We have a really long way to go, designers. I have a long way to go. But I think it's important to talk about where other people can see.
Shortly before I went live with my website, I had the realization - well, no, I'd realized it weeks before, I just finally copped to what I knew to be the right thing - that I was massively culturally appropriating by making and selling mala beads. That it was harmful. That I was causing harm.
I'm so deeply sorry. I no longer make or sell mala beads and I've taken steps to make financial reparation in the ways that I can.
As designers and makers it's on us to step up. The first place it needs to happen is in ourselves, in our creative process, and in our product lines. We need to be talking about it with each other. More. A lot. Differently. Yes, it's hard to change and not to do every little thing you want because it's shiny. But for goodness sake, we're creatives. We have thumbs. We can do this.
If you're finding yourself on the start of this journey, I want to tell you that it's not your fault that you were born into and grew up in a culture that taught you it was okay to take what you wanted, that you had the right. Those lessons were wrong. They lied. But that only goes so far. We have to get past that tired excuse. The truth is being spoken if we can hear it. The information is out there, we've been told, we are being told by the people who are harmed by these practices. They are telling us. They have been telling us. Will you listen? There's really no excuse not to listen and then go deeper. Once you know better? Then you know. You can't un-know. From that point on, it's 100% on you to do the work.
If, like me, you're kind of muddling through and it feels like one step forward, two steps back sometimes, please keep going. You aren't alone on this journey. It's important to just start where you're starting and do your best. Be kind. And just keep moving forward. Keep reading. Keep learning.
Thanks for starting.
Consider buying these books or supporting these authors and activists on Patreon. While not specifically centered on appropriation, their work helped me start learning more and unpacking some of my own ingrained and problematic biases. It's important to pay for this work.
Antagonist, Advocates and Allies by Catrice M. Jackson
So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
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- Tags: art jewelry, bohemian jewelry, cultural appropriation, integrity, maia and rainwood designs, take a stand