Fortitude as relentless care. Home cooking as a reminder.
Just some thoughts during a hard week.
When I am feeling hopeless about the state of things and in need of reassurance (anyone else feel that way lately??!), I look to see what those on the front lines of stabilizing civil rights are doing. I don’t look expecting a to-do list, answers, or inspiration. I look to remember what fortitude looks like. Sometimes I need to see it to remember that it’s somewhere in me, too.
One of the people I often turn to is Chase Strangio, the Deputy Director for Transgender Justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project (for his complete bio, head here). Right after the draft from the Supreme Court was leaked this week, I found this post from Strangio on IG. It has really stayed with me, especially the end:
The brazenness with which the state is defending our eradication in court is staggering and a sign that we are on the verge of truly terrifying expansions of state power. But we are not powerless. Together we care for each other, we build, we become, as Mariame Kaba has instructed, ungovernable. Let us fuck shit up together and care for each other like our lives depend on it - because they do.
Reading this reminds me not only what fortitude feels like, but also what it consists of. Fortitude is relentless care.
Reading Chase’s caption led me on an internet rabbit hole that included this interview that Mariame Kaba offered a year ago in The Nation, in which Kaba recognizes collective care as “reciprocal mutual aid work and projects—not charity, but practicing new social relationships.” This reminds me so much about how Alicia Kennedy wrote beautifully about care in her newsletter this week, including a short passage from Angela Garbes’ almost-released book Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change about sharing food as a way of creating interdependent community.
My big takeaway from all of the above? We need collective care. And care is labor. It is work, it is effort, to care for ourselves and each other. Fortitude requires this essential labor.
I am not a civil rights attorney or an activist. Most of us aren’t. But many of us, at least the people I most often communicate with, are home cooks. We know firsthand the labor that goes into cooking at home. We know that it sounds so simple — I’ll make us some lunch! — but it’s actually so much more than that. It’s not just figuring out what to make (that’s the fun part!), it’s also grocery shopping, budgeting, setting up, cleaning up, considering everyone’s needs and likes and dislikes, and doing the creative problem solving of figuring out how to use up what’s leftover. It’s keeping a constant mental inventory of what’s on hand and what’s needed. It’s all of this multiple times a day, every single day. Its never actually ends.
Within this familiar endlessness is relentless care. Every time we cook, we express our care. Cooking at home reminds us that fortitude is something we have in us. If you are a home cook, you already have the skills to get through so much. You have so many tangible examples of relentless caretaking to remind you what it looks and feels like. You are already in the daily practice of doing and giving.
I’m alway trying to remember this. I’m always trying not to reinvent the wheel, but to better understand and extend the one I’m already spinning. I’m always trying to figure out what do with this insight. How do I offer these skills? What do I share? How do I find out who needs help? How do I ask for help when I need it?
Figuring out the answers to these questions is how I remember that I am not alone. I am part of various groups and communities. Including this big group of people who are interested in what a home cook feels moved to write about. Thank you for being a community I am so grateful to be a part of. Thank you for reminding me why home cooking is more than making dinner.
For paid subscribers, please feel free to use the comment section to share some of the ways you care and ways you’ve felt care.
For those with the ability to offer financial support as a means of collective care, here are two places I’m giving to this week:
Yellowhammer Fund [an abortion fund and reproductive justice organization serving Alabama, Mississippi, and the Deep South]
Access Reproductive Care - Southeast [they provide Southerners in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee funding and logistical support to ensure safe and compassionate reproductive care including abortion services]
Please share in the comments other places that are meaningful to you. The Cut has a helpful list of abortion funds.
Sending lots of love, peace + stamina to everyone.
Keep Calm & Cook On is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.