• Telling My Story: Part Three - How The Rumors Do Spread!

    Screenshot above is from someone's Instagram stories, telling people to report my video on YouTube back in January.

    You know, after writing my last two posts I almost feel like I don't need to write any more about this. The bitterness and resentment...it's slipping away. I didn't know how writing and releasing my story into the world would have such a massive effect on me. 

    When I was little my mom taught me to write by having me write letters to my grandparents and other relatives (I was homeschooled). As I grew older I continued the practice of letter-writing. It was how I expressed my feelings when I didn't have the courage to speak out loud. A few letters I wrote marked pivotal turning points in my life. I wouldn't be where I am today without them. I suppose this telling of my story has been a letter of sorts. Thank you for reading it. 

    I have one more thing I wish to write about regarding the knitting episode, and then I think I will be done for now. The story isn't over, but it's starting to fade in my mind and become less and less a central part of my everyday thoughts. The mind has a wonderful way of forgetting the bad after some time and remembering only the good.

    A week or so after the knitting community cast me out I remember making a trip into town to get some groceries. It felt surreal. For days I had been receiving hundreds of negative emails and comments. I had been accused of so many terrible things, and my mind and emotions were completely wrapped up in all the words hurled at me. I felt like the most hated person in the world. But at my local grocery store, I was a nobody. Gosh, did it feel good! In the sea of people I was just another person walking around collecting food for my dinner. I picked the shortest line at checkout and stood there looking down the rows of cashiers and customers. They were all of different colors, different backgrounds. My cashier was Vietnamese. I had seen her many different times. She didn't know that the knitters thought I was a racist. It didn't matter. All that mattered in that moment is that we smiled at each other and talked a bit about the weather as she rang up my items. I walked out through the doors, passing all sorts of people. I didn't know their stories, how much money they had or didn't have, where they were from, or their political or religious beliefs. None of that mattered. Everyone comes to the grocery store. We all need food.

     Here are a couple examples of the sort of emails I had been receiving:

     Dear White Supremicist, 

    I have never in my life been so appalled by a business owner in the knitting community! 
    You are an awful human being and I hope your business fails. May you wake up and become a better human. 
    I’ve unfollowed you and blocked you on social media. Take time to reflect on the consequences of spewing hate. You’ve outed yourself as a neo-nazi sympathizer, which makes you a neo-nazi in my book. 
    Do better, if not...let your world continue to fall and fail all around you. 
    And remember, you are a racist piece of shit! Good luck with your failing business and awful heart. 
    I truly hope I never see your racist face again online or in person. 


    And this one:

    "...If you  cannot see that you are not a part of the solution, you are the problem.  You have chosen to veil your words under the guise of a meek and wounded woman.  When you run from this conversation, you are leaving space for those who use threats and violence to combat this conversation.  When you walk out, they walk in.  Can you live with that? Can you live with the idea that a hood wearing, cross burning, noose hanging, violent racist may take your place? Can you live with your apathy that could get someone seriously hurt or even killed? I couldn't.
    Look, I understand coming from a very white and small town.  I grew up with N-word using people.  Racism is learned.  I suggest you go on an adventure far from your little bubble.  There are plenty of amazing resources out there to educate yourself on these issues.  It's hard to self reflect in a way that changes your pathways of thinking.  You also have to want to change.  I get the impression that you believe the vile and subtle white supremacy you preached on your YouTube video.  Then to use a Joe Rogen video to spread bullshit science? I can't even with that.  
    I see right through your weak and pathetic skin you wear.  You hide behind a poor little old me persona that is just vomit inducing.  Even if you participated in this conversation, you wouldn't last very long surround by extremely strong, powerful, and wonderful women that I stand with.  Also, nice job deleting negative comments on your youtube video.  I see you.  I know you have received emails from folks like me.  You can try and ignore us all you want.  You will fall on the wrong side of history.
    There were hundreds of these. I deleted most of them. After a few days of this my husband suggested I just delete them the moment I saw they were negative. There was no way I could respond at the time, even to the more thoughtful and less vitriolic ones. These people had assumed so much about me, created lies that they were projecting onto me, hoping I would believe them and beg for mercy for being such a terrible person.
    In my last post I talked about how I was accused of being a Confederate sympathizer and therefore a "proven" racist for attending a Civil War Reenactment Ball. Well, I was also accused of being a Nazi-sympathizer. Surprise, surprise. 
    Here was their "proof" for this accusation....
    During the time that Karen Templer was being "called out" for her India blog post, I saw a quote from a woman on Instagram that really inspired me. I started following her and shared some of her beautiful words in my stories before I left Instagram. A day or two later a friend sends me a text message, saying one of her customers told her I am friends with a Nazi on Instagram. Apparently the rumor was that someone I followed explicitly showed themselves with a swastika. I told her I was unaware of this.
    I checked my email and a follower had sent me a screenshot that accused me of being a Nazi for following the woman with the inspiring quotes (I am not sharing these screenshots for her privacy). For, you see, this woman is Hindu. And in her culture, the swastika is a powerful symbol with a beautiful meaning. The best translation of this meaning is "all is well". The Nazis took this symbol and literally twisted it so that it is facing the other direction and has a completely different meaning. She explained this in her post. This woman was trying to reclaim her culture's symbol and use it for good. She made this clear. 
    Due to the fact that this rumor and screenshot was being shared around, I was not the only victim. She was targeted as well. A woman with brown skin from a foreign country. A mother. A woman sharing inspiring quotes and beautiful, colorful photos of her life. These hate-mongers had accused her of being a neo-Nazi. I contacted her immediately to ask if she was alright. She was angry and afraid.
    The other piece of evidence they had against me was regarding my video and a comment I left. Someone had asked: "How do you stay hydrated while crying all those white woman tears?". I responded, "I like to drink a pint of Guinness". Of course, this was one of the only comments I had replied to, so they jumped on it and tried to get as much juice out of it as they could. 

     These are screenshots collected by someone who sent them to me in case I ever needed them.

    Yes, this is where they took it. I did some research and learned that in 1936 Nazi Germany hosted the Olympics. Guinness was a sponsor. They created pro-Nazi posters to use during the games, but they never actually made it to print. Perhaps they learned some things about the Nazis and decided against it. I'm sure they weren't the only ones. Now we have history to show us how evil Nazism was. In 1936 no one could see into the future. When WWII started, Guinness was a supporter of the Allied Forces, supplying thirsty troops with free and delicious beer. 

    Also, they are trying to put words in my mouth. I never said that “opposition to systemic racism is not a conversation but a one-sided belief”. I did talk about a "one-sided belief" (I meant to say "ideology", but couldn't think of the word at the time), but never said anything about racism in my video. I didn't even say the social justice issue they claimed to be fighting for  was a bad issue to fight. Racism is of course a good thing to condemn. However, I do think it is wrong to start going after small businesses, in the name of anti-racism, for innocent things like writing about one's excitement to travel to India. But their far-fetched and laughable interpretation of my Guinness comment and their intentional misrepresentation of a woman reclaiming a  Hindu symbol just shows how low they are willing to go to find supposed racism. It also shows, in the case of the Hindu woman, that they will even use a brown-skinned woman’s desire to reclaim a culturally appropriated symbol against her if it serves their purpose. 

    You cannot reason with these bullies and trolls.