Stitching Truth to Power: Quilting and White Fragility


  1. Sign up to embroider/embellish a quilt block made by a young artist during a workshop
  2. Give money (PayPal link is here, donations are tax deductible)
  3. Share your time, if you live in the Bay Area of California
  4. Send fabric*: Kona Cotton, batiks and all shades of skin colors but especially browns
  5. Donate equipment*: extra notions, scissors, needles, thread
  6. Send a good word about SJSA: write/email Paducah and commend them for the exhibition. Check out the excellent versions of the block on the FB page: say nice things about them on their Facebook or Instagram pages.
  7. Host the Art: Invite SJSA to show a quilt at your quilt guild’s next quilt show. They can also show quilts at local libraries, heritage centers, community centers, etc. If you know museum curators, tell them about SJSA (and NOT just for Black History Month, but it IS coming up so IJS…)
  8. Invite them to give a workshop to young people in your community.
  9. STITCH THE BLOCK!! Black Women Stitch is giving away 10 copies of the paper piecing pattern printed on Lisa’s favorite foundation paper. If you want a FREE copy of the printout, contact Black Women Stitch via IG direct message. Share your address and we’ll send you a printout.

*SJSA mailing address for fabric, notions, equipment:

Social Justice Sewing Academy, PO Box 2473, Antioch, CA 94531


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Read Full Transcript

Lisa Woolfork 0:14

Hello Stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please. The official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast. With more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.

Hello, everyone, and welcome back for a special edition of the Stitch Please podcast. All of our episodes are special, in my opinion, but today's is especially so because I believe it is a time sensitive episode. And it allows us that opportunity as a community to show up in solidarity with stitching sisters, across the US, and in particular on behalf of marginalized children who are creating beautiful art and works of art in response to their lived experience. The title of today's episode is "Stitching Truth to Power", it's based on the idea of speaking truth to power. And if you're not familiar with that concept, it means to confront those who hold important positions, positions of power. To speak truth to power means to demand a moral response to a problem rather than an expedient, easy or selfish response. This is a an assessment that I'm reading. But I think many of us know about this, what it means to speak truth to power, it means to take on a risk. It comes from folks who are who don't have a lot of power. And yet they're willing to take the risk of speaking truth and honesty in the face of overwhelming odds that the folks in power won't care what they say. And today I'm going to be talking about the Social Justice Sewing Academy. This is a fantastic project created by Sarah Trail in 2017 and thriving ever since. And one of the things that I wanted to discuss is the work of the Social Justice Sewing Academy. And what that reveals to us about the quilting community at large. This is an interesting and important follow up to last week's episode, where I talked a bit about why I started Black Women Stitch where it came from and where it was going. And it just happened to be a certain type of irony or serendipity or I don't know even what the phrase would be to just have what happened very recently in the last few days to come up after what we talked about last week. Today's episode on stitching truth to power then gives us the opportunity to talk about quilting and white fragility. Though there are lots of ways that white fragility shows up in quilting sewing and maker spaces. For this story. The scene is the National Quilt Museum. I will be talking about some of the fallout of the consequences of what happened when the Social Justice Sewing Academy became included in this prestigious museum. The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, gets about 110,000 visitors a year. It is such a prestigious museum that it's often referred to buy just one name Paducah. Founded in 1991. It's the world's most foremost museum devoted to quilts and the only museum dedicated to today's quilts and quilt maker that's from their website. But I want to just really stress that the National Quilt Museum is a really big deal. If you are an apparel soloist and not a quilter it's it's really hard to explain like what the word Paducah means. This is a small town in Kentucky. But that name really just it's almost like you know, it's like anything else that has just one name right? When someone says Beyonce, you know what that means? You know, no one has to say Oh, Beyonce, no, she used to be a Destiny's Child and now she's in the stratosphere. You don't need to say that because everybody knows who Beyonce is. And Paducah is very similar that to have your work exhibited there is seen as for many people the height of their artistic achievement like it really is meant to be this huge deal. Last year in 2019, the Social Justice Sewing Academy, which again was founded by Sarah trail, a young Black woman, and in 2017, was invited to exhibit the work of some of her young people at this museum. This is a big deal in the sense that the museum doesn't usually feature work by children or teens as part of their regular exhibit as part of their regular exhibit curation. So to have work by kids featured in the National Museum is again yet another stellar achievement for this project. Today is Wednesday, January 8, and the exhibit at the at Paducah will open up on January 10. And it will last for about three months until March 10. As part of the exhibition, the museum offers a Block of the Month Club or a Block of the Month program. The block of the month runs from, I believe, April of one year until March of the next year. So this year's block of the month started in April 2019. And it's going to end in 2020, which is the same time that the social justice song Academy will have their their exhibit hung Paducah, they were invited to design a block for this Block of the Month Club program. The Block of the Month is a free sampler. The blocks are released on the first of the month on the Block of the Month, Museum's Facebook page. So I think there's a lot of people on the page, more than 100,000. I didn't I remember I went back there and looked at it a few times. But I don't recall the exact number of how many people are in the group. But it's quite a lot of people. And every month, they post a PDF of the context of the block because each block represents the exhibits in the quilt in the quilt museum over that calendar year. So from all of the every month, you can make a block for free, that reflects what the National Quilt Museum is exhibiting. According to the museum website, the purpose of the block of the month is and this is significant. Y'all Listen, quote, challenging quilters of all levels, to experiment with new techniques, and expand their horizons as a modern quilter. End quote, I quote that because it's important, the purpose of the Block of the Month to reiterate, is to challenge quilters of all levels, to experiment with new techniques and expand their horizons. So every month, you get a different content, you get a different block, you get a different theme tone, all of that different based on what the museum is offering. The Social Justice Sewing Academy was asked to create a block that reflected the work that they were presenting in the museum from January 10, till March 10. Now Sarah, I spoke with Sarah Trail a few days ago on Instagram live, and she gave me a bit of context about what about how all of this came about. But I wanted to describe to you the quilt block itself. Now the quilt block is the cover art that I'm using for this episode. I'm also using it in some of the snippets so you'll get a chance to see it. I'm also going to provide links to the PDF pattern, as well as the description about the organization. All of this is included in basically what you could call pretty, a block briefing package, it talks about the organization talks about its motives, its background, some pictures of the kids some pictures of other quilts that they've done. All of this is included. So it provides a lot of really rich context that was presented to all the quilters who were choosing to participate in the Block of the Month. The block itself is a paper pieced block, it's called Number Two Pencil Power. Before I before I get into what the block looks like, I'd like to say that I have been following the Social Justice Sewing Academy for a long time. And there's a lot of quilts that they have that are very hard hitting that are very challenging that deal with difficult issues about war, violence, trauma,

sexual assault, racism, white supremacy, patriarchy, mass incarceration, they have a lot of different quilt blocks that do that kids. Again, all this is from kids that kids have created since the inception of the program. So what Sarah revealed was that she wanted To choose what was in her words, a quote unquote PG block, it wasn't rated R, it wasn't rated G, but it was PG, right it was PG, something that teens would be able to see which again since it was made by a teen, this all made sense. She wanted to pick something that would be non threatening, and something that everyone could in her mind agree on. So the name of the block is number Number Two Pencil Power. And it's paper pieced, which I'll describe a little bit later. And it has basically the word injustice, I n j ust ice, and the word injustice is written in two colors. The letters I N are written in gray, and the word justice is written in black. Above the word to the left is the eraser attached to a number two pencil. So it looks like someone had written the word justice, and then erased the letters I in to change the word in justice to justice. Right. very general, it seems, it seems what I would consider one of the most innocuous representations of the Social Justice Sewing Academy's project, considering I've seen quilts that these kids have put together that are so powerful, and really stitching truth to power, you know, they are there. They're thinking about the crisis of mass incarceration, not as an academic project, but because this is something that's impacting their lives. And so they're there. There's much more difficult, challenging, hard hitting issues that the Social Justice Sewing Academy covers, one would imagine. And Sarah imagined, and I agree with her assessment, that everybody believes in justice, right? That justice as a concept, is something that we can all unilaterally get behind. Right? It kind of reminds me of Black Lives Matter when it first came out, after Trayvon Martin, Trayvon Martin's murder, which is coincidentally, one of the same reasons that Sarah started the social justice sewing Academy being in all white crafting and makerspaces. And she was devastated by the verdict, and everyone else around her was unbothered. And it seemed number one, that when the when Black Lives Matter, just first came out as a movement. I remember saying, gosh, that phrase just seems so vague. I mean, like, who, you know, like in terms of like, a thesis statement from my professor had like a thesis statement. That's pretty general. Like that's not something that a reasonable person would disagree with, you know, you say Black Lives Matter. The lives of Black people have significance or consequence, like mattering seems to be like a very low bar, right? I was like, Black Lives Matter What but reasonable person would disagree with that, who's gonna say, Oh, no, they don't, they don't matter. Like, that made no sense to me. Little did I know how racist America really was. Because there were plenty of people who were put out by and upset by and frustrated with and and straight up said, No, they don't, right, to Black Lives Matter. And so for this reason, I guess I should not be as surprised as I was that something as innocuous as let's erase injustice was something that was rejected by the status quo in the quilting community. So when we come back, we're going to talk a bit more about this block. And the controversy and I don't really want to say controversy, because it's not a controversy because it's not a controversial thing. What it really is, is a revelation of the white fragility and racism that is really prevalent in the sewing community. Stay tuned.

Here at Stitch Please. The official podcast of Black Women Stitch. We talk a lot about sewing. But if you want to see and not just hear about some of the things we've been discussing, feel free to join us on the socials. You can find us at Stitch Please on Facebook. And you can also find us on Instagram at Black Women Stitch. You can find photos of projects that we've been working on. Really interesting social commentary, and on Thursdays at 3pm Eastern Standard Time, you can join Black Women Stitch for For a live Instagram chat, again, that's every Thursday at 3pm. So find us on the socials follow up with us. We are happy to hear your direct messages, you can reach out to us at the Black Women Stitch page on Instagram. And help get your stitch together.

Hello everybody, welcome back to the "Stitching Truth to Power" episode of the Stitch Please podcast, we're talking about the Social Justice Sewing Academy block for the Block of the Month Club for the National Quilt Museum. Now, again, this seems like I don't know, it seems like a big thing to me, because it relates so well to what we are talking about and are interested in at Black Women Stitch. And I know that there are some people who are like, Well, why do you think this is necessary? Why do you have to just talk about Black women and you know, I don't see color, I just don't think i think that sewing is just this neutral idea. And all we have to do is sit down with the sewing machines and the needles and thread. And, you know, we could just, you know, and I get that a lot, I don't really listen to it or pay much attention to it, because I find that to be naive or disingenuous. And I also find that I'm not very well equipped in terms of way my patience is set up to answer those questions really effectively, that this project is about centering Black women, girls and families in sewing. And what this challenge what this situation has revealed to me is that this is a need for this. Now I did not need this to happen to justify what I was doing. I don't need anyone to justify what I'm doing. But I just do want to stress that as a friend and Black, a Black Women Stitch member has said, Nothing is neutral, that everything, all these things that we are doing is loaded from where we shop versus where we don't shop, all of these things are part of a larger network of ethical, social, and moral relations. Right now again, this might sound like you know, too much philosophical Whoo. But it is, you know that life is complex, and so are people. And when, like, for me, basically one of my tests that I made for my own self care, because I love sewing and it really does mean a lot to me. And it's a great way for me to do a lot of self care is that I couldn't sew with folks who did not believe that the lives of my children had value. And there were people who like to think that maybe they were my quote unquote friend or I was there, quote unquote, friend. I feel like I was like the only Black friend for like, lots and lots of white people for a while. It it just was it's just too wounding to my spirit. And so I don't do it anymore. And that's fine. And people who do it great. That's wonderful. But for me, no. And one of those reasons is the reaction to this quilt block. If I could be permitted to make a really corny pun, I would say that there was an actual, mental, emotional, or some other block around this quilt block.

The the quilt, block, the quilt Block of the Month thing had been happening for quite a while, but there had been no reaction as severe and intense. I believe in the history of the program, as there was to this quilt block. The quilt block, I believe, was published on January 1. And then five days later, on January 6, which is a couple days ago, the President, oh no, the CEO of the National Quilt Museum, the CEO of Paducah had to come on to the Facebook group page, which has about I looked it up I think it has about 13,000 members. He had to come on there. He I was surprised it was man, though. Then I realized, Oh, yeah, patriarchy. Wow. That'd be surprised. I was surprised it was a man who was the CEO of Paducah. But he had to come on there and basically like referee, he had to come on there and make a statement that said, we this basically a First Amendment statement, a statement about them as a 501 c three organization, a statement about diversity and inclusion, et cetera, et cetera. And that was in response to maybe five pretty relentless days of harsh criticism about this quilt block. Now again, I described the quilt block you can look it up there's there'll be links to the block and the pattern in the show notes. It is the word injustice. With the letters I N erased by a number two pencil, I thought the block was very clever. I thought it was very mild. I thought it was very neutral. I thought it was very kind of inclusive in the sense that who's gonna say, I love injustice like, no one I would think that no one would say that. But then I would be really wrong because there were a lot of people who apparently liked injustice quite a bit, or would say things like, well, I'm all for justice, just not on my quilt. Because I have this empty wall in the space of my house. And I do not want a message about injustice on that empty space in the wall of my house. So I'm going to offer vociferous objections to this free pattern that I have been given. So it was absurd. And it was completely out of proportion to the block itself. And there was so much that's revealed in this message of resistance to this quote, block, if I could think of one word to describe the white fragility. And again, I keep saying white fragility, under the assumption that people know what that is. It's a I can this, you can Google it. It's white fragility is a phrase by a professor Robin de Angelo. And it's basically a way to describe the

let's see the hypersensitivity or the heightened sensitivity, that white people that many white people have when talking about race or racism, that it and also the idea that you even think that race and racism are the same thing. So there's lots of examples of white fragility of it's basically the inability to tolerate even the least amount of racial stress. So to say that someone even has a race or something like that. There's a lot of great commentary about white fragility, I believe it's pretty much well introduced into the national vocabulary these days. If you want to learn more about it, do Google white fragility, do Google, Robert Angelo, and I'm saying fragility fr a gi l it y, as in fragile. But what I think is useful or interesting, if I were to think of one word to describe the white fragility that I noticed in the comment section on the National Quilt Museum, Block of the Month Club, it would be refusal, just refusal, and that's the part that I find really frustrating. So there's a refusal to acknowledge that this block was art made by a child in Baltimore, during a Social Justice Sewing Academy workshop. That's what the block was, they went through all the blocks that they had, and they chose the one that Sarah said was the most mild, PG, neutral, expansive, inclusive, the broadest, basically, I think, a really broad umbrella. And that's what this block represented. All the negativity, all the negative reactions to the block are a form of refusing to accept this young person's artistic vision for a just future. And I think that that was pretty crappy. Next, it was the complaints about this is politics, politics, politics. This is about a child. This is about a teenager, a young person, I'm not sure how old this person is. But they are a young person who designed this block. And something I wanted to share with y'all. Just really quickly, and I can try to find a link to this as well. But there is a brand new study that was also released pretty much on the same day as the Social Justice Sewing Academy quilt block was released. And it finds that Black teens face racial discriminations five times a day, on average. This is a study from the I think it's from Rutgers University. It's called it's in the new issue of the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. The name of the article is "Daily Multidimensional Racial Discrimination Among Black US American Adolescents".

And so I think I think I can drop the link in there, it's from you can find it on Science Direct, but I mean, you know, at Black Women Stitch, we do not need a study to show us or tell us that, that Black teens face a lot of racism because one we were Black teenagers. And two, if we have kids or young people in our lives, our children, nieces and nephews, neighbors, loved ones who are young people, we know that they face these issues. So the idea that this would show up in a quilt block, just like all the other issues that have showed up in the SJSA quilt blocks are reflections of their lives and their experiences, that children are not shut off, hermetically sealed and kept free from, quote unquote, political issues. And that has never been the case for Black children anyway. Right? I keep thinking about Tamir Rice, a murdered 12 year old with a toy gun in a park, who was killed by police within two seconds, the officers car didn't even stop rolling. The tires were on his vehicle, we're still still rolling when he murdered that boy, a 12 year old, right? So we are often perceived in ways that are negative, harmful, toxic and lethal. And kids know that and that's the that they know it, they absolutely know it. And so the idea that that's somehow politics, and not just the condition of their lives, is a refusal to to extend their own boundaries of thinking. Another form of refusal that I saw in the comment thread, and you can see all these if you go to the Facebook group for the the National Quilt Museum, Block of the Month Club. Another refusal I saw was just a refusal to make it like I'm not sewing this block, this doesn't go with my theme. This doesn't fit with my theme, I'm just not going to bother. So I'm not going to do it. So that kind of refusal to just say I'm just not doing it. And I think it's one thing just to not do it like great, good for you don't do it save your time. And it's another thing to feel like you have to tell everybody. The third and most peculiar form of refusal, that the white fragility response revealed, was a refusal to make the block by changing it. So I'm going to just change this block, this person has no this person, this young person in Baltimore has designed this block, it was turned into a paper piecing pattern. By SG I mean by Social Justice Sewing Academy volunteers, I know Quirky Granola Girl was involved who's an instagramer that I know as well as other folks, I'm sorry, I'm not remembering all the names that everybody who was involved. But they took this block, and then they turned it into a paper piecing because paper piecing is a new, not new. It's a quilting technique. And I don't believe that any of the other blocks had been paper pieced. So there was something that you know that they thought this would be a good addition to the program. And so, y'all, I can't even I can't even add, you have to go look, to see what people changed this block to injustice was just too much to do too much to handle. So they changed it to something like love, they change this that they change, they turn the pencil eraser into a paintbrush, or a pencil, or a quill. And then they change the message from injustice being erased to become justice, they change from justice, to love or peace. In Chinese. This was not done by a Chinese person. This was done by a white person that can go quote unquote, Asian themed felt themed quilt. They my favorite, absolute favorite, was the person who changed the word, justice or injustice, being erased to make justice, change it to Mickey Mouse,

because she was making a Mickey Mouse quilt. And it didn't fit with her theme. So she changed it to Mickey Mouse. And so again, this is regulatory, and have so much and again, I love Disney, we go to Disney almost every year. So it's nothing against Mickey Mouse. But it just seems like pretty powerful to revise and change a block that was done by a, a marginalized young person speaking or stitching, truth to power. And I want to keep that in mind. Because that is what I believe the Social Justice Sewing Academy is doing is stitching truth to power. It is taking kids, kids who are marginalized by age by power. You know, kids just don't have a lot of power that they don't have that much power in our society, regardless of their race and gender. And as I just mentioned, Black kids especially are facing a lot of racism, as well as you know, other kids that also face other forms of discrimination and to take that into say no Don't need to engage that is a type of refusal that is really problematic. It reminded me actually of a time that I was at, I used to have embroidery. And there was this embroidery group that I was in. And someone had made a design, about Doc McStuffins. Now, this is something that my kids missed Doc McStuffins because my kids are older. But maybe some of y'all with younger kids or kids that are maybe, maybe 12, or 10. might remember Doc McStuffins. I'm thinking around that age, and maybe Doc McStuffins is still out. The point is Doc McStuffins is this cute little Black girl. I think she's a veterinarian. She seems to work with animals a lot. But maybe they're her friends. I don't know, I get I told you. I missed Doc McStuffins, my kids were in the Thomas the Tank Engine, I could tell you all about Thomas, the Tank Engine. I know very little about Doc McStuffins. Except that Doc McStuffins is a Black girl. And she's a Black girl who's a doctor of some sort. And I remember this in this group, someone was showing their Doc McStuffins. And they had changed Doc McStuffins from a black girl into a white girl. And they were like, well, I don't see what the big deal is. I mean, I'm making this for my granddaughter. And my granddaughter is white. And and I was it was kind of like, beyond words, I really like changed the girls fit changed her hair to blonde hair changed her skin from Brown to white. And I was thinking I I don't understand. I can't even right now, even in front of this microphone right now trying to explain to you why I thought that was so problematic. Well, of course, I think it's because I think it's just racist that of course, I can't give my white granddaughter, a Black fictional doctor, on which she might model herself. Right? I couldn't do that. Yeah, I was just like, first of all, kids are really picky. And she's gonna get that Doc McStuffins that white, that white Doc McStuffins and she's gonna be like, Who is this. But the need to regulate what is possible, right? Kind of sums up all the refusals that I talked about the refusal to engage the block on its own terms, their refusal to gauge the block as art, their refusal to make the block at all their refusal to make the block as it was written, or created. All of that speaks to a larger refusal to think about this quilt block as a legitimate form of quilting. And it's just one of those examples of the ways that white folks can become gatekeepers of these institutions. gatekeepers of these practices, real quilting is 123. What you are doing is political, and therefore not real. And so I just think that it's important to kind of keep these things in mind as we engage or recognize what this block meant, what it means to be in the museum, which I think is an overwhelmingly favorable and good thing. And what it means to assess or to understand the response that it's generated from those people who comp comprise the kind of status quo in these makerspaces. So when we come back, we'll talk about what we can do and what what we can do to combat this and what kind of actions we can take to support the Social Justice Sewing Academy. Stay tuned.

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Welcome back, everyone. Here's where we're at the Stitch Please podcast. And we're talking about stitching truth to power. This is an analysis that I'm giving of the Social Justice Sewing Academy in their block, pencil power number two pencil power in the reaction that it faced in the National Quilting Museum Block of the Month group. And what this signifies, in my opinion about the makerspace sewing communities, quilting communities that are still entrenched in the status quo of basically seeing whiteness as the default for these experiences. One of the things that I wanted to talk about before we get to some really great action items and opportunities to support are that basically, when you look through these the lens of white fragility, you really do miss a lot. One of the things I thought that was really important that this reaction missed was, well, actually, it missed a lot of things. One of the things it missed was that art reflects the person that's creating it that this was art that was created by a young person, and that this young person was stitching their truth to power in the creation of this blog, and their desire to have a more just world. It also missed that. that nothing is neutral, that quilting isn't neutral museums aren't mute, not neutral. All of these things are institutions that are sustained by certain systems of power, and that by refusing the block, they are promoting and perpetuating that power at the expense of a marginalized young person who has created something incredibly powerful that they don't want to think about or see. And that I thought was incredibly meaningful, and significant. Also, if you remember what I said earlier, when I was reading the little blurb about what the Block of the Month challenge was meant to do, it says I'm going to consult my notes because I do like to take notes. It said that the purpose of the Block of the Month was to quote challenge quilters of all levels, to experiment with new techniques, and expand their horizons as a modern quilter. Right. Now, by refusing to make the block by refusing to make the block as it was done by refusing the whole thing. It refuses the challenge that the Block of the Month Club was meant to inspire in the first place, right? Because it seems like they were so committed to setting up this gate to say, no, this is not a quilt, this is not a quilt that I'm going to do, or quilting should not be done this way. This is more than an aesthetic issue. Right. But even as I say that it is it implies that aesthetics are neutral, which they are absolutely not. But what I wanted to stress was, this is really revelatory of a lot of, I believe, spaces in which creativity is meant to thrive, but can only thrive in ways that are not making white people uncomfortable period. And that folks who are able to say keep your politics out of my blank, are able to completely opt out of conditions and situations that the rest of us cannot opt out of. Right. And I think that there's a and that's what the fragility comes from the idea of any type of having to think critically about something you love about having to be made uncomfortable. And that's one of the things about white fragility that I think about the definition it says something that De Angelo writes, she says that for these folks who experience this white fragility, it, it translates as to when one is made uncomfortable that when white people feel uncomfortable, they confuse that feeling of discomfort to be uncomfortable is also to be unsafe. And then that's when people strike out and they you know, yell or scream or you know, I'm not racist, because I have a, you know, fill in the blank, non white, great granddaughter or something like that, you know, that they want all these, this credit to kind of prove that they're not racist or biased or whatever, when in fact, the defense itself is basically an admission. So

I want to switch gears to talk about what can we do, what kind of actions can we take to help support this project, and I have lots of ways for you to do that. So I want you to I'm going to go ahead and talk about I think I have seven or eight different action items. Now no one has to do all eight of these things. But if you want to choose something that seems most relevant for you, or more meaningful to you, that's what I would advise. I'm going to write all of these and put them in the show notes so that you'll be able to click on links, as well as, find other ways to, you know, to support. So, the first thing that you can do to support is you can support the Social Justice Sewing Academy with your stitching. So if you are a hand embroidery or if you like to do handwork, the Social Justice Sewing Academy is always looking for people to embroider these raw edge applique blocks that kids from all over the country make and different Social Justice Sewing Academy workshops. So nobody wants my hand work because my hand work looks like it was done by a person who I don't know really hates hand sewing, it's cause I can't do it. That's not that's not my mission, hand sewing in any capacity. But for those people who love it, and there's sashiko stitching, and there's all kinds of things that you can do. And if you find it meditative, take some of these blocks from Social Justice Sewing Academy and do something beautiful with them help honor these kids art by helping it to see the light of day by stitching it after it's been rraw edge appliqued. Another way you can support them is with money. I have included the link to their Venmo account, as well as to their I believe their PayPal is also included. So they do accept monetary donations. So feel free to send them some money. Another thing you could donate is your time. If you live in the Bay Area, if you're visiting the Bay Area of California, they are often looking for volunteers to come and help support them that way. So if you have time, they definitely appreciate that. Another thing you could do is share some fabric if you have fabric quilting, Cotton's and especially brown skin color fabrics, light brown, dark brown, medium brown in cotton fabrics, those would be incredibly helpful. They also said that batting was useful. And so please do think about that if you are fabric shopping, and you happen to see some solid browns and different types of cotton woven weights, you can send those to them. Another thing they are looking for is equipment that the kids sometimes come and they fall in love with quilting, but then they don't have an opportunity to continue. So what the Social Justice Sewing Academy tries to do is to kind of send them home with a kit.

Like some scissors, some thread, a couple needles. So if you have equipment that you aren't using, that you might have bought to have or whatever, you can forward that and send that to them and they will appreciate it. Another thing you could give is your voice. Go on the Facebook page for the for the Social Justice Sewing Academy and give them your love. You know, those kind of things. That's something that you could definitely do with your voice. Also writing letters to Paducah and commending them for this bold exibit this bold exhibition, commending them for for promoting the Social Justice Sewing Academy, which I think is important. Because if we want quilting to thrive, if we want the art to grow, we need to have young people doing it. There was a time I've been doing these sewing retreats for like 20 years. And I was almost always the only Black person and I was almost always the absolute youngest person. And I am gonna be 50 years old this year. And it wasn't until I started to shift my retreats and stuff to center on Black women that I was not the youngest person. I was one of the oldest people. And it was amazing if you really can when you really have intergenerational, true intergenerational cooperation. It really does open your eyes and teach you so much. That's something that I've been learning through different advocacy and organizing work. Is that working with young people? I think Sarah's like, half my age, you know, and I just really admire her and the project itself. And we had our first conversation on IG live last week, you know, and so it was such great synergy was wonderful. And so I do think it's important to encourage young people to do this. And I think the Sarah is doing a great job of that. So I just wanted to urge you to contact Paducah to just give them some you know, when people quit, when people hate something when people don't like something. They get tons and tons of calls about it. When somebody loves something. It's just like Yeah, well I love that. That's nice. Right, so go ahead and take the extra step and drop Paducah a note, an email or something just commending them for this exhibit. Another way you can use your voice is to again on the Paducah's on Paducah's Block of the Month Club Facebook page and writing them an email. And I think that that would be wonderful. One other thing, there's two other things I wanted to add was one thing this is going to be I think a really important thing is your hospitality, your hospitality. And what do I mean by that by hospitality? I mean, do you have a quilt guild? Are you a member of a quilt guild in your community? Ask when your quilt guild has its next quilt show, ask them to display some quilts from the Social Justice Sewing Academy, they will they'll send quilts to be displayed. Do you have a local library that you are on the board have that you like to visit a lot are there schools nearby that you want to display these work set? Is there a museum a local museum, a small one or a large one, right, that could display these quilts and they are magnificent.

This is another opportunity that your hospitality to help share the message of the Social Justice Sewing Academy and get these kids quilts seen. I think that that's a really very powerful thing. And finally, I just wanted to say that I think people should stitch this block. Now the block is free, you can download it the whole PDF, the context, the the quilt block page itself for printing it out to do the sewing on it is three pages. And the way you do paper piecing is that you stitch directly onto the paper. There's a lot of great videos about how to do paper piecing, paper piecing actually is one of my absolute favorite quilting or piecing techniques. I love it because it's very accurate, you get really sharp and detailed lines. And so I also have this special paper I mentioned this in the lab the other day that I love called doodle paper and you can you can actually run that paper through your printer, it perforates easily after you've done the stitching, which is what you want, you want it to tear off easily because when you intersect the bunch of saves paper could kind of get jammed. The point is that here Black Women Stitch, we have printed off 10 copies of the Social Justice Sewing Academy number two pencil power block. And if you want to sew this block, all you need to do is send me a DM with your mailing address. And I will mail you a copy of the Social Justice Sewing Academy pencil number two pencil power block on my absolute favorite paper for free. I already printed them off. I'm going to put them in envelopes tonight and put stamps on them. So y'all contact me, give me your name and address and I will give you the block so that you can stitch it yourself. You can go online and look at the PDF for the instructions and the color codes and stuff like that, which is important for paper piecing. But yeah, do that, you know, if you've if you've made it this far, in podcasts, you deserve reward, and that reward is going to be this quilt block. So that's all I think we have for today. Thank you so much for joining us. I wanted to add, if you're listening to the podcast and enjoying it, please rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcast. I think that's the only podcast host that does reviews. I think it's also especially important for an episode like this, which talks about white fragility, and something that you know, and some white people aren't gonna like that, which is, you know, fine. But then they sometimes you know, can like, try to like, totally mess up your mentions, you know, so if you like this and, you get what I'm going for, and you get what the Social Justice Sewing Academy project is about. Drop us some five star reviews give us or five star ratings give us some good reviews, because I know this is a touchy topic for some people. And for everybody else like here, Black Women Stitch, this is just life. And so we again, thank you so much for listening, and hope to see you or hear from you in the interim. And come back next week.

Lisa Woolfork 49:26

Talk soon. Bye.

Lisa Woolfork 49:32

Thank you for joining us for this week's episode of the stitch please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch the sewing group where Black lives matter. There are a variety of ways that you can support the program and you're doing it right now. By listening to the listening to the podcast, it does help us grow. Another way to do that is to rate the podcast and review it subscribe to it all of these things are ways that you can support the podcast without having to spend any money at all. If you would like to spend some money to support us, there are ways to do that as well. You can make direct donations to our Patreon site for monthly contributions, as well as one time contributions to Pay Pal Cash App or Venmo. And finally, we have another cute, very adorable way for you to support the Black Women Stitch project. It's a pin, a pin, enamel lapel pin. That's very cute. It's about two inches wide and one and a half inch tall. And it's of the Black Women Stitch logo. And that is $15 with free shipping to the US. And so if you drop $15 in the PayPal Venmo or Cash App accounts, and then send me your email, oh not email, you send me your mailing address to my email either at or you send me a direct message on the Black Women Stitch Instagram page. We will put the pin in the mail to you. Again, free shipping $15 for the pin. And all of this goes to support the Black Women Stitch project. Thank you again for joining us this week. Come back next week and we will help you get your stitch together.

Transcribed by

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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