Oakland Hosts ‘BBQ’n While Black’ Festival To Turn The Woes Of Everyday Racism Into A Celebration Of Solidarity
Weeks after "BBQ Becky" called the police on black civilians trying to grill, the momentum has turned into a cause for the people.
May 21, 2018 at 6:34 pm
Sundays in Oakland were made for barbecuing. That's the consensus as hundreds gathered at Lake Merritt to enjoy "BBQ’n While Black."
BBQ’n While Black was organized by Logan Cortez, a first-grade teacher in Oakland who said the idea came to her after seeing the now viral video of a white woman, now known as "BBQ Becky," calling the police on two black men trying to barbecue only three Sundays before.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Cortez told the San Francisco Chronicle. “And the fact that I wasn’t surprised bothered me.”
The gentrification of Oakland is not a new problem. Using inspiration from other anti-gentrification celebrations such as "510 day," she sent a Facebook event invitation a few friends, asking them to join her in barbecuing in the same spot.
What she didn't expect was for the event to be shared thousands of times.
— KRON4 News (@kron4news) May 21, 2018
After her friend Jhamel Robinson designed an electronic flyer which he posted on Instagram, thousands from the community wanted to get involved. DJs volunteered to spin while others offered to act as security and clean up after the event.
“It’s the community coming together in a positive way as a reaction to what’s going on,” Robinson said, noting that he and Cortez spent $700 of their own money to obtain proper city permits. “Instead of tearing up the city, we want to come together in love and unity. And party.”
Despite being the birthplace of the Black Panther Party, the black population continues to dwindle as gentrification increases the cost of living. According to the East Bay Times, the black population of Oakland has dropped to fewer than 100,000 or 23.5 percent of the population in 2016.
BBQ’N while black -Oakland taking back the lake https://t.co/mmTBepRFkr
— Gina Madrid (@RawwG) May 20, 2018
Although Robinson was born and raised in Oakland, he recently moved to Sacramento due to rising rent prices. He also has created a Real Oakland clothing brand to address the issues.
“My hope for this event is for people who are true natives of Oakland to come together and show what I would consider the new Oakland, the gentrified Oakland, that we’re still here, we’re not going anywhere,” he said.