Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yes, even the Problem Child is blogging about this...

We try to keep politics off the Playground. First of all, we're not a political blog, and SP's undergraduate degree aside, we don't really have anything besides our own personal opinions to go by. And since the five of us don't always see eye-to-eye on politics, there's no way we'd presume to preach anything to anyone else.

That said, being scheduled to blog on what is definitely a political day with historical significance presents me with a quandary. Do I keep all politics away from the Playground and blog about the frantic housecleaning I'm doing (a guest known for her high standards is coming to dinner)? Isn't that a bit like ignoring the giant elephant in the living room? But it would give everyone a break from the wall-to-wall coverage on every TV station in the world, so y'all might like that. Or maybe y'all would think I'm copping out by pretending what's happening in DC doesn't reach to our swing set.

It's a quandary, I tell ya. One I've struggled with all day, and I've started and deleted many possible topics. While what follows is a huge departure from what y'all have probably come to expect from me on this blog, it's something I really want to say.

In fourth grade, I was bussed 45-minutes across town in an attempt to bring a Louisiana school into line with integration requirements. I was the only white child in my class, and one of only a dozen overall in the school. I went to junior and senior high in downtown Birmingham, just a stone's throw from Kelly Ingram Park (where Bull Conner turned dogs and fire hoses on demonstrators) and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. I was hired by United Negro College Fund during their fundraiser one year, and I taught at a Historically Black College. I know how those experiences make me feel about what's happening in DC today.

I can't imagine what it feels like for my former classmates, the people who marched in Kelly Ingram Park, or my former students.

As a Southerner, I'm used to people thinking I'm a racist as soon as they hear my accent or ask me my hometown. Three weeks ago, as I sat next to my grandmother's grave for her funeral, I sat in the shadow of a huge Klan cross – the family in the plot across from ours were proud members of the Klan, and since the cross was installed in the 40s, it's considered historical and there's nothing we can do about it. But I can honestly say my daughter had no idea what it meant, and that gave me a small smile of satisfaction on an otherwise horrible day.

I'm not naive – I know that racism still exists, but today gives muscle to what was, until now, a phrase that got a lot of lip service: All men are created equal. I might not know your politics, but I'm assuming all of our Playfriends believe in the inherent equality of people – regardless of the color of their skin, the god they worship, or their possession of a Y chromosome.

To me, that's what today means. And that, more than anything, is what gives me hope for the future.

They estimate 3 out of 4 Americans will be watching the inaguration today. Are you one of them? It's a lot of pomp and circumstance, but I'm a sucker for a parade...



The Playfriends have donated a basket to the Gamble on Love auction to help a homeless teen and her mom get back on thier feet. (There is a lot of other great stuff to bid on as well.) Be sure to check it out!


Playground Monitor said...

I grew up in the south too and vividly remember separate drinking fountains and blacks having to ride in the back of the bus. I didn't go to school with a black student until 9th grade, and then there were just a handful in the school. Full integration wasn't achieved until my senior year.

Thankfully my children have grown up in a different era. They are blind to color. My older son's best buddy in kindergarten was the black janitor's son and often went home after school with his friend to his grandma's house, which was near the school. Then in high school he was friends with a boy whose family was associated with the local black funeral home and who wanted to become a mortician. He'd take #1 son out in the hearse to pick up bodies. *shiver*

#2 son ran track from the time he was five years old and competed with and against many talented black runners. I still remember his last college indoor meet when a group of black sprinters from his team stood by the sidelines and out-yelled everyone else, chanting his name to cheer him to victory.

I have black families on three sides of me and consider them good neighbors and valuable members of our subdivision. And I just wish the one on the left would ease up a little bit with his Weed & Feed so we could stand a better chance to win "Yard of the Month." *grin*

All that being said, I will be watching the ceremonies after they occur. You see, the DH gave me a spa day for Christmas and without thinking, I scheduled it for 10 AM today. I couldn't re-schedule because I had appointments or commitments every other day this week, and I wanted to get this done before we left on vacation so I'd have pretty painted toes on the beach.

My DVR is set and just as soon as I get back home, I'm going to watch and pretend it's just happening. I'm excited to see small children in the White House again. I still remember photos of Caroline and John-John playing in their father's office. I hope the press will respect the family's privacy, but I also hope the first family will allow us a few glimpses of their life on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thank you for that beautiful and poignant blog and deciding not to ignore the giant elephant -- or donkey as the case may be.

Christine said...

My daughter is on the Mall today with her school group for this inauguration. I think this is historic and will be etched in her memory forever.

Maven Linda said...

Strange. I always vote. I go out of my way, ruthlessly reschedule things so I can vote -- but I've never watched an inauguration. Not once. I guess I figure my job is done, and parties have never been my thing anyway. I didn't even go to my own high school proms.

Smarty Pants said...

I'm at work. No TV. Apparently they're setting up a confrence room with it on, but its in another building. Normally I might go, but I'm having work drama and I'm not going anywhere for the time being.

Kathy said...

Great blog post, PC. Where have I been? I'm terribly sorry to hear about your grandmother. :(

Honestly, I don't see what all the fuss is about. Military brats hang out with whoever they can. We learn to judge a person by what they do and say, as opposed to how they look. While I was growing up I had friends of every ethnic persuasion and never thought anything about it. Yes, this is an historic occassion and high time we applaud capability over appearance, but I've never watched an inauguration and though I'm home and near a t.v., I probably won't today either.

In today's economy, it seems to me all this pomp and circumstance could be better put to use by saving tax dollars to do some higher good. My .02.

Liza said...

I'm at work with no tv, so I will not get to see any of the inauguration festivities. I'll have to catch bits and pieces on the news tonight.

Jen said...

I've never watched an inauguration before -- but I will today.

Instigator said...

I've watched bits and pieces of inaugurations before...need to go turn on the TV to watch this one though.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with what he plans to do in office...he's the President and this is an important and historical day for our country.


Kathy said...

Let me add, while I think money could be better spent, I'm sure pomp and circumstance fills Americans with hope this new presidency will bring America good things. ;)

Kathy said...

Oops, turned it on. Now I'm completely addicted. :)

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Wonderfully historic. I went to Clinton's first inauguration -- and went home before the parade because it was too cold to wait for the man to come down Penn Ave. But the crowds, while hopeful, were nothing the size of this one. I've never seen DC look like that for an inauguration. I only lived there through 3 of them, but wow.

I am a Southerner too, but as a military brat, I missed out on a lot of the racism (thankfully). Like Kathy said, we hang out with who we can. We also never got our knickers in a twist over mixed race couples, and I would often be sort of stunned by the comments of others who assumed I shared their views. Still am sometimes. Unfortunately, there are people who still don't get it.

I'm glad I was part of this historic event, glad I watched it, and I wish the man all the luck in the world. I want him to succeed because I want America to succeed.

Kathy said...

Wow! So glad I watched. President Obama's speech was fantastic!!

Yeah, I agree with Lynn. We never thought anything about mixed couples and I still don't. :)

Anonymous said...

No I don't plan to watch any of the ceremonies. I have had enough. I did pray for Obama last night and wish him the best as our next president.
Off topic, this weekend I read Julia Harper's book "HOT" and it was. I'm so glad I checked it out and thank you ladies for bringing her to the Playground. Now I just need to get her newest publication in my hot little hands. Also, has anyone read "Glitter Baby" by Susan Elizabeth Phillips? Reading it now and love it.

Liza said...

I did end up watching Obama's speech and a few other things. When my boss turned her computer to the coverage, I took it as an ok to do the same. I'm glad I was able to watch.

catslady said...

Absolutely wonderful blog. I've been glued to the TV. I remember being told when my grandmother first came over from Sicily that she went screaming for the house when a black man showed up at their farm - she had never seen one before. Isn't that amazing considering how close it is to Africa lol. People are afraid of what they don't know. My father had a restaurant in the south when they weren't allowed to use the same plates and silverware. Thank goodness things have changed. We're not there yet but hip hip horray for today!

Angel said...

I didn't watch the inauguration today, but I've never watched one before and today was my first home without 2 kids hanging around. I had a lot to accomplish during a small time period. :) No time for television.

But I can understand the historical significance and I was proud to hear that Drama Queen watched it at school today. We talked on the way home about how important a day this was and I'm glad for her to be raised in a time when having an African American president is possible.


Anonymous said...

"In today's economy, it seems to me all this pomp and circumstance could be better put to use by saving tax dollars to do some higher good."

I suppose they could use it to bail out another bank so its CEO could walk away with a billion dollar severence package. ;-)

It is because of the sad state of today's economy that I think it's important to have the pomp and circumstance to remind people of just how great this country is and to set the stage for a new administration.

Besides, there's no way they could have scaled back today's festivities without it appearing to be a slight against Obama.

Quite frankly I didn't care if they elected a black man, a purple woman or a patchwork hermaphrodite just so long as a new party took over to shovel this country out of the deep pile of doo-doo it's in.

Yes we can!

Christine said...

Didn't watch, busy writing and making my personal deadline. But I had my rep in DC -- little girl 14 -- who froze herself to be there... I think she was happy to be there, but cold.

I always vote, don't do inaugurations... I must admit I am pretty amazed at how much was spent on this one... triple the last one...

But we have hope... let's hope it materializes into something.

As my daughter's princpal once said in a speech to her 7th grade class... Potential ... potential without perserverence is not going to lead us anywhere... let's hope that is in the mix.

Essay said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.