January 19th, 2013 was my very first time witnessing the inauguration of a U.S. President live and in person. I was there to represent the radio station I work for, KJLH-FM and the listeners I serve (Black Los Angeles, Black America, Progressive America.) But I was also there as a citizen and a patriot. It was indeed an historic day and I was thrilled to be a witness to history in the making.
I’m not one for crowds. I’m that girl who will watch the football game on TV in the privacy of my home before I go to the game. I’d rather enjoy instant replay and trips to the fridge in my warm and cozy house than wade through crowds of potentially drunken people lacking basic motor skills. And I hate to be cold. I’m a true California girl. If the temps drop below 50, I’m liable to declare a “snow day,” and stay in. The inauguration has all the ingredients of your basic nightmare – cold weather, crowds, bad food and traffic. So you know I had to be pretty motivated to fly to Washington DC in January and volunteer to stand outside all day!
And I’m glad I did. Don’t get me wrong, it was packed and cold and hectic. But I am so glad I got to see and feel it all for myself . And once again I learned the lesson that the mainstream media spin is just that, spin, conjecture and sometimes a herd-of-sheep journalism mentality, where everyone simply repeats the same thing everybody is saying because it’s what everybody is saying. I experienced that at the DNC and the point was brought home again on Inauguration Day.
Pundits were all predicting 800,000 attendees or fewer. They kept repeating that the mood would be somber and the crowd diminished compared with 2009. And if you’ve been keeping an eye on the news coverage from the primaries through the swearing in, you’d believe not one White male supported the President, multi-cultural America, or even the 99%.
The crowds in DC told a different story. I saw people from all over the country, every age bracket, every ethnicity. I saw plenty of young White men waving flags, decked out in Obama gear. I saw lots of young people, Asians, Latinos elderly and “other.” I was not able to go in 2009, so I can’t compare. But I know that the mood I witnessed this past week was not somber, but determined, not sad but grounded, not tentative but patriotic and proud of the choices we made as a nation this election day. There was lots of conversation about saving our democracy, and how we, the people were making sure that this country is not just a playground for the very rich, but a land where there is a place for everyone at the table.