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Scrapbooking is not just for white people

Tazhiana Gordon, describes herself as a messy, mixed media kind of scrapbook. She uses colorful inks and stamps and stickers for team compositions on paper for personal albums, photos she shares with a close-knit community of other artisans.

In early June, in response to the assassination of George Floyd by police and the national protests that followed, she broke from her usual social media posts with scrapbook pages filled with cheerful phrases and family photos. Instead, Gordon, 29, a nurse, wrote about joining the New York crowds and her thoughts on the blackmail bill that the country must face.

She lost 30 followers on her Instagram account – a sting that gave her a break. Although some of the loss can be attributed to the normal fluctuations in sequences, she said, she suspects it was because she had simply said that Black Lives Matter.

"I made people uncomfortable," Gordon said by telephone from her home in Brooklyn. "It's the thing about navigating a white area – you feel good until you start claiming your blackness, and then it becomes a problem for some people. I actually had people DM me directly and said, 'I did not follow you for this. I followed you after scrapbooking. & # 39; And to these people, I said: & # 39; Well, go with grace. & # 39; & # 39;

Some hobbies conjure up a certain stereotype. Scrapbooking is one of those that makes it difficult to capture the mental image of a white, middle-aged woman. But as the industry and society built around this craft have learned in recent months, whiteness in scrapbooking is not a given.

Scrapbooking "feels like a radical act of self-care, to write my own words life," said Miss Gordon, who is black. "No one can take this from me, even if they burn all my albums 20 years from now."

This year's anti-racism protests have attracted well-known brands, including Nike and Gusher's Fruit Snacks, who spoke out to signal their support for Black consumers. A similar answer comes from small scrapbooking companies and individual designers.

Ali Edwards, an Oregon designer and scrapbooking foreman, shared the books she read to learn more about racial inequality, and invited followers to join her. [19659010] Kelly Purkey, a designer with a store in Portland, Ore., Shared how she documented protests she participated in through the pages of her personal scrapbooks. She also began offering Black Lives Matter-themed stamps, stickers and cards, designed by artist Salomée, in return for charity.

However, many of the largest scrapbooking companies initially remained silent or struggled to respond correctly.

" They probably do not even know how many black customers they have, "she said.

Ms. Gordon saw all this unfold and" shouted them out, who, at once, "said If you do not want to post anything that says Black Lives Matter on your stream, or anything about what you do to commit to diversity, it's your privilege. But when you actively begin to mute black voices that have been marginalized, that's where you're being called out. ”

April Foster, C.E.O. from Studio Calico, said in a statement that "the conversations that are taking place in our communities right now are important and effective, and we are listening and learning."

The company, she said, evaluated its processes and products. "We deliberately have inspiration that lifts up different creators, with the intention of reaching out to even more different designers and creators for our creative team and product designer," she said.

Ms. Jarrett and Miss Gordon said they found support from others in the clipboard community, but the disappointment the two women shared felt very much in the experience of being a black person in a room that was considered "white."

This reality is reflected in how little scrapbooking ephemeral there is on the market that shows black or brown faces or hands. Purkey, an Asian-American and a 15-year veteran of the industry, said she has worked for some of the largest scrapbooking companies and "never worked with a black employee anywhere, in any company." [19659010] Ms. Jarrett, who is black, said she started with clippings about seven years ago because she wanted to document the birth of her third daughter, and a traditional baby book was not quite her style.

She discovered a documentary style called pocket clippings and, she said, she "has not looked back." (Pocket scrapbooking involves using plastic protectors that are divided into segments to display cards, pictures and ephemera in different sizes.)

Ms. Jarrett's profile in the scrapbooking world began to rise when she posted some of her posts on Instagram, where albums, layouts, process videos and tutorials spread.

"I just wanted to share a different perspective," Jarrett said. "You know, some brown."

Ms. Jarrett became known for her minimalist style, but she said it was partly not necessary. A page from her scrapbook was recently shared by someone else on Instagram to highlight Black scrapbookers; on that side she had used a stamp depicting women's faces and had dyed her faces brown herself.

When she saw her own work again, Jarrett said, made her realize: “I did not think twice about having to paint a brown face, because that's how I move through the world. "

" I want something that reflects me, "she said. So she has recently issued her own Black Lives Matter stamps and wallet cards. One depicts a woman with curly hair; another simply says" melanin. "

The design team for scrapbooking for the large craft companies often consists of a handful of high-profile customers who in a few months or a year receive products before the general public, in exchange they are typically encouraged to post layouts on social media or on their blogs , if they still have them.

In early July, American Crafts, a Utah company that oversees a dozen scrapbooks, announced its latest design team – about a dozen women, all apparently white.

Lydia Diaz, a crafter and lifestyle vlogger, called the exclusion "a huge failure."

"When it comes to how ignored and how invisible we can feel as black people in America, and the craft community is a small slice of the pie, and even there we are not represented , she says on Instagram. "There are so many incredibly talented and creative black people thinking outside the box, doing great things in this community, and you would not know it if you looked at any of these great craft brands. You would not see our work, you would not see our hands on the table with a craft we just made, you would not see our faces smiling at one of their online courses, you would not see us on the ambassador team. ”

American Crafts apologized and removed the position, adding that it would soon add more black women to its team.At the end of July, Miss Gordon and a longtime scrapbook called Victoria Calvin were added, as well as several other women of color and a man.The company did not respond to a

For generations, all types of people have kept photo albums, regular books, and scrapbooks, including free black people and former slaves as documented. e Civil War and their post-war life.

But scrapbooking boomed as an industry in the late 1990s with the help of companies such as Creative Memories, in Minnesota, which hosted Tupperware-style parties for scrapbooking throughout the Midwestern suburbs.

Ms Purkey remembered that she started with clippings after attending one of these parties as a child. "These parties and scrap shops back then were all in these nice, rich suburbs," she said. "That was all for these rich suburban women."

The clipping industry also has ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has a well-documented history of referring black members to second-class status until the late 1970s.

Mormons prioritize documenting family history and genealogy as part of their faith. In the 1970s, a Mormon woman named Marielen Christensen from Spanish Fork, Utah, began showing how she preserved pictures and wrote stories at journalism conferences. In particular, she pushed for the use of binders and more durable materials, such as acid-free papers, which would lead to better preservation of scrapbooks.

In 1981, she opened Keeping Memories Alive, a store and mail order directory dedicated to helping others document families' stories, and it became a destination for scrapbookers. Other stores copied the model and within ten years scrapbooking was a complete mania.

Through decades – and the proliferation of digital cameras, then higher resolution cameras and social media platforms where scrapbookers began to share their work – the craft made it inevitable for a wider audience of people who enjoy playing with paper, stickers and stamps.

Today, social media plays an important role in getting the idea of ​​who scrapbookers are, but status is signaled by which customers have chosen to join the rotating company's design team. It is rare to see a design team with more than one person in color.

"There are some days where there is a lot to carry, to be a visible color person in a society that" does not seem diverse, "as at all," Gordon said. "And then there are some days where it just feels like a badge of honor, because if I can get women who did not think this community was open to them, or if I could just get someone else to tell their own story, then I feel like I did my job that day.

Before starting her own company, Purkey had been on a number of design teams. When she broke out on her own, she said that she did not specifically think about guaranteeing diversity as a cornerstone in building her own teams, but it happened organically.

“I did not necessarily think about diversity, but I knew I wanted people represented. As I knew I had Asian customers. I knew I had, you know, boys' moms, ”Purkey said. "It was not specifically about race. It was just like making sure we showed examples to everyone who shopped in my store.

After Jarrett (who has been on Ms. Purkey's design team) released her own Black Lives Matter-themed scrapbooking cards and stamps this summer, she said she was surprised when so many expressed their support.

"So many people reached out to me or in my DMs, and on Instagram to say," Hi thanks for this, scrapbooking is always seen as such a white craft, so it's good to see other products, Said Jarrett. "I just – I'm smooth, I'm happy to see other women of all races document these stories and that they mean something."

However, she was not surprised that her stamp from Black Lives Matter and the "Brown Girl" Stamp Set is sold out. "There is clearly a market for this type of product," Jarrett said.

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