There is a phrase in English…’It goes without saying….’ This is usually attached to a statement which we then go on to reiterate a thought process, fact or feeling that we assume the recipient of our statement will understand… sometimes it is used to reassure…sometimes it is used to gauge whether the recipient is really …’on our side’…’one of us’…
The irony intended in this statement in my mind comes in even sharper focus in the light of recent discussions within our Yarn Community over racism, discrimination and the inappropriate discussions surrounding mental health.
We feel comfort in the familiar, in the safe, in the known…
But what if your known, your safe, your familiar is not someone else’s…what if it comes at the expense of someone else’s security and comfort...
Would you know?…Should you know?…What have we assumed ‘goes without saying’?
We have been reiterating the same tired old assumptions to an audience we had already made up our minds about. What we have created is an echo chamber. Even if we did not explicitly commit the trauma, we were complicit in letting dangerous, toxic and discriminatory assumptions exist. We made them the norm, consciously and unconsciously. We created systems that upheld them and then tried to defend them when they were attacked.
I've been a proud feminist all my conscious life and never considered that I would have condoned discriminatory behaviour on my watch. I think a lot of us, in which I include myself have been shrouded in our own naivete, shrouded in our own experiences, in our own familiarity. We’ve taken the easy path, the path of less resistance… We took comfort in our own assumptions. It is was easier to surrender our own responsibility, to pass it on to others who didn’t owe it us to make the problem clear.
We had that opportunity and that privilege but what if you didn’t get that chance?
In the often-quoted To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus tells Scout his daughter ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around’. Perhaps it should read 'you will never understand a person unless you’ve climbed in that skin and lived in it '
We didn’t set out sights further enough way. We didn’t look for ourselves, we let ourselves be guided by those we thought looked and sounded like ourselves. We didn’t stand up to be counted, we didn’t hold ourselves or others to account, we let our silence be co-opted.
The time is to move over and make space. Space for other voices, other experiences, other humans.
We must do better..
We are responsible, we are accountable, we accept we have made mistakes, we will have to make amends, it is expected, it is due…
I want to express my heart-felt thanks to all those that have shouldered so much emotional burden to bring these issues to our attention. They shouldn’t have had to, and I apologise without reserve for letting them shoulder the burden when they did not ask for it and did not want to be called to do it. Especially those surrounding issues of Racial Discrimination for which I have no experience as a white woman.
Accounts I have been educated by include:
I don’t believe that I have read or processed nearly enough of all the material that has been highlighted, championed and launched as a consequence of these discussions, but I will continue to do so. A lot of us have just scratched the surface of what we need to know. We should be already doing this, but we aren’t and haven’t been so let’s move forward in a better way.
It will be in the accounts that I follow, the people that I champion and those that I choose to work with. It will be about how I design workshops; To make sure they appeal and are accessible to a more diverse audience. It will be in the way I approach teaching, how I communicate about Wulla and who to. It will be in the Shows that I apply to exhibit at; where and with whom.
I want to be clear about my intentions so I have included a statement of Inclusion linked from my home page as a first step..
Which leads onto my last point..
A message to those who have been called out and asked to apologise for their thoughts, words and actions…
The Art of the Apology…
An apology is not a justification.
It is acceptance.
It is assuming responsibility for our words and actions.
It is contrition.
It is given without the expectation or assumption that it will be accepted.
Forgiveness comes from the wronged party, you do not decide when or how you may receive it.
When you misbehaved as a child, you were asked to apologise because it was understood that you were still learning. Your actions were explained to you, it was expected that you responded genuinely to demonstrate your understanding. You were made to understand that there were consequences to your actions.
Some of you have still not learnt.
But you are not children…
You should not have to be asked…