Much as I loved the inauguration, it was odd to be viewing it from the west coast rather than east. This sense of distance from Washington, gave me some insight to something I'd noticed as we've visited Portland over the past ten years. Events that are powerful for us in New York, often do not have equal impact on people out here.Except for 9/11/01. We came here the month after and often were asked, "How was it? Do you feel anxious living there?" All the intensity around security seems to have been directed toward the anxiety of those living outside New York City. We had a better idea that we are no longer safe. We have to live with it, go on with our lives. Forget taking shoes off at the airport.
Tuesday, January 20, I could forget the things that do frighten me-- the dedication of the far right to shift all I valued. We had pushed them aside for the moment, enjoyed our power to elevate to the Presidency an intelligent, humane man. And not-white--remarkable for aging people like me who had sat-in at segregated lunch counters in the late 1940s, been a summer school student at the University of Kentucky in 1954 during its first moments of integration.
At the last minute my grandson's elementary school gathered kids into the auditorium to watch the inauguration in the auditorium on a small TV with rabbit ears borrowed from a first-grader's family. On the other coast, the momentous event would be less improvisaional.
Barack and Michelle Obamas sang the national athem.
Charming to have it all end with "old school dancing." Even as I know how very difficult the years ahead will be. Like them, I want some simple pleasures. Theirs was this glorious day with its two million on-site participants. For me, it was feeling more hopeful for my famiy.
By the end of the week, I was ready for the two women pictured at the beginning of this post. Melissa Harris-Lacewell, historian at Princeton and Patricia Williams, Columbia Law School and columnist for The Nation appeared on Bill Moyers' Journal. The link leads to the transcript which I urge you to read.
The two have much to say about many sides of this historic event. Their exchange on why it is important to see Obama as our first black president, not bi-racial, needs to be required reading around the nation. They point to his selection of Michele as partner--a smart, tall, educated black woman--is significant to Obama's claim to his own racial/cultural identity.
A similar impatience with "bi-racial" was blogged about by Betty Reid Soskin on the same day. She had just returned to California from the inauguration. (By the way, Betty is an older Elderblogger than I'd recently written--87 years.) A valuable by-product of Obama's campaign has been the chance to hear thinking from more educated black women and men than before he ran. Who knows what new learning is ahead?