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Fiber Talk

Hi there,

In the past, this page has showcased a special or discount for Fiber Talk fans, in conjunction with the Friday Night Live Show. On the June 19, 2020 show, however, several statements were made that I, the one woman behind this one-woman business, cannot support. Monday morning, I notified Gary that StitchyBox will no longer be sponsoring Fiber Talk, effective immediately.

In the interest of full transparency, I have pasted below the original email I sent to Gary on Sunday when I became aware of the statements, his public comment (that he has since deleted), and my emailed response to him from that comment. It is a long bit of text, but I hope you will take the time to read it.

It has been, and always will be, my position that it is the responsibility of those with a platform, myself included, to use that platform to reach back and help others further down the ladder. 

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Hi Gary,

I need to discuss Friday's show with you, specifically the statements made starting at the 17 minute mark. 
While I think I understand you to be trying to say that you don't use someone's ethnicity to determine if they should be on the show and don't plan to address the social issues because they don't effect you (which would be a conversation for another day), what you said, the words that came out, multiple times with my logo and website attached to them, is that "we don't care". 
I actually disagree with you regarding the value of seeking out Black stitchers or other minority stitchers to discuss their stories, but repeatedly saying Fiber Talk, and by implication Stitchybox, as your sponsor, doesn't care about these issues or think they have value in discussion is not something I can support, and certainly not sponsor. 
I understand that speaking live can mean that things come out sounding differently than intended. If you plan to make a clarifying statement, I would certainly be happy to discuss, but if you are comfortable with what went out as is, I need to terminate my sponsorship of your show immediately. I cannot, in good conscience, pay for and support that message.
Thanks, 
Liz
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Gary's public statement on the now-deleted video:
Thanks to all for the comments. For those of you focusing on my "I don't care" statement, you're either listening selectively or I wasn't clear. I think I was clear, but will attempt to clarify again. Saying I don't care has nothing to do with whether I care about racism. I do (For those who question systemic racism, look up a fact-based piece Chris Cuomo did on CNN a few days ago. It will open your eyes.) care and want it to go away as much as the next person. My I-don't-care statement was in reference to selecting guests. In that regard, as I stated, I only care about whether you can stitch and have an interesting story to tell. Race/ethnicity do not and never have entered into the thought process. As an example, check out the show we did about the work being done in Madagascar. Coffee Stitcher, a couple of clarification items for you. Our model for podcast guests is focused on designers and other leading figures in the needlework world. It is not focused on those of us regular stitchers (yes, including me in that statement of regular stitchers). I have specifically stayed away from doing podcasts with FlossTube and FB group stitchers out of respect for GingerGerald who makes that group of needlework stitchers the focus of his interview series. As for Derrick and Christian, I have no idea who they are, but will check them out and see if they might make interesting guests. If you think you would make an interesting guest, send me an email so I have contact information and tell me why you would make an interesting guest. I don't know you or anything about you so you'll have to help me. As for having "regular needleworkers (for lack of a better term)" as guests, the only place we've done that is on our Friday shows and that has been a recent change in format. And to that, I have, on more than one occasion, invited people to volunteer to be guests. In fact, I don't have a guest for Friday night so start raising your hands. To all: If there are needlework designers or other leading figures that you would like me to consider, please send their names. I want Fiber Talk to expose stitchers to designers from all over the world. That was the original concept and remains so. These kinds of discussions are exactly why politics and socio-economic issues are not and will not be part of Fiber Talk. They upset people, cause people to take sides, introduce emotions, and involve any number of other factors, none of which achieve anything. They simply upset people. We are about the needle arts and are a place to go for information about needlework, not the issues of the day. Sorry if I offended people and I apologize to Vonna, Arlene, and Liz if my statements upset them or caused problems. My statements were meant to define what we are about when we do a Fiber Talk show and that is stitching.--Gary

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My emailed response to Gary's statement:

Gary, 

Thank you for taking time to respond on a Sunday. 

Whether you intended to be or not, you and FiberTalk are one of the primary deciders regarding who is a "leading figure" in the needlework world. I think it is disingenuous to consider yourself a "regular stitcher" at this point - you have a platform viewed by thousands that can highly impact the viability and visibility of a new designer, a new supplier, etc. You and I both know this is a very white industry at the top levels - at several levels below "top" - we both go to trade shows, we both know who is there. Breaking into that level, or even levels below it, is damn near impossible these days, unless you luck into a meeting with someone influential who can share and support your work. You could choose to be that person. 

You are right - if you decided to bring on a Black or other minority stitcher/designer just to check a box, it would be tokenism and ridiculous. But you are in control of your platform - you decide how you treat the guests you have on your show, you decide if their contributions are taken seriously by the way you act towards them. If you want the show to expose stitchers to designers from around the world, you have to be willing to look for them. Otherwise it is just an echo chamber, those of us who are already at "leading figure level", for lack of a better term, talking to each other. 

Your "I don't care" statements stuck out so easily because this is the problem - being "neutral" does nothing to address that systemic racism discussed in that Chris Cuomo piece. Caring is the point. Caring enough to perhaps do a bit a legwork to seek out guests who may not know about your show, or have thought they would not be welcome on your show. Your show already addresses political and social issues, they just happen to be the "default" ones in this country, like Christianity. The ads on your videos right now are either for Trump or Biden. 

I'm not saying you should turn the show into a political showcase - I don't know what your "politics" are, though if I had to guess, I would assume you and I disagree on a significant number of issues. What I am asking, however, is that you consider making a proactive decision, in support of the stated goal of Fiber Talk ("to expose stitchers to designers from all over the world"), to try and do just that - to do some legwork, using the privilege of your platform, to elevate those who traditionally would not have access to the ladder. If that is not something you feel Fiber Talk can do, then we will  have to part ways. 

Thanks, 

Liz