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A Seat at the Table

(by LaToya Powell)

I can’t remember how old I was when I was finally able to sit at the table. Seems like I was at least ten years old. We had moved to our own home in the suburbs of Omaha, Nebraska, a middle-class neighborhood of working professionals, after living in and near the projects. We had made it. Our next-door neighbors seemed to be an exception. Not because they talked with heavy Southern accents, but because they kept chickens in their backyard. From my bedroom window, I would see them grab one of the chickens by their feet and drop them into a tall kitchen trash can with their wings still flapping. Later, the smell of fried chicken drifted on the air between our houses. They were the only family in our neighborhood who knew how to process a live chicken for dinner. The rest of us bought chickens from the grocery store, which seemed more modern and sensible. But they were holding on to their values and subculture in the suburbs, and the neighborhood accepted that they were different.