopeful that their community was healing. For most of us, it’s an escape. It’s a place to go where other people share the same excitement over a beautiful yarn or an inventive sweater pattern. And we missed it. When the Ravelry statement hit, it felt like a big kick in the teeth.
I don’t think you need to be a Trump supporter or a conservative to be concerned about labeling or silencing a huge part of our community. Free speech is a fundamental part of our country and absolutely critical in a free and vibrant society. We can all easily think of modern day examples of what a society becomes when voices are silenced.
Yes. Ravelry is a privately owned company that is within its rights to censor speech on its platform. But keep in mind that they are a monopoly. And when you are a monopoly you have power. And I do believe they have social responsibility to use that power wisely.
But another problem I have with the Ravelry statement is the implication that anyone who has a positive thing to say about the POTUS is supporting white supremacy. There’s a leap in logic there that I cannot understand. It’s inherently unfair and untrue. And it has restarted the bullying, harassment and threats at least in the Instagram world. Business after business is caving and publicly standing by Ravlery.
It’s hard to believe that these intelligent, creative, and generally caring people truly are aware of the message they are sending out to their customers. Do they not understand they are effectively labeling half their customers as white supremacists? Do they not understand that they are supporting online harassment and bullying of others who do not share a political ideology? Can they not see that the way to change a person’s heart is not through shame and silence? It truly leaves me confused and speechless. I do not understand the support of Ravelry. Are they not aware that all authoritarian and fascist regimes begin with the silencing of dissenting voices? I thought we all knew where this road leads.
I’ve been a part of this community for many years and it’s has brought me great friends and joy. My heart is so saddened by what has happened. Below I’ve linked to a video of my prior Rhinebeck experience. You can go to time stamp 9:12 to watch the podcaster meetup. It was all hugs and friendship. This is the community I miss and I’m afraid it’s gone.
If I need to say it, I’ll say it. I do NOT support exclusion of ANY kind for anyone for ANY reason. I have a gay daughter and I’m so very grateful for all the strides that have been made in our world to make it a safe place for her. But I also want it to be a safe place for those who have a different political view than I may hold.
On Wednesday, I closed my Ravelry account. It’s a small thing to them but it meant a whole lot to me. I’ve lost a community and years of data and access to an incredible library. But I had to act with integrity and with what is right. And sometimes when you feel like you do not have a voice, your feet and your purchasing power become your voice.
Thanks for listening. For those who are hurting, you are not alone. Much love. ❤