everything is political
if you’ve been following along with my fibre journey for any period of time longer than .2 seconds, you know that small p politics and grassroots activism is at the core of everything i do. from field to skin began and continues largely as an educational tool as well as a networking tool. i care so deeply about fibresheds and slow fashion because they are intersections for all of the issues i care most about (gender, labour rights, environmental sustainability, accessibility, decolonization). and i love that i am able to be constantly learning and growing in ways that are (most of the time) more emotionally sustainable than my past work in grassroots organizing.
here’s the thing - i’m happy to talk about these issues with others who have done extensive work in identifying and unlearning toxic systems in our societies, and i’m happy to do education on my own terms in ways that are healthy and sustainable for me, whether that’s through new episodes of from field to skin, sharing my thoughts with different publications, working politics into every class and workshop i teach. and i’m very vocal on my social media platforms about my values. but where i’m not interested in doing (unpaid emotional labour) work is in having “debates” or “conversations” with people who have not done any work in unpacking all the complex nuances and historical and current contexts of why something qualifies as hate speech, or is reinforcing systemic oppression, or why we can’t just “leave the politics out of ____”. beyond the trolls who are just baiting, which i don’t entertain at all, i do recognize that there are people out there who truly don’t understand and want to, but i’m not the person to help you out at that point in your journey. honestly, my anxiety brain just jumbles everything up and so providing any sort of "reference" material in individual conversations is basically impossible. and neither should you expect any other person from marginalized communities to do that labour for you, anxiety brain or not. it's sorta like how i felt when i was writing my master's thesis - i live this shit everyday, why do i need to cite sixteen different academic sources to prove what i know in my bones?
conveniently, we live in an age with greater access to information than ever before, and there are plenty of resources out there (free and for pay [please compensate the people taking time to do this education for you]) to get you started. don’t understand the vocabulary being used? google it. find resources from the same country/countries you’re reading about, because different cultures have different takes on issues (for example, canada and the states have very different views on the concept of “free speech” as a general rule despite being next door neighbours) and a lot of slang terms can have different meanings in different regions. find a broad range of resources to give you a more solid baseline to getting deeper into these important conversations. a couple of comments on instagram will never be able to properly unpack all the complexities of these issues. and for the vast majority of us running small businesses and/or maker blogs, time spent on social media is not compensated, so asking people to go into long conversations online about things that you could research on your own with the range of resources available to you is taking time away from doing the work that lets us feed our families, deepen our practices, and keep a roof over our heads.
now, with all that in mind, i do love me a good book! so here’s a list of books that i believe are good starting places to start understanding why everything is political, whether we acknowledge it or not, rooted loosely in any of the following topics: slow fashion, craft, natural dyeing, textiles, business management, and environmental sustainability. hopefully you're able to borrow copies from friends or from the library or download them on your e-reader or purchase from the local bookstore or whatever. there are oodles of resources out there, and one of the absolute best ways of getting started (and continuing) as an active ally is by educating yourself without requiring the additional free emotional labour of marginalized folx around you. this is just a starting point, and a very uncomprehensive list. feel free to continue your own research after you've worked your way through this list (if you happen to have connections to any universities, take advantage of access to those scholarly journal systems!). learning the different contexts from which we all are coming from helps with both compassion and understanding how your own personal beliefs and politics fit into the wider narrative.
empire of cotton: a global history by sven beckert
a perfect red: empire, espionage, and the quest for the color of desire by amy butler greenfield
indigo: in search of the color that seduced the world by catherine e. mckinley
craftivism: the art of craft and activism by betsy greer
braiding sweetgrass: indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants by robin wall kimmerer
proposals for the feminine economy by jennifer armbrust
folk fashion: understanding homemade clothes by amy twigger holroyd
femme in public by alok vaid-menon
basically anything by vivek shraya
i also recommend guts magazine, as well as basically anything you can get your hands on from queer/trans/non-binary/gender non-conforming femmes of colour. they experience the intersections of systemic oppression due to physical appearance in some of the most extreme ways, and there are some incredible activists/artists (including alok and vivek) who articulate these intersections in ways that most of us will never be able to.
as always, if you choose to enter into the online and/or physical spaces of any of these activists and educators (attending a workshop, commenting on an online post, sending an email), be respectful. it’s ok to not have all the answers or to fully comprehend a new-to-you theory or situation, but remember that there are real people dealing with your inquiries, and these are big and exhausting topics.