Saturday, October 15, 2022

Politics and Estranged Bedfellows

Sometimes what's old becomes new again, and we find ourselves in this surreal moment with respect to Herschel Walker, former football player turned candidate for the U.S. Senate. For some time, and even up to a few days ago when I began drafting this piece, I was convinced that he had agreed to run for the Senate because he was so flattered by the attention it garnered. Other than his recent reality show appearances and mixed martial arts bouts, the last time he heard his name this much on television must have been back in his prime football-playing days in the 80s. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, it was back when Ronald Reagan was President, Johnny Carson was the king of late night, and the most scandalous thing on TV were those Where's the Beef commercials.

Perhaps it was a flawed hypothesis, much like our childhood naiveté that rival gangs in New York City settled turf wars through break-dancing. It isn't flattery or nostalgia that explains how Herschel Walker is still a viable candidate in spite of the credible allegations of his intimate partner violence, chronic absentee fatherhood, and abortion payments to his mistresses. It is something much more cynical that puts Walker on track to pulling off the biggest upset in politics if he manages to beat the good Reverend Senator Raphael Warnock next month.

There are all kinds of memes and humorous takes I could post to illustrate my thoughts on this match-up, but we don't need to laugh at the prospect of a Senator Walker. We need to be terrified and motivated to do everything possible to ensure otherwise. Sure, it is expected that we would poke fun at his gaffes and insane "theories" about climate change and electric cars, but fun time is over. November is coming and the polls are tied. We are literally at that point where Walker could shoot someone on Peachtree Street in front of the historic Margaret Mitchell Home and it would not have any negative impact on his electoral chances. 

If you've heard that one before, then riddle me this: do you remember the upstart USFL and that Herschel Walker was once one of its marquee players? And did you also remember that one Donald J. Trump, the former DESPOTUS, was an owner in that enterprise? If so, then here is your prize: a vintage copy of JET magazine. 

Because that is how I remember being introduced to Walker in the 80s, before I moved to Georgia for college. We didn't follow college football growing up, so I read about him in JET when he went pro before graduating. We couldn't see his games because he was in a different television market (and unlike watching NFL games today, you could only see your local team). And I sort of remember this McDonald's commercial. Although I pride myself on my memory of random popular culture factoids that no one else typically stores for future reference, it took reading a few articles and seeing this video to recall just how far back and entangled Herschel Walker and Donald Trump are (listen closely around 1:38).

That shed a different light on everything such that I believe there is a lot more happening with this Senate campaign than just a couple of rich guys getting their egos stroked. Some people will compromise everything to access and maintain power. EVERYTHING. We learned this lesson the hard way in 2016 and saw a violent demonstration of that on January 6, 2021, no doubt intensified over the loss of this very Senate seat since Warnock was declared the winner that morning.

We underestimate what drives Trumposaurus Rex to destroy everything in his wake, which is his intent even in this election. I just watched that documentary about him, Unfit (2020) and while I have no psychoanalytic expertise to offer, I came away from that feeling profound relief that 84 million votes had prevailed in saving this country from annihilation. But that respite is tempered by the reality that he hasn't gone away and that he is still hellbent on destruction if he doesn't get what he wants. 

Even if you are not old enough to remember much about football in the 80s (other than the Superbowl Shuffle), then reading up on the history of the short-lived USFL provides one of many clear examples of Trump's vengeful impulses. Legend has it that in 1981 Trump expressed interest in buying the Baltimore Colts but was rebuffed by Robert Irsay, the team owner at that time. He then bought the New Jersey Generals, part of the nascent USFL, a league that offered football in the Spring. After a disastrous meeting with then-NFL Commissioner Peter Rozelle, Trump persuaded the other owners in the USFL to move the season to the Fall to compete head on with the NFL. He also filed an antitrust suit that ultimately bankrupted and shuttered the fledgling league. 

While he has not succeeded in destroying the NFL yet, just give him time. Anyone else similarly humiliated and exposed as a liar and grifter in court like that would have slunked away in shame, but not Trump. He spent the subsequent decades plastering his name on everything from casinos to office buildings, making cameos on television and in movies, and marrying his mistresses, before barging into politics. He left plenty of carnage in his wake with those other endeavors too. Thus, when his recent bids for NFL ownership were rejected again, he used the bully pulpit of the Presidency to savage its players and taunt the owners. He used the NFL as a proxy for his culture war, characterizing its workforce (primarily Black men) as ungrateful and taunting the team owners (all white men) as feckless. 

That Jim Lampley interview from 1985 referenced a personal service contract between Walker and Trump, into which Walker was allegedly locked until 1989. But since the League folded and Walker was picked up by the Cowboys in 1986, who wonders what transpired behind the scenes to have kept Walker so loyal all of these years? And having lost the Presidency due to his fragile ego and stunning hubris, Trump is exactly the kind of megalomaniac to lob a few heat-seeking missiles at the government and its institutions. This is Trump meeting with Peter Rozelle all over again, except this time his nemesis is Mitch McConnell and the GOP establishment, who regarded him as little more than a useful idiot. And just as he did with the USFL, Trump will gladly burn the entire system down.

Enter Herschel Walker, one of Trump's many useful idiots bringing the firewood. 

Walker and Trump have a lot more in common than just a shared love of football, their mistreatment of women, and being inveterate liars. Walker stuck by Trump even when it wasn't lucrative for him, as he admitted in this interview back in 2016. I don't have the psychoanalytic skills to diagnose the intensity of his narcissism either, but I'm guessing that it must be on par with Trump's. How else to explain that he knew how many numerous skeletons were hiding in his closet, yet agreed to run for office anyway? And before anyone feels sorry for Christian Walker for opening Pandora's Box on his father's myriad sins, consider how being Herschel Walker's gay conservative son built him a verified social media following. Methinks somebody's money got funny.

We've had men of bad character serve at every level of government (actual slaveowners), so this isn't some sanctimonious diatribe. To be fair, Herschel Walker isn't even the worst of the lot that Trump has chosen to carry his standard into battle; he just happens to be the most famous. So if it helps, I can denounce Mehmet Oz, J.D. Vance, Blake Masters, and every other Trump-aligned candidate with the same broad brush. They are all terrible and would be disasters if elected to the Senate. If you need any proof, just look at Sen. Tommy Tuberville's racist rant about crime and reparations and how that revelation of his true character stunned and hurt many his former Black players. Lest we forget, Trump's original choice for that Alabama Senate seat was accused pedophile Roy Moore.

As my Spelman sister argued in this opinion piece, there were better choices if the intention was to pit two Black men against each other. Of course, since Trump killed Herman Cain back in 2020, his pool of options shrank by one, but what about Vernon Jones? I wouldn't vote for him, but the goal was never for someone like me to be tricked convinced to supporting someone like him just because he is Black. It was to provide cover for white folks who bristle at being called racist, but who under normal circumstances would never vote for a Black Senator unless he had been a Heisman trophy winning UGA Bulldog. 

Which is Walker's only asset, but as we all know, anybody can be elected to public office. The question for the voters is whether just anybody should. Congress is a body comprised of people from all walks of life which encourages citizens to take an interest in the affairs of government. The only qualifications listed in the Constitution are related to age, residency in the state, and citizenship status of at least 7-9 years. The range of professions include farmers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, and yes, even former entertainers of some kind. Until the con man game show host, Ronald Reagan was the first showman to reach the White House and I recall that he was also underestimated as a useful idiot.

Therefore, I will not attack Walker's intellect or his extracurricular shortcomings as disqualifiers for public office. Instead, my issue is that it is the combination of his lack of integrity, moral character, and intellect make him a dangerous risk for the Senate. I think back to just a few months ago when this same body deliberated the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court, a lifetime judicial appointment. The irony that her job history--having been a defense attorney and advocate for sentencing reform, is what almost derailed her nomination. No one is raising concerns about Walker's career in sports, but we are questioning his personal character. It confounds logic that a man who physically abused his wife and child could be considered fit for a position where it would be his duty to give advice and consent on the qualifications of others, especially women, to serve in a co-equal branch of government. I wouldn't be any more inclined to vote for him if he were running for a seat in the House of Representatives, but at the very least the damage he could do is minimized in a legislative body where he would be one out of 435. 

Finally, there is the issue of re-platforming Donald Trump in national politics by default. Hopefully after the evidence just offered at the January 6th hearings, he won't be able to run in 2024 from prison; however, installing his minions throughout the government is akin to allowing the cancer to metastasize and spread. He has already done significant damage to our democracy with all of the imps and trolls who have overtaken the GOP as well as the unqualified judicial appointments from his tenure in office. There is no use in trying to contain Trump because as any oncologist will tell you, even a controlled cancer can be lethal. The tumor must be surgically removed, zapped with radiation, and then poisoned with chemotherapy. And it can still recur, so we may never be rid of this evil man until the Rapture.

But we can fight like hell to rebuild a stronger democracy. We can hold out hope that something redeemable from the Grand Old Party of Lincoln can be found under the layers of rubble and ruin. I may never agree with them, but in a flourishing democracy, diversity of thought and ideas are how we progress. One party rule that stifles dissent and rebuffs compromise is authoritarianism. Trump is a fascist, and useful idiots like Walker and Tuberville are no different than SS soldiers wearing those red hats instead of armbands.

To make use of a few final pop culture references from the 80s, I pity the fool who doesn't believe that we are one to two Senate seats away from disaster. Donald Trump doesn't care about anyone but himself and like his James Bond villain doppelganger Max Zorin, he'll sacrifice anything and anybody. He's made threats to instigate more chaos once he's indicted, so his next coup attempt is already underway, aided and abetted by a cabal of abusive womanizers, tax cheats, racists, and charlatans. Debates over face masks, gas prices, and solar panels won't matter if our country descends into an actual civil war...over face masks, gas prices, and solar panels. Our disagreements over how to address those issues aren't tests of our love of country. The only reason why Walker made it this far as a viable candidate is his connection to Trump, so a vote for him is a vote that endorses the notion that our best days are behind us. I am no fan of Ronald Reagan, but growing up, it was his allusion to America as a shining city on a hill that inspires me to always work for the improvement of all. So please, reject Trumpism and his let's win one for the Gipper.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Open Season

My previous piece about Lizzo and the crystal flute had been published for all of 24 hours when I saw that a certain rapper who used to be married to a Kardashian had been talking about her on FOX News. Now, I don't watch anything on FOX News unless I am trying to compare news coverage of important events (and even then, it is only worth five minutes maximum of my sanity), thus my assumption was that the reason he had secured a primetime interview on its flagship "news" program was to explain why he wore a White Lives Matter tee shirt in his Paris Fashion Week show.

I don't care to know why Kim K's ex has such an insatiable appetite for attention, and I refuse to watch Carlson's show in its entirety to find out what prompted that particular soliloquy. My best guess is that he was asked to opine on the outrage that had been stirred up by Lizzo's crystal flute playing at the Library of Congress. And because it must be written into the agreement that if one appears in a one-on-one interview with one of these FOX show hosts, the point is to go along with whatever shit-talking they're paid to engage in to keep the culture wars aflame. KiKaYe (I'm trying out different nicknames for him) chose to use this golden opportunity to add his voice to the chorus of folks that think bullying Lizzo is some new kind of patriotism.

I found out about this latest mean girl take via a clip being circulated on Twitter. One minute was all I could stand because I suspect he had a lot more to say. But in essence, KitKat suggests that Lizzo's media persona and popularity are dependent on her weight and that the popular embrace of her body positivity is a subliminal message of toxicity. I'm guessing he missed how the sistahs dealt with Aries Spears when he tried that same line of attack against her a few weeks back. Imma say it again for the people in the cheap seats--keep trying it. She stays moisturized and unbothered.

I have already addressed some of fat-phobic misogynoir against Lizzo in previous pieces, so do me a favor and re-read those along with several others in which I have called out each instance in which folks have been building clout by bashing Black women. It has been exhausting and relentless since before I was born, but in this age of social media, it feels as if hunting Black women for sport has replaced baseball as America's pastime. We could start with the Moynihan Report, but I'll go back in recent memory for us Gen Xers when poor Black mothers were trashed as welfare queens. It took 40 years to admit that was a racist dog whistle, but nowadays no one bothers to be that subtle. 

Your boy Sneezy got on television and came for a Black woman days after he wore a White Lives Matter shirt in Paris, but y'all want to debate whether Lizzo's half naked crystal flute-playing is more problematic than his trolling. Are you effing serious?

Let's be clear, I don't need to write another piece in defense of Lizzo being Lizzo, but I do feel the need to strike back against what are clearly intentional and pervasive attacks on Black women with high visibility. Lizzo is only the latest Black woman to be picked apart on social media, along with Vice President Kamala Harris, Duchess Meghan Markle, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams, and hell, even actress Halle Bailey

Because I know someone is going to accuse me of reaching, let me hydrate and stretch...

Let's look back to just last year summer when folks were attacking Naomi Osaka for admitting that doing press interviews during her matches increased her anxiety and hampered her concentration. Folks criticized her to the point that she withdrew from competition and if you've noticed, her playing has been uneven ever since. Then it was Sha'Carri Richardson, who was disqualified from Olympic competition for having marijuana in her system. Admittedly, it wasn't a wise choice, but she's young and should be allowed to redeem herself from her own self-sabotage. And of course, THE story of those Games was how Simone Biles had to withdraw from team competition after she experienced the twisties in the middle of a vault. Folks were piling on these each of these women for their perceived weakness in dealing with the very real challenges of competing on an elite level. 

I'll throw in the unresolved drama of WNBA player Brittney Griner, against whom a lot of the same apathy and insensitivity resurfaced this Spring. This woman is being held hostage by a real-life James Bond level madman, but she is no Pussy Galore or that other Britney, so...

Still think I'm reaching? Remember how Senator Foghorn Leghorn from Louisiana suggested that a 50 year-old Black, Harvard-educated lawyer, and sitting federal judge might not be able to distinguish between a law book and a J. Crew catalog? During her confirmation hearing, other Senators mischaracterized her efforts on criminal sentence reform as showing sympathy to child pornographers and pedophiles. This week a sitting Member of Congress accused this same Black woman of being a communist because she articulated an interpretation of the Constitution that was taken directly from the original language and intent of the 'framers'. 

But I suspect some of you require more proof, so we'll turn to the daily attacks aimed at the current White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre. As the spokesperson for this Administration, the criticism of her job performance comes with the territory of partisan politics. However, the one-note refrain in the form of those attacks centers on her intellect instead of the policies she articulates. I did a Twitter search and nearly every disparaging tweet calls her stupid. That isn't the worst part since the three women who occupied the job in the previous Regime barely bothered to show up for work. Sarah Huckabee Sanders stopped giving daily press briefings before she quit and Kayleigh McEnany essentially quietly quit during the pandemic when she turned the job over to the DESPOTUS to tell his own lies. An open letter to Stephanie Grisham, who never gave a press briefing during her tenure, went essentially unanswered. But somehow the Black woman who shows up for her job is stupid?

That same tired narrative has metastasized onto Vice President Kamala Harris. That a Black woman who does her job gets derided as incompetent isn't new, but there is no basis for making those claims against Harris other than to undermine confidence in her ability to step into the top job. Kamala Harris has been a more visible team player in this Administration than Joe Biden was when he served as the Vice President to Barack Obama. She influences policy, unlike Mike Pence the delusional fall guy/whipping boy who still contends that Donald Trump didn't send a mob to kill him on January 6, 2021. Yet folks get on Al Gore's internet daily and call her a disaster.

And if it wasn't enough to have to work twice as hard to be regarded as minimally capable by white people, then imagine how that same standard works in the Black community. Again, this week while K-Y Jelly was on FOX dissing Lizzo, rapper Killer Mike and a few verified angry Black men were taking swipes at Stacy Abrams. Because Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp took the time to sit down and exploit their sexism as an opportunity to bash his opponent, he's perceived as more concerned about putting forth an agenda that benefits Black men? The same Brian Kemp who closed down a Level 1 trauma hospital in Atlanta, purged 200,000 voters from the rolls, and signed a law that outlawed giving water to your grandmother while she waits in line to vote. 

You demand specifics from Stacy Abrams despite the fact that she facilitated the election of Senators Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossof in 2021. She organized and mobilized the Black community beyond Atlanta to vote by shouting from the rooftops to anyone who would listen that Black Voters Matter. She invested in cultivating those votes in order to beat back suppression and historic voter apathy. The fact that Warnock in particular can boast about the work he's doing in the Senate for Georgia is thanks to her and an army of Black women like Latosha Brown, Nse Ufot, and Helen Butler

When that Georgia Senate seat became available and the Democratic Party establishment urged Abrams to run for it, she opted to pass the baton to (checks notes) her Morehouse Brother, A BLACK MAN!!! I don't even recall that Warnock had expressed public political ambitions at that point, but like a lot of Morehouse Men, it wouldn't surprise me if he had. And I mean this in the most complimentary way, because she could have pulled a Beto O'Rourke move and just kept running for office until she won something; instead, she focused the job she wanted and stayed on task. When did ambition and focus become liabilities in politics?

I am not mincing words here: If you are standing on the sidelines critiquing Black women over petty nonsense like twerking and paying for dinner then you are not in the fight with us. And that makes you part of the problem. None of us has time to hold down full-time jobs; raise children and care for our elders; stay involved in our churches and community organizations; show up and vote to save this democracy; AND fix plates for a bunch of man-babies who want to play the role of Alpha Male on social media. Do you even read or replay that foolishness before you post it, because (speaking for myself) what kind of grown-ass man won't cut up the meat on his plate and is proud of that because having a woman treat him like a child is some perverse display of dominance!

That went way off topic, so let me bring this back to where I began, which was a rant in response to Troll the Rapper's appearance on FOX talking shit about Lizzo instead of being called out for his attention-seeking childishness. Now that he's dabbled in anti-Semitism, I don't need to say another word about his fuckery. So let me address Killer Mike and the barbershop hoteps about how disappointing it is to see them aligned against Stacy Abrams. Of course, it is their choice to support and vote for whomever they feel will best serve their communities and that doesn't have to be the person whom I would support or prefer.

However, my frustration with the grand declarations by these 21st Century wannabe Race Men is that their claim of being independent thinkers is hollow when they align with the very system of oppression that keeps our communities disempowered. Basically, your grand answer is if we can't beat them, join them, which is a surefire way to improve your personal situation but not make much progress for the rest of us. Killer Mike is an artist, which I respect, so I get that he doesn't see it as his job to be leading protests and causes. Yet, the minute he strapped on a mic and started offering opinions about policy, then he made the team, so what we need is for him to be a team player. We cannot win if we keep fumbling the ball. And trust that the woman who built an entire political movement from the ground up does NOT need to be advised to follow after some white man on the campaign trail and offer to clean up his mess!

What she and these other Black women need instead of you sitting on Bill Maher's show in awkward silence while he and some Karen whine about not liking them, is that you speak up and denounce that booshay with your entire chest the way you would if they were talking about your Mama. Because what they overlook but you know is that we are still here in the fight thanks to the tirelessness of Black grandmothers and aunties who kept our communities cohesive in the face of policies that were designed to disrupt and cause instability. You think Black men being over-represented in prison began with then-Sen. Joe Biden's crime bill in the 1990s? 

(And because I cannot let this point be missed, a Black man served as the U.S. Attorney General for six years under the Black President. But it was the "off-putting" Black woman who, as California's Attorney General de-emphasized prosecution of low-level marijuana possession cases. As Senator, she co-sponsored legislation to legalize marijuana, and as Vice President, she's promoting the policy that will pardon thousands in the federal prison system for possession. Now, if you don't want to give Biden or Harris credit for evolving on this issue, fine. But I assure you that Brian Kemp won't be issuing pardons in gratitude for your support.)

That's all...because I'm veering into Black preacher territory with each new paragraph, and I need to let you marinate on all of this as you make your plans for November. Stand up for Black women by voting for us and with us.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Who Invited You?

Imagine if you will some really formal fancy dress up event that you were invited to attend and while standing by yourself at the open bar, one of the guests toddles up to you and offers something along the lines of what she had convinced herself would be polite banter: 

  • Hello there, nice weather today?
  • Yes, indeed. (You extend a hand and say) Hello, I'm xx...
  • Yes, and I'm Queen Elizabeth's fourth cousin removed, Countess Nosypants. How nice that you're here. Tell me, are you a friend of the Blah Blahs? I've known them for more than 200+ years.
  • Actually, I just met Mrs. Blah Blah at the Harris Teeter the other night. She insisted that I come because she thought I might meet some interesting people.
  • Oh, I see (pregnant pause). Isn't that the cleanest Harris Teeter? I've often remarked on how competent the staff is in keeping the produce looking freshly picked (another pregnant pause). Tell me, did you know Colin Powell? He was Black too and I once saw his wife at that same store.

And after another awkward moment of silence when you wonder if the reason why she asked you such a random question was because your fancy black dress/tux looks exactly like you bought it off the rack a few hours ago (it does, but so what), you smile and say no, but your Grandfather served in the Navy during WWII.

I don't know why I went through that very Rachel Maddow-ian opening, but the point was to place a visual in your mind wherein some dowager society bitty tries to engage you in conversation before asking the uber loaded hot potato question, "how ever did you get invited to this event?" And I thought of this as I watched the social media reaction over the past few days to the concert footage of Lizzo from last week when she played a few notes on a crystal flute that had once belonged to President James Madison. 

Because the feathers of quite a few self-appointed cultural gatekeepers were ruffled, I thought this was an opportunity to explore how this latest outrage is consistent with their overall struggle against progress. You see, these people whose livelihoods depend on keeping a red-hot culture war going like an out-of-control wildfire decided that Lizzo would be an appropriate target of their rhetorical attacks. And get this, their beef was not with her skill in playing the flute, but whether she ought to have been allowed to touch this rarified artifact that once belonged to a Founding Father.

Mind you, because I'm guessing most of them conveniently missed this little detail, Lizzo was invited to come visit the Library of Congress (LOC) an entire week before she arrived in town for her performance. She accepted their offer and expressed her joy in ALL CAPS that she was looking forward to seeing their collection and possibly getting to play the crystal flute in particular. Fast forward to the video that she released from her show where she played a few notes on the flute and apparently that was all it took for the gatekeepers to start beating their breasts, aghast that Lizzo had the nerve to put her lips on such a rare and precious item that no one knew existed. The following day, the Library released its own photos and videos from her visit, including a demonstration of her playing in the Great Hall.

Now I need to say this because the algorithms on my timeline didn't reflect a flood of negative reactions, so at first, I only saw the commentary offered by Jenna Ellis on her show FB live feed. And I thought hmm, one of the Trumpet's incompetent lawyer minions is taking cheap shots at an accomplished Black woman...must be a day of the week ending in -y. I didn't bother searching for any other statements until this week, because as I suspected, it was the usual clown car of pundits who take issue with everything. It was almost too predictable, with generous use of the word 'woke' to describe the spectacle of a Black woman playing a flute. The horror! 

Or more like the nerve...

And then to make the haters big mad, the folks at Montpelier, the Madison plantation estate, extended an invitation for Lizzo to come and have tea and crumpets on Dolly Madison's china the next time she's in town. To think that 200 years ago, that's definitely not the kind of invitation she would have received!

But let's get to the heart of what these gatekeepers are upset about, because if Lizzo was the breakout first chair flautist for the National Symphony Orchestra or the leader of her own jazz quartet, then we know this would not have generated such interest. Apparently, the Library of Congress has this vast instrument collection, and it often invites famous musicians to come visit when in town. Who knew is exactly the reason they made a point of reaching out to Lizzo because only other musicians would have taken notice of a visit from a first chair flautist or maybe one of these other world-famous musicians...

Lizzo is hot right now, so for both the LOC and the folks at Montpelier, having her visit is great publicity. It is just that simple; yet, we all know that in life nothing is ever just anything if it results in this kind of howling at the moon. Therefore, I will use the word fortuitous to describe how we got here and why the predictable backlash by the gatekeepers is consistent with their overall outrage over a changing society where they are rapidly losing ground. 

Because when have these people ever had such issues with plus-sized Black women? These same folks who cried in their racist pancake batter over the long overdue retirement of Aunt Jemima? They've got concerns about a voluptuous Black woman flaunting her curves in public? Because when they were exploiting Saartjie Baartman, there are no videos to document whether James and Dolley Madison were entertained or repulsed by the way she was mistreated. Or perhaps, as my brother Ol' Hobbs and others have pointed out, the Father of our Constitution and fourth President of the United States was too busy being served by the women he enslaved at Montpelier.

So this is not just because Lizzo twerked onstage at her show with James Madison's 200+ year old flute. Entertainers do all kinds of provocative stuff in their stage shows that raise eyebrows, and after Aunt Pitty Pat is revived with smelling salts and has a sip of bourbon, we all go back to minding our business. It hasn't always been that way, and one can look back a few years to when Elvis Presley's hip gyrations got him drafted into the Army. 

And now we're getting to the heart of the matter--the traditional gatekeepers are losing all semblance of control over society. They can't punish Lizzo, so they tried to humiliate her. It didn't work, and they're frustrated because this really is Blue Ivy's internet now and only the residents of their cul-de-sac are clutching pearls over Lizzo doing Lizzo everywhere she goes. She remains moisturized and thoroughly unbothered. Mind you, it is okay to have opinions about her that aren't favorable. But it is undeniable that in 30 seconds she brought more attention to the importance of public libraries, music education, and the preservation of historic places than the complaints of her detractors at having to come to terms with James Madison's complicated legacy.

That isn't the conversation the gatekeepers want us to be having. Remember how upset they were about visiting Montpelier this summer, and instead of being served Dolley Madison's ice cream, they were lectured about yet another flawed Founding Father. So they decried 'wokeness' and banned books, re-wrote curriculum, conspired to overthrow elections, rioted inside the Capitol, and continue to revise all their old tricks in undermining democracy. 

Don't miss that because what has been happening is bigger than last week's shiny distraction of Lizzo and that crystal flute. Implied in all of the backlash and outrage are these questions: Who invited you? Who brought you into this space through the front door instead of making you enter through the kitchen? Who insisted that you are my equal instead of a servant? Who are you, but more importantly, who do you think you are

When James Madison authored the Constitution, he didn't have to provide any answers or explanations about his obvious personal hypocrisy in purporting to speak for 'we' the people. The early patriots were the elite few who consisted of white property owners, their wives, and their recognized offspring. Although he claimed to believe in direct democracy, Madison acquiesced in the compromise over the Electoral College. However, this country has been evolving ever since to become more perfect which is the conundrum for the gatekeepers--democracy gives everybody access. Everybody has a right to participate in the system. 

And you want to know what ensures that everybody has access? Public libraries. Comprehensive education that includes music, science, civics, and history. Programming offered at museums and historic homes that present the unvarnished and un-retouched truth. The Bill of Rights that Madison himself wrote as amendments to the Constitution. Free and fair elections.

So to answer the question as posed by Countess Nosypants at that society party, the person who invited Lizzo to walk through the front door and then handed her a priceless crystal flute was none other than Dolley Madison herself, our Nation's premier hostess and first official First Lady.