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The Voice of the Black Community


What you not fittin’ to do at a Black family cookout
Published Saturday, May 29, 2021
by Dorothy Boulware, AFRO Managing Editor

Yes, we have rules for everything and everybody. Rules for behavior in Big Mama’s house. Rules of proper conduct for in-person church. Rules for butting or, rather, not butting into grown folks’ conversations. And we have rules for going to a cookout, a Black family cookout. Granted they’re not written, but you’d better ask somebody if you don’t know.

Comedians have joked about our cookouts. Even Chad Bozeman (as T’Challa) joked on Saturday Night Live’s version of Black Jeopardy. When presented with this $400 answer, “Your friend Karen brings her potato to your cookout,” in the category of white people, T’Challa replied: “This woman is Caucasian right? And she has her own recipe for potato salad. I understand. It is noble that she would volunteer to cook for everyone. And although I’ve never had potato salad, I sense that this white woman does not season her food. And, if she does, it’s only with a tiny bit of salt. And no paprika. And she will probably add something unnecessary like raisins. Something tells me I should say, ‘Aw hell naw Karen, Keep your bland a— potato salad to yourself.’”

Potato salad is one of the items that prompts a lot of questions. Usually whispered. Who made the potato salad? Do you know her? Does she wash her hands? Have you seen her house? Who she hang with? All of these answers are required before eating unknown potato salad. Or macaroni and cheese. Especially macaroni and cheese. Not the boxed kind. The kind that starts with a roux. And if you don’t know what a roux is, please don’t bring any mac and cheese to the next cookout.

Cookout or barbeque. Some prefer one over the other. Picnic? Absolutely never!!! Check out a Black history book. So what are the rules of your family’s barbecues? The funny thing is that when the question was posed to family, friends, FB friends and AFRO staff, the answers were quite similar.

* Don’t disrespect Big Mama.

* Don’t pack take-home dishes before everyone eats.

* Don’t come empty handed (unless we have eaten, or not eaten, your food before).

* Don’t put raisins in anything that’s not dessert. Seriously. Even if you are newly Black.

* Don’t bring your new girlfriend when you know your ex is always invited.

* Don’t act as if you don’t know your kids when they act like heathens.

* Don’t ask who made the potato salad…not out loud anyway.

* Don’t gossip. Seriously?

* Don’t bring uninvited guests.

* Don’t touch the food without washing your hands (using sanitizer).

* Don’t show up late and empty-handed with your three starving kids.

* Don’t call it a picnic.

* Don’t show up and not eat.

* Don’t act like you’re too good to eat the chitterlings (chit’lins).

* Don’t act like you’re too good to do the Electric Slide.

* Don’t put anything “bought” on the table.

* Don’t have everyone asking why the macaroni tastes funny when you know it’s vegan.

* Don’t come with only off brand sodas and try to leave with five “to go” plates

* Don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to you .(Didn’t we learn this in kindergarten? Along with ‘keep your hands to yourself’.)

Above: In character as T’Challa from the Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman gives the correct answer concerning potato salad as he finally understands “Black Jeopardy.”



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