Summertime is for BBQs, especially in New York. This summer, Courts New York and City Kids NYC set out to host a BBQ filled with good vibes and endless fun for all in attendance. After extensive planning and discussions around postponing festivities due to weather changes, we decided to move forward with our much anticipated rooftop “Chill n’ Grill.”
The event started off on a high note, as both new and familiar faces began arriving with smiles and peaked energy. With food sizzling on the grill and Kneegash on as DJ, people were excited for everything in store. But nothing could prepare us for what came next.
As rappers Maxx Brown, Elijah Smith, and Detroit Red began setting up for their performances on stage, the BBQ was rattled by the complaints of the apartment building’s alleged “tenants association.” They argued that our selected venue was not structurally sound to host a party, although, simultaneously bringing up food, beer and guests to their supposedly fickle roof. Their message was clear: we weren’t welcomed. Despite having permission to use the premises, we were asked to leave without sufficient reason. We’ve been to this spot in the past, under the hospitality of other tenants in the building, and had intitally been welcomed by residents that same day. Our party had to end so that they could jumpstart their own.
We live in a fragile time where prejudice is ubiquitous. This wasn’t the first time we’ve dealt with this, and definitely not the last. Their intent was evident from the moment they approached us. We weren’t given a legitimate reason as to why WE couldn’t be there and they could, but it’s fairly easy to read between the lines. Their feelings are fueled by the rapid gentrification of our neighborhoods, where the people moving in love the “grit” and the “realness” of the neighborhood but not the people who inspired and lived that reality. Black culture is greatly coveted and used as selling point, but when enjoyed by it’s creators, it becomes a threat to our appropriators.
Though the BBQ ended earlier than expected, everyone in attendance had a great and memorable time. Thank you to everyone for coming out and spending your time with us. We appreciate the love and support and look forward to coming back stronger and better next summer!