The R Word


My daughter and I attended the public inauguration ceremony yesterday with about one million other people from around the country. Although chilly, it was warmer than 2009 and you had much more personal space…thank goodness.

I can recall all the points during the speech that were punctuated by applause and screams from the crowd. It was telling to hear audience “boos” as certain Congressional members and “VIPs” emerged to take their seats for the ceremony. The biggest cheers were for Jay-Z and Beyonce and, of course, Michele Obama and POTUS Maximus. There was an eclectic and historic mix on that balcony at the west Capitol steps.

I never tire of hearing from my President and yesterday was no different. As a wordsmith, I love to dissect his speeches as I did yesterday. I purposely did not read any analysis so that I could give my independent and initial opinion. He spoke to the disenfranchised in our nation and to all creeds, colors, genders and orientations. Who else has EVER done that?

But what struck me most were his racial references and the allusions to the enslavement of Africans in this country. Up to this point, Obama has stayed away from references to race, particularly his own (other than his subtle yet powerful statement regarding the Trayvon Martin case) and politically I have understood why. However yesterday, there were references abound and it made me smile.

We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

Race is an issue that we shield our eyes from in this country. Perhaps it stems from shame, but it is high time that this country has to reconcile itself with race.

I love President Barack Hussein Obama, not only for the color of his skin but more importantly for the content of his character. There are many who will never understand the disbelief that I still feel that I lived to see a Black President and the gratitude that he has normalized that idea for my children, especially my son.

I am hopeful that the content of his speech is an indicator of what’s to come. That in this second term, POTUS Maximus will finally “brush his shoulders off” (headnod to Jigga).

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