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an unexpectedly happy outcome

Respect quilt no. 4, wrapped in a dry cleaning bag from Notre Dame

“Respect” quilt no. 4 produces an unexpected outcome in many ways! This photo underlines the incongruous combination: a hand-made quilt in honor of African-American friendship and love, with patches saying “One Love” and “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance,” is carefully tucked into a bag labeled Notre Dame.

Hmm!

How fitting, that an institution that has inflicted so much pain on people of color (beginning with the Potawatami and Pokagon peoples whose land it sits upon, to the many unhappy students of color I met during my 27 years there), is now being put into symbolic service as a wrapper for love. Furthermore, it is heading to Rwanda, to celebrate the union of a young white woman with an African man, in holy matrimony next spring. (Being an ND grad, she’ll get the joke for sure.) I hasten to add that ND has its good sides too! That is where we met and studied French together, in other times, times that look more innocent now….

Let the liberation continue! May you have loving spirits and soaring minds, as long as you all shall live.

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a sassy quilt

The “Respect” quilt is coming to life and it’s a sassy one!

A concept comes to the world, little by little!

The backs are red flannel, with a panel made to look like a jeans jacket with bright yellow, red, and black patches declaring a strong engagement in today’s hot button issues. These materialized thanks to email exchanges with the young friend who got me thinking about what it means to “Respect” Black lives and hopes for the future, all the while acknowledging the pain that exists. They include a portrait of the intense, bespectacled Malcolm X (a leader of Black civil rights who was murdered at age 40), “One Love,” a song by reggae legend Bob Marley, and “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance,” an awesome slogan most recently adopted by Black Lives Matter protesters and our allies. The patches have a history of their own! Malcolm X comes from Burbank, CA; Bob Marley hails from Crewe, Cheshire, UK; and “Respect” is made in Sevilla, Spain, all thanks to the magic of Etsy.

FYI: Hey readers! I need Levi’s for these quilts. If anybody wants to donate a pair of Levi’s, I’ll pay $5 plus ground shipping. (Thanks Treehugger, for the jeans I’m already getting from their readers!).

“Respect” quilt no. 1 is all basted up (see the long white threads?), while awaiting the last steps: the quilting and the binding. Quilt no. 2–now bedecked with a flowered trim from a vintage Martex sheet–stands by waiting for its turn. Take a peek at the symbolism: the Harlem Toile de Jouy pieces–designed by Sheila Bridges and embellished by yours truly–are cheerful correctives to the history of race relations in the USA. The playful square with chemistry attributes suggests that women’s intellectual prowess does not rule out their spirit of fun.

Eclectic, connected, and high-spirited, that’s it: the “Respect” quilt project.

More to come!