In the Kitchen
...Now, the kitchen was the room in which we were sitting- the room where Mama did hair and washed clothes... But the word has another meaning, and the kitchen that I'm speaking of is the very kinky bit of hair at the back of your head, where your neck meets your shirt collar. If there was ever a part of our African past that resisted assimilation, it was the kitchen…The kitchen was permanent, irredeemable, irresistible kink. Unassimilably African. No matter what you did, no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't de-kink a person's kitchen. So you trimmed it off as best you could....
African American scholar and literary critic. Born and raised in West Virginia, Gates was educated at Yale and Cambridge Universities. Now a professor at Harvard University, Gates balances his time between editing African American literature, writing literary criticism, and writing for general audiences. He has created a number of television documentaries, including African American Lives (2006), and his essays have appeared in the New Yorker, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, and the New York Times. Gates's many books include Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the Racial Self (1987); The Signifying Monkey (1988), winner of the National Book Award; his best-selling autobiography, Colored People (1994); Wonders of the African World (1999); and most recently, America Behind the Color Line: Dialogues with African Americans (2004). Gates is the general co-editor of The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (2nd ed. 2004). See also aaas.fas.harvard.edu.