You’ll hear it a thousand times, but yes, we need to talk about a Secretary of Culture — again

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There’s no art in this White House. There’s no literature, no poetry, no music… We are rudderless and joyless. We have lost the cultural aspects of society that make America great.” — Bruce Springsteen

Over the next few weeks, some version of this article will be written by a hundred different opinion writers and arts advocates. But it can’t be said enough, so here is another for the heck of it.

Days before President Obama stood for inauguration the first time in January 2009, legendary producer, Quincy Jones, made a very vocal and public plea for the incoming president to join more than fifty other major nations by creating a Secretary of Culture, a position that would place the importance of the arts to America’s life and future at the cabinet level. …

We Are Losing Our Hold on the Thing We Cherish Most

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Illustration Credit: Vox Media

When our backs are against the wall, and we are plagued by an insurmountable obstacle or an unrelenting foe, Americans tend to put our hopes in three things — God, Karma and Democracy, and the assumption that one, or a combination of them, will eventually deliver justice.

God and Karma, the two least in our control, have proven over the history of humankind that they are the most reliable, though almost never on our preferred timeline.

But Democracy, and particularly American Democracy, lacks the track record that justifies our unshaken faith that it will always win. We treat it as if it is an unmovable mountain, instead of a living thing that requires care and nurturing. And it is precisely because we do control it, that Democracy is as faulty and frail as we are. Still we hold on to the notion that it will always be there for us, even if we don’t always reciprocate. …

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The Weirdness of Trying to Explain Howard University and Black Excellence to an Often Clueless Press

By Eric Easter

At least half a dozen times since January of this year, I’ve fielded phone calls form major media outlets asking if I would provide some insight into Howard University during the time that Sen. Kamala Harris was a student. That makes me one of a group of several 1980’s Howard friends who frequently get the same queries.

In my case, that’s mostly accidental.

After running into Senator Harris a few times in airports and having a casual strategy chat with one of her staffers, I somehow made it onto an unofficial list of people the campaign refers to media to give political and historical context of her time in college. I always make it clear, however, that historical/political/cultural context is all I’m willing to offer. As someone who went straight from graduation into presidential politics and media, I can likely add a different perspective. …

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Transcript of a Proud Boys manifesto found on Jan 4, 2021 on the steps of Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C., as the city prepares for a pro-Trump rally scheduled for January 6. Transcribed as written, without edits or corrections:

Help Save “United States of America”

In the presidential election on November 3, 2020, it has been proven without a shadow of a doubt that had been committed. With this is mind, what must we do? We have several choices:

(1) We should ask Joe Biden to do the right thing and concede to President Donald Trump or get charged with treason and be put in jail for the rest of his life. We cannot allow Joe Biden to get into power because he will not govern the country, it will be the people behind closed doors. (2) If our Legislators or Supreme Court justices, would do the right thing overturning this election, because of the fraud and corruption that has been committed (we hope they are not being threatened, if you are, shout it from the rooftops). (3) We the People who are the government will ask our President to set a date to Re-Vote, in the traditional way, before Inauguration Day. By using paper ballots and put into ballot boxes. Election will be at 7:00am to 8:00pm no more ballots allowed and the counting will begin. To help in the process, if necessary, bring in the National Guard and Military to help watch over the process of voting and counting. …

Where Does One Go to Buy Your Smoke and Mirrors Back?

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Maybe the biggest government conspiracy is that there is some secret room in the White House that contains a time portal. What else explains how Donald J. Trump gets to turn back the clock and re-live the outcome he really intended in 2016?

That is, essentially, what we are witnessing, the sci-fi movie cliche played out in real life — a trip back to the past to see if you can change the future.

The current Trump presidency is, for all intents and purposes, a plan gone horribly wrong. A not so divine accident of fate. By all accounts of those who are close to him, the strategy in 2016 was for Trump to lose, but closely enough to spin the loss to martyrdom, claim he was robbed, and ride that claim to a newly elevated Brand Trump. …

Will the Job of Press Secretary Ever Be the Same Again?

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As the new Biden Administration continues its attempt to transition, and the list of White House staff and cabinet members begins to slowly be revealed, there has been an interesting and probably inordinate focus on one particular job — presidential Press Secretary. At the time of this writing, Biden aides Karine Jean-Pierre, Symone Sanders, and Kate Bedingfield were rumored to be equally under strong consideration. There is, logically, a bit more interest in the selection since two of the three, as Black women, would represent history-making firsts, if selected.

In the greater scheme of things, of course, the position is much more important inside newsrooms than in our living rooms, but the visibility that comes with the gig puts it in the spotlight. …

Week of November 20.

More of What You’re Missing While the Country Falls Apart

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Thatcher and QEII

1. Hail to the Queen

The launch of Season 4 of Netflix superior show, The Crown, has generated a slew of “Did that really happen” conversations on several fronts. “Did the IRA really blow up Lord Mounbatten’s boat?” , “Did Prince Charles really advise Diana to hang out with his mistress to find out more about him?” And the surprise to me — “Did the Queen actually support sanctions against apartheid South Africa and battle with Margaret Thatcher over Britain’s policy of engagement?”

The answer is apparently yes.

2. Who’s Doing Better on COVID Prevention?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the countries doing the best globally on the COVID issue are run by women and black people. …

Week of November 14.

More of what’s happening in the rest of world as we fiddle.

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Protesters Outside of Dept of Homeland Security (Credit: New York Times)

1. More Deportation “Death Planes” from the US

Last week it was Haiti. This week it’s Cameroon.Imn what appears to be an ongoing policy, the United States is using the cover of coronavirus at home to skirt the virus-related travel restrictions of a number of countries, to send mostly black and brown asylum-seekers back to their own countries (which almost universally have much lower case and death rates). Essentially creating “death planes” of refugees highly likely to have been exposed to COVID.

The Guardian

2. Giving Back: Diaspora Investment in Haiti

All take and no give has been the result of way too many efforts to “invest” in Haiti’s development over the past 25 years. Now a homegrown fund manager is working with USAID to create a vehicle for the Haitian diaspora community to directly connect to investment opportunities. …

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Wax Figure of Ben Carson (Great Blacks in Wax Museum)

You maybe had to grow up in Baltimore at a certain time to understand the extraordinary arc of the Ben Carson story.

In that wonderful, troubled and quirky city, he was both legend and myth. His name was spoken in the same breath as Travis “Booty” Winky, “Little Willie” Adams, Bernard “Pretty” Purdy, Howard Rollins (A Soldier’s Story), Tamara Dobson (Cleopatra Jones) and Edgar Allen Poe’s ghost as part of the city’s real and imagined folklore. You don’t know some of those people, but people from Baltimore do, and they are all important to what makes the city what it is, as was Dr. …

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Photo: BLM Plaza, Washington DC. (Eric Easter)

There’s a lot to to celebrate. A lot to prepare for. A lot to process. Take it all in.

Donald Trump is still President, for the next two and a half months. Mitch McConnell is still in the Senate, as is Lindsey Graham. From sweeping pardons to judicial appointments to gutting agencies, that’s plenty of time to do more damage.

On the other hand, there’s plenty of time to deal with all that.

For now, however, the experience of walking to Black Lives Matter Plaza with thousands of others, in a spirit of unbridled joy instead of protest against another untimely death, is freeing, revelatory, necessary. …


Eric Easter

Producer. Writer. Creator. Media Exec. @ericeaster

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