Lately I’ve been thinking about kitchen things. The phrase is stuck in my head like a song lyric. It comes from the powerful short story A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glasbell. You probably read it in high school, when it didn’t hit home. You should read it again now.
Taking big liberties, kitchen things are those little things that make life worthwhile. Traditionally women’s things. Home things. Kitchen things have more power than anyone ever gives them credit for. Fire is a kitchen thing. The original kitchen thing.
Kitchen things have built and reinforced generations of white supremacy and systemic racism in America. Values are passed down through generations in kitchens. While stirring soups, peeling vegetables, and frosting cupcakes. Over coffee klatches and dinner tables. Bake sales built those confederate monuments.
Our world has changed a bit since Ms Glasbell was writing in 1917. Kitchen things have expanded. Some of us don’t cook at all. Our kitchen things are a coffee shop. Or a gym. We may spend hours in our cars with our families going to and fro. Those everyday mundane moments….those are our kitchen things. That’s our world.
Kitchen things are where much of the deep, true, anti-racism work will happen for white families. Having hard conversations over coffee or while cooking dinner. Switching to the gym that changed its affiliation from a racist organization when your old one didn’t and talking to your kids about why. Using those hours in the car to talk about your expanding view of our nation and the world. Bake sales can fund the renaming of schools and build new monuments.
Kitchen things have built and reinforced generations of white supremacy and systemic racism in America. Kitchen things need to tear it down.