I caught a glimpse of Mr. Menino practicing yesterday (he actually asked me and a co-worker to stay and watch him go through his speak - pretty freakin' cool - but we were most likely running to some mind-boggling meeting or something). We had no idea what he was doing here until we heard he'd be at Digitas today announcing his candidacy. Apparently he chose us because we're one of the largest employers in Boston. Plus, the office is pretty hip.
Here are some pics from the press conference (the crappy ones were taken with my wack LG Chocolate, please excuse the low quality. The good photos courtesy of P. Johnson's iPhone).
I’ll just say it.
Yesterday, the day of Obama’s inauguration, was one of the most stressful days of my entire life.
I had this picture in my mind of how the day would play out for me in Washington D.C.—an impossible sunshine image that didn’t include the clouds of life’s little realities.
We arrived at the back of the Capital building around 8am, figuring we would just circumvent the ticketed area and walk up the mall to find a spot. But instead, we were greeted by about 300,000 angry ticket-holders—some of whom, I later heard on the news, never got in to see the events at all.
We tried to pass through the lines, which were each about 30-people wide. Big mistake. We cut through all the people, and were met by a concrete wall, caution tape and fences on the other side. Many other people were filing in behind us, so we were essentially drowning in the crowd. No air to breath. When we tried to get out, various uninformed security personnel kept pushing us back into this vortex of stress by giving us faulty information and/or yelling this at us: “You can’t be in this area!!! Turn back!!! What about yellow tape do you not understand!!!” (yeah, a parking attendant woman yelled that at my entire family).
Literally no one would let us through…
…Except for an elderly African-American woman, standing with the aide of a walker. A woman who had been standing outside since 4:30 in the morning.
Ray of light #1.
After we escaped (because that’s really what it felt like), we proceeded to zig zag up the letter streets and across the number streets for about another 2 hours until we got to 18th street. And, finally, to the mall, which looked more splendid than a glass of half-melted ice cubes on a hot summer day.
Ray of light #2.
We ended up settling at a Jumbotron right behind the Washington Monument. I couldn’t have asked for a better spot – it was positively picturesque.
Ray of light #3.
But then the clouds created a shadow yet again when a 20-something year old college kid standing behind me asked if he could put his hands in my hair to keep them warm (I’ll just refer to this Melissa Harris-Lacewell interview from Rachel Maddow’s pre-inauguration show to address that one).
After all that, though, the rays of light that had been piercing the clouds all day seemed to overtake the sky and shine brilliantly. They manifested themselves in several different ways.
How, you ask?
Well like, for instance, each time the speakers asked the audience to “please rise” or “please be seated”. These requests triggered the purest giggle inside of me—and everyone else on the mall, so it seemed. It was like we were all in on a secret joke with a hilarity 10 freezing hours in the making. I basked in the shared laughter of 1.5 million people.
Or when I pinned my aunt’s Civil Rights quilt around my shoulders to keep warm. Many people stopped to marvel at her craft—take pictures even—and I basked in their appreciation of her brilliance.
And, finally, when Obama took the oath of office. I basked in the fact that splendor and reality had finally converged into one magnificent definition.
I'm thinking my day was somehow a metaphor for America's changing of power. But I know now I'm getting crazy deep on you.
That’s how it all went down for me. How did January 20th, 2009 play out for you?
Can you believe it!? A few days ago, I spotted not one, not two, but three of America's most beloved presidents - all in one room! I heard they had been hanging around the Smithsonian Museum of American History, so you know I had to go scout it out.
When my father emailed me asking for my definition of Politico.com, I scribbled this in reply: “Politico is a news site, but its reporters also keep active blogs.”
I didn’t think much of my response at the time. But now that I re-read my assessment, I realize it's really no wonder the site became one of my go-to sources for all things politics during this election cycle.
Well, I found that during Obama’s run, I was hungry not only for straight reporting, but also for perspectives, dialogue and active conversation. As a blogger, I developed a deep respect for the writers who posted their words online, engaged with their readers, sometimes took public lashings from the community at large, and even went to far as to make public their online contact information. People like Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic. Sam Stein of The Huffington Post.
And Ben Smith, of Politico. Who I had the fortune of conversing with, particularly on how deeply personal this election was to so many.
So naturally, his story in Politico’s glossy Presidential Inauguration magazine (which hit the stands in D.C. yesterday and is viewable online here) is also deeply personal to me.
Not so much because of my little contribution to the article, but rather because, through his writing, it’s clear that he developed a relationship with each one of the people he mentions. The stories he highlights are ones that his readers actively sent him… over the past 14 months (that boggles my mind!). Ones that his readers felt comfortable sharing with him. In part, I’m sure, because he broke down that imaginary wall between reporter/subject, thus creating thinker/thinker relationships.
Wow. In my opinion, that kind of ongoing dialogue—new to journalism—is the key to making a story truly powerful.
Can’t wait to see the magazine in print.
Washington Post: In Obama's Run, Finding A Long-Sought Sense of Acceptance
Remember last month, when Philly Daily News published my inauguration ticket request letter? Well, I still don’t have a ticket (tear)… but I do have some fun news: after it ran a Washington Post reporter contacted me requesting to profile my family – particularly for the family's “bi-racialness”, as it were.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the piece. But just a couple notes from my end: 1) My mom definitely feels the significance of Obama’s presidency, it just hasn’t hit her yet. I expect her to be sobbing on my shoulder at the inauguration. 2) My daddy woulda loved to join me in D.C. – for both the historical significance of Obama’s presidency and for his own studies (he’s a professor of political framing). So it’s not that he won’t come, but rather, because he’s a professor of political framing and will be teaching, it’s more that he quite literally can’t.
In any case, the coolest thing of all to me is the fact that journalism has become such a two-way street. From blogs posted to articles published to profiles written, there’s this new fluidity to journalism that lets us all join in on the conversation. Pretty neat stuff.
These Inauguration Day tickets have taken on a life of their own. It’s like some Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Golden Ticket madness up in here.
A virtual friend of mine (we met through a blog – so millennial!) wrote a heartfelt letter to her senators requesting inauguration tickets… and received a pair, on the spot! That’s an impossibility today, though, because every senator and congressperson is keeping a 1,000-person wait list.
Knowing this, I decided to draft a letter of my own, send it to PA senators Specter and Casey, and also send a copy as a submission to Philly Daily News’ opinion section. And just my luck, they published my letter today!
Here’s a link to the Philly Daily News publication, and here’s a copy of the full letter.
I’m traveling to D.C. for Inauguration Day regardless of whether or not I receive a ticket to the event. My whole family lives in D.C., and I’d be remiss to miss this opportunity to witness history being made alongside my family. But still… having a ticket would be pretty sweet ☺
What are your Inauguration Day plans?
Newsflash: Obama is poised to be the first (half) African-American president of the United States of America. He’s Black! Yay! (Are we allowed to celebrate that fact yet?)
I recently attended Essence Magazine’s Woman Who Are Shaping the World Leadership Summit—an event attended nearly exclusively by African-Americans. And in this company, we as a group enjoyed what I like to call “first Black president glee”... and we enjoyed it with pride and vigor.
But conversely, I’ve found that in mixed race or predominantly White company (where I usually dwell), I feel an urgency to either dampen or gloss over said excitement. To subtly sneak it in between praise of Obama’s healthcare and tax plans. Perhaps I assume that mentioning my joy, as a single-standing issue, will prompt eye-rolls. Anger. Or worse, fear. And, judging from comments made by McCain supporter Leah Moreland on NPR’s October 24th episode of All Things Considered, perhaps I’m right.
But maybe not. Because just this weekend, I’ve read numerous stories from major news outlets discussing the historic nature of Obama’s presidential bid as it pertains to race. One piece in particular really got me: the Washington Post profiled 3 African-American voters, all of whom are over 90 years old. Here’s a clip from the article:
(P.S. That's not Arthur Greene pictured above. That's Ruth Worthy, 91, who has been canvassing for Obama once or twice a week in Washington, D.C.)
I know I support Obama for the whole package and not just the packaging. But, for better or worse, the packaging still makes a difference in this country. And these testimonies… wow. They hit me on such a deep level. A level no economic policy speech can reach.
And I know I’m not alone in this. Black people feel the pride, but I’m guessing people of other races do too. So let’s all try just being OPEN with our “first Black president glee”. We can all embrace it, because we all made it happen (or, will soon make it happen). Together.
About a week ago, I woke from my nightly slumber with a start. At the moment I couldn’t quite place my finger on the problem, but then over the next week it all became clear - in the form of a question:
What will happen if Obama loses?
The question hangs over my head every day. Outwardly it's perfectly obvious why - I've been supporting Obama's campaign for nearly two years. But there's more to it that that.
This election has drawn out a new passion in me, one that has boiled over into every aspect of my life. Over the past two years, I’ve completely immersed myself in not only the future of this country, but also in trying to figure out how this country defines me. It’s something that I had never done before—because, to be perfectly honest, from the year 2000 to just before this election season started I’ve felt nothing but a need to distance myself from the label “American”. Guffaw all you want, tell my I’m unpatriotic or that I’m not a “real” American, but I’ll tell you this: it was hard not to reject it after traveling abroad and hearing such anger/disappointment from our friends overseas, after watching my fellow citizens drown in a sea of filth as our President looked down from his plush leather Air Force One seat, after hearing of the lives lost, the trillions spent, and the lies sold on a crap war that should have never even come to pass. So yeah, maybe my disillusionment makes me a bad American or an angry Black woman or something.
Or maybe it’s given me the opportunity to define what being an American truly means to me, claim it for myself, and then believe in it. With all my heart.
So now I’m grappling with the question. The one that keeps me up at night. If November 4th comes and goes, and if (God forbid) Obama does not come out victorious, will I be able to keep my redefined America? Will my passion for this country survive? Or will it implode inside of me, leaving nothing but dead empty space and a shadow of a hope…
But then I check myself, take a deep breath, and remember what my heart’s been telling me for years: everything will be okay. That ease starts with the vote I cast a few weeks ago, lives with the images from the early voting polls, and will come full circle on November 5th when the newspapers hit the stands.
What questions are plaguing you? How are you coping with your one-week-til-election stress?
Just got back from a fun-filled weekend with friends in South Beach, Florida. Though dancing ‘til 5am was top-of-mind for me and my cohort, we kept two other current events at a high second: the ALCS and, of course, the presidential race.
We also spotted quite a few Obama signs in store windows, Obama bumper stickers (including one on a taxi cab – is that legal?), and a bonafide Obama-gear store.
On the McCain end? To our observation, no T.V. spots running (we even tuned in to Fox News… for as long as we could stomach it) and limited support signage. However, on our last vacation day, we did run into some HARDCORE McCain supporters, out in full force.
Who were these McCain fans, you wonder? Three Black supporters! Ingenious. One – an older gentleman – was clearly native African; the other two (both women) might have been African-American. Though I didn’t get a photo of them, I did obtain one of their most peculiar fliers. It got all crumpled in my bag (oops!), but I have included a photo regardless.
I’m particularly impressed with the 5th line: “Adding ‘sexual orientation’ to the definition of hate crimes”. Obama supports it, McCain opposes it. Maybe you aren’t for same-sex marriages. Ok, fine. But to be opposed to providing protection against violence directed at LGTB individuals? That’s flat-out brutal and heartless.
And, of course, the 8th line, "US Senate vote declaring English as the official language of the U.S. Government" (McCain supports, Obama opposes). How ironic - it was clear the African man who handed me this flier spoke very limited English.
Anyway, early voting in Florida begins today. So we’ll see if these three represented a larger Miami voting block… or just themselves.
I've been covering the politics beat over at AOL's Lemondrop for a couple weeks now, writing a column called Cocktail Party Politics. It's basically a fun way of discussing a current political issue... I give a short recap, then offer up talking points according to your stance.
And, of course, what political debate would be complete without a complementary drink tip?
Today's post covered last night's presidential debate. I think my take on the debate shines through my apparent "unbiased" stance. This week's drink? "That One": No real recipe, just involves pointing to whatever the guy next to you is drinking and saying, "I'll have whatever 'that one' is having."
You can also check out last week's post on Sarah Palin - a commenter calls me "liberal trash"! Haha! Total crazytown.
UPDATE: (10.9.08) Just found this on Ben Smith's blog over at Politico. Man-on-the-street interviews from a McCain/Palin rally in Strongsville, OH.
Secret Service is looking into the "KILL HIM"
threat yelled during Palin's rally in Clearwater, FL. No thanks to the
I attended two Obama rallies during the primaries. At each one, Obama made a point of praising Sen. Clinton for her many achievements, calling her a worthy opponent. At one of the rallies during this praise, someone in the audience booed. No words, no threats. Just a boo.
Some audience members chuckled. Obama paused, furrowed his brow, shook his head...
And flat out condemned the negativitiy. Like, denounced and rejected it.
So when I see stuff like this from McCain/Palin rallies, it royally pisses me off.
McCain, seriously? Someone calls Obama a terrorist at your rally, you take a pause, let the audience bask in their laughter and excitement, and then go on to condemn the "angry barrage of insults" that come out of the Obama camp? Really?
Oh, and let's not forget about that Palin rally in Fort Myers yesterday, where a supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."
But worse yet, the "Kill him!" proposition that came from a supporter at a Palin rally in Clearwater, FL. Seriously?
It's beyond gutter politics. It's criminal.
Related: Obama Dodged Snipper Fire Scenarios