In my long experience as a white minority parent in a mostly minority public school system, white middle class parents like me rack their brains to make things more “inclusive” with the hopes that if they change certain conditions, minority parents will participate. Inclusivity often seems to come in whatever form the white middle class parents imagine it to be. They project all kinds of reasons why minority parents do not participate. Even when minority parents are polled or asked about the lack of participation, there is not much response. People try to fill in the information gaps with their own reasons. However, many of them are fictional or wrong. I see the same situation here with the whole inclusivity issue re: fabric designs. We don’t know why minorities may or may not buy more fabric. I think surveys and research would tell you more than white people sounding off on a blog.]]>
I’m white (mixed mutt of uncertain lineage), my older brother is too. My younger brother is a mix of who knows what all with some Native Canadian in there. My sister is Metis (historically French Canadian & Cree mix). We grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, not dirt poor but far from privileged.
One of the most offensive things we ever saw growing up was little “Indian” dolls that people would give to my sister because they “looked like her”. These attempted representations of my sister’s general appearance were all produced (and given) by white people who felt bad that there were so many blond, blue eyed dolls in the world. (for the record I have brown hair and hazel eyes so the blond, blue eyed dolls looked nothing like me either). My sister felt the people who gave her these things only saw her as the buckskin wearing “Indian” princess with a feather in her hair instead of as the little girl she was.
My point here being that, while well meaning, these gestures were somewhat offensive overall.
I would LOVE to see other designers produce fabric that represents their own childhoods. Maybe the fabric company could commission a line of “In my youth” fabric from a diverse group of designers. But what would ring especially false would be for a white designer to say “this is what my childhood looked like… but… I put in some different skin tones so it’s more diverse”.
Oh, and one final note: there are some areas of the world (west central Saskatchewan for example) where there aren’t a plethora of different skin tones. That doesn’t constitute racism, by the way. That just indicates population migration patterns.]]>
However - agreed. She could have made a much more thoughtful response about not having considered expanding her racial repertoire, and at least considering how she could do that and remain true to herself and her visions. I do think it’s important in art and therapeutic and makes better art if you’re working from experience that you feel and know and understand. But from there you expand, to bigger things that you can explore, not just reminisce about. And how deeply do you have to feel the twee-ness of little girls playing with horses that you can’t contemplate throwing in a little dark hair?
She’s missing a great opportunity to expand her market and expand the fabric market at all by including some multi-racial folks in the “prime” market.]]>
I’m sorry but I just can’t shake the feeling that this expectation that whites have always to be ashamed and mindful very racist.]]>
What made you exclusively use Heather Ross as the example to be made out of all the white designer women and companies that are also part of the problem?
As others have pointed out you could use the same arguments and made the same requests towards the body of work of Lizzy House, Melody Miller, for only portraying over-represented aspects of white history (castle peeps, ruby star rising) and you can also go further deconstruct the style and influences of people like Denyse Schmidt and Amy Butler, white women who use ethnic influences in their work (gee’s bend quilting, India) and filter it and make it palatable for the white middle class consumer (Are white people more likey to buy lifestyle branding from white people?) I am also surprised to not see much discussion on Kokka’s role in this. I presume Kokka is a Japanese company that does research on what their American and Non-American consumers want and they believe that white representation and white history sells. What are the implications of privileged white American consumers (such as yourself) using their consumer power (boycotts and such that you are referring to) to influence what a possibly non-white non-american company produces? And have you looked into your own privilege to see that your language such as the cussing and the assumption that everyone should be familiar with concepts of privilege that may not be as well know outside of academic circles and in making quick judgements you may be silencing minority opinions and opinions of the very people you are trying to champion. I doubt you are playing on a level playing field when you openly “critiqued” Heather’s work. You could have emailed Heather personally if you felt that she did not understand your definition of privilege (and the long list of academic debate on it! its a lot to chew on if you are just seeing the concept for the first time!) and let her process it in private just as you got the opportunity to during your “epiphany” instead of bringing it so quickly and thoughtlessly (this is how I view your rant even if it was not your intention) to the public sphere. I have many more questions and thoughts on the matter but this is a start.