Friday, June 28, 2019

BBQ'n While Black Event Fires Up in Oakland

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Nationwide --  On April 29, 2018, a small group of black people barbecuing in a local Oakland, California park were harassed by a white woman who felt the need to irrationally call the police. She was certain they were committing a crime by using a charcoal grill, but when police showed up, no arrests were made but by then the damage had been done. The 25-minute episode of blatant harassment had already made its way through social media channels being viewed over two million times, resulting in the woman being dubbed as "BBQ Becky."

An instance that would usually warrant a negative response from any community turned into one of unity and solidarity as the community of Oakland joined together for the event "BBQ'n While Black."

Last year's event was a huge success, drawing crowds of more than four-thousand people who came out to show their solidarity and enjoy great food and music. Some of the attendees included political rights activist Angela Davis and local rappers such as Mistah Fab and Husalah.

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The event gained so much notoriety and word of it spread worldwide with coverage from The New York Times, BBC Africa, Newsweek, CNN, USA Today, as well as other outlets. In addition, BBQ'n While Black also won the 2018 East Bay Express Best of the Bay Award for Best New Cultural Event.

Over the last year, the black community has still had to endure moments like these, as well as far worse situations, just for simply being black in public. Because of this, the co-founder of BBQ'n While Black, Jhamel Robinson, has joined forces with other local residents to turn the one-time event into an annual gathering. This year's BBQ'n While Black event is set to be an even bigger and even more positive assembly of the community.

The event will be held on Sunday, July 21, 2019 at the same location as last year, Lake Merritt- Cleveland Cascade, from 12:00-6:00 p.m. The event will include a variety of festivities such as a live D.J. and performances, a kid's zone, local vendors, a tribute to the late rapper Nipsey Hussle, as well as a book giveaway.

This event will promote a positive and safe environment where black people and other races can enjoy their freedom to peaceable assemble and come together for great food, good music and a positive atmosphere.

At the moment, BBQ'n While Black is raising funds through the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe at So far, they have raised a little over $6K towards their $10K goal which will help pay for city fees and ordinance permits, as well as activities such as the kids' zone and event set up. Any donations, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated and contribute to the overall success of this great event.

Although the discriminating event that took place last year was a discouragement towards what so many of us have worked towards to unify this country, BBQ'n While Black saw an opportunity to turn it into an expression of unity and pride that is rooted in the history of the great city of Oakland.

Any questions can be directed to the co-founder of BBQ'n While Black, Jhamel Robinson, who can be reached via phone or email at (510) 984-8294 or

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Posted by community events coordinator, Nzinga Lonstein Austin, is a prolific blogger who writes on the entertainment industry and issues for people with developmental and physical challenges.

She is presently in high school looking to have a career in video, film, and media. You can see more of her entertainment writing on Lonstein Movies.

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