I Can’t Just Knit

These last few weeks have been heavy for me and I haven’t felt like sharing or writing much. Between sheltering at home because of COVID-19, the inept response from the government around the virus and the many public acts of racism and violence against Black people being broadcast everywhere, I’m done. I’ve cried, I’ve been angry, I’ve been anxious, I’ve been numb. And let me say this right now, I do not need your apologies or concern. I do not need you to post a Black Lives Matter picture on your Instagram feed or tag me in a post where you’re stating Black Lives Matter. I am not asking for that and do not want any of that because those things do not do anything for me or Black people. What I need is for those with privilege (White people) to step up and do something. I need people with privilege to acknowledge and accept the fact that systemic racism is real and on display because until those with the privilege acknowledge it and actively work to change it – all of this chaos will continue to happen.

If you’ve felt like everyone should get back to knitting and not talk about politics – that is a clear sign of privilege and acceptance of the white supremacy that you benefit from. That is not saying you are racist. That is just acknowledging the advantages you have in this world that I do not. And that’s just not a point I intend to argue because it is definitely true and there is enough information and history to back that up.

Every day I’m reminded that I’m Black and that I’m a Black woman. I can’t ignore the killing of Black people, the racism that occurs on a daily basis, the microaggressions, the many things that are dumped on our backs and just knit, hoping everything will be okay and just work itself out. I can’t just knit to ease my anxiety when my husband goes for a run because I’m afraid he’ll get shot. I can’t just knit to ease my anxiety over the fact that police could come into my home while I’m sleeping and kill me. I can’t just knit to ease the anxiety of going to a park and being threatened and have the police called on me simply because I asked someone to put their dog on a leash. I can’t escape this reality. I am not free.

I put on a positive face, I smile, I’m warm and my voice is inviting because I’ve learned that’s how to be accepted in this world. But as R. Eric Thomas wrote this weekend, it does not matter if I am good because there are still people out there that don’t want me to succeed. No matter how educated, qualified, talented…I’m never going to be on the same level in this society and that reality is exhausting.

If you like me as much as you say you do, if you feel as connected to me as you’ve written in comments here, then become an ally. Not just an ally to me but to all people of color. Read, share, contribute. Give to causes that help to support people of color, if you can – show up to a rally, support Black businesses and be genuine in your contributions – whatever they are. I don’t need to list resources, there are tons of them out there for you to find on your own but I just couldn’t keep quiet. I couldn’t respond to the emails asking if I’m okay, the messages on Instagram wanting to check in. This is not okay. I’m not okay but I will continue to push on because I don’t have any other choice in this world.

53 Replies to “I Can’t Just Knit”

    1. I have a 23-year-old Black son and fear for his life during the smallest errands. I am white myself so I see my privilege every single day in contrast to my son’s lived experience. Please continue to speak and do whatever you need to do. I use my privilege to the best of my ability to disrupt ignorance among people who look like me, but it is your voice that matters. I for one am listening with respect for you and shame for my complicity in all your needless suffering.

    2. Sorry, Lynn, I meant to do a new post but got confused! I love was you wrote too.

  1. It’s time this very real issue became REAL! I too am a black female, with a black husband and black sons and daughters. I pray, I speak out, and I knit. Thank you for your honesty and your authentic voice. You are right we need allies not apologies.

  2. I am listening to you. I cannot shed my privilege (white skin) but I am trying to share the power it gives me. I have joined and give time and financial support to anti-racism organizations run by people of color. I know that yielding power is in itself an act of privilege but I hope it will change the culture.

  3. DWJ, I hope that you are reading your email/comments. I would like permission repost this because this is a powerful/accurate article for Blacks/People of Color and Whites. We will never be respected or accepted until laws, policies, attitudes, and politics are equal.

  4. Thank you, sis. So many white friends asking me what they can do. What they can do is do the work.

  5. Thank you so much for saying this. It is something that needs to be heard by more people. Something that touches the heart of anyone that is black in this day and time. A sentiment that I wholeheartedly relate to and agree with. Thank you DWJ!

  6. DWJ
    My heart is breaking with the painful news. I am so sorry.

    I live in Northern Minnesota. My love for you and all people who feel they cannot trust their freedom and enjoy safety is unending. 1967 was so long ago, why in 2020 isn’t there more Love and Freedom?
    Unable to knit like I usually would during these troubling times, I Send you all my love and prayers for peace. Please snuggle your sweet Jelly bean for me and give someone a hug!

    Please know you are a very loved and valuable human. I hope the haters stay far away. Surrounding you with love and more love! ♥️♥️♥️☀️♥️💔🖤
    Peace
    Jane

  7. I’m in Center City Philadelphia – so sad to read your post. I too, can not shed my white skin, but I am trying to reach out more and not be a quiet bystander. Your posts have given me much joy – in these anxious times. I share your pics of you and Jellybeans sweaters with my knitting friends – I hope America can move past this and heal. Be well.

  8. I just read your “I Want to Be Your Rainbow” blog post linked above, and it made me sad all over again for what could have been were it not for the wingnuts and schemers. Now I feel doubly anguished for what this schemers’ LEO-manufactured crisis surrounding ANOTHER peacefully existing black man’s death is doing to whatever equilibrium exists in the lives of POC. I’m not able to be active, so my only ability to help is to get your message out to others. I hope that’s OK with you.

  9. Thank you DJW for these words. I too can’t knit now. Every time I want to turn to knitting videos to block out the news, I can’t do it anymore. The pain is too much, the heartache too present, to turn away and just knit. And I am one of the privileged ones.
    What I can do: speak of this pain in the communities where this conversation isn’t happening because they aren’t touched by it. Hold up the mirror of our safety till it shatters, and we come to know/see/hear the ongoing pain — and then act to change the structures of institutional racism wherever I can.
    Thanks for revealing your pain. Your wholeness helps heal.

  10. I hear you. Thank you. My chest is tight and I can’t think and I’m no where near being in your shoes. I’ll try. No reason for you to remember me but we met at the Webs conference last year. I was inspired by your talk. I’m that woman that won the Cascade afghan kit.
    I’m thinking of you.

  11. it must be nice to live a life where your are so sure that everyone owe you just because of the color of you skin… yes, we all feel sorry for the unfortunate death of G. Floyd, and the man responsible for it will be tried for murder..But the best way to loose all of the sympathy and credibility in this situation is to behave like the black community did over the weekend! Let me ask you- did Jews sack American businesses when black criminals decided to burn down a Jewish school, went on a rampage in the Jewish community and killed innocents in a Jewish supermarket, just a few months ago in Jersey? Did Jews riot in the streets when a black man ripped into a Jewish Hanukkah celebration and killed innocent people in Monsey, New York? don’t think so… If a Korean or an East Indian group took to the streets because of their beef with law enforcement or any part of society, they’d be dealt with swiftly and punitively. If Japanese Americans took to the streets in violent protest over government internment camps, they’d be condemned and removed. If Native Americans began burning down cities for what was done to them in residential schools by government, they’d be arrested and hauled away. But slavery… something that was abolished at the price of 700K of American lives 250 years ago is your universal “get out of jail free” card
    And don’t talk to me about my “white privilege”! Jews are the most abused ethic group through the centuries, but we don’t whine and complain and blame everyone else, and work antisemitism into every argument. We just work extra hard and Play by the rules!
    I came to this country with 2 suitcases and $150 dollars. Are you trying to tell me I was more privileged than any black man born in this country?!! At least they speak native English. I made it because I worked 16 hours a day and did not expect anyone to owe me anything….I just worked! And was grateful for the opportunity! so, no – I don’t feel guilty, and I am not going to kowtow to you to apologize for my imaginary “white sins” , white privilege my ass! Get over yourself. Maybe black community first have to take a very hard look at yourself first, before blaming the rest of the world!
    And now I am going to sit back and wait for the inevitable accusations of racism! Because in this day and age, in the United States of America to dare to disagree with leftist agenda is the same as in old USSR to disagree with the communist party. Been there, done that and I am not going to be silent now!

    1. As you said to me, I’ll say the same to you and you can get over yourself. I’m not going to argue with you. It’s not worth my time.

    2. How dare you suggest that an event that happened in the past has no bearing on the world today or the experiences of descendants. Nearly every single Jewish holiday revolves around the idea that Jews were persecuted and that fact should not be forgotten. How dare you suggest that the end of slavery meant the end of racism, that white people didn’t find new ways to essentially enslave Black people. How dare you suggest that the generations of oppression and socioeconomic disadvantage has no impact on the way that Black people live today. How DARE you come and spew hate at someone who owes you nothing, yet has already given you the emotional labor of explaining how she feels.

      1. You might be responding to a troll, another agitator. African Americans fought in WWII, liberated Jews from death camps . . . Ignore such comments.

    3. Gross. You really took time out of your day to demonstrate what a terrible person in Dana’s space in a barely coherent, bigoted rant that you probably thought had some real “gotcha” points. Yes, the “accusations of racism” are “inevitable” because your comment is racist AF from top to bottom. Attempting to educate and enlighten you is probably hopeless, so please just go take some hydroxychloroquine or something and leave Dana – actually, leave all Black people – alone.

    4. From the creators of “the Holocaust card” How dare you. Nobody denies the Holocaust. How can you be so insensitive to deny the things the black communities endure day to day. Empathy is a word you of all people should have the kindness to exercise. I feel sorry for you. For the anger and resentment your statement upholds. I feel sorry for you. I wish you a long life so you can have the time to learn and change your views. And grow from it.

    5. Has there been a constant looting of Jews? Like the Blacks in America have been looted. When was the last Jew killed by a cop or a Central Park Karen approached a Jew and threatened to call the cops on them in fake hysteria (knowing that the cop will side with her because she is white)? When was there a Jewish reporter arrested because of the color of their skin? Mr Floyd died gasping for air and calling for his mom… by a cop that thought he had a right to kill him. In a society there is this unspoken rule/contract where we respect and treat everyone equal. 16 hours a day, lucky you, you had the opportunity to work hard without setbacks at least you had the opportunity to work…there are many Blacks who don’t get the opportunities (this means people close the door/business in our face because we are black) to work because of the color of their skin. It’s ok you sit there oozing in your malignant ignorance, karma will get too you soon.
      Chris Rock a famous comedian/actor lives in the wealthiest part of NJ and you know who his neighbor is? A white dentist!!! If you don’t get it or try to learn, get off people’s blog spewing ignorance.

    6. DWJ leaves her comments open on her blog and she should not be put through such atrocious behavior. Deborah, you are a guest here and your behavior is abominable.

    7. I think you summed the issue up nicely when you said that all you had to do was work hard in order to have a better life. No matter how hard black people work, they continue to be murdered and marginalized. They continue to lack the same rights that others enjoy. They live in fear. If you feel that you have suffered in a similar fashion, then I would think that you would have more compassion and understanding, rather than such hatred and judgment. When people resort to such things as riots, it is not a sign of self-entitlement, but rather a symptom of desperation and hopelessness. Take your ignorance elsewhere, Miriam. This is not an appropriate place for it.

      1. I think you mean Deborah. Miriam gave a vigorous response in defense of Dana’s POV.

      2. Please note that I was referring to Deborah, the author of the post I commented on, and not Miriam.

    8. Deborah – white people have rioted over much less, including their favorite sports team winning/losing and the consequences they faced were far less than what’s happening today. No one is saying your life hasn’t been hard, but being Black is not one of those hardships and that in itself is a privilege. To come into Dana’s comments like this and center yourself in a post that has nothing to do with you IS privilege.

    9. I am sad that the hate we are seeing every day creates such animosity and threat in your heart and mind. I hear you when you say you succeed because you learned to play by the rules. Why, though, should anyone have to? That in and of itself is the white supremacy that forms the foundation of racism.

      While some may be able to mask or hide who they are because their skin is white, others cannot. Not one person should have to — especially those people of color who must put on a mask, must be deferential, must absorb the relentless cuts of micro-aggressions — and even when doing might still face physical and emotional harm.

      Until we ALL actively make it a priority to identify racist and classist practices and policies which continue to oppress some and privilege others, the hate, violence and death will continue. I’m not okay with that. As a White woman in a position of educational and positional power, my time and energy is being spent speaking and writing to politicians, community leaders, and others in my professional and personal spheres of influence, calling for active examination of policies and practices. We must identify and dismantle covert racist practices that so many don’t see or, frankly, see and choose to ignore.

      This work begins with me and my own practices.
      I am honored to walk alongside and behind the incredible students I am honored to teach and from whom I learn each and every day. They deserve better than we are giving them.

      By opening my heart and mind to listen and learn, I can see ways the privilege I have not earned but am granted because of the color of my skin can be leveraged to create and support anti-racism. I sincerely invite you to join me in this work. It is the work that may have saved so many Jewish and other oppressed people had only those with privilege stood up to do so.

      1. I thought I had replied to Deborah. I write here to make that clarification and to invite you, Deborah, into this work with sincere hope you will consider the invitation with an open mind and gracious heart.

    10. Your comment is a rambling guise of total defensiveness. Having a hard life gives you no right to be so hateful. You are clearly missing all the facts and major points related to the system of white supremacy, but then again facing reality would be much harder than taking it out on others (who are suffering a great deal at this time). Shame on you.

    11. Debra, since the ancient Egyptians let Moses’ people go, have they been chained in chattel slavery and murdered with impunity? Jews have always been able to maintain their history and their identity, to know who they were even in exile. This country systematically, consciously, deliberately and nearly completely obliterated the histories and identities of those they declared to be less than human through murder, theft, rape and denial of justice. If you’re white in this country, your people have had land grants, home loans, presumptions of innocence, the right to vote, an expectation of a fair trial, and NOT ONE successful government coup that threw elected officials of your race out of office. None of that is true of the black community.

      No one wants you to apologize for things you don’t know. We want you to learn. Start with history, and throw in some spelling and grammar when you’re done.

      No one wants you to feel guilty, we want you to do better and stop spreading the lies that benefit you to believe because they enable you to take credit where none is due. For example, if you believe you work harder than everyone else, you’re delusional.

      But most importantly, if you can hear the pain in the voices of those who are peacefully protesting, see the death of an innocent man at the hands of the government, and if you can read the history of what whiteness has done here and globally and not be moved you should probably retrace your steps to wherever you came from because you’ve lost your soul along the way. And as I understand both Christianity and Judaism, that is a situation that should be addressed immediately.

  12. Thank you. I have been thinking more and more about the privilege I have by the simple fact of my skin color. Thinking what I can do – read, read, read; educate myself; question power – and what to do in my community, via my job, will show itself. Thank you.

  13. I’m sorry. Thank you for writing. I think I understand. I try to be aware. I try to do the right things and I will continue to do so, will try to help however we can.
    Your essays so often brighten my day. I look forward to seeing them in my mail. You are changing the world more than you may know.

  14. You are my soul sister. I could have written this post, if I was as eloquent as you.

  15. Thank you for sharing your honest feelings. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to worry about your husband’s safety, or being unable to enjoy a simple pleasure/passion such as birding in a public park. It is indeed not okay.

  16. You shared a powerful message. Thank you so much for sharing. My heart just aches, Dana. Stay strong and hug your little family tight. I will do my part.

  17. Dana, in all that you do, you demonstrate that you are a born teacher who uses her brilliance and sanity to reach others. One more sign of your sanity and sense is your refusal to waste time on one who doesn’t want to learn. Thank you for making your heartfelt good sense available to me and so many others who deeply appreciate you. You give me courage to take steps in my own community. Bless you and yours.

  18. I really appreciate your post. I think that in the last few years, I’ve started seeing things through different eyes, especially with all the horrible things that have happened to black people and other people of color. I am ready to try to make a difference.
    I hope you can find some hope and peace in the coming weeks.

  19. This is not about you, Deborah and we’d prefer you go back to being silent. Thanks!

  20. Dana, You bring such joy by just being you. You are changing the world with each sweet, inspiring knitting post. Thank you.

  21. Dana, the pain in your heart, the pressure and oppression you feel daily, cannot be understand fully by those of us who were born with white skins. That there is again need for protests shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. There’s so much I want to say and yet words seem so useless to effect change. I want to know that I can as a white woman to make things better for you as a black woman? What things do you see in me that bring you pain, that cause you to think that I don’t value you? Please help us to help you!

  22. It is not your job to tell teach us or tell people like me how we can help you. Just like it isn’t any woman’s job to smile when a man tells her to. But I want to thank you for writing. It helps people understand that it’s not just a “certain type” of black person who feels this way. It is every person of color, every single day, and it is exhausting. A white person asking you, “Tell me how I can help you!” is like my husband saying, “All you have to do is ask me to do the laundry.” I shouldn’t have to ask him. You shouldn’t have to tell us. We can and must figure it out. If we won’t put in the work, then the problem will remain. Sending you much love. Thanks for the joy you have shared over the years, and I pray there will be a time when we share that joy again, as perfect equals. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but if we work hard, perhaps in our children’s.

  23. Thank you. Your voice is one we all need and love to hear.

  24. Thank you, Dana, for your passion, clarity and good sense. I so enjoy your blogs and IG posts, and I appreciate again your honest with us readers as you share what is in your heart and mind.

  25. I enjoy your posts on knitting. I would really miss you if you stopped posting. I love the pictures of yourself and your cute dog, and cute hubby! I am open to every thing you are saying about racism. Keep saying what you need to say. I am listening and trying to be a genuine ally.

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