August / September 2015
As we head into Fall, it has been one wild year and I wanted to say "Hello" before we snuggle down for the fall. I know the newsletters have been infrequent, but will be back on a alternating month schedule. There's a lot going on the community activism front as most of you know. So, I've been uber busy with that and getting the quilts to the next level and working on new projects and proposals. You'd be amazed at how much time and effort it takes to craft a good proposal. I've won some and lost others, but all in all am happy where things are headed. With that said, two new quilts have started to make themselves base on the work evolving on the west coast.
The work will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico September 17-20, 2015 as apart of the Police State Exhibit at the University of New Mexico. If you are in the area, come out and checkout the work that is starting there. So, I introduce to you Quilt VIII, tentatively titled All My Relations. This quilt was born om a conversation with a friend of mine about the relationship between police brutality and the black, brown and red people how we are all abused by this system, but can't seem to get together in working towards our collective healing and reawakening our personal and collective power to fight injustice.
Before then, I had come across this image of a firing range target of Trayvon Martin, which was being sold at gun shows across the nation, as well as police officers using this in target practice. The moment I saw this it simplified and solidified how absolutely we as black, brown and red peoples have been erased completely and utterly under fire in mainstream eyes.
So feel free to add your comments about how to create into a quilt or if you want to contribute black, red, brown and yellow fabric. Or ideas on what embellishments and symbolizes should be incorporated as we move forward.
Throughout this time, I have been writing and collecting cartoons. All of which you can see below in two blog entries I wrote, but for some reason didn't send out. I won the 5x5 Competition with fellow artist and friend Phyllis Boyd, where we'll be using art to address economic development opportunities and abandoned housing.
I was selected to participate in The Public Collection, a public art and literacy project consisting of artist-designed book share stations in Indianapolis, IN. I created Play Station for the Indianapolis Museum of Art, a portable bookcase combining childhood favorites in a learning and playing one man show. The day we rolled it out (August 25, 2015), the pre-school class came wandering down the hall as if on cue and literally attacked the project. So, I would say audience served with this one.
And finally, I made it to the Final Round for the Transformation Impact Fellowship through the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Honestly it was an honor to get that far, which entailed letters of support from partners, which meant convincing others about why they should support your work, to a full fledged round two proposal and the final round face-to-face interview.
It was a daunting process, but definitely moved the artwork into a direction, which really focused on the garden projects being born from the quilts and all this stuff about healing the land, the people, etc. While I did not win, I made it to the finals where it was narrowed down 7. In addition, I have a thoroughly fleshed out proposal we can use to continue to advance the work around community healing in all the various formats from quilting, dialogue and land art projects. In essence, art as a vehicle of community transformation and healing.
If you follow our Facebook page you know that I have been posting some some pretty "rough and tough" articles for the past few months. So much so, that someone emailed me to ask if I was okay, wanted me to "step away from darkness" and "enter the light."
In fact I've had this conversation A LOT recently. People exclaiming that it is "so bad" out there. So my response typically includes variations on a few of the following phrases, but you get the gist.
So while you may not have heard from me for a while, I want to say thank you all as you continue to support the work as our society enters a vortex of change, social transformation and consciousness raising. It seems I've been speaking so much lately that my own voice has grown tired. But alas I can see the journey towards a different future and know we have been a small cog in moving those dialogues forward.
- What you talkin' bout Willis? (Complete with the Gary Coleman Different Strokes antics). I am sadden about how we got here, but I AM STOKED that we are here!
- This is always been going on. It's just now it can't be hidden.
- What you talkin' bout Willis? (Complete with the Gary Coleman Different Strokes antics). We live in America like it or not RACE and RACISM are so ingrained in our society we all support it in various ways and many can't, won't, don't want to see it, actively deny or look the other way.
- Thank the creator and ancestors. Maybe now we can have a real conversation and dialog and began to actively dismantle the systems of oppression.
- You are upset, because now you have to poop or get off the pot when it comes to all your talk about social justice.
- It's time to put your money where you mouth is and create the world we keep talking about.
- Now more sitting on the sidelines. Either you are for justice or your silence and lack of action is support for injustice.
- Dude, its time to have courage, pure and simple.
- Yadda, yadda, yadda somewhere on these lines.
It has been 13 years since I started this journey with 10 volunteers. Over this time hundreds have joined in their own ways and thousands have encountered the work. For this I am thankful, as this would not be possible without you.
As we enter the increasing the darkness of the closet and pull our our historical and contemporary racial bones, laying them bare for all the world to see, continue to be the light!
REFLECTIONS: July 2015
â€œThe past is never dead. Itâ€™s not even past.â€œ â€“ William Faulkner
So here we are again. Our racist underbelly, which is the foundation of our society, is rearing its ugly head . . . again. Iâ€™ve tried to start this newsletter several times. What can I say? What can be said? What do I really have to add to a dialogue that is decades long? A massacre now followed by a growing list of church burnings.
I am saddened, but not surprised.
And truth be told, the cynical part of me is simply waiting to see whatâ€™s left after the tide of unity and shock recedes, the trial is over and everything returns to business as usual.
The business of racism that is manifested in the everyday slights of being followed in a grocery store or arrested because you are taking too long to buy your chips and dips. Shipping children off to underfunded schools with dehumanizing discipline policies that strip students not only of their dignity, but their childhood instead of providing comfort and support. Places that are fertile grounds for the cannon fodder of the school to prison pipeline.
The daily grind where you go back to not confronting that colleague, which makes a racist joke and you say nothing but instead look sideways or stutter laugh your way through the process. This co-worker that makes hiring decisions, loan approval or develops admission policies. Where our men in blue who've pledged to protect and serve us take a mass murderer to Burger King after he is arrested, but choke a man too death on street corner for supposedly selling cigarettes.
All those things that truly are the devastating impact of racism beyond simply flying a flag or calling someone a nigger. Itâ€™s the devaluation of oneâ€™s humanity that means you can remove the flag, but we have A LOT more work to do to attack structural racism.
And donâ€™t get me wrong I lived in the southeastern United States and seeing that hateful moniker was a daily assault on any person of color in that area. But was most horrifying was to move to the suburbs of Chicago and see the same thing on a weekly basis, to ride the train and regularly run across Neo-Nazi members proudly wearing their swastika uniforms with few of my fellow Caucasian Americans batting an eye. Instead, many would look at me as the only brown person on the train as if they expected me to do something or as if it was my fault they had to be reminded where that hate was directed.
What has come from this ordeal is the removal of the Confederate Flag from state capitols, license plates and stocks of merchandise removed from Big Box store shelves. Even China with its history of human rights violations has found the confederate flag and offensive enough to remove it from many of their major on-line distributors such as Ali Baba. This is unfortunate as this has become a distraction to the real discussions around the systemic process of racism that continues to devalue black lives.
So here is where we find ourselves, 47 years after the assassination of King, Kennedy and Shabazz . . . still living out our past in high-definition living color.
I am a fan of the side-door access. I understood long ago that discussing race and lynching in particular, meant that the front door is often not only violently closed to me, but bolted shut with all manners of contraptions. So I always look for another way in. So perhaps our way towards this racial conversation has to begin with that damn flag as we keep unpacking truth from fiction, examining all the ugliness wrapped up in that symbol and then work our way towards dismantling the structure of racism.
Quilt IV is growing a new row. So we'll need to add 135 new blocks to connect our founding to the current toxic soup that is our racist society. And to Quilt III: A Partial Listing, we add the following individuals that have died in modern day lynching over the past three years.
- Charleston, SC â€“ Susie Jackson, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Ethel Lee Lance, Daniel Simmons Sr., Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Tywanza Sanders, and Myra Thompson
- McKinney, TX
- Eric Garner
- Michael Brown
- Jordan Davis
- Trayvon Martin
Now I'm just tired of writing this now.
REFLECTIONS: May 2015
Spring is in the air! After a very rough and icy winter complete with 3 gallons of kitty litter for the tires, weeks of negative temp day, a gas leak, which required evacuation of my house and days and days of shoveling snow, I am ready to put seeds in the ground and watch kale and collards and lots of tomatoes bloom over the next few months. Squash too!
With that said, these past few months America has had to continue to confront the bones in our closet around racism. From frats being caught singing,"Kill a nigger songs," to the continued shooting of black men and the recent possible lynching in Mississippi. Now is the time for our project to continue to be a voice to speak truth to power and create the opportunity for dialogue in our communities. It is only through dialogue that the much needed conversations that need to occur can begin to take center stage and hopefully transforms individuals, communities and society as a whole. These conversations are the first stones in The 100 Year Impact.
LQP is gaining momentum on the west coast quite a bit, with California being the highest level of website participants lately. Organizing efforts in the Oakland area of the state to bring LQP have brought together a diverse group of individuals and organizations from various parts of our community including the juvenile justice and adult prison systems, higher education, faith-based and youth service organizations. This new effort is giving birth to a potential 7th quilt. At least is it running around in my mind, making itself a little more each day. Once pen hits paper and we infuse the vision of the west coast with the dance in my head, we'll see what chooses to be born. New opportunities have started to sprout legs in the New Mexico and Oklahoma communities. Giving birth to a possible 8th quilt; Again dancing in my head. I'll keep you updated as activities progress.
The exhibition of Her Name was Laura Nelson at Bowling Green State University was a success complete with public presentations at the university, many one-on-one conversations with faculty and students. But the most inspiring presentation was at an area high school where we presented about the work and what it means for each of us to take responsibility for our history, our community. How each of us had the responsibility to pick a passion and become an engaged, civic-minded citizen. We talked about in/equity, racial justice and I explained community development and how neighborhoods end up being derailed. In Undoing Racism jargon, they would call it the footprint of oppression. And they drank it up with many, many questions. You could see the look of frustration on the face of some as they had to reconsider their version of reality after being confronted with their own privilidge. Others felt empowered and talked about how they felt they could change the world.
I love young minds. So filled with passion and the ability to continue the work long after I am done. When we are done. While speaking to everyone is important, it is through our children that we have the opportunity to make "The 100 Year Impact." The ability to take our work further into the future for others to finish, impacting generations yet to come.
I have recently completed are the Racial Justice Leadership Institute (RJLI) training provided by Race Forward. Where Undoing Racism through the People's Institute of Survival and Beyond gives you a hard core foundation in understanding the roots of racism and how we got to here. RJLI provides practical approaches to making racial justice apart of a sustained systemic assessment and impact. In essence, how to systemically undo the impact of racism and ensure we systematize racial equity.
Again, thank you for your continued to support.This project could not happen without your continued dedication and support. I am humbled as I see many of you become the flame that lights the fire of justice in your communities across the country.
With the utmost gratitude,
MINING MEMES: RACISM IN AMERICA
RACIAL JUSTICE LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE TRAINING
The Racial Justice Leadership Institute, developed by Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, is an interactive training for those who wish to sharpen their skills and strategies to address structural racism and advance racial equity. Unlike â€œdiversity trainingsâ€ which primarily focus on interpersonal relations and understanding, the Institute emphasizes how to challenge and change institutional racial inequities.
- Racial Justice Values & Vision
- Key Concepts: Different Dimensions of Racism / Structural Racism
- Implicit Bias and Systems Analysis
- Opportunities to Advance Racial Justice
- build a clear understanding of key concepts such as racial equity and structural racism;
- learn to talk about race constructively within their organizations and with their constituents;
- gain tools and practices for counteracting racial bias in their work and practices;
- identify opportunities and next steps for applying concepts and strategies to advance racial equity.
For Scholarship Applications, email Ramesh Kathanadhi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quilt I, Her Name was Laura Nelson, just came home from Ohio! Thanks to Viola for taking the initiative on this effort.
Quilt II, RedRum Summer 1919, resting and gearing up to travel again, after a stint in the Indianapolis International Airport.
Quilt III, A Partial Listing, has been reactivated. The final pieces of how this quilt should be completed have unfortunately come into play with the recent police shootings. We will start working on this in early June 2015.
Quilt IV, To Be Determined, is very, very close to completion. All the pieces are in and early 2015 will finished being assembled. Still getting settled in, but ready to go by May 2015. Will only take a couple of weeks to complete once I can get back to the sewing room.
Quilt V, The Making Quilt, is in the hands of Chicago master quilters. New discoveries on slavery era quilts and lynching history have added a new dimension to this quilt. We'll be taking a trip to a museum that has a slave quilts in its holdings soon.
Quilt VI, Memoria: In Progress, is always looking for a place to go up for a few days, weeks or months. Let me know if you have a place in your community where we can place the boards for a period of time, no matter how short or long.
Quilt VII, All Around the World the Same Song, still forming and making itself in my mind. As soon as pen hits paper and the community interacts with the idea, it will birth itself.
Quilt VIII, All My Relations, launching in September 2015 with the assistance of communities in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
PLEASE ACCEPT MY APOLOGY
I apologize if you are receiving this newsletter in error. A recent technical glitch required me to rebuild the database, which meant combining multiple email accounts, listserves and handwritten sign-in sheets. I have multiple emails without names attached. As such, I am sure I missed a few as I tried to delete as many as possible, before it became kinda exhausting given there are hundreds upon hundreds of supporters. So if you are here and not by choice, I apologize. Please simply unsubscribe.
Creative Power for Social Change!
Fighting for a racially healed and just future, since 2002.