It’s just pencils! Or is it?

After much thought and great discussion over on the Erasable Facebook group, I felt compelled to make a blog posting about the issue of Blackwing Volumes and their seemingly white, male-dominated lineup.  Before I get to the meat of the issue, I am in no way knocking Palomino– they have done great things with the brand and provide awesome customer service and I am positive there was no intent to have a lack of diversity in the Blackwing Volumes line.  But that’s just it.  The seemingly accidental overlooking of amazing people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, and other marginalized folks is not so.  Leaving out those groups is not intentional, but it is so deeply seated and natural for the majority to do so, that they do not see that they marginalize.  The only way for the world to change is to have companies or individuals use their power to bring light to these issues and take a stance– a stance that should be the norm.  When inclusiveness is the norm, things might just be a bit better for the world (and for sales!).  Here are some ideas I have for future Blackwing Volumes:

George Washington Carver – 44  George Washington Carver was known as the “Peanut Man” and is known for his research into alternative crops to cotton such as peanuts and sweet potatoes.  His angle was that poor farmers could grow alternative crops to provide food for their families and develop other products to improve quality of life.  Carver also promoted environmentalism and released 44 practical bulletins for farmers with information on recipes for peanuts and peanut products.  From Wikipedia: “In 1921 peanut farmers and industry representatives planned to appear at Congressional hearings to ask for a tariff. Based on the quality of Carver’s presentation at their convention, they asked the African-American professor to testify on the tariff issue before the Ways and Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives. Due to segregation, it was highly unusual for an African American to appear as an expert witness at Congress representing European-American industry and farmers.”

A Blackwing Volumes edition for Carver would feature crimson colored pencil with a gold ferrule and tan eraser.  Crimson and gold are Tuskegee’s college colors and tan would be representative of peanuts.  It would be stamped with the number 44 as a nod to the 44 bulletins he released for farmers to promote the use of peanuts on their farms.

Susan B. Anthony – 19  Susan B. Anthony was a feminist who was deeply involved in the women’s suffrage movement.  At the age of 17, she collected anti-slavery petitions and in 1856, she became the New York agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.  Anthony also played a critical role in creating the International Council of Women.  One hundred years after her birth, women finally were granted the right to vote on August 18, 1920.

This pencil could be either green with a purple eraser or purple with a green eraser.  Both would have a white painted ferrule.  This is a nod to the symbolic suffrage colors of purple, white, and green used on banners and pins promoting the cause.  The number 19 would be used to represent the 19th amendment to the constitution allowing women to vote.

Stonewall – 1969  The Stonewall riots were a series of demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ community against a police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969.  In the 1950s and 60s, gay Americans faced a very anti-gay legal system and as such, not many establishments welcomed openly gay people.  The Stonewall Inn catered to an assortment of individuals and was known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, transgender people, effeminate young men, butch lesbians, male prostitutes, and homeless youth.  A year later, in 1970, the first Gay Pride would take place in NYC.  The Stonewall National Monument was established a month ago by President Obama and it includes Christoper Park and the Stonewall Inn.

This Volumes edition would be a no brainer– RAINBOWS!

I hope that those of you who have read this have been inspired.  Those that feel uncomfortable regarding this blog post– good.  That’s what its supposed to do to some.  It’s high time we start having those uncomfortable conversations and unpacking difficult topics.  After all, it’s just not about pencils.



7 thoughts on “It’s just pencils! Or is it?

  1. Philip Phillips says:

    It’s just pencils. Let’s not bring race, gender, and sexual preferences into everything.

    You certainly have your right to your opinion and anyone who faults you for that is just wrong,…but I’m just expressing mine here too since the comment section is open.

    Thank you.


  2. Dannie says:

    Actually, for most it really was about pencils. A place we could just relax and be pencil geeks without politics. To my knowledge I do not hold or use pencils differently from my straight brethren and sistern (and zizthren or zassthren or whatever mandatory phrase right-thinking people have to use this fortnight.) My appreciation of a smooth and dark line or a sharpener that works well is not likely different from that of a trans POC otherkin, or even (gasp) a white cis redneck. We could all enjoy the same things without obsessing over identity. How refreshing to be able to obsess and share over our weird hobby together.
    But now apparently we’ve got to add being very, very earnest and serious and heavy and making everything “problematic” unless each pencil somehow reflects the struggles of each member of an ever-atomizing field of oversensitive snowflakes. I suppose we’ll soon be facing an existential crisis once everyone realizes how cis and white and male the history of the pencil really is….can we really enjoy Staedlers and Eberhardt-Fabers knowing that they were made by people who probably wouldn’t have been fully supportive of gender fluid people of color?
    Sigh. Another SJW ruining a good thing.


    • Johnny says:

      Is Dee not free to write about what she wishes to on her own website? She doesn’t owe any of us who read it anything. I don’t see how Dee is “obsessing” over identity here. She’s obsessing over pencils, what she posts about over and over and over. That is why I read this blog. One post that is still about pencils doesn’t change that. She’s not hitting anyone over the head with anything.

      Your question at the end really is odd. No one’s questioning the motivation or secret hearts of anyone at Palomino. Dee made this very clear. What does the support of people making pencils have to do with what Dee said?

      Certainly a good way to make a rambling point is to call someone a pejorative name the end of a blog comment. What’s the point of talking like that to the publisher of a blog you say you enjoy?


      • Dannie says:

        Saying,”I’m not accusing, but…” is the new way of accusing, especially about race. Obviously Palomino dare not NOT make volumes based on race and gender after this. Had she just said “Hey Palomino, how about Miles Davis or Mae Jemmison?” she’d have gotten the point across. But now it’s just an exercise in box-checking.
        I wrote because I did enjoy the blog, but now it’s obvious that it’s NOT all about pencils, but now partially about virtue-signaling and chasing the diversity merit badge.

        Obviously she can do as she wishes, but if it were my blog, and I wanted an audience, I’d like to know what annoys people.
        Buh bye.


  3. Johnny says:

    How exactly is saying, “I’m not accusing” X person of X “the new way of accusing, especially about race”? That’s not rhetorical. If that’s some *thing* people do now, I’d certainly like to avoid it in the future myself. If it’s opposite day all the time now and we all say the opposite of what we mean, I think we all need to know that so that we can communicate effectively.


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