For those of you who don’t know this, Portland has more yarn stores per capita then anywhere else in the United States. The yarn stores in Portland are all unique and have their own personality. What I like about them is that they (like Portland in general) are typically friendly places that lack pretension.
So last night I was very surprised when one of our local yarn stores posted something that I found racially inflammatory. It was a photo of a man dressed in head to toe crochet, crocheting on the subway. The caption was “Knitta please” and the photo was taken by “future felon”. I understand that it was a “yarn joke” and that is why they posted it. I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t think it through. I am usually not an alarmist but it really hit me in the gut. I commented that I thought that it was really insensitive and inappropriate. What got me is that there were several people who “liked” the photo and thought it was hilarious after I pointed out that it had very racist implications. I did email the store owners off line with more details. They know who I am, I have been going there for years.
To their credit they did take the post down right away. I did get a very nice apology from the owner saying that she felt like she made a really big mistake and was really sorry. She also gave me her personal number saying that she would like to apologize to me in person. I did appreciate that but told her it would go a long way towards mending ties if she could publicly apologize for the post on facebook. She promptly did and it was a heart felt apology. What still makes me sad is that there were people who commented on her apology that “they still thought it was funny” and that she “shouldn’t have to apologize” that the people who were angered by her post should “apologize to HER”
Here is what I think, every once in a while you meet someone who makes a mistake and then learns from it. The owner of the yarn store is one of those people. It took a LOT of balls to publicly apologize for being wrong on such a personal and politically loaded subject. She is a nice person and got caught not thinking. When I see her again, I am going to thank her for “getting it” and learning from it. That is a rare quality. The other folks who thought the photo was “hilarious” even after the heated debate- well they can go fuck themselves.