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The Lynch Quilts Project

This issue dedicated to the people of Flint, MI. What was done to you was not only criminal, but a crime against humanity.
Spring 2016
(April, May and June) 

Greetings All!

It’s been awhile and I am working hard in the community towards issues around social justice in many forms, as well as pushing the work of The Lynch Quilts Project. But as things begin to stabilize more on this end, I am able to get back to writing this newsletter on at least quarterly basis, which is my goal. I hope some of you will be able to help continue the work by writing your own special discussions about the work you are doing in community around race. Since last we met, a few fabulous things have happened concerning the project.
 
First, Quilt II: Redrum Summer 1919 will appear in the Fantastic Fibers Exhibit at in Paducah, KY. As a sanctioned AQS (American Quilters Society) event they are expecting more than 30,000 people over the course of the exhibit with many of those arriving during the AQS Quilt week Apr. 20 – 23, 2016.

I am late posting this, but if you are in the area, check out our great work together. I was recently notified that RedRum Summer 1919 also, won second place in the exhibit


FANTASTIC FIBERS
Apr 9 - Jun 4, 2016
Yeiser Art Center
200 Broadway Paducah, KY 42001

 
Be/Coming will be on display in the exhibit The Fabric of Emancipation in Harlem, New York, New York from June 4 – September 1, 2016
 

THE FABRIC of EMANCIPATION
Morris-Jumel Mansion
65 Jumel Terrace
New York, New York, 1003
 
I’ve applied for several grants to cover the cost o
f finishing this work so keep your fingers crossed!  Thank you all for your continued support. We are definitely on the verge of moving to another level with the project. Thank you again for all those that continue to send words of encouragement that seem to miraculously arrive the moment I want to give up. Must be kismet, divine intervention or some cosmic joke at play here. Or, maybe all the above? 

With the utmost gratitude,

LaShawnda



ART UPDATES
  • Quilt I, Her Name was Laura Nelson will appear in the book, Quilts for Social Justice, which comes out this August 2016 from the University of Nebraska Press.
     
  • Quilt VI, To Be Determined, has had its final addition settled on by the youth. We should be ready to go with finishing sewing the final blocks together after grant season passes. So look for this quilt to be finished by the end of summer 2016.
     
  • Playstation is in constant transformation at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. So, if you are in town, stop-by and take a look, build some stuff. See photos below.
     
  • The House Poem Project is in full swing. We are simply waiting on right-of-entrance from the city of Indianapolis. The project has launched in two area elementary schools. Look for updates by the end of May. Check out the new website at www.HousePoem.com.


 
INTRODUCING . . . QUILT VII, THE TIES THAT BIND 


Traci Quinn is still working hard out in Albuquerque, New Mexico to get the sewing groups going. With that said, its time to open it up to the rest of the community to get going in terms of ideas around construction of the quilt process. We've changed the name after much debate as All My Relations did not reflect the complexity of the relationship between black, brown and red peoples in the face of oppression and white supremacy.

New thoughts are that individuals groups would sew individual sections and we'd combine it here in Indy. Or even that the back would be completed by individuals sewing strips of yellow and gold (must be 8 feet long), which will then serve as the backdrop. So, if you have ideas or just fabric for what you see above, let me know.    

LaShawnda                
 

    


REFLECTIONS ON EVERYDAY WHITE SUPREMACY

Lately, the rise of Donald Trump has given face to the underbelly of race, class and power in our country. While it is easy to point to his supporters and wag our fingers about “those” people, keep in mind that much of the destructive forces of white supremacy, inequity and institutionalized racism occur on daily basis and across a broad spectrum from the most extreme public displays to the institutionalized aspects such as the prison industrial complex that derail the promise of entire generations.
 
Race in America is a factor . . . ALWAYS. Sorry to burst your bubble or push you from your comfort zone, but if you are brown in America and choose to walk out your door, turn on the television or interact with society in any way shape or form, racism will eventually creep across your doorstep. If you are white in America take heed in understanding and being mindful of your own behavior in perpetuating systems of white supremacy, white privilege and straight out bigotry.

So to give you an idea of what race can look like in America from the scary to the comical to the daily, here are some of the things I have experienced in the past few weeks.

 

Black and Brilliant
As an independent project manager and community organizer I have the privilege of working across sector with many communities from all types of backgrounds, socio-economic classes, ethnic origins, across the American landscape coast-to-coast. If you can think of way in which we divide, categorize and specialize ourselves, then I am pretty sure I work with “you” in some fashion. And I love it. I love the celebration of all that uniqueness and how it mixes up to create new things.
 
Recently, I was working in a large group of folks trying to narrow down how to tackle a problem with branding a particular project. As is typical in such a sad fashion, I was “the only” brownie in the room. Not one yellow, red, black or brown brother or sister to help take the heat off you a bit. But I had been working with this particular group for a period of time so was pretty familiar with the various factions, agendas and personalities in the room. What one cannot always be sure about is how and when race will rear its ugly head, or what
 
So the chair of the group says something on the line of, "Thanks to LaShawnda for coming up with the brilliant idea to do such and such". Keep in mind the way this was phrased was done on an on-going consistent basis, nothing out of the norm here, except the black chick had the best idea in the room. This group of hipster, liberal white folks lost their f-ing mind!

Not only where there public calls of “No offense” we should ALL be praised for our efforts. “Hey we are all brilliant here.” The look on the chair's face was shock. She’d done what she’d always done, but never had this reaction. Ring leader of this calls for public uplift of all the white people in the room . . . king liberal hipster himself. 

 
Teaching Race
As of today, Zootopia is my favorite cartoon in recent years that says so much about race, just as the cartoon CARS explains the impact on highways on community destruction in the most basic and simple terms. Don’t get me wrong, a cartoon cannot explain the big complex, multi-generational impact of the systemic racism boogey man to kids in 90 minutes and not terrify them. What is does do is offer a way to get the conversation going for parents around bigotry. There are some poignant moments when I cracked up because I saw my own life on the screen in the everyday absurdity and micro-aggressions of race and there are definitely problems. Spoiler Alert below.
 
Sheep falls asleep and fox, Nick Wilde, reaches down and touches her hair and talks about how soft and beautiful it is, buries his head in it even. Judy Hops (the main protagonist and a bunny) tells him he shouldn’t be doing that. As a natural hair wearing woman, whites often want to touch your hair as if you are an object for their enjoyment.

Here's an example of one absurd conversation. Man - Oh it’s so shiny and curly. Can I touch it? Me - Thank you, but no you cannot. I do not like being touched by strangers. Man (Now frowning) – Well what are you going to do if I just grab this curl? (His hand was raised going in for the kill.) Me - Touch it and pull back a nub.  Needless to say, I had to apologize to a friend for stroking her loks the other day. But she is someone I am familiar with and care about, not some random street stranger.
 

So for days my son and I discussed Zootopia, laughing at our favorites parts and me asking probing questions about certain aspects of the movie. If he felt the behavior was “mean” or “wrong” or “unfair” and why. 99% of the time we were in agreement on the topics.  When we weren’t, it was because I had an adult world interpretation and he couldn’t see or comprehend what I was seeing.


On the hair thing, (gulp) I asked if anyone had ever touched him when he didn’t want to be touched. Nope. I’d tell to you if they did. (Whew!). And that’s how much of the conversation went, me probing lightly about his encounters and being treated mean. So far, I don’t have any indications as I work hard to control his social groups. But increasingly he will be out of my direct control and I am trying to delay that baptismal by fire as long as possible.

But I know we are entering the spaces and places where in a few years I may have to have the dreaded "TALK." Or at least my own version about structural inequity, structural racism and the likes to ground the TALK within historical context. Or shouldn’t I?  So I am working on how to do it BEFORE it has to be addressed as an after thought.
 
So, if you have the luxury of not worrying about such things, take a gander to explore what this means to be the parent of a black child, a son in particular in America.

 

Articles on Zootopia

Articles on "The Talk"

  

The Scary Stuff

Recently I had to run an errand on the outskirts of Indianapolis in an area where I typically would not go. Not because there is has been an overt history associated with the Westside of Indianapolis, not like the southern regions of the city, which are known places in brown communities to be much more mindful. Keep in mind that Indianapolis has one of highest numbers of documented Sundown towns in the United States. For those not in the know, a sundown town meant that when the sun began to slip beyond the horizon, blacks, browns and all other “undesirables” had better leave the town’s boundaries for their own safety. To learn more about this history check-out, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension in American Racism by James W. Loewen.
 
Needless to say, Trump’s rhetoric has open the doorway to extreme behavior to be more on display. And while it’s good to know where the “enemies” are, it also creates a much more destructive climate. What is more disturbing is not the public displays, but if we will continue to challenge the supremacy or look the other way. 

As I began to get close to town and entered the freeway system suddenly a midnight blue monster truck with wheels nearly as tall as my mini-van rolled up behind me. 
Now I was going mock 70 mph down the highway, and there were 3 other empty lanes, but for nearly 3 minutes this truck tailgated me. If I sped up, he’d speed up. So I began to slow down. I was pissed. Who else is riding around in a mini-van but some family typically toting a bunch of children. So I was completely incensed as I perceived this person as a bully.  
 

Once I slowed down to 50 mph, he, she, it sped around me and emblazoned in a pristine cloud white script on the back of the truck read the words “White Power.” Coward, if you are going to harass people on the highway and waive your white power pride, then don’t hide behind windows so dark and tinted you’d think it was smuggler’s vehicle.

           

 


A Week Later
I am driving to a community meeting in a neighborhood on the southside of Indy. Again, not territory I frequent for a variety of reasons. Needless to say my meeting was outside of the main strip areas that have been gentrified, commercialized and to some extent diversified, but was instead in the middle of neighborhood. 5 minutes into looking for the address, I saw the world’s largest confederate flag I’ve ever seen outside the of southeast United States and the western suburbs of Chicago blasted across the front porch bannister of a house, waiving in the wind as if to taunt me.
 
 
Two blocks away a construction worker remodeling a house had his shirt off. His skin pale as the wind and he had a swastika dark as an oil slick inked across on the entire pectoral muscle covering his heart. He’s joking and drinking a soda while working. His white supremacy on full display in celebration. His co-workers weren’t batting an eye but laughing and joking alongside him.
 
Three blocks away and I was ready to turn around when I pulled up to the house. I knew the folks inside, but had determined to make sure I sat by the door and any slight inkling of what I lovingly term “community cookoo crazy” and I was out of there with a faux emergency. While I unpacked the car to go inside an old gentleman with a deep southern draw came out from his home and parked himself on the front porch staring at me the entire time. He said hello only after I opened the fence leading into his next door neighbor’s yard.
 
Inside we had a great community round table and they talked the necessity of preserving the history that was once in the area, including the black history in that area that had long been forgotten.
 
Tomorrow
Donald Trump is holding a rally in Indianapolis. Literally 3 minutes from my house at the Indiana State Fair Grounds. Interesting that the location of his rally is surrounded by African American neighborhoods. That the rally is within minutes of the Nation of Islam Mosque, which has taken to protecting mosque and communities in Texas being harassed by White Supremacist. Curious how this is going to go down.
 
The Day After Tomorrow
Child Advocates of Indianapolis in partnership with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond holds
(www.pisab.org) another Undoing Racism workshop; I think about their 15th in Indy. This is a workshop which focuses racism by first understanding poverty, how did we get here in terms of race relations and how to tackle structural racism.   

Next Month
Let's see how all this continues to roll out. 


     



THE REMIX 01.2012: DIALOGUE VS. DEBATE
 
       
Update: April 19, 2016: Because our national rhetoric is getting worse, I feel the urge to post this each month until this current level of uncivil discussion gets coarse corrected. I love the work I see coming out of Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Check out the great work they do from the Summer Peacebuilding Institute to the many publications they provide to champion their name. 

Tips from Difficult Dialogues
This book definitely offered a practical approach to speaking about difficult subjects, which for me primarily focuses on addressing the history and ramifications of lynching and racial violence.  Over the few months as I read through the stack of Little Books of this and that from Eastern Mennonite University, I'll share a few tips and pointers that I have discovered. This month, the discussion revolves around the book The Little Book of Dialogue for Difficult Subject.
 
One of the core principle of this book is to the need to understand the difference between a dialogue and other forms of communication, especially debate. As we all know when the topic gets heated it is easy to find yourself drawing a line in the sand and defending your ideological territory vs. actually having a meaningful exchange that allows all parties to grow, learn and create opportunities for healing. So, here are seven points to help you define how to have a dialogue:
 
 
 
DEBATE
DIALOGUE
 

 The goal is to 'win' the argument by  affirming one's own views and  discrediting other views.
 
 The goal is to understand different  perspective and learn about other views.
 
 People listen to others to find flaws in  their arguments.  
People listen to others to understand how  their experiences shape their beliefs.
 
 People critique the experiences of other  as distorted and invalid.
 People accept the experiences of others  as real and valid.
 

 People appear to be determined not to  change their own views on the issue.
 
 People appear to be somewhat open to  expanding their understanding of the  issue.

 People speak based on assumptions  made about others' positions and  motivations.
 
 People speak primarily from their own  understanding and experience.
 
 People oppose each other and attempt to  prove each other wrong.
 People work together toward common  understanding.
 
 Strong emotions like anger are often  used to intimidate the other side.
 Strong emotions like anger and sadness  are appropriate when they convey the i  intensity of an experience or belief.
 


      Yeah, I guess we are crazy! And I'm okay with that!

 

PROJECT UPDATE


Quilt I, Her Name was Laura Nelson,resting and gearing up to travel again. she's been submitted to several exhibitions.

Quilt II, RedRum Summer 1919, in Paducah, KY until July 2016.

Quilt III, A Partial Listing, is on hiatus until Quilt IV is completed.

Quilt IV, To Be Determined,Sewing has commenced and we should be finished piecing the top by end of Summer 2016..

Quilt V, The Making Quilt, we took a trip to the Cincinnati Museum of Art this summer to view a quilt quilted by a slave women simply known as Aunt Peggy. Her work will be incorporated into this quilt now.

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, The Ties That Bind, its launched and moving. Recently renamed from All My Relations.

 

 

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. 

ARTICLES ABOUT LQP

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

TEDx INDIANPOLIS

 

Creative Power for Social Change!

 

Fighting for a racially healed and just future, since 2002.
 

Copyright © 2016 The Lynch Quilts Project, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
LaShawnda Crowe Storm
The Lynch Quilts Project
P.O. Box 90348
Indianapolis, IN 46290

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