Dear Mr. Franklin,
I am curious did you purposely choose Oakland for your 1st-ever Hot Luck Road Trip because of its already well-established rich BBQ culture, or was it because of the national media attention we've received lately about our phenomenally, massive, successful, anti-racist BBQ’n-while-Black push-back event (in Oakland in response to the viral #BBQBecky incident that was turned into a new annual cultural celebration)? If you are coming to showcase Oakland’s rich and diverse BBQ culture and legacy, and want to help in the fight against racism, welcome to Oakland. I am concerned though because instead of reaching out and partnering with Oakland’s well-established, black, BBQ community to jointly showcase their truly universal appeal, and its regional BBQ style it seems, to me, that you are not coming to Oakland to embrace our diverse BBQ culture and community, but to leech off of it.
Lamont Patton from Everett and Jones Barbeque cooked up a feast at the BBQing While Black event on Sunday at Lake Merritt in Oakland, Calif. Laura A. Oda/East Bay Times, via Associated Press
If I look at your promo ad for your road trip to Oakland, it doesn't seem you are coming to help fight hand-in-hand against racism. It appears you are trying to exclude Oakland's very own Black BBQ community by not acknowledging the locals. Are you trying to kick us out of our own BBQ history and legacy in our own backyard? That’s so disrespectful. Your promo ad gives the impression that you are showcasing the best of regional BBQ styles with no one from Oakland. You have Mr. Rodney Scott of South Carolina, you from Texas and then you include Mr. Farr, your friend, who is not from Oakland, but just opened a restaurant in Oakland 3 months ago (burger & BBQ restaurant) Excuse me Mr. Franklin but Mr. Farr does not represent Oakland-style BBQ. He’s not even from California the region you’re featuring but you already knew that.
It also seems to me that you want the benefits afforded you for being in a city with a rich black BBQ culture and legacy and ignore-even distance yourself from the people who created it. You could have easily staged your event at Mr. Farr’s patio location in San Francisco, but you didn't. I wonder if it’s because you wanted to help in his attempt to co-opt Oakland's rich BBQ legacy and culture to exploit for his own purpose making you a co-exploiter Sir.
Mr. Franklin, you have been made the de-facto face and ambassador of BBQ by the national media and those who seek to rewrite BBQ’s history. I am here to tell you that BBQ has no national standard so stop trying to make one. Slow your roll. BBQ has regional prefaces and taste based on where you were born and grew up. You are choosing to use your platform of privilege to disrespect and marginalize Oakland’s Black BBQ pitmasters in an attempt to elevate, your friend, Mr. Farr to the top of Oakland’s BBQ hierarchy; even though he has not earned it and not from Oakland or California; but another region altogether. Wait! Stop-the-presses, he's not from here-we’re being set-up, for crying out loud, somebody call McCloud, Ironside don’t you let ‘em slide, Whodunit? It's a BBQ mystery. So I’ll ask, “Who’s representing our region?” Sounds a lot like the parents in the college admission scam who cheated and paid to get their kids into college. It is a blatant attempt of cultural appropriation. You do not get to come to our city and disrespect the people and the culture that produced it. You either come correct or not at all.
Let me help you. Oakland’s historical Black BBQ culture has been around for well over a century before Mr. Farr’s burger & BBQ decided to move to Oakland 3 months ago. News flash to the national media: California has a well-established, rich, diverse BBQ culture and regional styles too. No disrespect to my Indigenous brothers and sisters who were here before we came, but where do you think the black people leaving the south went to? Our BBQ culture followed us from the south and was perfected in the West-(California that is- swimming pools and movie stars). My mama and daddy were both born and grew up in Alabama, and every year there is a family reunion in Alabama. The Jones of Everett and Jones was a funky young soul brother from Idalou, Texas. So what we ain’t gonna do is act like Black folks in Oakland and California need a white savior(s) to come to town and show us how to do BBQ the “right way”- I mean the white way. Are y'all trying to whitewash Oakland's national BBQ reputation and create something right for Oakland-I mean white? Sorry, I keep sneezing.
One more very important thing Mr. Franklin before I get off my Soap Box, it's astonishing to me that you are coming to Oakland and didn't have the decency or respect to invite the home-grown champions-black female pitmasters, who are from Oakland to participate in your 1st ever road trip to Oakland event. Why is that? Is it that the Black BBQ culture in Oakland is led by black women. That’s right Margaret Flintroy led the legendary Flint's Bar-B-Q after her husband died, and Dorothy Everett, with her eight daughters and one son, built Everett and Jones Barbeque into the legendary powerhouse that continues today with her grandchildren. Sorry, but the bottom rail is on top here.
This kind of misogynistic, sexist, dismissiveness of women is not Okay Mr. Franklin – Not in Oakland! We push back against people and systems that try to erase us and all we have accomplished in the midst of oppressive national norms. You don't get to come here and not acknowledge and/or greet the neighbors. The Everett and Jones Barbeque sisters are legends in Oakland and have been in the BBQ game longer than you or your friend Mr. Farr (1973). In fact, we are right down the street from your road trip location, how ironic? But I have a feeling that you already knew that.
No! We will not let you take credit for our hard work, nor will you act as if what we have isn’t good enough because you fail to acknowledge it. In fact, we have 46 years of proof that it is. I’ll say it again, you cannot come here and hijack our culture and stories of struggles and benefit from our black experiences here in Oakland. Surely you know Oakland is home of the black-power resistance movement, and not the place to try and bring white-male privilege, superiority ideologies. Wakanda Forever!
Cleveland and Dorothy Everett and their nine children; (From left to right) Angie, Shirley, Mary, Virginia, Yolanda, Annie, Helen, Dorothy Jr., and son George.
Mr. Rodney Scott with much respect from the pits of my soul, game recognizes game, but I know your mama taught you better. Shame on you for participating in this sexist/racist attempt of a ruse to exclude Oakland’s black female pitmasters from an event that you are featured in, in their own backyard. You were born a king. Lift up your queens and uphold the centuries of knowledge and traditional BBQ cooking methods that lives in our DNA, and was passed down from our ancestors stolen from Africa and brought to America. Think it over my brotha and help make sure your sistah’s voices are heard and respected.
Maya Angelou said it best “You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I'll rise!” Mr. Franklin, if we exclude the obvious and your shameless culpability in this ruse and you truly want to make amends; you could use your platform to speak out and use your voice to amplify the national debate about displacement and eradication of fellow African Americans and their contributions to the history of BBQ in America; it is our story too. Whew Lordy! I had to get that off my chest. #Oaklandbbq #Ourstory2
BBQ is Our Story Too:
By Shirley Everett-Dicko & Yvette Jones-Hawkins
(C) 2016 Everett and Jones
All Rights Reserved