Oakland’s “BBQing While Black” gathers hundreds to clap-back at #BBQBecky
On April 29, a white woman called the police on a Black family for using a charcoal grill at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. A fellow Oakland resident, Michelle Snider, recorded the incident and accused the unidentified white woman of harassing the family because they are Black. It sparked national conversations about racism. Police came to the scene, questioned the family, but took no further action.
The video went viral and has amassed over 2 million views on YouTube, prompted a Saturday Night Live (SNL) feature, and other funny parodies. It has also inspired a viral hashtag, #BBQBecky, which many have used to create memes by cutting and pasting pictures of the white woman calling police in important times of Black History. But the ultimately clap-back was when hundreds came to celebrate Blackness at the same spot a month later.
Who did this. pic.twitter.com/pD9FMDtRqE
— zellie (@zellieimani) May 13, 2018
Hello Oakland police. This is #BBQBecky. There's a black man with 10 knives in his hands looking at me and l fear for me live. He has a Gang with him to. Bring back up. #BlackTwitter #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/GqYSJPqIOz
— LL Kool Dre (@llkooldre50) May 14, 2018
As reported by the East Bay Times, Oakland residents responded to the viral incident by hosting a park festival called “BBQing while Black,” where Black people were invited to grill and eat seasoned ribs and chicken.
“This is about doing what we’ve already been doing and eat in peace, literally,” said Logan Cortez, one of the event’s organizers. “We’re not fighting for our rights; it’s already our right to do this.”
The viral video has reignited a local ongoing conversation about gentrification. The housing crisis has led to an exodus of many Black residents from Oakland. They made up 36% of the population in 2000 and now are at 23.5 percent in 2016. Gentrification is changing the socio-cultural and economic makeup of Oakland, and Lake Merritt has many neighborhoods that are gentrifying quickly.
Jhamel Robinson, one of the event’s organizers, shares he can’t afford to live in the community he grew up in.
“It’s all we’ve ever known,” said Oaklander Baretta Van Dyke. “Oakland is for everybody.”