The kitchen table

Dear colleagues, 

Yesterday, the Supreme Court rejected efforts to end legal protections for young immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Blanca Morales is a poster child for DACA and her story marks the introductory and conclusion chapters of The Right to Home – Exploring How Culture, Space, and Identity Intersect with Disparities. I have read about Blanca’s story in a CNN article by Rosa Flores and Kevin Conlon where she could not help but reminisce about the kitchen table in the studio apartment in Santa Ana, California where she grew up. Strolling through Harvard Medical School, she could still hear her mother’s voice. Tired from picking strawberries all day, she would find the energy to call on her younger children to be quiet so Blanca could study at the kitchen table, the place where her dream began and where her future as an American success story was crafted.

Although the high school drop-out rate among Hispanics has fallen to a new low in 2016, it remained at 10 percent, the highest of all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.—the overall drop-out rate in the U.S. stood at 6 percent. And yet, the kitchen table has received little attention in efforts to eliminate educational disparities and create communities in which everyone can thrive. Where was the table located? How big was it? What kind of lighting was there? Which rooms were adjacent to the kitchen table? Where did Blanca store her homework materials? And how did the family manage to have a meal when the table was occupied?

I met Blanca one snowy evening in Boston. She told me she found the courage to share her story because “The shortest distance between two people is a story.” Blanca ‘walked me through’ the studio apartment, so I could better understand the meaning behind the kitchen table. I asked: “What would you say to those who might insist that you are the one who did it, not the table?” And she replied,

“Everyone needs their tools to do their job and for me, this was the table.”

Look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on how homes can be mediums for healthy and connected communities in which everyone can thrive.

Tasoulla Hadjiyanni, Editor
tasoulla@umn.edu


THE KITCHEN TABLE

“Having a place to call her own in the studio apartment, replicated the setting she had at school. It was a corner, flanked on one side by the kitchen counter and all her books below and on the other, by the television set. Flooded by the kitchen’s light and mesmerized by the sounds of her mother’s cooking as she was preparing the family’s meal at the end of the day, Blanca could stay focused. Her mother could not help with math equations or essay-writing but every once and a while, she would reach over the kitchen counter to pass Blanca a snack. Her father was rarely there, working two shifts, but as she sat across from his spot at the table, Blanca was constantly reminded of the responsibility to care and provide for her family. The table was where everyone that mattered to her came together to nourish their bodies, and for Blanca, it also nourished her love of learning” (Hadjiyanni, 2019, p.306).

 Image credit: Blanca Morales

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