In the age of inviting everyone to The Cookout (Note: If you are still saying you have ‘Black friends’ and ‘All Lives Matter’, you are not invited–and don’t ask!), I can’t help but remember Block Parties. These headquarters of the epicenters of Blackness during summers. I miss seeing the street bursting with colors, people, music and food. Not just food trucks (but when I was younger–people would just grill or make dedicated things that wouldn’t be an issue #NoRaisinsInPotatoSalad #NoFruitInTheBakedBeans), but there were desserts and sides, with the goal of building community.
I know years ago Dave Chappelle did his BLOCK PARTY special, and had The Fugees perform! Now, we know Lauryn Hill can’t be defined by a clock or any Apple product. But, if I am allowed to dream, this would be my line up for the music for my Block Party (and it’ll show my age, I’m sure):
Puddle of Mudd (I love the songs “She Hates Me” and “Blurry”)
But that’s just me.
Now, the time we are in I think we need to revive this. This is a summer tradition! I know COVID-19 is choking the life out of the summer, but perhaps next summer we can do that. I want community to be community again! I want love to permeate us as a people again! I want the love served remind us that we have more together than we ever will have apart.
I want the kids that love Jordan Peele and Star Trek to talk on the stoop of the woman that her son to police violence. I want her to remember that life hasn’t stopped–that she is still a mother. I want the queer kids to come back and see folk that look like them–and love them–feed them, and let them rest their heads at night. “Let the music defuse all the tension,” as Nas says. I want there to be the reactivation of neighborhood eldership at these block parties! I want the women that forgot what the world outside their door looked like to see life there! I want all the fathers who work too much, and cook to little for their kids to get plates first, and then make their wives sit next to them. I want the boyfriends and baby mamas to not argue in front of their kids.
Let the dude that makes beats in his basement pass his flyers and DJ in the evening! I want the dudes that battle rap get their streams up by performing songs they know are dope–and then the whole block know!
I want the kids put down phones, and lace up Nikes and do that ancient mating dance of racing the person you like–determined to win!
At this block party, I want clergy to come and see all of God’s children together, and loving and eating and resting in the collective energy there. I want the rabbis, Pentecostal preachers, street prophets and old pastors to see that the harvest indeed is plenty, and Heaven is for all that know it’s there. I want the activists, community organizers, writers and bloggers to see their dream, like Martins, is coming to pass.
It is coming to pass.
I want the Instagrammers to put all the pictures up with no filters. I want the people who love TikTok and Twitter to put all the kids dancing-Black, white, queer, straight, indigenous, trans, pansexual, bi–up with their own hashtag!
I want the heart beat of the communities present to beat again. I want all present to know, as they eat drink and are merry, the life is here–here and now–and life matters.
All are seen. All are loved. All are welcome.
Besides, Lil Kim said, “Spread love, that’s what a real Mom do.” Then let is spread love. All over again.