If you support businesses that trade on the commodification and appropriation of Asian identity and culture, YOU are part of the problem. Ouch. None of us want to think we have done racist things, but we all have.
Ask yourself: why would a company choose Asian words to sell garments if they don’t have a personal connection with that culture or country beyond travel. It’s to feed on the exoticism or perceived coolness of that culture and that is exploitative.
When you purchase a garment or a sewing pattern that uses an Asian word, name, or garment type name, you are part of the fetishization and the dehumanization of Asians and Asian culture. This is a rung on the ladder that also includes the Asian sexualization and fetishization that fueled this latest bout of violence.
In addition to any larger social justice you might be participating in, I call on you to share your anti-racist actions that specifically relate to the slow fashion and sewing communities. Let’s make these actions the norm. Be part of a movement to affect some change here in our beloved communities. Here are some action items:
-Ask companies to change their practices. Be specific. Unfollow them and their hashtags and let them know why you will not support them until they change. Asking and waiting isn’t enough. You need to demonstrate that it is important to you by unfollowing.
-Stop sharing garments that are appropriative in name or garment type name. Take responsibility for your past actions. Delete old posts that feature appropriative words. Sharing doesn’t just benefit the company, it benefits you too. Are you OK with that?
-Do not take workshops or follow people that are sharing cultural sewing practices outside of their culture unless they have spent significant time in that country AND have been given permission by cultural knowledge keepers to share. Examples of this include Sashiko and Shibori.
-Do not wear, buy, or make items with Asian language writing , “China Doll” imagery, Asian pinup girls, bamboo print, fake Shibori, other “Asian-style” prints or images. Turn these into rags if you already own them or overdye them.
-If you are requesting cultural advice, hire a BIPOC from the culture or ethnicity you need advice on. But here’s a tip: if you’re questioning if something is problematic, I almost guarantee it is. Own up to your mistakes
-Support Black, Indigenous, Asian, and other POCs by amplifying their work and supporting their enterprises.