This is White Privilege

26 05 2019

The Madison Quilt Expo sent out a call for submissions to their Modern Mini Quilt Challenge (#modernminiquiltchallenge). This is my entry and here is what I wrote with my submission:

From the spaces we enter to the people we encounter to the opportunities provided – we white people have a responsibility to identify what role white privilege factors in.

Someone had asked the organizers of the challenge to explain the meaning behind the quilt. They forwarded the question so it could be answered in my own words. It was a great opportunity to force me to articulate why those words were chosen. Here is what I wrote:

There are a many meanings or prompts for the quilt. Here are a few:

  1. The quilting community is very white. I see this at every guild meeting, QuiltCon, Quilt Market, and in the faces of our leaders and teachers. Yes, there are exceptions, but not very many. And we (mostly) white women don’t talk about it. We don’t have to. That is white privilege.
  2. When I go into those spaces as a white woman, I may have social concerns or anxieties navigating those spaces, but race is never one of them. That is white privilege.
  3. Recently, the Modern Quilt Guild intentionally excluded the voice of a woman of color when putting out a call for a quilt challenge because they didn’t want to make their members uncomfortable. They did the correct thing by honestly owning the action and intent and apologizing in an email to all members. But that omission is white privilege.

4. The quilt is intentionally designed to have a layer of white over predominately black and white fabric to represent that we white people tend to “white wash” the world by centering the world around us and considering and referring to other demographics as “other” – because we can – because that is what we have been conditioned to do. An example of this is including a racial descriptor when referring to a non-white person (“a black woman came into the store today”), but not doing the same when referring to a white person. The descriptor is omitted with the assumption being that the person is white. That’s white privilege.

5. Acting out of white guilt instead of white responsibility is white privilege.

I could go on. But basically, those thoughts above contribute to the meaning of the quilt.
My hope is that this will prompt more conversations in the quilting world that are long overdue.

The knitting community has begun this conversation. The Modern Quilt Guild has issued an Inclusion Statement  and has an Inclusion and Diversity Task Force. But, in general, we just don’t talk about the lack of diversity in our community.

Where am I in this? Stumbling, but listening and learning and talking. I spent years denying that I could be a Becky. Not only am I one, but I have done harm to people I care about under the guise of “I couldn’t possibly be one of those white girls because I grew up on the streets in inner-city-Rockford, my boyfriends were black, my friends were/are black, I’ve been to Africa, dammit!” But I was – am – and am in the process of taking responsibility for that.

And I know for a fact that I have benefited from white privilege. One of the fortunate things about southern racism is that it’s open and in your face (as opposed to the too-nice-but-always-just-below-the-surface Wisconsin version). While in the Air Force stationed in Georgia, my last job was in an office working under the base commander. One day, we were talking about race and my supervisor stated very directly that if I had been black, he wouldn’t have had me working in his office. This was the mid-80s. In Georgia. He reported directly to the base commander. My enlistment was almost up. I didn’t say anything. That’s white privilege.

But it’s also having an all white (often male) leadership team at work and not asking HR and senior leaders “why”?

And it’s microaggressions.

And it’s centering ourselves and our denial when a non-white person tries to tell us their experience.

We can all do better.

Resources to continue (or start) the work

  • Google “White Privilege”
  • Read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
  • Follow Layla Saad on Instagram (@laylafsaad) – and read and learn – and buy her “Me and White Supremacy” book when it comes out and support her and her work in Patreon
  • Follow Rachel Cargle on Instagram (@rachel.cargle) – and read and learn – and support her and her work on Patreon
  • Support non-white artists and art with your attention and dollars

[The quilt was made by cutting fabric hexagons into letter shapes, layering with Kona White, and then straight line quilting with various weight and color thread. Color and heavy grey stitches are made with 12wt Cotton by Wonderfil. Alternate light grey rows made with 80wt DECO-BOB by Wonderfil.]

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PQ 10.1

13 01 2019

More info later, but here’s the pic:

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Project Quilting 9.4: Mellow Yellow

25 02 2018

I am calling this one “Falling into Place”.

IMG_6188The Quilt: This was an assignment exploring value and balanced composition for a Design Essentials 1 class taught by Lorraine Torrence at Mill House Quilts. It’s small (just 10×10″), but it’s finished.

The Story: Last year just stunk. If you have a moral conscious and see the fall that our country is taking, I don’t need to say any more. If you don’t see that or don’t agree or think that great decisions are being made in the executive and legislative branches of the government, it doesn’t matter what I could say.

Work was challenging in 2017. Period. Just challenging.

But I was ready for 2018 and went into it with a positive attitude. Things were going to change. Mid term elections. Better communication. People waking up. Hitting important goals on a project at work and a potential opportunity.

That lasted about 2 weeks.

Mid-Jan my mom fell and went into the hospital. She spent 2 weeks there and everything for her and my stepdad turned upside down. After multiple trips there each week (hour each way) and lots of time sorting things out and many, many waking hours on the part of my sister and her extensive advocacy for my mom, things are finally a bit more stable. Mom is in good care in the nursing home, the bills are getting paid, and my stepdad is getting Meals on Wheels and bought 2 new pairs of pants (hadn’t happened for 25 years … small victories).

At the same time (Jan) the work opportunity fell through. But another door opened and will likely be much better for me.

AND an old friend was diagnosed with cancer requiring immediate, aggressive treatment. Shes one of the strongest women I know, but she’s also the last person that something like this should happen to (big ass heart in that woman). She just finished chemo and radiation this week. Let the healing begin!

A lot of big decisions are going to have to be made soon with the parents, but right now everyone is safe.

Things are falling into place. And I am going on vacation. Checking out. Taking a couple of deep breaths. Getting my toes in the sand.

Maybe we can start this whole positive-attitude-for-2018 thing over again when I get back.





Project Quilting 9.3: Bold and Brave

11 02 2018

Did some pattern testing for Trina Peterson this week and took photos with Wendy Franzak’s super fancy photo box. The pattern will be out soon and is called “Zipper Squared”.    It’s really well written and is much easier than it seems.





Project Quilting 9.2: Triangulation

28 01 2018

OK, so maybe kind of crazy that my last post was the last PQ season.
And my new post is a new PQ season.
No judgement, right?

Things have been a bit overwhelming lately and I really didn’t think that I would be able to fit in any of the PQ Season 9 challenges. But this little number was made from Cherrywood fabric to illustrate depth perspective using overlapping for my Design Essentials 1 class taught by Lorraine Torrence at Mill House Quilts in Waunakee WI. It was made Fri and due Sat and qualifies for PQ 9.2: Triangulation on Sun cause I used some triangles to show the depth: win-win. (Size 7.5 x 7.5″)





Project Quilting 8.6: Time is Up

18 03 2017

The last challenge of Project Quilting Season 8 is here. ☹️ The theme is Time is Up. I had a bunch of skull/grunge/black/white fabric still spread out on the table from making this quilt, so I used what was still there, cause we all run out of time in so many ways, don’t we?

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“Sometimes I feel that life is passing me by, not slowly either, but with ropes of steam and spark-spattered wheels and a hoarse roar of power or terror. It’s passing, yet I’m the one who’s doing all the moving. “. -Martin Amis

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Project Quilting 8.5: Best Dressed Man

4 03 2017

My best dressed man for the Project Quilting challenge is Dr. Frank N. Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Fabric is all Grunge and the whole image is raw edge appliqué. For the fishnet background, I placed the black on top of the red and stitched the lines, then cut out between the lines. To make it easier to separate the black from the red, I heavily glue basted the red to the batting prior to stitching.

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