Spirited Reflection: Everyone Belongs
“Everyone Belongs in the Kitchen” is a theme that raises a few questions. What kitchen? And, who is ‘everyone’?
The phrase comes from a joke that exists in multiple memes online, which takes the tired sexist dismissal ‘Women belong in the kitchen’ and draws it out:
Based on our practice at the Student Christian Movement of Canada (SCM), I can confidently say that we applaud both undermining sexism and spending time in the kitchen. Preparing food and eating together is an important gathering practice, and we like witty memes.
But, if the kitchen isn’t accessible to everyone, even if everyone is welcomed at the table, it falls short of belonging. Our physical spaces and our social structures echo each other – sometimes oppression looks like a set of steps or an embedded image on a website with no plain text description.
We would also try to push beyond the implied gender binary, to ensure that ‘belonging’ also applies for trans*, genderqueer, nonbinary and intersex individuals. It’s important that ‘everyone’ does not silence or erase the differences we have in our midst.
In the same way, we join the chorus that says ‘Black Lives Matter’, rather than ‘All Lives Matter’, because naming the absolute value and significance of Black people and communities is our responsibility when practices and policies of police and society uphold racism and violence as ‘business as usual’. ‘All lives’ are not threatened, devalued, and ended. Black lives are.
But I digress. ‘Everyone Belongs in the Kitchen’ because:
- we believe that everyone has a place in God’s kitchen, and;
- we have to create this kitchen where everyone belongs, consciously and carefully.
This is my way of saying that God has designed the universe in this particular way, and, we have to get in line with this design. It is our intention– not just to create a space of belonging, but to expand our ideas of what belonging means, practicing the skills and building the relationships to support this holy, necessary, work.
Peter Haresnape is the General Secretary of the Student Christian Movement of Canada, an ecumenical justice-focused movement that works with students and young people to put into practice the liberating faith of Jesus. For more information on SCM’s retreat.