By: Felicia Salinas-Moniz, Senior Assistant Director, Sarah Doyle Center
A kitchen in Riverside, Rhode Island
Yesterday, I showed up to a video conference call with a sticker on my forehead. As I was sitting at the kitchen table (a.k.a. my new makeshift office) my 5-year old came and placed a holiday sticker on my face. She must have grabbed it out of a pile of art supplies that I had strewn on the floor for the day’s “home school” activities. When my spouse came down from a bedroom makeshift office, I ran upstairs to take this conference call and the first thing that was made apparent (of my being a parent working remotely) was the glittery decal.
Like many working parents our household has dramatically shifted in the past few weeks with the lines of work, home, and school explicitly blurred. There are many “parenting in the pandemic” stories out there — a good amount speaking to sexism and the gender/labor divide, with others that highlight the ways in which racism, classism, ableism (among other structural inequalities) are colliding to impact the experience of families during covid-19. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s concept of “intersectionality” as a freeway collision visibly felt in homes (and at kitchen tables) around the globe.
The kitchen table, as a symbol, has roots in black feminist and other women of color feminist cultural production. Barbara Smith describes the formation of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press during the early 1980s as follows:
We chose our name because the kitchen is the center of the home, the place where women in particular work and communicate with each other. We also wanted to convey the fact that we are a kitchen table, grass roots operation, begun and kept alive by women who cannot rely on inheritances or other benefits of class privilege to do the work we need to do (1).
Rereading feminist texts like This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (second edition published by Kitchen Table press in 1983) provides helpful perspective in this moment. In this groundbreaking anthology, women of color feminists wrote extensively about navigating life, work, and creativity under often difficult situations. Today, as we close week 2 of social distancing, I am reminded of Gloria Anzaldúa’s advice “Forget the room of one’s own — write in the kitchen….” (2)
Today, I will write, work, and parent — in the kitchen.
Image credit: Marina Andrejchenko/Shutterstock.com
- Smith, Barbara. “A Press of Our Own Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3. (1989) p. 11-13.
- Anzaldúa, Gloria. “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to 3rd World Women Writers.” In This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. 2nd edition. Eds. Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa. Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, 1983.