You’re invited to The Cookout. You should feel very honored.

“There’s a saying [in the Black community], ‘You’re invited to the cookout,’” Jameer Baptiste said. “It literally doesn’t mean that you’re invited to a cookout. It’s a way of Black people saying ‘You’re invited into our communities.’”

To mark the start of Black History Month, Hotspots! Magazine and WMEG is hosting the inaugural The Cookout: A Black History Month Field Day Fundraiser. Plans are to hold a Town Hall discussion early then get to a fun day of activities and games, Baptiste said.

“The town hall will be more serious with political individuals and businesses, people that have dealt with discrimination and racial tension in Wilton Manors.”

Money raised will benefit AHF and Afro Pride, a relatively new organization that is quickly becoming a staple in South Florida’s LGBT community. The event’s Facebook page says The Cookout’s goal is “building community in a town where race relations have been stranded for some time ... We're working closely with city officials and local businesses to show that Wilton Manors sees and cares enough to address the issue.”

Baptiste says the importance of engagement and community buy-in can't be overstated.

“We’ve been aggressively appealing to the city so they become enveloped in the process and become part of it.”

The Pub is providing food and LeBoy is the liquor sponsor. The visibility of these specific businesses is noteworthy, as they were the sites of disturbing racist attacks late last year. At The Pub, LeNora Jaye and Antonio Edwards were verbally attacked by a customer shouting racial slurs. The man was quickly ejected and banned for life. At LeBoy, customers would badger dancers with racial slurs, and new management told SFGN that anyone caught doing that would face lifetime bans at the club.

“It’s bittersweet that such a horrible incident happened at their establishment [The Pub]. At the same time it’s a chance for us to build a unified front to be able to say we’re all working together to combat these issues,” Baptiste said.

The Cookout is Saturday, Feb. 5 in the courtyard at the Pride Center, at 2040 N. Dixie Highway in Wilton Manors, from 1-6 p.m. A $10 donation gets you food and a soft drink. A cash bar will be taking donations for alcoholic beverages.

“It’s an event that’s never been done in Wilton Manors. It’s a lighthearted, fun, celebratory experience.”

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