Live At The Barbeque: Why Do Black Folks Never Get Invited To Y’All’s Functions?
“My thoughts react, like Steven Spielberg’s
Poetry attacks, paragraphs punch hard” — Live At The Barbeque by Main Source verse by Nas.
The most prized invitation in our society is an invitation to the cookout. It is the ultimate clout currency.
I want to unpack what this invitation means and why it is so important.
I also want to explore something that troubles me. Why is there no equivalent phrase or term for other races/ethnic groups? Why is it only black folks who invite others to their functions, but no other groups reciprocate?
Cooking for someone is a radical act of love. Not all of us are blessed with the ability to cook. Some of us are our most vulnerable when we share the food we have prepared with others. Insecurities that have remained dormant start to stir within us.
We are terrified that our guests will reject the food that we have served them. Rejection of our food and ultimately us hangs in the balance of that first bite. We study their face trying to divine if they are pleased with our meal. We affix varying amounts of importance for each chew. We count how many times they chew their food before they swallow. We measure how fast they reach for their beverage after they have taken a bite. We track the intervals between drinks and swallows. We examine our guests' faces for any signs of revulsion that our meal might stimulate.
Cooking for another person is an act of love, and eating that food is an act of reciprocation of that love.
Many chefs and professional cooks describe their profession with the word: passion. They are passionate about the act of creation. They crave the primal nature of using fire, steam, and cold to transform ingredients into something more than what is believed is possible. These professionals may not like the long hours, the screaming bosses, or the rude guests…but the art of cooking is where they find joy.
The stories of black people going to bed hungry from want of food are drilled into the Culture. Almost every slave narrative is filled with cruel and greedy slavers who refused to…