Cotton Quilts

I’m still here!!

Classes started; work on another award committee began and many deadlines came and went. I’m still here. I did write a piece over at School Library Journal’s Curriculum Connections and was honored to publish a heart-felt essay by B. J. MacDaniel alongside it. I so admire her courageous, vulnerable and truthful self-affirming work. I love her for taking us on her path so that we all can know better and do better. Next month, no! this month, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich will join me as we address teachers returning to the new school year. I promise, I am working on lists of book releases for August and September and I will be posting them soon. I won’t promise too much other than I’m not giving up on this project that I began so many years ago. Not until there’s no longer a need to fight for young people’s literature that is free from oppression and imperialism.

I recently finished this quilt for my grand girl. It was the first time I had a quilt machine quilting. It saved me about a year of hand quilting.

I appreciate this work and the growth it demands. I truly believe this is about more than the books. It’s work that is part of the larger effort to liberate us from fear and hatred. It’s work based in love for our children and the future they promise.

Each space between these paragraphs is filled with so many thoughts. Pre-COVID days, I could have worked through them, today I feel the need to push on. Those margins are rich so don’t ignore them.

Like Fannie Lou Hamer said I too believe that none of us is free until all of us is free. It’s a lot of work to understand other’s oppression, isn’t it?

A few weeks ago, Naomi Osaka was back in front of the press. Some reporter started grilling her on some decisions she’d made to guard her well-being. When I first heard the story, it was reported that ‘crazy’ was the straw that broke her. And in that moment, I thought I had to change the name of my blog. I’ve actually struggled with this for a while with many near me understanding my justifications; those crazy quilts and such.

There’s a list of words. Some are built on white supremacy (master bedroom; blacklist; black sheep; gathering the wagons..) and some on ableism.

Recognizing I have a problem is always the first step. I’m getting better at catching myself, at analyzing what I’m really trying to say and looking for accuracy rather than hyperbole. This such a good practice in awareness. How do I feel; what am I sensing? What thoughts am I really trying to express?

My advice is when you have a tough decision to make, open yourself to all possibilities and consequences of your actions and find that person who may not know you well, but who knows what you need to know. For me, that person was Stacy Collins. She gave me room to continue being and ass while gently urging me to make the change. I’m so appreciative to Stacy! In fact, she even gave me a list of wonderful names! There was one name there everyone I asked truly loved, but it just wasn’t me. I like simple names that are over thought and probably too complicated. I am stuck on quilting. I really enjoy that art form and see so many metaphoric applications with inclusion, equity and diversity.

I’m sticking with quilting in my name. Cotton. My enslaved ancestors in Mississippi. Cotton, from the land. Simple, global, pedestrian, utilitarian cotton. Spun. Woven. Cotton like my family’s hair. Liberation is grounded in the land and dispersed through literacy. Cotton honors the land and my ancestors. And, it makes warm, protective, beautiful quilts.

Maybe it is still overthought a bit but, it’s clean and simple; it’s free of bias (do you know some quilt pieces are cut on the bias of the fabric, others against it?) and ableism.

Same blog, still here with a new name: Cotton Quilts.