The 2018 Name of the Year is BBQ Becky

Dec 22nd 2018

It all started with a spring picnic. In April, two African-American men fired up a grill for a cookout in an Oakland, California park. A white woman who was passing by objected to their grilling in that location, demanded that they leave, and ultimately called the police on their picnic. A video of the incident went viral, and on the internet the woman was dubbed "BBQ Becky."

The derisive nickname quickly became a template. Throughout the year, more white women who called the police on their black neighbors for seemingly trivial reasons were tagged with copycat labels like "Permit Patty" and "Golfcart Gail." The nicknames, and the way they were used, touched a range of pressure points in American society: prejudice and privilege, race and gender, civility and name-calling, social media and shaming. That makes BBQ Becky the 2018 Name of the Year.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Roots of a Name Phenomenon

The actual "BBQ Becky" was not named Becky. Social media commenters leapt in with that name because it was an established derisive term for a white woman in a black context. In prior usage, the name had typically signaled a generic young white woman with a blinkered worldview who was free with sexual favors. [Read more about the term "Becky."] While that precise image didn't fit the woman in the barbecue incident, it's the reason the nickname stuck so easily.

The fact that Becky is a diminutive—a pet form of a name, suggesting youth or smallness—made it especially potent as a put-down. While diminutives come across as affectionate in a friendly context, in unfriendly usage they sound inherently belittling. Combining the racial reference and the diminutive with the irresistible appeal of alliteration made the name BBQ Becky memorable, sharable, and above all, replicable.

As it turned out, opportunities to replicate the form came fast and furious. Back in the 1990s, the prevalence of racial profiling in traffic stops led to the phrase "Driving While Black," a play on actual offenses like "Driving While Intoxicated." In 2018, a rash of incidents between private citizens saw the phrase evolve into "Living While Black." Among the moments captured on viral video:

• A white woman called the police on an eight-year-old black girl for selling water, lemonade-stand style, without a permit
• A white woman threatened to call the police on a black teenager because he "didn't belong" swimming at a community pool
• A white woman called the police to report two black women who were waiting for a tow truck in front of their apartment building
• A white woman called the police on a nine-year-old black boy, falsely accusing him of groping her at a corner grocery store
• A white woman called the police about a black father who was shouting advice and encouragement to his son during a soccer game

Thanks to the model of BBQ Becky, these women were quickly dubbed Permit Patty, Pool Patrol Paula, South Park Susan, Cornerstore Caroline, and Golf Cart Gail.

The Impact of a Nickname

The coordinating nicknames highlighted the links among the incidents, making the cultural pattern clear. They also provided a shorthand form of reference which helped encourage the creation of mocking memes. All of this gave the core stories traction, raising awareness of the pervasiveness of everyday racism.

The use of belittling nicknames also subtly turned the tables on the power dynamics of racial tensions. Applying a diminutive to someone of another race, such as calling an African-American man "boy," has always been an instrument of subjugation. Conversely, real names have been instruments of power, as in the "say his name" chants for black victims of police violence. Tagging white instigators with mocking nicknames symbolically stripped them of their assumed privilege and power.

Yet the BBQ Becky names raised concerns as well. Reducing incidents of racial profiling to memes can numb us to their seriousness, rendering them merely ridiculous rather than frightening. What's more, referring to a confrontation by a nickname for the instigator frames the problem in terms of individuals, rather than something more systematic. "Pool Patrol Paula" sounds like just some annoying neighbor who is a little too picky about rules for free swim time, not a symptom of a hostile culture.

The uniform labels also reduce all the incidents to equivalence, masking the severity of individual events. Some of the instigators were belligerent and used hate speech, showcasing the increasing boldness of prejudice in 2018. And from the cute nickname, you would never guess that "Pool Patrol Paula" physically assaulted the boy at the pool.

More broadly, these viral stories of racial profiling are just one corner of a media culture in which public shaming and taunting put-downs are becoming ever more mainstream. We've seen the benefits of sharing cell phone videos as a crucial new tool of justice, illuminating events that would previously have remained in the shadows. But when a national news story can instantaneously erupt from a few seconds of video circulated by one side of a conflict, injustice can also be done. There is no way to recover the privacy and reputation lost by a viral video. We might also question the growing use of schoolyard-style insults by adults, even in serious settings. Taking down a target with public taunts rather than substantive criticism can amount to a "trial by nickname" which requires no due process.

Then there's the fact that all of the nicknamed instigators I listed were women. The year was equally packed with examples of white men confronting their black neighbors for questionable cause, but few of those men were tarred with similar nicknames. Once BBQ Becky was christened, the face of everyday racism was officially rendered female.

This gender disparity echoes another theme of the year, which saw outsized anger at white women (including voters and lawmakers) for behavior and choices that were at least as common, but less remarked on, among men. The outrage often appeared to reflect elevated expectations. Society expected women to be compassionate and nurturing, and to empathize with the experience of unequal treatment. Failing to meet these high targets made for a long and painful fall, with disproportionate outrage. Meanwhile, expectations for men to show compassion and civility seemed to be in decline. After the death of President George H. W. Bush in November, tributes lauded his decency and dignity as if they were superhuman achievements.

The BBQ Becky nicknames are complicated symbols, shining light on a disturbing pattern of antagonism in an antagonistic manner. They're also a reminder of the power that names and nicknames yield in public discourse. May we use them thoughtfully in the year to come.


Special thanks to readers jguliap, Holey and lucindajane for their nominations and thoughtful observations on BBQ Becky. And special apologies to all of the fine, blameless women actually named Becky.


Read More: 3 Names that Mattered in 2018



December 24, 2018 10:02 AM

As a Becky, I'm sad but resigned to my name's fate. Thanks, Laura, for the really trenchant analysis!

December 27, 2018 3:01 AM

I'm very glad you mentioned that the nicknamed people were all women. However, I'm not sure this is entirely due to higher expectations of women's compassion.  Frankly, I think it's also considered more socially acceptable to mock women.  They're easier, safer targets because they are less socially powerful.  Perhaps black men are more likely to be unfairly seen as a threat, while white women are more likely to be publicly demeaned and humiliated.

I've seen some of the other videos of people being racist and ridiculous - the cop targeting black kids at a pool party, the black schoolteacher who got lectured by police about the "violent tendencies" of black people, the man who yelled at the woman wearing the Puerto Rican flag T-shirt.  These all seemed very clearly, astoundingly racist to me.

I watched the whole BBQ Becky video, too, and I found it equally disturbing - but in a different way.  I was appalled by the behavior, not of "Becky," but of the woman recording her.  She was cruel, bullying and relentless, and seemed to be using her accusation of racism as a handy weapon.  (Notably, the black man actually doing the BBQing seemed extremely unconcerned about the whole situation - he clearly did not feel threatened).

I know I mentioned this in the nomination thread already, but I do think it's important to note that that community had recently been dealing with extremely costly trash pick-up caused by irresponsible barbecuers - and "Becky" appears to have had a career in environmental science.  Maybe she was being a busybody, but I truly don't believe her actions were racially motivated.

However, I would never have come to that conclusion had I not watched the video myself.  As you mentioned, the ability to make incidents go viral is both equalizing and terrifying.  Consumers of these videos and news stories are all too willing to accept interpretations that reinforce their existing beliefs (just as with the fake news making the rounds on social media).  How do we balance the social good this type of video can do with the need to protect individual privacy?  I find myself wishing that people who post these videos were required to blur the subjects' faces.

Altogether this is an excellent selection for Name of the Year.  An inspired suggestion by jguliap and, as always, an extremely convincing and thought-provoking case made by Laura.

December 27, 2018 11:56 AM

I agree with Holey that the racist in the BBQ Becky incident was the person behind the lens, not the people in front of it. The unfortunate busybody was motivated by some variety of civic pride or environmentalism, not race; she would've behaved exactly the same way if the cook was a white man.

December 27, 2018 2:54 PM

I too have mixed and conflicted feelings about all of these incidents and videos. The thing that universally stands out to me is a lack of empathy or ability to put oneself in the other person’s shoes. Perhaps BBQ Becky was motivated by concern for the environment, but she failed to consider that calling the police to deal with a group of black people is an often dangerous action (and is sometimes deadly), not to mention an overreaction. The TV show “Black-ish” had an excellent episode about the risks of calling the cops on POC. 

Worst case scenario (with regard to giving the “Beckys” the benefit of the doubt) is that they were motivated by overt racism. Best case scenario is that they failed to see how their overreactions posed potential threats to others. And somewhere in between is the kind of subconscious racism and lack of awareness of privilege that these videos made me personally evaluate. That was what prompted my nomination.

Here’s to hoping that the 2019 Name Of The Year will be a unifying source of positive inspiration!

December 28, 2018 1:11 PM

Thank you, Laura, for this thorough and complex analysis of the power & pitfalls of these nicknames! I often think of the Harry Potter spell ‘ridikkulus’, which strips our fears of the power they have over us by making them funny, so that we may banish them with laughter; I love the idea, but do worry that for myself, the instinct to laugh can mean overlooking the danger. That said, POC  should be free to deal with their pains & fears in whatever way they deem best, without worrying about whether white people (the ones who are inclined to underestimate the attendant violence) will be misled by cutesy nicknames.


Looking back at the nominations thread, I want to note that TheOtherHungarian also contributed some important thoughts to the discussion.


And to jguliap: thanks for the reminder that calling the police on white barbecuers vs POC barbecuers is not equivalent - race blindness is not a virtue when it means failing to acknowledge the racist power structures that affect all of us.

December 29, 2018 1:04 PM

Thank you for this incredibly thoughtful post. Laura, I am always blown away by your analysis. (and really appreciate yours, jguliap!)

I am a longtime lurker and seldom poster, but I was surprised by the number of posts suggesting that those nicknamed might not be racist. I know this is an (often white liberal, though i don’t presume to know the demographics of this board) well-intentioned approach that can alienate and discount the lived expieriences of people of color.  I am sure that’s not the intention, just wanted to add my thoughts here as I feel the most for the victims “othered”  in these situations, as I’m sure we all do.

December 30, 2018 11:49 AM

This is always my favorite column of the year.  Laura, your choice and explanation are spot on.  The racial tension in the US is never far away, and in 2018 made the headlines.  In 2018, 'headlines' are often memes.  There are echos of the "Karen" post:

January 1, 2019 3:45 AM

@aybee - I was referring only to BBQ Becky, not to the other incidents.  When I watched that video I was fully prepared to see an example of racism, not looking for reasons to excuse it.  But that's simply not what I saw.  While it's important to keep all views in mind, we also have to use our own judgment in each case.

March 6, 2019 11:42 AM

Thank you for sharing these great arguments

March 12, 2019 12:08 AM

Thanks for sharing variancetv

March 17, 2019 8:50 AM

BBQ Becky sounds like a name you give to a girl Rebecca born on Feb 29

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June 27, 2019 3:12 AM

Karakteristik Kain Wollpeach yang Wajib Dikenali sebelum Membeli

Siapa yang tidak tahu dengan material wollpeach? Jenis material kain yang cukup populer belakangan ini kerap diterapkan untuk pembuatan pakaian muslimah contohnya gamis atau hijab. 

Material kain yang enak saat dikenakan ditambah banyaknya variasi warna yang ditawarkan, menyebabkan kain woolpeach menjadi salah satu kain yang cukup menarik perhatian pelanggan, terutama kaum perempuan. 

Kali ini Aminama akan menyajikan secara detail mengenai material kain wollpeach yang kerap ditemui di toko-toko kain, mulai dari pengenalan material kain wollpeach sampai dengan kelemahan serta kelebihan pakaian berbahan wollpeach.

Yuk langsung saja simak penjelasan berikut ini.

Memahami Material Kain Wollpeach

Material kain woolpeach merupakan salah satu model kain yang sangat lumayan populer di toko-toko kain. Nama wolfis sendiri berasal dari bahasa inggris yakni woolpeach. 

Oleh karena bangsa Indonesia cukup sukar waktu mengucapkan istilah tersebut, maka seiring berjalannya waktu, istilah material kain ini berganti menjadi woolpeach.

Sebagian sumber menuturkan bahwasanya kain ini berasal dari campuran sutera, cotton, serta penambahan serabut bahan buatan juga.

Sejumlah sumber yang lainnya lagi mengatakan bahwasanya bahan ini terbuat dari kain polyester. Bahkan bahan woolpeach bisa disebut memiliki kualitas dibawah material kain sutera serta cotton.

Ada satu fakta menarik dari bahan ini yang mampu menarik hati pembeli untuk mengenakannya, yakni walaupun bahannya tipis, akan tetapi tidak bikin material kain ini menjadi transparan. 

Kelebihan kain tersebut yang membuat beberapa desainer banyak memproduksi baju untuk muslimah, oleh karena bisa dikatakan memenuhi syariat islam.

Pada penerapannya, kain woolpeach sering dijadikan sebagai kain utama pakaian mulai dari rok, celana, gamis, outer, kulot, khimar, serta sebagainya.

Bagi sobat yang sedang memilih kain ini, sobat yang dapat menemukannya dengan mudah di pasar maupun toko kain kain terdekat. 

Kalian bisa membeli material kain ini dalam per meter, kiloan, maupun roll.

Kekhasan Kain Wollpeach

Sama Seperti halnya bahan cotton, balotelly, ataupun bahan busana lainnya yang memiliki sifat khas tertentu, begitu juga dengan material kain wollpeach. 

Supaya kalian tidak salah pilih kain saat memilih, ada baiknya kamu disimak ciri-ciri dari bahan woolpeach berikut:

Karakteristik bahan wollpeach:

1.Jika diamati dari segi fiber kain material kainnya, memiliki serat yang berdempetan dan lembut.

2.Permukaan kainnya tidak licin serta tidak gampang kusut.

3.Cukup mudah untuk dirapikan.

4.lantaran fiber kain kain yang rapat, kain woolpeach masuk kedalam material kain yang engga membayang.

5.Material kainnya nyaman serta sejuk waktu mengenai kulit.

6.Kain wolfis memiliki daya menyesap peluh yang buruk.

Kelebihan dan Kelemahan Bahan Wolfis

Bukan rahasia publik bahwasanya setiap baju pasti mempunyai keistimewaan dan kelemahan dari material kainnya sendiri-sendiri. 

Faktor ini mesti sobat perhatikan agar sobat pembaca dapat memilih material kain yang sesuai dengan kepentingan sobat.

Sebelum sobat membeli baju dengan bahan woolpeach, ada baiknya kalian memperhatikan keistimewaan dan kekurangan dari material kain wollpeach berikut ini.

Keunggulan Material Kain Woolpeach

Kain wolfis merupakan bahan yang lumayan terkenal di pasaran karena mempunyai beberapa kelebihan yang tidak dimiliki oleh material kain lainnya. 

Engga heran jika material kain ini sangat digemari oleh kaum wanita utamanya muslimah. 

Yuk langsung saja kita pelajari satu persatu kelebihan dari kain wollpeach.

1. Tekstur Kainnya Halus serta Lentur

Bahan wolfis tergolong bahan yang lumayan lentur. Semisal kamu menyentuhnya langsung, maka serabut bahan ini akan terasa lembut ketika tersentuh kulit. 

Oleh sebab itu, bahan ini akan memberikan kenyamanan bagi penggunanya.

2. Tergolong Mempunyai Bahannya yang Lumayan Tebal serta Tidak Membayang

Jikalau dibandingkan dengan jenis material kain lainnya, bahan wolfis termasuk kain yang cukup tebal. 

Meskipun begitu tetap enak untuk digunakan. Sejumlah model dari kain woolpeach juga terdapat yang tipis. 

Kelebihan lainnya yaitu sifat serabut kainnya yang berdempetan, oleh sebab itu bahannya engga tembus pandang. 

Keunggulan inilah yang acap kali digunakan banyak perancang pakaian untuk membikin pakaian muslimah.

3. Tergolong Material Kain yang Ringan

Bahan woolpeach populer dengan tingkatan ketebalan kainnya yang beda-beda. Ada yang tebal, cukup tebal, sedang, dan tipis.

Meskipun terdapat model material kain wollpeach yang tebal, tapi gak bikin material kain ini menjadi berat. 

Tentu saja dengan keunggulan kualitas material kain yang ringan, akan meringankan kalian waktu proses mencuci kain. Selain itu, akan membikin baju jauh lebih enak waktu digunakan.

4. Sifat Material kainnya Tergolong Material kain yang Jatuh

Keunggulan selanjutnya dari material kain wollpeach yang lumayan menarik minat orang yaitu memiliki sifat kain yang jatuh. 

Meskipun demikian, bahan ini engga membentuk lekukan tubuh pemakainya.

Hanya tips dari kita, jika kamu menetapkan untuk memilih pakaian muslimah dari bahan woolpeach, sebaiknya kamu menetapkan ukuran yang agak longgar. 

Hal ini karena sebagian jenis dari woolpeach terdapat juga yang membentuk lekuk bentuk tubuh penggunanya.

Sehingga harus pinter-pinter memilih sesuai keperluan masing-masing ya.

5. Wolfis Tidak Gampang Kusut

Kualitas serat material kain dari wollpeach ini tergolong bagus, oleh karenanya material kainnya gak gampang kusut waktu dipakai.

6. Menawarkan Banyak Pilihan Warna

Material kain wolfis menawarkan banyak sekali macam warna. Tentu saja hal ini menjadi nilai tambah sendiri di mata orang, khususnya kaum hawa. 

Hal ini disebabkan dengan berbagai variasi warna yang ditawarkan, akan memudahkan pembeli untuk memilih warna sesuai keperluan mereka.

7. Material kainnya Mudah Didapatkan

Kain ini bukalah termasuk bahan yang langka di pasaran. Kalian bisa dengan mudah menemukan kain ini di toko-toko material kain terdekat.

8. Harga Material kainnya Murah

Dengan banyaknya keistimewaan yang diberikan bahan wollpeach, engga membuat harga bahan ini menjadi mahal di toko-toko kain. 

Kamu gak perlu cemas perihal harganya, karena harga material kain ini cukup murah, kok.

Kekurangan Kain Woolpeach

Dengan banyaknya keunggulan yang diberikan oleh kain yang menjadi primadona kaum perempuan ini, ternyata bahan wolfis juga mempunyai sejumlah kekurangan yang harus diperhatikan sebelum membeli.

Berikut kelemahan bahan woolpeach.

1. Terlalu Banyak Pilihan Warna yang Disuguhkan

Meskipun sebelumnya kita sudah mengkategorikan point mengenai banyaknya pilihan warna ke dalam keistimewaan dari bahan wolfis, rupanya keistimewaan itu juga menjadi kekurangan dari wollpeach sendiri. 

Lho kok bisa? Kita ambil contoh kasusnya, anggap kita sudah memilih bahan warna A dengan Panjang 1 meter untuk dibikin bahan utama rok yang tergolong gede dan rupanya engga cukup. 

Tentu kamu akan mencari kain dengan warna sama persis dengan material kain yang kita beli sebelumnya.

Mungkin saja sobat pembaca akan mendapatkan warna kain A yang tadi itu, akan tetapi ada kemungkinan warnanya sedikit lebih gelap dan cukup berbeda dengan warna sebelumnya. 

Tentu saja warna material kain tadi engga bisa kita sambung dengan kain sebelumnya, hal ini warnanya sedikit berbeda.

Oleh karenanya, agar tidak terjadi seperti contoh kasus tersebut, sebaiknya kalau sobat ingin memilih kain wollpeach dilebihkan ukurannya. 

Lebih baik keunggulan daripada kurang bahan. 

2. Banyaknya Variasi Tingkat Ketebalan Bahan Wolfis yang Disuguhkan

Bahan wollpeach sendiri mempunyai cukup banyak macam ketebalan bahannya, malahan beberapa ada yang tembus pandang. 

Tentu saja ini lumayan bikin bingung pembeli yang akan membeli. Jikalau ingin membuat pakaian muslimah, entah itu gamis, jilbab serta sejenisnya, ada baiknya membeli bahan wolfis yang cukup tebal biar sesuai dengan aturan islam.

Itu tadi penjelasan lebih dalam mengenai kain wollpeach. Semoga dengan adanya artikel ini, sobat bisa lebih memahami mengenai material kain wollpeach.

Semoga tulisan ini ada manfaatnya.

July 21, 2019 6:10 PM

ברוכים הבאים למשרד לשירותי נערות ליווי שנמצא ופועל בעיר חיפה וצפון! אנו משרד נערות ליווי גדול, יוקרתי וקראטיבי. כאן תכיר את הנערות היפות ביותר בכל האזור שלנו - חיפה קריות, עכו ונהריה! נערות הליווי שלנו ברמה שעוד לא הכרתם! יש נערות ליווי ערביות בחיפה, נערות ליווי רוסיות ונערות ליווי עם תמונות אמיתיות! זה לא רק מילים יפות – זה סיפור הצלחה וניסיון רב בתחומי בידור, תענוג ובילוי. תעניק לעצמך מתנות יקרותנערות ליווי בחיפה כגון הכרות עם נשים יפות ונחמדות, נופש נהדר, רגישות טובות, התרשימויות חדשות והגשמת תשוקות מיניות. המשרד שלנו - הוא מעביר ומדריך שלך בעולם של בידור מקורי ויוקרתי. גישה אישית לכל לקוח, רצון לספק ולמלא את כל מה שהוא צריך, בטיחות, ניקיות, דיסקרטיות, נוחיות – אלה העיקרונות של עבודה שלנו.

July 21, 2019 6:12 PM

ברוכים הבאים למשרד לשירותי נערות ליווי שנמצא ופועל בעיר חיפה וצפון! אנו משרד נערות ליווי גדול, יוקרתי וקראטיבי. כאן תכיר את הנערות היפות ביותר בכל האזור שלנו - חיפה קריות, עכו ונהריה! נערות הליווי שלנו ברמה שעוד לא הכרתם! יש נערות ליווי ערביות בחיפה, נערות ליווי רוסיות ונערות ליווי עם תמונות אמיתיות נערות ליווי בחיפה! זה לא רק מילים יפות – זה סיפור הצלחה וניסיון רב בתחומי בידור, תענוג ובילוי. תעניק לעצמך מתנות יקרותנערות ליווי בחיפה כגון הכרות עם נשים יפות ונחמדות, נופש נהדר, רגישות טובות, התרשימויות חדשות והגשמת תשוקות מיניות. המשרד שלנו - הוא מעביר ומדריך שלך בעולם של בידור מקורי ויוקרתי. גישה אישית לכל לקוח, רצון לספק ולמלא את כל מה שהוא צריך, בטיחות, ניקיות, דיסקרטיות, נוחיות – אלה העיקרונות של עבודה שלנו.