Updated: Monday, May 14, 2018, 6:40 p.m. EDT: The massive cookout that saw a gang (ooh, should I use that word? Hells yea!) of black Oaklanders descend on the park at Lake Merritt days after a white woman called the police on a black family for grilling there had been planned weeks before.
It just so happens that the celebration, called “510 Day”—held on May 10, or 5/10, Oakland, Calif.’s area code—was already on the books, ironically to protest gentrification.
“It’s sort of a weird coincidence,” concedes Nicole Lee, a fourth-generation Oakland resident and executive director of Urban Peace Movement, the sponsor of 510 Day.
“As long-term residents are being pushed out and newcomers are moving in, we see more and more examples where Oakland locals, especially black folks and other people of color, are made to feel unwelcome in their own city,” Lee says. “Racial discrimination and gentrification work hand in hand.”
And yet the resistance continues. Next Sunday, May 20, there will be another celebration, called “BBQing while Black,” starting at 11 a.m. in the same spot. Come one, come all.
What’s the best way to deal with pervasive, persistent and blood-pressure-raising racism on the daily, as well as give a big, fat “Fuck you” to gentrification and the criminalization of black folks? Why, throw a cookout, of course!
In a pointed response to a recent incident in which a white woman thought it her civic duty to call the police on a few black couples using a grill in a public park, the melanated masses of Oakland, Calif., threw their own party at that very same site, the Lake Merritt park.
As evidenced by social media posts, the people of the Yay got real Negroid, doing the Electric Slide to “Before I Let Go,” eating seasoned grill meats and surely munching on somebody’s potato salad sans raisins.
And, as you can see, we keep the party going all night …
I hope it goes on all summer; in fact, if I’m ever in Oakland, I will be by the spot with my big piece of chicken, taking up all the space I desire, and having a ball while doing it.