Systemic Injustice and Systemic Racism Against the Black Community
There is great injustice happening against the Black community all over the US. Overt systemic injustice examples include police brutality, wrongful incarceration, and lynchings. There are also more subtle forms of systemic injustice such as food deserts/ lack of access to healthy foods in and around Black communities, and lack of health insurance making the Black community disproportionately affected by health disparities.
In this post, I take you through some data and visual aids to show you what systemic injustice looks like in the US, my own personal reflections and perspectives, what actions can be taken to fight against this injustice. I also feature some of my favorite Black crocheters and Black designers and finally share a free Tunisian crochet pattern that I came up with inspired by the concept of standing in the gap (which I’ll explain later).
Below are some powerful words inspired by the current situation by a mother of Black children from a Muslim mom group I am a part of:
Table of Contents:
- Data and Visual Aids
- Personal Reflections
- How to Take Action
- What to Watch, Read, Listen To
- Black Designer/Maker Features
SYSTEMIC INJUSTICE EXPLAINED – THE DATA
I’ve shared some infographics below that visually represent these issues to create awareness starting with police brutality and wrongful incarceration.
Black individuals are more likely to be fatally shot by police than White individuals.
More than half of prisoners who are wrongfully convicted are Black
Black workers have historically earned far less than White workers. There is still a significant wage gap between Black and White American workers.
“Gentrification is a process of changing the character of a neighborhood through the influx of more affluent residents and businesses.” This has led to the displacement of the Black community.
“Cities with the highest levels of black displacement between 2000 and 2010 were concentrated in the South, with nine out of 16 cities with high levels of black displacement located there. Richmond, Charlottesville, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans had the highest percentages of black displacement at the tract level.”
Health Disparities in the Black Community
Black women are significantly more likely to die from a pregnancy-related death when compared with White women regardless of age.
Young African Americans are living with diseases more common at older ages.
African Americans ages 18-49 are 2 times as likely to die from heart disease than whites.
African Americans ages 35-64 years are 50% more likely to have high blood pressure than whites.
Chronic diseases and some of their risk factors may be silent or not diagnosed during these early years. Health differences are often due to economic and social conditions that are more common among African Americans than whites. For example, African American adults are more likely to report they cannot see a doctor because of cost.
*It should be noted that a lot of these risk factors are associated with socioeconomic issues including food deserts and lack of health insurance. These issues are usually a result of policies at the broader level that put the Black community at a disadvantage.
Black Americans were nearly twice as likely as their white neighbors to lack health insurance as recently as 2018.
A food desert is an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food (i.e. supermarkets and grocery stores are far, fast food and convenience stores are the main sources of food).
Food Deserts are more prevalent in the Black community. This leads to food-related health issues such as obesity and other metabolic chronic illnesses.
Wherever possible, we should try to advocate for socio-economic changes at the policy level to help alleviate some of these health disparities and ensure a better future for the Black community.
Do the research and find out what you can do in your own local community to bring about change whether it’s making a donation or volunteering and working directly with community organizations.
REFLECTIONS AND PERSPECTIVE: Reflecting and Checking my Own Biases
For the past month, I’ve been having an internal dialogue. I’ve been reflecting on how events in my life and my perspective have impacted the larger picture of the systemic injustice my Black brothers and sisters experience.
This is hard for me to admit and to say openly but it needs to be said.
Our South Asian communities have wronged the Black community for generations. I grew up with the stereotype that I should be fearful of Black people because they are aggressive and dangerous. This was reinforced by the media. I also grew up thinking dark skin color meant you were less beautiful/less worthy of love. At that time I didn’t know right from wrong. On the other extreme, I also engaged in cultural appropriation during my high school years because that’s what all the cool kids did. Dressing in baggy clothes and saying things like “that’s so ghetto” “I’m so gangsta” etc.
As I grew up I learned the difference between right and wrong. I learned to love and appreciate my Black friends and their uniqueness and stopped engaging in cultural appropriation.
This is my point. Racism is learned, not something you are born with, but something you learn from your family, your environment, the type of news you follow, and the media you consume.
As a South Asian mom, I want to say it loudly and clearly that my son will not follow this stereotype. I will teach him to love and treat fairly people from the Black community. I will assist in breaking the cycle of racism one step at a time even if it means getting uncomfortable and creating a dialogue about things that may be difficult to talk about.
BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement aims to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.
How You Can Help
Start at home. The best thing we can do is teach our children to fight against injustice. Below is a great resource shared by mommy_brain on Instagram explaining how we can teach our kids to be anti-racist and how to be anti-racist as a family. Click on the source link to read more.
Take action now by donating, signing petitions, joining protests, and more. Don’t forget to also share the link on social media: https://www.blacklivesmatters.carrd.co
Check out these links for lists of some important movies, podcasts, and books to educate yourself on systemic injustice and racism.
Check out the thorough list found on PBS and a more brief list over on NPR. Here is another thorough list by CNET categorized by Nonfiction books, Fiction books, TV shows and films, and Children’s books.
Most importantly, continue to Stand in the Gap for Black Lives Matters Movement!
Stand in the Gap Meaning
Standing in the gap means that you are ready to intervene anytime you see injustice happening in any way. In my wise friend Nkese’s words:
SPEAK UP, WRITE LETTERS, SIGN PETITIONS, VOTE, CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK and REACT. In other words…STAND IN THE GAP people!! STAND👏🏾IN👏🏾THE👏🏾GAP!-Nkese creator of Cosmic Crochet Creations
I was inspired by this concept and came up with a visual reminder for myself and for others. My latest design is a FREE Tunisian crochet pattern for a wall hanging with a visual reminder to stand in the gap inspired by BLM and the systemic injustice happening every day!
Learn about systemic injustice and what it means in light of Black Lives Matter movement and grab a free Tunisian crochet pattern with a visual reminder to Stand in the Gap!
Keep reading to get to know some talented Black Makers and Designers!
Pin this Stand in the Gap Tunisian Crochet Wall Hanging Pattern to your favorite boards Now and make later
BLACK CROCHETER/BLACK DESIGNER FEATURES
Disclaimer: Do not just follow these makers because they are Black and you need a “token Black maker” to follow but only follow their work if you genuinely connect with them and appreciate their work!
This is a shout out to my Black instafam who lift me up and inspire me. This is NOT a “go follow these ladies because they are Black” post. Follow them because you love their work not simply because they’re Black!
These are my friends. Makers with a heart of gold who inspire me and help me thrive on the daily. Thank you for being in my space, love you ladies and I’m excited to continue to listen, learn, and grow with you!
BLACK CROCHETER/BLACK DESIGNER FEATURES
Nkese @cosmic_crochet_creations is always so real and I love seeing her handiwork! Her daughter Tnai has also started her own maker journey and is the creative mind behind most of her mom’s photos @__t.d.l__. These ladies are always inspiring with the way they style their crochet pieces and are up and coming crochet designers! They taught me how to be confident. Make sure you browse Nkese’s hashtag #afteryarnglow for some major slow fashion inspiration!
Leah has evolved into a multi-crafter over the years. She creates in many ways including cross stitch and embroidery, punch needle art, macrame, crochet, and knitting! She inspires me to try new things!
You can reach her via email at [email protected] and find her on Instagram, Ravelry, and Etsy. She recently released an embroidery project (seen in the pic) as a collab with Clover USA. Find all the details here.
Shanice from Crochetastic Boutique is a maker and designer of free crochet patterns for mama and baby. She also sells her makes in her Etsy shop. You can find her patterns on Ravelry and on her blog. She has also recently launched a brand focused on photography, check it out here.
Britt from Knot Bad Britt has a gorgeous feed and amazing designs. She inspires me to be genuine. You can find Britt on Instagram. You can grab her latest crochet pattern, the Savannah Summer Shawl on Etsy, Ravelry, and Lovecrafts.
Elisabeth @desamourdesigns, and I instantly clicked when we hit that LIVE button! She taught me to be fierce and real! You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Check out her work on her blog and shop her patterns on Etsy and Ravelry.
Saraphina @jw_craftsandfibres on Instagram is always showing love for my work and trusting me enough to ask me questions. She taught me persistence. She just launched her shop and is currently selling cute face masks
Natalie @hijablifestyle77 on Instagram, is another lady who really supports me and may not even know how much her likes and comments mean to me. She reminds me that Muslim women can occupy this creative space too! You can shop for cute accessories and home decor over in her Etsy shop!
Kelsie of Crafting for Weeks is so talented, I love seeing her work pop up in my feed! I have yet to learn her secrets for getting all the designing done with 3 littles! You can find her on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Follow her work on her blog and grab her patterns from Etsy and Ravelry. Check out her latest releases the Oceans Breath Cardi ad the Summer Nights Ruana.
Natalie of @detroitknots is always serving up some truths with a side of amazing crochet fashion! I love following along on her journey! You can check her work out on her blog and grab patterns from her Etsy and Ravelry shops.
Nadine of Buddy Luvs Crochet is always such a positive and cheerful maker always cheering others on! She taught me to give myself grace as a budding designer.
Nadine designed her Be Kind Beanie Keychain & the Kind Heart Beanie Keychain in honor of #hatnothate. She believes that teaching our young to look out for one another & to be kind in a world that needs to learn to do the same are important because they are our future. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook and shop her products and patterns on Etsy and Ravelry.
Courtney designs the most beautiful crochet garments and accessories for women. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Shop her patterns on Etsy, Ravelry, and Lovecrafts. Join her Facebook group here.
Kaelyn of Iiirdwind is always so eloquent and inspirational. She is currently partnered with LoveCrafts for a number of projects, including an article that will be going live in August.
Kaelyn has a Rihanna punch needle pattern available that you can grab here for free through LoveCrafts which launched for this last International Women’s Day.
Currently, she is working through her emotions on race relations, women’s rights and life in pandemic America through her punch needle art but will also be launching two crochet patterns this fall. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Etsy.
Natalia, Talia Crochet Creations on Instagram, designs unique and simple women’s crochet patterns. You can check out her work over on her blog and grab her patterns from Ravelry and check out her YouTube channel.
Last but not least: the queen herself Toni @tlyarncrafts has been such a radiant soul in my maker life and has inspired me to accept my role as a Tunisian crochet designer! I have learned so much from her but mostly to just embrace my creativity and share it with the world. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. Shop all of her crochet patterns and gifts here and follow her work on her blog.
Check them out + give a follow if you connect with them!
Other Black Makers who I love following:
@GGMadeIt, @ragingpurlwind, @designsbykey, @thedreamcrochet, @loveleighlady, and @chalias_craft.
Some accounts that are working hard to bring a voice to the BIPOC Fiber community: @meetmakersofcolor, @bipocmakers, @bipocinfiber.