A recent article in The Kansas City Star profiled men and women, members of this city, who migrated without documentation; the inches on the page drew attention to the personality of the persons at greater risk surfaced by the new administration’s mandate. If this last phrase seemed redundant, it is on purpose. As I surmise, part of resisting resurgent oppression, and promoting revivified attention to the liberation of all peoples, is remembering that—
- Nothing, and no one, is indifferent to us.
- Everything must be personal.
I encourage you to initiate or deepen your own discovery of this city—its panoply of people from many nations and of many tongues—with a seemingly simple, apparently precious, but, properly oriented, robust recognition of belonging at the level of the everyday, personal, and particular: food.
Yes, economic exchanges declare what we afford, what we value morally. Yet this is no lame call for fashionable consumption or self-righteous culinary tourism. It is not a cure-all or a feel-good solution. It is an invitation to cultivate humility and, perhaps, enter into more regular commerce in places in Kansas City that have been disregarded (perhaps even by us), or are outside of convenience.
All of you, probably better than I, know where those spaces are. Cate Bachwirtz has offered encouragement to source produce from the Brookside Farmers’ Market, and to develop relationships with the growers there.
I can offer this note: Come to the Northeast. Come and witness the splendor of Independence Avenue—an Iraqi bakery, a Somali café, a panaderia and pasteleria, an Halal meat market tucked away in Pendleton Heights.
Come to share at table and plot the politics of peace.
I hope it can be an entrance (yet another side-door discovered, or perhaps the front door) into systemic questions of who plants, grows, harvests, and prepares food, of who owns, and how. Ask the vendors. Begin again with daily bread. Nov. 8 (Election Day) came and Nov. 9 dawned. I wept. Then I put two feet down and believed, incorrigibly, in this country that does not yet exist.
That small and infinite “yet” is the feathered hope, the mutual struggle, of we who work for peace, of we who might, indeed, found a nation dedicated to liberty and justice for all. We’ll need to eat and meet again along the way.
Image source: New Roots for Refugees.