An Email To My Family About This Weekend’s Cookout

From: Me



Hello all,

As you know, I was chosen to host and organize this year’s Fourth Of July Cookout (Please remember; we only refer to this holiday as “the Fourth of July.” Anyone who comes to my house talking about “Independence Day” will be asked to leave–except Tyrone’s girlfriend. She’s White, so she has legitimate reasons to celebrate freedom and independence on this day. Remember, I tried to get y’all to have a Juneteeth cookout, but everyone said y’all had to work. I know some people also said they didn’t know what Juneteenth was, but don’t worry–they’re not reading this email, because they are not invited to my house).

I am sending out this email to remind the family of what you are supposed to bring to the cookout, and to remind everyone of a few other things.

Aminah – You are responsible for cups and napkins. That’s all. After you brought that bloody, half-baked chicken to the Labor Day cookout, and that undercooked pumpkin pie to Thanksgiving dinner, the Family made an executive decision to bar you from bringing any cooked dishes to family gatherings for a period of 2 years or until your baking ability improves. Right now, your oven game is weak as fuck. All your food comes out light-skinned. Don’t worry about the plastic forks and knives. Tyrone’s girlfriend is bringing that.

Bobby – Socks and cocoa butter. I know this is a strange request, but you know Uncle Junior is going to be on the grill all day, and he wears the same “short set” and sandals to the cookout every year. I don’t know if it’s the smoke, the sweat or the heat but by the time the sun goes down he is so ashy I’m actually afraid his skin is going to break like pork cracklings. I don’t think lotion will be strong enough–we need some butter. Some shea butter, cocoa butter, actual butter, butter pecan ice cream, butterscotch–just something with some heft to it to fight the ash.

The socks are so we won’t have to look at his weird limo-tinted toenails all day.

Aunt Rosa – Macaroni and Cheese. If you and Uncle Junior are going through some financial difficulties call me and talk to me privately and I can bring you a few dollars because we are going to need more than that one little pan of macaroni and cheese you bring every year. You know your macaroni tastes like it was made from the breast milk of angels, freedom and the love of Jesus, so why do you bring that lil-ol’-bitty pan? It barely makes it out to the table every year. How about making four pans this year? I’ll donate some money, because I don’t know where to find angel milk.

Meosha – You are in charge of making the Kool-Aid this year. Please make it yourself. When you let Tyrone’s girlfriend make it at the last cookout, it tasted like colored water.When you let your kids make it two years ago, It was so sweet that I poured some on my pancakes the next morning and two family members went into diabetic shock.

Speaking of your kids–can you watch them a little bit closer this year? Please don’t drop them off and leave to go to another cookout. We love you and want you to stay. Plus, your kids are bad as hell!. Last year when lil Moo Moo grabbed the knife we used to cut the ribs and put it to Aunt Rosa’s throat, it ruined the entire day. I know he enjoys the food, but when he threatened to slice her throat and asked “where you hiding the damn macaroni, bitch?” it was totally uncalled for. We just ask that you keep an eye on them.

Tyrone – Before I tell you what to bring, I think you should know that no one cares or treats you differently because you have a white fiancée. We are all colorblind and all we care about is that you love her and she loves you. We would never treat you differently because of who you choose as a wife.

If you are preparing the food, we want you to fry some fish. If she is preparing the food, don’t let her season anything. Just ask her to bring some plastic forks.

Michelle – We only ask that you bring 2 more inches of material to your outfit this year. No one cares what you wear, and we don’t want to hear your feminist rant about women having the right to wear what they want without the judgement of men and respectability outfits and chauvinist normalization and they are your booty cheeks they can jiggle however you want them to…

I just don’t wanna hear Aunt Rosa calling you a “Jazz-a-bell” all day. I tried to explain to her what the right word is, but… you know her.

Mookie – Aside from that bomb-ass barbecue sauce you make every year, we only have one more request of you:

Mookie, when you take a break to “smoke trees” can you go to another part of the backyard? There are kids around, man. I honestly believe that lil Moo Moo would’ve never picked up that knife last year if he hadn’t been inhaling secondhand weed and got the munchies.

Oh… and save a hit for me.

Theresa – Banana pudding. You know you’re the only one in the family who still uses real bananas and real “Nilla Wafers” and not those Great Value Vanilla cookies.

Rodney – We already know you’re bringing a few bottles of liquor to keep in your trunk. While we love your generosity and sharing spirit, could you not let Lisa have as much as she did last year? When she got a little too drunk and started “dropping it low” no one wanted to eat anymore. Except lil Moo Moo.

Lisa – A group of us will be over to inspect your kitchen on Wednesday. It has nothing to do with not you, it’s a family tradition. You have been selected as the replacement to Aunt Jenny (may she rest in peace) as the designated potato salad maker. With this power comes great responsibility. We will have to inspect your kitchen, take a taste test, and then the family’s potato salad sanctioning body will meet to approve your petition.

You know, we don’t eat just anybody’s potato salad.

James – I know you’re bringing the cards and dominoes, I just have one request:

Could you please be a little less harsh on the Spades table? I know you like to talk shit, but Tyrone’s girlfriend almost burst into tears las year when you told her to “get her bitch ass off the table.” She’s still learning, James. Plus, I thought it was totally inappropriate when you said you were cutting like Moo Moo did Aunt Rosa.

That was too far.


Aside from those final instructions, lets all have a good time in love and fellowship.

See you all this weekend





About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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