My intention for this blog post is not to harass any individual, person, business. This is my own subjective experience.
For context in 2016 a Christmas Linden swap was organised. You joined and two people would swap a Linden sweatshirt they had sewed for each other. My swap partner was Ali who went by the name Daisy at the time.
My Linden was badly sewn. I can acknowledge that. I should have dropped out of the swap, I was in an incredibly bad place mentally (I will explain) but I really didn’t want to disappoint the organiser or my swap partner by dropping out.
I sent my Linden because I thought making a new friend was just as much part of the swap as getting a new sweatshirt. Here is our only communication with each other.
This was the last message
I don’t know when she posted her publicly shaming and cruel instagram post about the garment and essentially about me. She never mentioned our DMs. While I don’t have a picture of the actual post, I do have what a friend wrote as a reply.
(…This person I'm sure the more savvy could figure out who it might be”
The post was anonymous and I wasn't named but the first comment I read under was from a popular sewist who clearly knew it was me and said some pretty disparaging things. The comments were just coming in from people I respected. People I wanted to like and include me.
People were rapidly unfollowing me, every other instagram was referring to the badly sewn swap gift and I just felt the most intense shame.This wasn’t a small account. This was a member of the sewing community with a reputation for being kind.
I stayed quiet. Some things I felt were done deliberately to inflict more damage to me. She said I didn’t include a card. I did. I especially handmade a card. I felt she was encouraging negative comments and promoting herself as a victim. Plus she had never mentioned our communication.
Then she posted this.
(cocowawa and gingerthreadgrl are my friends and they never would have liked this if they had they been privy to our DMs or known it was me)
I just didn't know what more was enough. This was just punitive now and I couldn’t see it ending. Even if I had sent something else. I could just see this going on and on with people never knowing I had been making steps from the very beginning to make things right rather than being shamed into it.
It was wrong/unorganised of me to leave making the swap gift to the last month but I honestly had no idea I would struggle so badly.
I sent these messages to a DM group who were supporting me through this.
I had a prolonged period of emotional abuse from someone. I was taunted and intimidated so much I would have panic attacks. It finally accelerated into a physical assault big enough to result in a dislocated shoulder.
This might not seem like such a big injury however I’m naturally very flexible and a dislocation is really bad for people who are. My right shoulder ligament was badly damaged and would be permanently damaged without surgery. It took it getting bad enough for me to have daily spontaneous dislocations for an operation to be organised by the NHS. I spent a year in chronic pain before the operation and recovery took 8 months.
When that person barged into my house, angry, when I was alone. I was completely terrified. During this time I was supposed to be making the Linden but I was afraid of leaving the house, I couldn’t concentrate, I was distressed. This was affecting my real life in a very real way but something I wasn’t sharing online.
I don’t think I needed to go into this much detail of my personal life to pacify a disappointed swap partner but Ali seemed to delight in the Linden swap situation and I felt my only option was a post my side of the story.
The other person hurt by this was the organiser of the Linden swap. Victoria, who is also black. Who I’m sure put a lot of time and energy into organising this and who was not responsible for me at all. I got this message.
The sewing scene in the UK is predominantly white and in 2016 it was even more so. Someone putting so much energy into making two, of the few, black members of the sewing community feel so bad and sorry for things done with no ill intentions felt devastating.
I believe what happened was insidious racism. I cannot find another reason for the lack of understanding and dishonesty.
I never heard from Ali (then known as Daisy) again. She changed the name she was going by. Moved to a new instagram account and continued to engage with the sewing community. No explanation. No accountability. Nothing. I chose to ignore her presence and take down everything online relating to what happened as I felt very uncomfortable with it being public.
I didn’t mention race in that first blog post, it was about bullying. I do believe it was racially motivated but I had never met this person before, I wasn’t going to ‘make this about race’. My goal of that blog post was to stop what I thought was bullying.
I HAVE NO DIRECT PROOF THAT ALI IS RACIST. I just have my own lived experience and hearsay/gossip from someone who doesn’t want to be named.
I wanted answers from a business that promoted themselves as pro Black Lives Matter and an anti racist advocate.
Nicole was around to read my original blog post and she remembers it clearly. Her assessment of what happened was “I was aware of much hurt and distress on both sides. I was not aware of any bullying by Ali.”
I find the things they have written and implied about me on their Instagram hurtful and harmful to anyone who has experienced trauma. I find it awful that I will forever have to keep ‘evidence’ of one of the worst times in my life and that I have to justify my feelings.
I have not and never asked for Ali to be fired, I wanted an Instagram post taken down which expressed that strong ethics and moral superiority could be associated with her. In my very short interaction with her I did not find that to be the case. Perhaps now though I would like her to acknowledge the hurt she caused and some commitment to change, possibly through a diversity training course. I would also want a shop that has no real commitment to Inclusion and Anti Racism to stop promoting themselves as such.
The has taken a huge hit on me emotionally and is bringing up some really painful feelings. Having to find legal help has not been something I would ever want.
I need to reiterate that not having direct proof does not mean trauma has not happened, so much trauma happens behind closed doors with only a persons word as proof. One incident shouldn’t be allowed to grow into multiple incidents.
Two of the biggest factors of people not speaking out is shame and the fear of not being believed.
This was part of my instagram post announcing my first blog post.I don't have the full text
PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE BUSINESS OR ANY INDIVIDUAL YOURSELF.