Sunday, January 25, 2009

Acting White: Old War Horses and Big Hats

I have a few more observations from President Obama’s inauguration. The first has to do with the oath of office comedy of errors. The second concerns the alleged Milli-Vanilli moment of Yitzhak Perlman-Yo-Yo Ma. The third addresses Aretha Franklin’s hat. The fourth is about the poem. Lastly, I consider Rev. Lowry’s (illustrated) invocating parting-shot.

It was only fitting that the Chief Justice and president-elect Obama would stumble on the hell-hath-frozen-over-my-dead-body handoff of the country’s fortunes to a black man. Just chalk it up to all the seismic activity of white folks rolling over in their graves at that moment, accompanied by the hand-clapping and whooping of the spirits of dead slaves et al.

As an occasional musician and childhood clarinet player, I wondered, through that entire quartet number, just how in heck those instruments were functioning in the cold. Unlike Milli or Vanilli, I knew each of the players to be consummate musicians, directed by John Williams, the maestro himself, so complainers need to get real.

The same goes for Ms. Aretha’s voice. Fortunately, her cords were somewhat protected from the cold. Regardless, that bow-dacious hat was absolutely needed to keep her warm, and it also had to compliment a face and voice that know no equal – a tall order. I say fine job to the Queen of Soul and her hat maker.

The poem. I had high hopes for my comprehension, but after a few words my bladder overruled my synaptic struggle. I hope others enjoyed it, but I mostly like that we had a knew face in the poetry mix, inspired, I’m sure, by Ms. Maya.

I cringed during the invocation when Lowery opened a big can of old civil-rights wounds. Obama’s pained smile said it all, but he also had to be thinking of his dear white grandmother complaining about scary black men, déjà vu again. Whenever I’m around really old folks, (and my kids think I’m old) I assume that their past will creep into the conversation. So I treat them like a favorite book that’s out of print, but all the more cherished for its hold on the past, and for helping us better live the present. One day the old folks will not be there to embarrass us, and we will be sad for our loss.

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...

Thanks for this review of the day's events. I have to say that Lowery's prayer was one of my favorite parts of the day. I loved that he opened his prayer with a verse from "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing." It was a ritual that seem to do an homage to those of his generation who lived to see this day, and -- more importantly -- those who did not. And I liked the way he ended the prayer: "Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen." I thought that was a fitting end for the inauguration of a president who has called on all of us to act in service to our nation and our fellow man.

Beauty Is Diverse said...

"It was only fitting that the Chief Justice and president-elect Obama would stumble on the hell-hath-frozen-over-my-dead-body handoff of the country’s fortunes to a black man."

Lol so true.

Anonymous said...

I think the jibe of "white embrace right" could have been left off the closing prayer.

To suggest all colors of folks but white know what is right does nothing to help calm race relations. It only cuts that much deeper and makes the scars more apparent that electing a black president should help fade.

James C. Collier said...

Anon 9:19, I heard about this and tried to find published evidence, but failed. If you have such links, please pass them along. In any event, the problems of the black community are not washed away with the election. Instances will get more raw before we see improvements, as honest feelings about race, mostly ugly, are coaxed from the shadows.

Anonymous said...

There ya go.

Includes the video.

A crying disgusting shame.

James C. Collier said...

Anon 8:51, Thanks for the link. I put this trash in the same category as Rush L. wishing that Obama fails as President. There are a lot of ignorant folks hoping that they will be instantly smarter now that Obama is in office - ain't gonna happen. We will just have to work around it.

Anonymous said...

I heard the Rush thing also.
Saw the interview also.
What he said was that if Obama was going to have a far left agenda he hoped it (he) would fail.
Not the flat statement mis-quote "he hoped Obama would fail".
Of course that sounds like Rush hopes Obama fails in every way.
Rush in no way, shape or form said that.

Don't you just love how the media mis-informs us?

I would imagine there are some things the far left hopes Obama would do that we hope he does not.
Pretty much what Rush meant in the context he was using.

Anonymous said...

I didn't cringe when Lowery said what he said. It's fitting. Its still true - I doubt that Obama was pained as I think he understands the race issue is and will remain the most intractable subject in our nation in terms of how we relate to one another. There was no need to ignore it or make nice to give it a pass during inauguration time.

It wasn't beat into the ground but it was put in a place and heard with an audience at a time not seen before - probably not to be seen again. somebody had to do it - he was classy and forthright.

Thank god for them old cats - lest we young ones get all brand new and forget.

you got to respect what this guy has seen and lived in his life to allow him to say such things

Anonymous said...

We shouldn't "relate" to each other by pointing out one race's supposed not knowing right from wrong.
To make that generalization is a blatant racist jab.

If he had been a white man and said the same thing about blacks there would have been an uproar from every black group on the planet and the media would have licked up every single drop of it, grinning gleefully at the prospect of making the average Joe white guy look bad yet again.

I am sick of the hypocrisy in race relations. I am sick and tired of being the "bad guy" because I am the same color of people that had slaves 150 years ago.
Some blacks will not allow race relation to improve because they are obsessed with it. They don't realize that it is in the past, that no matter what it can't be changed. They should look forward instead of backward. That is what MLK hoped for.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone Mr. Lowery.
Oh that's right, "Preacher" Lowery.
I think you need to read your Bible a bit more to understand what "right" is sir.

Unknown said...

That was said at a club, not the inauguration. Please quit saying that that mess was said in the presence of our President. In terms of Rush Limbaugh, how can you listen to ny man who tells his listeners that the mortgage crisis was the fault of minorities and poor, not the banks or lenders. That is baffling. That and the fact the man used welfare for years and now finds it horrible for anyone else to use.

Anonymous said...

It was said at an after inaugural party as said in the post.
The post said nothing about the incident being at the inauguration or in the presence of the president.
Read and reply to the facts as written.

That "mess" was a despicable display of racism and shows the true character of those two men.
Black youth do not need role models such as these.
I wish MLK was around to hear it.
But I think if he were around things would be a lot different than there are today.

No matter WHERE that crap was said it was still just that, crap.