BBQing While Black: Charcoal Grilling White Racial Aggression
Aidy Bryant as the now infamous "BBQ Becky"
We all seek fame -- there was even a TV show about it -- but when making our monkey's paw bargain with the Devil, it's critical to read the fine print and ensure that the 15 minutes for which we traded our souls don't look like this:
Yeah, that happened: Saturday Night Live's Aidy Bryant showed up twice during the season-ending episode as the totally unidentified white woman who called the cops on a black family at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, because they were using a charcoal grill. This was a 1960s sitcom antagonist-level of busybody pettiness, so it's no surprise it quickly became an Internet Meme ("BBQ Becky" because white women with that name didn't have enough troubles before her dumbass showed up).
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I haven't watched SNL since Shannen Doherty hosted, but a quick "something trademarked" search reveals that Bryant's SNL characters include Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Roseanne, Kim Davis, Karen Pence, and James Corden. I suppose it makes sense that "BBQ Becky" would be among a group of people actively making the world worse either politically or through mind-numbing talk shows. She even resembles an original SNL sketch character. There's something about the authoritative privilege of a white woman calling the cops while dressed the way black teens are advised not to dress to avoid being confused for gang members and shot down in the street. Personally, I have a tuxedo I wear specifically for when I need to contact law enforcement (or get married, but that was a one-time alteration in usage). Mothers often tell their kids to wear clean underwear in case they get into an accident. Maybe racist parents will start firmly suggesting their kids put on something nice (maybe go crazy and wash their hair) before racially targeting black people minding their own business. You never know who's going to videotape it.
Although, if you go full racist asshat, I suppose a crisp white shirt and freshly ironed slacks won't save you. I can still appreciate your sartorial style while laughing my ass off when a mariachi band shows up outside your apartment building.
If the totally unidentified lady who called the cops on black people just minding their own damn business caught Bryant's send-up of herself on Saturday and just wanted to forget all about it and clear her head with a relaxing visit to Lake Merritt on Sunday, she would've received a warm welcome from hundreds of black people who gathered for a literal BBQing While Black event.
“This is about doing what we’ve already been doing and eat in peace, literally,” Logan Cortez, an organizer for the event that celebrates inclusivity, said, reported East Bay Times. “We’re not fighting for our rights; it’s already our right to do this.”
two weeks ago today a white woman tried to call the police on about 8 black folks barbecuing. Today in that same spot this was the scene pic.twitter.com/ltxzZQe57h— carvell (@carvellwallace) May 21, 2018
This scene would've felt for the totally unidentified white woman like that twist ending of a classic Twilight Zone where everyone is suddenly black and using charcoal grills (this one doesn't get shown often in syndication).
Just look at all those black people enjoying themselves! If you showed Ben Shapiro or Teemi Luhrbop just 30 seconds of this much highly concentrated black fun, their heads would explode into globs of mayonnaise (so go ahead, I'll wait). Families divided over Kanye were reunited (Sister: "Slavery's a choice? What a moron!" Brother: "I don't care! Flashing Lights and Black Skinhead are still the bomb!"). We're trying to navigate a post-Trump era without the pleasures of Fat Albert or The Cosby Show because Bill Cosby is a gross serial rapist. You don't know how close we were to losing our minds. We needed this.
So, thank you, totally unidentified white woman who racially targets black people trying to mind their own business: Your racial insensitivity and white tears hath gifted charcoal grills of delight to a weary world.
Celebrate, it is your OPEN THREAD.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."