Sunday was a bad day to order the egg-white omelet.
Not content with disrupting medal ceremonies for centenarian WWII veterans, the “hands up, don’t shoot” crowd served up its latest concoction: “Black Brunch,” in which protesters stormed brunch-serving restaurants — a.k.a. “white spaces” — in Manhattan and Oakland, Calif., chanting, singing, waving banners and posters, and reading off names of black citizens killed by police.
If that seems hip and edgy to you, then you were probably brunching at Lallisse on Sunday morning. In an interview in Spook magazine, “activists” Wazi Maret Davis and Brianna Gibson, discussing an earlier Black Brunch event, recounted the reaction of diners at a restaurant in the Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland:
[Spook:] What was the response you had from the white folks who were sitting there in Rockridge, eating their brunch?
Brianna: . . . I think the first place we went I had a few people ask me, “What do you want us to do?” And I told them, just remain silent and acknowledge that we’re here. Some people nodded, some people applauded, or showed a fist of solidarity, and there were a few individuals who were crying.
Wazi: Weeping. Weeping is the word.
“I think it’s beautiful,” the manager of Oakland restaurant Forge told the Los Angeles Times, responding to Sunday’s events. “It’s a message that needs to be heard, and if they have to disrupt business and daily life for a minute, then I’m glad we could help.” At Oakland’s Lungamore, a dozen customers stood in support.
The rhetoric and the reality do not align. Davis says that it is imperative to “interrupt . . . communities where they’re surrounded by money, or they’re surrounded by white folks, [and] they don’t have to engage with what’s going on in Black communities, and they can easily disassociate from that and pretend it’s not happening.” But the communities the Black Brunch crowd inconvenienced were full of dime-a-dozen liberals eager to support their cause. You would be hard-pressed to find someone in midtown Manhattan unwilling to raise a mimosa to a refrain of “Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all!”
Left-wingers can be about as flamboyant as they please when protesting in Manhattan or the Bay Area, and they know it. There is a reason they are not staging their performance art at barbecue joints at dinnertime in Fort Worth: namely, they would not make it through the door — not because the diners are racist brutes, but because the only dinner-and-show they are interested in is the one they paid for.
And in parts of the country not governed by Oberlin graduates, people are sensible enough to refuse the premise of such spectacles, which is that the racial climate of present-day America is no different than that of 1950s-era Montgomery. But it is. Black Brunch is not a modern-day sit-in, because brunch establishments are not modern-day whites-only diners.
“Black Brunch” is nothing more than the tactic of a racial-justice movement being steadily reduced to its radical fringe, populated by people such as Gibson, who use phrases like, “We’re really trying to de-centre whiteness.” Marches in Time Square succeeded on the backs of recreational protesters, who, self-satisfied, returned to their NPR podcasts and vegan-smoothie shops. Black Brunch is a grasp at relevance by the hardliners left behind. Who can be surprised that it meets with some approval from the crowd of milquetoast liberals who, for reasons of demography and geography, are the people most likely to frequent brunch service in Manhattan and Oakland? It is one type of leftist talking to another.
And it’s the left-winger who is most likely to see things through the filter of racial grievance. As one protester tweeted, “ATTN WHITE Man, I have no guilt disturbing your brunch. Its [sic] YOU that has no right to be here.”
Just as Martin Luther King envisioned: a nation where people are judged not by the color but by the content of their crepe.
— Ian Tuttle is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.