Who All Going to Be There???

Tupac Shakur gladly greeting cousin
Poetic Justice –Tupac Shakur from GIPHY

When I think about attending a cookout nothing but pure joy comes to mind. Dancing, loud laughing, wonderful food, and fitting in without thinking about it. The scene from Poetic Justice with Tupac crashing by exclaiming ‘Cousin!’ is my leading thought. Many times, a cookout is a place we can just show up and share that fictive kinship with other Black folks. To me, that is something unique, something special, something to be envied, and not something that I see mimicked in other cultures.

So cousins, can we talk about something really quick?

Imagine spending your valuable time getting ready for the function, just to arrive and see someone you didn’t know was invited. Now you gotta decide if you’re going to stay and power through or leave and let them have it.

This is how I feel every time I see one of my internet cousins extend a ‘Cookout Invitation’ to a non-Black person.

If your Internet is anything like mine, you have no doubt seen this trend where cookout invitations are being extended to non-Black folks. Usually, the invites are for showing some interest, love, or concern for Black communities – the amount of interest, love, or concern can vary wildly.

Still, when I see these invitations extended, it begs me to ask the age-old question: WHY?  Why do people get to enjoy the time, treasure, and talent that is a Black cookout for oftentimes just doing the bare minimum? Why do I have to share my ribs with someone who doesn’t understand the significance of the brown, sandal-clad uncle? Why are we so quick to make everyone else feel welcome when the same courtesy is not extended to us?

Don’t get me wrong, there are non-Black folks who are good people. Everyone deserves good food and good times, but does it have to come at the expense of our sacred spaces? I have never seen a white person invite us to a clam bake, yet I see them getting invited to Aunt Cheryl’s Legendary Easter BBQ that she doesn’t even let children attend.  These cookout invitations seem to have no discretion and are given out to white people and non-Black people who are just simply being decent humans.

Again, this is not about hating non-Black-people, nor am I against racial harmony. I just think passing out invitations is an unnecessary burden for us. I would much rather think of those non-Black people fondly while I sweat over my hot link and potato salad than have to scoot over and share the bench.

I understand the sentiment of wanting to extend the olive branch. The notion of breaking bread with someone on your turf in hopes that they will see you and understand that you just want the same opportunities in life as they do. I get it. I just do not feel that it is on us to do so. Racism, trauma, systemic injustice, and all other inequities are not going to be eradicated because you invited Dan to learn how to play spades while he asks 50-11 questions about the food being served and nuances of being Black.

I am willing to stand alone on this hill, but I do not feel that it should be so easy to gain access to the fun part of being Black. I do not want to trade an all-Black tradition to make space for people who are just recognizing my humanity. Which is why I do not dispense cookout invitations. I just don’t.  It has never been my dream to share a plate of ribs with a group of people who used to pack baskets to watch my people hang and burn. That’s just me though.

I understand that many do not share my sentiments, and that you do not even have to invite me to your cookout because of my feelings, and that is okay. I just wanted to offer a different viewpoint to consider.

All right cousins, see you at the next cookout…maybe.

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