You’ll hear it a thousand times, but yes, we need to talk about a Secretary of Culture — again
“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
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. …
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. …
Will the Job of Press Secretary Ever Be the Same Again?
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
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.
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.
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.
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. …
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. …
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. …
In the perfect example of the things we didn’t see while Trump and the election kept us distracted, the US stepped up its deportation of Haitians seeking asylum just prior to Election Day, raising fears of COVID-19 spread not just on the flights carrying deportees but also in Haiti, which had slowed air travel from outside significantly.
That “Madagascar Vanilla” in your fancy cupcakes is not just marketing, it’s a real thing. And hundreds of children each year are imprisoned for “stealing” the crop and placed in jails that have become notorious for poor conditions. …
What a Small Pennsylvania Town Says About the Election
On a corner of King Street, just above the Sheets gas station and down from the Walmart on the main drag of Shippensburg, PA, a tiny town about 20 miles north of the Mason-Dixon Line, what happened (or didn’t happen) on election night has been playing out for the last four years.
You know the exit for Shippensburg, along Highway 81, when you see the “World’s Largest Paint Can” on your left and the tiny adult bookstore/strip club/trailer on the right. The three massive, windowless structures you pass on the way in, are the businesses that have converted what was a sleepy farm and college town a few years ago, into a sleepy distribution center town, with Proctor & Gamble and Pennsky Logistics now bigger employers than nearby Shippensburg State University. …