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The Lynch Quilts Project

June / July 2013

Greetings LQP People! 
 
I woke up this morning with the intent of sending out the newsletter. It was all complete. Needless to say the first thing I saw on my newsfeed was an article from the New York Times indicating George Zimmerman had been found not guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin.

I was not outraged because 
I was not shocked.

In case you were wondering, this is what a lynching looks like in our times.

Lynching is about so many things, but at its core is the issue of power. The brutality of historical lynching is rooted in whites who for the first time in American society were faced with free black men and women that they felt were not only competition, but a threat to their very identity and way of life. In slavery, there was very little power for black Americans. No way for blacks to have any say or fight back on equal footing.

The years following slavery, known as Reconstruction, changed that in theory. In essence, the very thought of Blacks having some say in the determination of their own lives and destiny; some power to be equals at the table; a right to be treated with the rights and benefits of citizenship created the fertile ground that lead to Birth of a Nation, Jim Crow, the Black Codes, segregation and ultimately lynching.

In simple terms lynching is the result of white Americans feeling like they are losing power.  Losing the upper hand in a society built to make sure they were the unequaled winners at every stage and segment of life. This is the foundation of institutionalized racism and lynching was its ultimate executioner.
In simple terms, lynching stated in its action, "NIGGER don't you forget who has the power. Don't forget your place. And if you do WE WILL SHOW YOU what will happen to you."

Given the two term election of the first non-white president, the never ending discussion of whites becoming the minority in this country, immigration debate, etc. is it any shocker that this type of anti-black, over the top reactions would begin surfacing more and more? Especially when one considers an entire industry has be built on portraying black males, especially young black males as dangerous, rogue members of our society that need to be put down like wild animals? This mentality can be traced all the way back to slavery with the creation of the black brute stereotype. (Click
here for more information from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia).

So instead of burning crosses and hanging bodies, we have little black boys now being unable to walk the streets without being gunned down or simply sitting in their car listening to music as was the case for Jordan Davis. (Click here for more info).

And no it's not to say, black on black violence is not a real issue. It is. But this is an issue rooted in the impact and as a result of generations of institutionalized racism and white supremacy, hopelessness and poverty all rolled up into one.

This verdict is more insidious as it once again reveals that the laws in our country cannot protect its black citizens. As a result, in the words of New York deejay Jay Smooth, "The fundamental danger of an acquittal is not more riots, it is more George Zimmermans."


This issue dedicated to Trayvon Martin and all the little black boys in the world who lives are viewed as disposable.

Thank each and everyone that continues to support The Lynch Quilts Project efforts.

LaShawnda Crowe Storm

P.S. The Lynch Quilts Project website also received a facelift recently. Click here to check it out and give feedback! And there are also LOTS of great articles you should read.
 

Quilt II after the final pieceing of the quilt top. That's me in the yellow shirt on the right and volunteer Ruth Edwards on the left. This quilt  is presently about 12.5 x 12.5 feet; and that's before we add the border and binding!

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Reflections
 
A Word by Any Other Name
 
I can’t remember the first time I was called a nigger.  Can anyone?  But I can remember the first time I was called a nigger and understood and felt what it truly meant.  I was 11 years old and it was a friend; someone who lived around the corner; someone I walked to school with every day for nearly six months; someone I played kickball and Atari with on weekends.  Until that moment, I never considered him a "white" friend. I never considered that I was his "black" friend. We were just friends from the neighborhood.  
 
We were returning from the grocery store and began to argue over something.  I think it was candy.  Then he said, “Give it here; you f*ckin' dumb nigger.”  I was dumbfounded and went numb.  His sister laughed. You know that "Oh shit" stutter of a laugh when people are caught at the beginning of a maelstrom.
 
It wasn’t the word, but the hatred, the condemnation, the malevolence in his voice that slapped me across the face like a physical blow.  Trying to recover, I asked, "What are you talking about? My dad is white." A complete lie; but I was trying not to be the center of such a negative review and looking for a way to connect to him to make him simply "stop." Stop this ugly thing that was about to begin.  
 
I was already swimming in my own negative views of blackness, completely socialized in dominant white culture and struggling to embrace and love the beauty of my own black identity. It would take years and many difficult struggles to "undo" this conditioning and the damage it brought - mental, emotional and personal.
 
Having recently relocated to a rural setting with a 1% black population, I would find his words were the baptismal into the underbelly of this community. That his words were the beginning of what in contemporary society would be termed race based hazing, bullying and microaggression. And this would be my world for the next 6 years.
  
He replied, "The black nigger part of you." 
 
I could feel the fire creeping of my spine and responded with furor and hit him several times over the head with the gallon of milk I had just purchased. “Take it back. Take it back. Take it back.”  
 
Take what back?  
 
Innocence lost?  The humiliation?  The part of my soul he had injured with that one single word, which made me feel less than human, three-fifths a girl? 
 
He started screaming for his sister, who happened to be in several of my classes, "Help me." She stood motionless, watching wide-eyed like a deer in headlights caught between emotions as she witnessed both assaults - verbal and physical. He called for assistance again while he tried to block blows of gallons of milk and now fists. "Are you going to stand there while she beats me up?"
 
She replied, "Well ,you started it," dropped her head and walked away.
 
What is it about Nigger?
Is it the word or the intention that counts?  I am not sure.  But you cannot separate the two.  For the word itself embodies the rage and malice that flavored his words toward me. It is a history of oppression, dehumanization and disregard that make the word nigger a loaded gun with a hair trigger.  It is the mentality of burning crosses, lynching, Jim Crow Laws and chattel slavery that are the reflection and manifestation of nigger’s intention. 
 
Should we tell Jews to forget the Holocaust and return the use of the Swastika to its original meaning of “good luck?”  Can we expect Japanese on both shores not to remember American internment camps and Hiroshima?  We as an “enlightened” American people would never agree.  The fact that America has paid reparations to camp survivors and provides Israel with economic support is a testament to our national guilt.   So why does mainstream society so casually disregard the African-American experience?
 
Some point to the use of the term nigga among blacks as a term of endearment as validation for using the word.  Nigga is not nigger.  The changing of the old into the new is a part of the culture of determination and self-reclamation that is a key component of the African-American tradition of survival.  As rituals of baptism and marriage are specific and sacred to all communities, nigga is a consecrated cultural idiom for some members of the African-American community to use, define and determine. Others view this word with condemnation and revulsion. And for many, the use and who uses it is situational.
 
For non-blacks to begin to use and integrate nigger into mainstream American society as acceptable, is to perpetuate mainstream culture’s history of appropriation, misrepresentation and “whitewashing” of African-American cultural icons.  Blue grass and jazz is a historical example while hip-hop and rap music are modern examples.  
 
Will the casual use of nigger be the post-modern legacy?  It is that people cannot enjoy the fruit and richness of different communities and cultures.  But in doing so, one must take responsibility and have sensibility when engaging cultures not of your own. 
 
To use the word and ignore its history is not only irresponsible, but disregards African-Americans and their experience.  To ignore the totality of the word is to ignore America’s continual denial to honestly discuss race matters and confront the reality of history.  Nigger cannot stop being nigger until the history it entails, one that includes economic oppression and destruction, segregation, continual disregard and disrespect, is addressed with candor and sincerity and we as a nation take responsibility for this history.  Until that time, only African-Americans, blacks and Negroes, who understand the complexity and entirety of this word, can determine when nigger stops being NIGGER.
 
Although I now use my mind instead of my fist to settle these matters, one thing has remained true . . . the hatred and malice that dripped from his voice are a reflection of the constant companions that dances with the word nigger.
 
The history of the word is complex. But its meaning now, as it has been for countless generations still simply means at its root core less than human, less than worthy to be respected and treated with dignity. If you want to learn more about this word, see this month's resources. 
 
Epilogue
Since my “friend” baptized me to the ignorance of the world that day nearly two decades ago, I have been called nigger many times and in many ways - overt and subtle.  In one of the most comical encounters, I was walking down the street in Chicago towards my apartment and gave a homeless man a dollar. It was cold; one of those blistering Chicago winter days where you can feel the icy winds from the lake penetrating your snow boots. I said, "Hi," and told him to have a coffee or something warm on me tonight.
 
"That's all you got nigger?" 
 
So, here we are again, confronting a situation where someone tries to use racial priviledge to diminish another. For someone that was completely destitute and keeping warm on a sewer grate in his mind's eye maybe this was the only way he could try to exert some type of power over his world. Or maybe he was simply a bigot. What is clear is that his words dripped with the ferocity of nigger as he tried to be little and reduce me to three-fifths a woman. 
 
This time I was caught like a deer in headlights; especially given the pure absurdity of the situation. My mind was not filling we rage, but instead with words such as SERIOUSLY! This is Lunacy! Are kidding me?
 
My grandmother has always said don't bite the hand that feeds you. So in recovery, I reached out and quickly snatched my dollar back. This time he was shocked and as I walked away, smiled and said, "Maybe; but I am going to be one warm nigga tonight," and disappeared in the cold, windy, winter night that is Chicago. Nestled in my coat, I drank a hot coco then gave the dollar to the next homeless person I ran across, who simply said, "Thank you."
 
LaShawnda Crowe Storm

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Around the Web
 









QUILT PROGRESS


The last few weeks have been a world wind of progress for The Lynch Quilts Project. Below see images of the top for Quilt IIRedRum Summer 1919 is in the process of being cataloged to identify and document the participants. I'll be able to share this information next month.
 

Quilt IVRules, Declarations and Rights,  is also making headway. Most of the blocks have returned and a few embroidery and crotchet volunteers are augmenting those blocks that needed to be repaired. Hopefuly we'll start pieceing the top in mid-late August 2013, and then off to quilting.

Quilt V is undergoing a revamp. Recent research has revealed a historical quilt from 1849 created and/or quilted by an enslaved woman identified as Aunt Peggy.  I'll be incorporating additional historical documentation in the quilt once I am able to photograph it after visiting the Cincinnati Art Museum's archives.
 
So, far this year all in all things are moving along at a nice pace.
 
Again, thanks for all your continued dedication and hard work. The Lynch Quilts Project could not happen without you.
 
Until next month . . . keep quilting!
 
With the Utmost Thanks,
 
LaShawnda

COMMUNAL ACTIVITIES

Check back soon!
Resting now.



MONTHLY RESOURCES

Lots of articles about Trayvon Martin  and the George Zimmerman trial and so much more. 


LQP ARTICLES

Indianapolis Star
WTHR-13
Indy Reacts to the Quilt
Indianapolis Recorder
Clutch Mag On-Line
Madame Noire

Maybe Someone Should Write that Down
Beautiful Horror of HIstory

 


George Zimmerman Trial: Why are only six jurors weighing murder suspect's fate?




 



THE WORD NIGGER

 
RACIAL MICROAGRESSION
 
NEWS
 

The FOURTH of JULY
 
 
 
GARDEN NEWS
 
The garden is in high gear. Checkout some of my recent escapades in urban ag.

 
April, May, June and July. The world's most beautiful chickens. RIP July (Orpington breed, orange) and April (Leghorn breed, white). Both died from what we presumed a prolapsed vent - or birthing an egg that was too big.
 
 
27 lbs. of green beans in 2 hrs. of harvesting!
 
 
Beloved pollinator on an onion plant.
 
 

FINAL THOUGHTS



 
Continue to be the light 
LQP people!

 
 
 
www.LaShawndaCroweStorm.com

E
mail:
lcrowestorm@yahoo.com
Mailing Address:
The Lynch Quilts Project
c/o LaShawnda Crowe Storm
P.O. Box 90348
Indianapolis, IN 46290