“They’re invited to the cookout!” You’ve probably heard the term thrown around when a white celebrity/person in a position of influence does anything mildly non-racist, or perhaps manages to swivel their way into black culture. This could be anything from calling out institutional racism to being able to dance in time with an 808 drum kit.
What started off as a humorous statement on Twitter has escalated into a means for profit — and it sure isn’t being monetised by the creators of the phrase. With these cookout invites out of hand, “allies” even have shirts indicating they have now RSVP to our safe spaces.
The reason I don’t agree with swiftly inviting white folks to the “cookout” is because there’s a stark difference in the treatment that white people get when they call out racism compared to when it comes from the very people who experience it. I’ve seen this happen to me directly as well as in the wider world. Take for instance Jemele Hill, an ESPN reporter who called Donald Trump a white supremacist. She was reprimanded by her employers and suspended from the ESPN network. The so-called US President even took to tweeting about her and the White House described her comments about Trump and the NFL as a “fireable offence.” Let’s compare and contrast with Eminem, who had a now viral verse in a BET cypher. As an appreciator of Eminem’s past records, I knew he had potential to go in. I was expecting a lot when I saw the articles and finally settled down to sacrifice about 4 minutes of my day.
I understood his message, however I feel that Vince Staples really summed up my sentiments.
And yall not about to sit here and try to convince me the Donald the bitch line had y’all out y’all seat shut up.
— Vince Staples (@vincestaples) October 14, 2017
What I also find interesting is that Em got lauded praise excessively — to the point where political journalist Keith Olbermann tweeted the following:
After 27 years of doubts about rap I am now an @Eminem fan.
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 11, 2017
Interesting how 4 minutes of Assasin’s Creed and paper thin critique can lead to reversing a 27 year old opinion. Although in a way, this is not dissimilar to people who “don’t listen to rap-but like Eminem.”
I think you know the type of person I’m referring to.
Such a tweet is a slap in the face for hip-hop, which is in fact built on political writing. Did everyone suddenly forget FDT by YG & Nipsey Hustle? We the People by A Tribe Called Quest? 16 Shots by Vic Mensa? And there are countless other songs that have explored this territory before in greater depth that have received next to nothing when it comes to mainstream recognition. Essentially, what Em did was not revolutionary compared to other artists in the game. Why did these artists’ efforts fall on deaf ears?
“I am finding it difficult to determine if these people will still be around when it’s no longer deemed as “cool” to go to a protest or tweet hashtags”
Sometimes I wonder whether the “calling out” of racism is indeed genuine or if it’s just a trivial cause for these people. Now that white liberalism has woken from a slumber since its complacency was arguably a factor for an increasing blatant fascism, I am finding it difficult to determine if these people will still be around when it’s no longer deemed as “cool” to go to a protest or tweet hashtags. I remember in the early ’10s if I was even to state that racism was an ongoing issue, the same people would tell me “nobody’s racist it’s 2012!” In fact, when I asked this very question in 2012, I was told I was “chatting shit.”
Is UKIP just the BNP in sheep’s clothing?
— c ?? (@chindomiee) April 15, 2012
It strikes me as odd that my experience as a black person needs to be validated by a white person in order for it to be believed. Whilst I do appreciate white people calling out the hypocrisy of white privilege and institutional racism — don’t expect anything in return. I’ve run outta invites to the cookout.