I wasn’t in a celebratory mood today.
Pretty sure my earlier post reflected that.
I couldn’t quite figure out why, though. I mean, today was a historic day.
For women. For women of color. For black women. For black women who went to HBCUs, were raised by single moms, and have hard-to-spell-or-pronounce ‘K’ names and occasionally overly-loud laughs.
I should be ecstatic. At least a little bit excited. But I wasn’t. I scrolled past pictures of friends and social media associates posting pics of their pearls, of their pink and green, of their Chucks.
I saw mention of tears. Of little girlchildren being gathered up for photos to commemorate the occasion. I was happy for them. But I didn’t feel it for myself.
In fact, I felt a little sad.
It didn’t take me too much longer to figure out why.
I scrolled until I came across a Smithsonian article explaining the history behind Kamala’s signature pearls. A nice piece detailing the link to her sorority and its tradition of wearing pearls.
And then… I clicked the comments.
And as I read one after another, I realized why I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate.
It’s because deep inside I knew.
Because if she’s up there. I’m up there.
Which means when I see or hear the things they say about her… it’s going to feel like they’re saying it about me.
It’s going to remind me of all the times I’ve had similar things said to and about me when I was in a visible position. A position of power or influence.
The gibes, the sexual innuendo or overt harassment, the accusations of incompetence, of sleeping your way into the position, the shade because of that one time you did that one thing that nobody liked, the comments about how annoying your voice, how piercing your laugh.
It really sucks. But. It is also to be expected. I know this. Every woman who’s worked in corporate America or as a high-ranking anything knows this.
But when she looks like me. And when she sounds like me. And when she comes from where I’ve been….
It means that I’m going to have to gird my loins. I’m going to have to devise some tactic to not just resist this kind of mental and emotional assault but to tai-chi-reverse that energy back in a constructive but meaningful way.
On the last season of ‘Our American Government’, I took a knee. 4 years ago, on inauguration day, I made a promise to myself not to speak 45s name or make any mention, follow any news or otherwise get caught up in the reality show that was the previous administration.
That won’t suffice this go ‘round.
It is in that spirit, that I am declaring this the season of the powerful black woman. Not the strong black woman who resists the outside forces and voices, but the woman who out-does those forces, out-creates them, out-educates them, out-preaches them, out-lives them.
I was looking for a song that would commemorate this declaration, and as synchronicity would have it, I stumbled upon this poem written around 1901 by an anonymous racist and published in US newspapers at the occasion of Booker T. Washington being invited to the White House during by Teddy Roosevelt’.
It is simply titled, ‘N*ggers in the White House’.
The poem playfully summarizes the outrage that many southern (and non-southern) whites felt at the idea of a black man being allowed to ‘disgrace’ the White House with his presence.
The poem was revived years later when Mrs. Jessie DePriest, black wife to a black Senator, was invited to a luncheon for congressman’s wives by First Lady Hoover.
120 years later, on the occasion of the first black woman VP being sworn in, I’d like to propose a re-titling and re-writing of the poem to more accurately reflect the current times and sentiments.
For your consideration, I present:
‘Bitches in the White House’.
Things at the White House
Looking mighty curious
Bitches running everything
Other people furious
Bitches on the front porch
Bitches on the gable
Bitches in the dining room
Watching up the cable
Bitches in the sitting room
Doing all the talk
Bitches in the ballroom
Shouting, ‘Now, watch me walk’
Bitches in the East room
Make a mighty throng
Bitches in the music room
Singing bitchy songs
Bitches in the hallway
Taking off their wraps
Bitches in the billiard room
Handing out that WAP
Bitches in the storeroom
Packing ‘way their plunder
Bitches in the bedroom
Snoring like thunder
Not a room in the White House
Without a bitch up in it
Bitches sending smoke signals
To their bitches in the Senate
Bitches in the stairway
With very much satiety.
Bitches in the Blue room
A menace to society
Bitches in the front yard
Bitches in the back
Bitches in the omnibus
These bitches come in packs
On they go to Washington
With a mighty rush
Forty thousand bitches
Getting in the push
There is trouble in the White House
More than you can tell
Yelling like banshees
Bitches raising hell
I see a way to settle it
I know what we should do
Let’s get these bitches mirrors
Let’s show them who is who
Cause if by now they didn’t know
They’ll know when all is through
They way you doth protest just proves
The bitch, my friend, is you
An unapologetic black woman, January 2021, Georgia