When I was growing up, my mother was always funny about how she wanted her house cleaned. Certain towels and t-shirts were deemed rags to be used for dusting while others were deemed unusable and tossed. She wanted the bathroom sinks and tub cleaned with Comet, not some newfangled cream based product. And I had to be sure I folded the towels the way she taught me because what self-respecting woman would have her towels folded in anything but geometrically sound rectangles? Though she had her preferences about the whole house, she was most particular about the kitchen. She made it a point to say to me ad nauseam, “You can’t just wash the dishes and think the kitchen is clean. Wipe down the stove, wipe down the counter, put the dishes away, clean out the microwave, sweep and mop this floor. IT’S ALL A PART OF THE KITCHEN.”
That line always annoyed me. Granted, I knew I was being lazy for not addressing everything, but being called out as such still left me brooding or soundlessly mouthing snarky shit while my mother was out of the room. I mean, couldn’t she lighten up a little? Why did EVERYTHING need to be pristine? The dishes were washed, what more did she want? It wasn’t like I didn’t do any work at all. I did plenty – even if the floors weren’t clean, the microwave had old food stuck to its walls, and the floor was covered in black shoe prints. Clearly, moms was just trippin’.
I see the same attitude I had about the kitchen from Nate Parker and the folks who refuse to see the flaw in his indifference and attempted disengagement from his rape case and the suffering of his now deceased victim. When asked about his rape case, he stems annoyed, indifferent, and he’s quick to point out what he has accomplished since then. He had the trial, he was acquitted while his partner in crime was convicted. He went on to graduate from another college. He married and started a family. And now, Nate Parker has a blossoming career in acting and filmmaking. To him, he’s made all the necessary moves when really, he just washed the dishes but failed to wipe the counters and mop the floor.
No one can restore the life of Nate’s victim, but the least he can do is be remorseful. The least he can do is talk about the importance of consent, integrity, and honesty. The least he can do is apologize for causing hurt, for being dismissive, for being dishonest, and for putting his dick and ego above the well-being of his victim. Instead of these things, he is angry because folks are pointing out the fact he washed the dishes, but his kitchen still ain’t clean.
Dirty kitchens are what keep me from being able to stomach The Cosby Show reruns, what has my musical selections free of R. Kelly songs, and ultimately, what will keep me out of the theater while others are watching The Birth Of A Nation. Holding up a few clean dishes while standing in the middle of a filthy floor does not imply a room is pristine and I can’t support anything that involves Nate Parker until he learns it’s all a part of the kitchen.