08 Jun Craftivism actions to support the Black Lives Matter movement
I’ve been listening, learning and reflecting on ways craftivism can be an effective tool for anti-racism and when we need to close our craft box and be better allies and anti-racists in ways not using craft. Whilst also having private conversations with members of our collective I’m also addressing my role in white supremacy and acknowledging my own white fragility and how we can do better as the Craftivist Collective to help dismantle white supremacy, never strengthen it.
Thank you to everyone who has had vulnerable conversations with me about what support they would find helpful from the Craftivist Collective to be part of dismantling white supremacy. I hope this blogpost is useful and together we can keep listening, learning and commit to loving our black neighbours in thought, word and deed:
Stitching for soothing self-care:
To all our BIPOC members of this community: I have spoken to some of you privately and you’ve shared how crafting has been a comforting tool for you these last few days to rest, grieve, manage despair, feel empowered, formulate feelings and thoughts and share your voice and experiences. This embroidered image is from a mother, POC and USA resident with the caption “Having a hard time sleeping” who gave me permission to share her work with the above words and said that “it’s wonderful to see that we are not alone in our outrage.” At at time when non-black craftivists need to step up and be better allies, I hope you feel supported and you have an opportunity to enjoy your craft resources for some soothing self-care stitching x
There’s a time for craftivism and a time to step away…
from craft and use our hands to wrap around a warm drink and find a comfortable seat to learn uncomfortable truths about ourselves with an open heart and beginners mind because… Black Lives Matter. You can find a great reading list here. I’ve started the Me and White Supremacy course and I know others in our community have too. Let’s keep encouraging each other on this journey which wont be an easy one but a necessary one to help deaths of our black neighbours. Let’s take Brené Brown’s advance and presume the best of our community not the worst, presume people are trying their best but may fall short. Let’s offer constructive feedback in a loving way to help people improve not shame people into hiding.
Crafting for critical thinking:
Let’s use the soothing nature of crafting with it’s repetitive hand actions to help us engage more deeply and reflectively on what we are learning about systemic racism not use craft as a tool for distraction or performative selfish activism. Let’s harness the comforting space crafting creates (alone or with others responsibly) to ask ourselves uncomfortable questions about how we have been part of an oppressive system, our own unconscious bias, white privilege and acknowledge any white fragility that will surely pop up. If you’re struggling to stay focused you can also listen educational podcasts, TED talks, lectures and audiobooks whilst crafting which often helps information sink in more easily. Your craftivism might not always be ‘fun’ but it will be far more fulfilling for you and more effective for our world.
Show your support from your window:
This action won’t fix systemic racism however it could be a useful action you can do at home alone or with your household to show solidarity publicly, show your love to black neighbours and passersby, hold yourself accountable to be part of the solution not oppression and encourage others to take part too. The more we all see signs of solidarity, the more social proof and the more our culture will shift. Use the process of drawing, cutting and mindful colouring-in to engage more as a considerate changemaker. And you never know the ripple effects your action might have. I have had some thoughtful conversations with neighbours and family members who’ve seen my window and conversations online with people who said they will join in.
Stitch your mask like girl guide Amelia:
I heard from Rachel, one of our members, that her daughter Amelia had handmade a mask during lockdown for her Girlguiding Craftivism Badge (a badge we helped create!). The mask says ‘Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.’ Rachel wrote: “We talked about how it’s not craftivism until you have used it to challenge a cause and today she had a chance to do that.” If it is safe and responsible for you to leave the house then why not stitch a message on your mask to speak out whilst staying safe?
Crafting solidarity with 7year olds +
Our ethically made Solidarity Bunting DIY kits can be used to discuss race, the protests and what ‘Black Lives Matter’ means with young children whilst stitching something together that they can keep as a reminder to show solidarity. Many care-givers have told me that not only has the child learnt about the word solidarity and are proud to wear their bunting or hang it up in their room or somewhere at home for all to see but the adult has actually learnt a lot too about how to show solidarity and what that 10 letter word means. Order one for yourself or as a gift that could help gently nudge thought and conversation about race maybe where you feel it is lacking in a household of a loved one…
Mini Banners, mighty messages:
Join craftivists making mini banners to hang in public spaces for passersby to see or other craftivists pinning their banners to their backpacks. They can be a creative catalyst for crafterthoughts for the change-maker (you!) as well as a catalyst for conversations in public and online through social media sharing and discussions. Our kits, tools and videos are all here to support you to craft the most effective message and attractive craft piece.
Make a black badge for you and for local power holders:
Protest badges are seen throughout the history of campaigning. It’s a great way to wear your convictions, show you are part of a global movement for positive change and encourage others to join in. As well as stitching yourself a black heart stating Black Lives Matter why not make another one (or more!) for people in positions of power you know directly, to wear and show that they are part of the solution not problem? I’ve made this one to post to my Member of UK Parliament to thank her for demanding the UK Government end the exports of rubber bullets and tear gas to the US and to encourage her to wear her badge in Westminster to show her continued commitment as an ally and anti-racist. You could post your badge with a handwritten letter to a politician that represents your area (a local councillor, mayor, senator etc) or local business leader, community leader, headteacher… I’m sure you have a good idea of who you can connect with locally to make real change (sadly sending one to Trump or Boris Johnson is not going to be as effective as sending to your local political representative.
There is so much we can do to support the Black Lives Matter movement , stop more deaths and help create a happier, healthier and more harmonious world for everyone. Stitch by stitch, step by step, let’s use our privilege for positive change.
All our love, respect and solidarity x