on the complexity of “uppity”…

…as a black woman.

…as a black woman.

…as a black woman.

not showing proper deference to wypipo

Emphasis added here because when I’ve brought this up before, I’ve been immediately rendered invisible by women who kindly connect to the term “uppity woman” and move on. Sure, we live in a sexist world where it is a struggle to succeed in male-dominated professions where our co-workers can be so offended by excellent women that they project their own arrogance onto women and assume they are odious simply for having achieved. There is a sneer in the term “uppity woman,” indeed. I acknowledge those who grapple with the consequences of sexism.

not showing proper deference to wypipo

We also live in a racist world. And we must realize that a similar but more dangerous sneer arises when black folks “rise above their station” or fail to show proper deference to white people. To be called an “uppity negro” is to be physically threatened because you dared not to bow down to white people who believe they are superior simply because of the color of their skin. When “uppity” is used in a racial context, it is racist. Don’t believe me? Here’s an article in The Atlantic that spells it all out.

not showing proper deference to wypipo

Imagine for yourself for a moment. It can be as simple as being expected to give up your seat on a bus to a white person. It can be as complicated as daring to earn a college degree, running the obstacle course at work, and ending up in a position of influence (or power–oh no!) over a non-black person. ..cough, cough…Obama. Yes, the Obamas were called uppity many many times. Here’s one response quoted in the linked article:

Political consultant David Gergen, who has worked in both Republican and Democratic White Houses, said on ABC’s “This Week” that “As a native of the south, I can tell you, when you see this Charlton Heston ad, ‘The One,’ that’s code for, ‘He’s uppity, he ought to stay in his place.’ Everybody gets that who is from a Southern background.”

not showing proper deference to wypipo

The most recent public instance is in the peaceful protests of NFL players who choose to take a knee during the national anthem to bring attention to the disproportionate number of incidents of police brutality against people of color. These players were called “ungrateful.” That is, they are being told that they should be satisfied with having reached the NFL to earn tidy sums of dollars and they should just shut up. Be grateful that we let you live. Jelani Cobb wrote about this, though it was long after I started this project that these protests also inspired btw. He posits that “ungrateful” is just another instance of “uppity negro” just like those on F*xNews who call Obama “professor” and “elitist.”

not showing proper deference to wypipo

And then try to consider being a black woman living in a world that is both racist and sexist. It’s not a doubling of issues but a compounding and recombining effect that confounds. Almost exactly a year ago I was working on a project at RealJob with a non-faculty colleague with whom there is no rank-comparison; we are in different divisions of the institution, we are meant to collaborate without hierarchy. And yet, because he is a white man who is older than me, he assumed quite a bit about who was to follow whose orders without question in this situation. I dared to disagree with his assumptions and asserted myself as politely and professionally as I could to try to put our interactions on an equal footing. It was dehumanizing and painful, but not a rare situation. The blend of race and gender dynamics complexify the interactions…I, apparently, am “uppity” to the nth degree.

And so, of course, I made a quilt with cotton and silk and bold words to reclaim.

not showing proper deference to wypipo

not showing proper deference to wypipo

The Details:
Title: not showing proper deference to wypipo
Materials: silk, quilting cotton, velvet, corduroy, burlap, monk’s cloth, linen, satin, denim
Techniques: improvisationally machine pieced, hand quilted, hand bound
Finished size: about 46″ square
Started: July 22, 2017
Finished: July 15, 2018

almost time to panic

So, in my career tribe, summers are kinda sacred time for self-reflection and indulgence in one’s own research program. We don’t have “time off” but time is flexible in ways that it cannot be within the other nine months of the year. I still have a morning alarm set but tend to wake up hours before it, coaxed into waking by the beautifully insistent and lingering summer sunlight. And then I work all day or not, garden all day or not, read all day or not, you know…just as long as it all balances out over time and stuff gets done.

July 4, however, is sort of a mile-marker and the signal that summer break is waning. For sure, there is still a jam-packed schedule of adventures after that date, but it makes one feel like mid-August and the invasion of students are just a few weeks away…ahem…because they are.

Just got back from Portland, Oregon where much fun and frolic occurred with the Portland MQG. They are a lovely and amazing community of quilters and artists who made me feel included within a minute. I don’t often get to feel that way and so it was ever more special. I did remember to take some photos this time and you can see them over on instagram.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been traveling for family, RealJob, and self-care. There’s always a trip when adequate crafting fails to make it into the bags and so I impulsively start something new. A few weeks ago, I’d stuffed a newly basted quilt into the carry-on and intended to binge-quilt it the whole time. So many delusions of success! Oy. The quilt is dark dark blue, lighting was terrible everywhere, and I ended up with a mess in need of removal. So I set it aside and picked up some fabrics on sale coupled with using a coupon or two.

Denim and linen…yum! Pressed and then shredded with scissors, I sought a rustic and spontaneous look in this hand-pieced work, though it ended up looking rather precise anyway.


All was well in the hotel and great progress was made. But then I realized in the airport that slouchy linen requires an iron to keep things neat and flat. Really a rookie mistake. I shoulda known better.


So instead I finished binding that quilt I’ve been narcissistically flashing at you—way, way ahead of the deadline for the gallery. More on that later.


And then I proceeded to daydream about the next quilt to begin after the dust settles.


Oh, and there was a photoshoot of my quilts and me and stuff. More on that later.

Off to enjoy the next few days before July 4 brings on the extended panic season.


some tidbits…

Tidbit #0: If you’re in the Atlanta area you should go to the Making Change show at the Museum of Design and then tell me all about it. One of my quilts is there too.

Tidbit #1: Last weekend I got to spend quite a bit of time in Williamsburg, VA hosted by Colonial Piecemaker’s Guild. We sewed small things and improvisationally handquilted like crazy. Annnnnnd…I failed to take a single picture. This was one of those times when it just felt great to be in the moment with lovely people doing the things we love to do. Off to Portland, OR to do the same stuff and I hope to be more disciplined with the photos so the experience is shareable here. I’ll do better. I’ll try.

Tidbit #2: Checking in to show-and-tell my progress on this third or fourth iteration of that commissioned quilt project that’s due much too soon. It’s a buncha tidbits itself that I’m also handquilting because self-torture is a thing we do sometimes. Even worse, I’m using invisible thread for it. Sheesh.

quilting the bits by hand.

Luckily, the quilt is “small,” a relative term…it’s a little less than 40×48″. And I wish those weren’t the constraints for the project, this would be an idea I’d like to embiggen to huge proportions. And I may or may not have just stocked up on fabrics to explore doing that sometime soon.

Tidbit #3: Let’s talk about other tidbits; we haven’t done this in a while.

  • I’m kicking myself for so poorly planning my road trip down to Virginia. It would have been wonderful to stop through DC to visit the portrait gallery and other museums. And I’d love to see the quilts of Stephen Towns that are on display in the Baltimore Museum of Art. [Below is just one stunning example. It’s: One Night at Cabin Pond. 2016. Natural and synthetic fabric, nylon tulle, polyester and cotton thread, crystal glass beads, resin and metal buttons. 35 x 28 1/2 in. Photography by Joseph Hyde]
  • StephenTowns_CabinPond

  • The Good Fight is a show that continues following the lives of a few characters from The Good Wife and it was released only on CBS’s online platform. Via amazon, one can watch with a free trial of the CBS stream, so I caught up on season 1 while doing that quilting above. Good writing; good acting. And it’s one of those fantasy worlds like The West Wing where the progressively morally right thing happens more often than not.
  • Contrast in Black and White

  • This photo is “Contrast in Black and White” taken in New York in 1970 by Frank Stewart and is part of an exhibition of photography at the National Arts Club in NYC celebrating the power and grace of black women. This article in the NYTimes gives an intriguing glimpse into the show.

Someday I hope all the tidbits of life will coalesce into some bigger ideas. That requires more time for quiet thinking.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.


(mostly) wordless wednesday: the one where i started all over again…again.

working it out