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In Solidarity of Black Lives Matter: Our Commitment to Anti-Racism Work

June 10, 2020

On behalf of our team here at Needlework, we are in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

The events of the past two weeks have shone a spotlight on Black suffering. We are horrified by the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the countless other Black lives who died at the hands of the police, and our hearts are with their families.

Last week we took a necessary break from sharing shop updates on social media to make space and amplify Black voices. We spent time reading, listening and learning about the experience of Black and Indigenous in America. As a result we're critically looking at our white privilege, and how the colour of our skin has no negative consequence on how we move through the world (in contrast to this heartbreaking video of Black parents explaining to their children how to deal with the police). Never thinking about being white is white privilege in action.

However, if we're being real honest with ourselves, we didn't come to learn the term white privilege just this past week. Turning away from confronting our privilege and being passive in our pursuit of anti-racism and inclusivity is how we've failed our Black and Indigenous communities. We acknowledge this, and we are so sorry. We can and will do better.

Moving forward, we commit to continuing our anti-racism education, and to actively pursue social justice for Black, Indigenous, Persons of Colour. We commit sharing our privilege to create equal opportunities for BIPOC in our communities.

This is our plan:

Continue learning. Centuries worth of white supremacy in the form of enslavement, violence, displacement and discrimination against Black and Indigenous people cannot be learned in a single week. Learning their history, our history of colonialism in Canada, and how we got to modern day systemic racism is work we will prioritize going forward.

Publicly sharing our resources in our pursuit of anti-racism. In addition to posting sewing inspiration, new products, etc. on social media, we'll also use this space to share resources (books, podcasts, articles) we've find helpful in dismantling racism within our circles and the broader community. We will use our platform to share petitions and calls to action, and continue to amplify voices of anti-racism organizers.

Financial donations. This past week we've made donations to Pimento Relief Fund (a fund providing insurance relief to Black owned non-insured businesses in Minnesota), and Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion. We will donate 3% of our monthly sales (60% of our donation budget) to Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion and the Native Women's Centre.

Professional development. Together with our team of staff and instructors, will be diving into Robin Lacambra's online course Sharing Privilege. This course explores how we can decolonize our behaviours and identify ways we can share our privilege, creating safe space and experiences for BIPOC in all parts of our lives, and at Needlework by extension.

Diversity in-store and online. For the most part, our staff and roster of instructors are white. Future hiring opportunities will be posted to our website and applications from Black, Indigenous, or persons of colour will be encouraged. We commit to casting a wider net; to actively seeking out members of the BIPOC maker community here in Hamilton. Via social media, we will actively promote diversity, highlighting makers, sewists, and pattern designers from a broad range of cultures.

Voting with our dollars. As you know, we retail fabric, books, notions and patterns. In the coming weeks we'll take a closer look at who are behind the scenes at the companies we wholesale from, and whether their values line up with ours. We'll ask questions, provide feedback, and seek out companies who are working towards social equality for all.

We've always been well supported by the maker community in Hamilton and beyond, and we thank you for that. It's time to throw that same support behind Black, Indigenous, and persons of colour, not only with our words, but with our actions. We welcome all questions or suggestions.

Liz, Kate and the NW team

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