What an amazing day! Yesterday (1/20/2009) felt more like New Year's Day to me than January 1st did--full of celebration, community, reflection, healing, music and good food. It was truly the end of an era--and lest we forget, in our giddy rush into the bright future that President Obama (God, it feels so good to say/type those words!) has asked us to build together, the suffering and misery that was created by the Bush administration, here are a couple things to remind us. I was with H. and our friend B. at the Oakland Coliseum to watch the historic inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama, with thousands of other Oaklanders. Black, White, Asian, Latino and other folks joined together in a mass gathering of joy, release, celebration and patriotism that I have never experienced before. Here are some pics of the event:
I also thought it showed how much class Obama had when he tried to give Chief Justice John Roberts the chance to correct himself when he screwed up the Oath of Office. Class act, this guy, all the way. Even if you disagree with his politics or don't like his proposals, you have to admit he has class and tact.
It was really cool that Reverend Lowery opened his benediction with the lyrics from 'Lift Every Voice and Sing', the Black National Anthem, and H. and I LOVED the Reverend Lowery's benediction (and I have to say, Yes on 8, anti-gay marriage activist Reverend Rick Warren's invocation was also rousing, but less inspiring for me). I thought it was interesting that the very black/brown but still multi-racial crowd at the Coliseum laughed and 'got' the joke, and it seemed clear that many Black folks in the stands understood that the good Reverend was flippin' the script on the old US race/caste system by changing up the words to this old anti-Jim Crow song, 'Get Back (Black, Brown and White)', while later on YouTube I saw people (I'm assuming White, call Rev. Lowery a 'racist' for saying things like 'that the White man can embrace what's right man'. And that our President was sittin' up there laughing and chuckling at the Reverend's words. This was an indication of things to come, and white folks are going to need to start gettin' educated about race, both the entrenched legacy of racism and the current-day racism that all people of color face on some level, if they want to 'get' what's going on in this country.
After the inauguration, I had the kind of chill Oakland day (thanks to having the day off from work) that I love. Finally got to go to the new Cathedral of Christ the Light next to beautiful Lake Merritt. I have to say it was much more impressive than I thought it would be.
Then, finally, after meditation class at the East Bay Meditation Center and a nice dinner (great salad but the main course of braised chicken was pretty tasteless) at the Franklin Square Wine Bar, H. and I first headed to the Bench and Bar, a gay bar that used to be predominantly Black and seemed to be pretty mixed last night. We ended up talking to a really drunk gay white dude who couldn't believe that we were married.
Then finally, we went down to Jack London Square to witness a block party outside Everett and Jones barbeque joint, where a pretty mellow, mostly Black crowd bopped and swayed to live R&B to celebrate the inauguration of the first African-American President of the United States. We ran into old Lefties Miriam Ching-Louie and Belvin Louie, which is always a nice surprise. But mostly it just felt good to know that hope was not some distant horizon any longer, that a new day was dawning and that we had been a part of making history.