In contrast, Yvonne Abraham writes about people who couldn’t make it to the inauguration—or even to a viewing of it. Describing “vast swaths” of her city that stood still at noon yesterday to congregate at house parties and bars, the Boston Globe columnist took a moment to describe “another Boston [that] could not witness this remarkable moment”:
None of them, not the laborer, not the security guard, not the construction foreman, not the lunch cart worker, could see our new president promise them the nation would endure the storm together, because they are in the midst of it.
Despite the cloying rhetoric, Abraham serves up a reminder that not all is celebration and speeches.
Post columnist Ruth Marcus tries, awkwardly, to sum up her reaction to having a black president: “I understood, on an intellectual plane, the significance of electing the first black president. Yet, until he was sworn in, I don’t think I fully absorbed its overwhelming emotional force.” She lists some snapshot moments she’s amassed over the past few months: noticing an Obama poster on the wall of a classroom full of black children; reading obituaries of folks who lived in our country’s segregationist past; standing next to the lunch counter (which has been transported from the Woolworth store in Greensboro, N.C. to the National Museum of American History) where in 1960 four black students sat down and asked to be served; hearing Aretha Franklin sing “Let freedom ring.”
It’s a well-intentioned attempt to flesh out the significance of the moment, but with its earnest list of Reasons Why Having A Black President Means So Much, it also illustrates what MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow recently called “a racial awkwardness grace period” wherein it’s “OK to stick your foot in your mouth if you have your heart in the right place.” Ruth Marcus (and ahem), Roger Cohen, join the party.