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Life Arts    H3'ed 1/15/09

An Inauguration Invitation

Message Betsy L. Angert
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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.

I am asking you to believe, not just in my ability to bring about a real change in Washington, I'm asking you to believe in yours. 
~ Barack Obama

The invitation arrived in an electronic mail.  As much as America wishes to be hopeful, I had none.  I saw the communiqué and thought it would not be possible.  I would never be selected to attend the inauguration.  Of all the millions who are moved by this historic occasion, while I am amongst these, my anecdote is and would be far less remarkable.  My personal reflection on the Obama election, would not be tragic.  Nor would any thought I might muse of move a reader to say, "Yes.  She should be seated at the swearing in ceremony."

Whatever I might communicate is certainly of little interest to most, if not all.  Surely, the saga of a grandson, or grand-daughter, of a slave, one who worked as their ancestors had, might mesmerize more, or at least a legend such as this would enthrall me.  Indeed, it did.  Only yesterday, I saw and heard a film essay on James "Little Man" Presley.  This steady man in Mississippi began his career when he was six [6.]  On camera, this glorious gent recounted his reality of fifty years of work in the cotton fields.  He shared his sorrow; as a Black man, he was barred from restaurants and royalties that might be awarded to a white man.  "Little Man" Presley also presented his pleasure.

As he spoke of his thirteen children, wife, employer, and the Journalist who has known him since the day of the Correspondent's birth, I cried.  When Mister Presley at the mention of the President Elect Obama, and said he voted for him, I knew what I, and everyone else must feel. That individual his family must be bequeathed entrance to the formal investiture.

Once again, as I stood blubbering, I bemoaned what I had faith I had no right to feel.  Regrettably, I would not be able to attend the official observance.  The installation of Barack Obama into the Oval Office would be one I would miss.  It was true; my yarn could not compare to the composition an elderly man or woman, coal in color, might submit.  Some of these individuals never felt their tally counted.  For many, it did not; not until the Voters Rights Act 1965 was passed into law.  Yes, a request for my narrative could not negate the truth of my tale; it was nothing in contrast to what others might tell.  My complexion had always made me more privileged and that is wrong.  

To my core I felt and continue to feel if the new Administration offers free transportation and tickets to the event, they should not be given to me.  

I had never, through my actions, given up on the country I love.  I had no reason to.  Granted, I frequently felt there was no hope for my homeland.  However, these moments were fleeting.  Prejudice did not permeate my very existence. Nor did bigotry shade my second-by-second experience.  Every thought I might express was not filtered through a truth I could never forget, for I was not dark as pitch.  I did not realize repercussions for nothing more than my race.

I am an activist.  My current age does not make my participation worthy of note, at least not in the year 2008, or 2009.  I am one of millions.  Four or perhaps more will readily appear in the Capital Mall in Washington, District of Columbia.  Almost all will reach the destination without assistance from the Obama Administration.  Why should I not do the same?

For me, without tickets, which I vigorously tried to obtain through conventional means, I would not truly be part of this momentous occasion.  I would be disengaged, detached from the essence that bonds me and helped me to believe.  I imagine as one in a crowd of countless, all I would see would be projected onto a screen.  I would feel separate, not equal to those more worthy of the honor of an invitation.  

Surely, the historic significance would be not be as I hoped.  Were I to go, as a one amongst the masses might, I would grapple with what has long haunted me.  I would not feel as connected to what means so much to me.

Hence,  each time the invitation appeared in my mailbox, the opportunity to pen my prose, to state why this inauguration was so very important to me, I submitted what I knew was not enough, not special, and not unique.

Each time, I did not request what I hoped for, in many ways, more so than accommodations to the services.  My dream was not to merely be welcomed to the Capitol.  I wanted to find what was, and still is lost to me.  The people I think of as parents, biological proxy to me.  My desire was the President Elect and his staff might make a personal dream come true.  Thus, I engraved and placed into the ethereal Internet for weeks. 

Dearest Barack, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, and all those who consider themselves part of the Obama Family . . .

I know not how to best express what this inauguration means to me.  Attendance at the investiture would be the fulfillment of a dream, a desire to return the love that was given to me.  Perchance, a bit of historical context might help to explain why this occasion moves me.  My beginnings were not humble.  Some might say that my childhood was filled with hurt.  However, for me, the circumstances were joyous.

My parents had been together for years.  They prospered financially.  Yet, as a family they were disconnected.  My birth was accidental and a source of anything but delight.  It was decided another person, and her family would raise me.  Mary [Hazel] Washington, and her husband, Arthur, thankfully took me into a world that was not my own.  I became the white child who was far more accepted in a Black world, than she was in her own Caucasian community.  My complexion was light as was my heart when with the persons who truly cared for me.

Later, at an age younger than Natasha Obama currently is, I witnessed an extraordinary event.  My natural mother and father were home, together, in my presence.  The two had grown farther apart in my five years on Earth.  As they spoke of the 1960 election, they argued.  The conversation was animated, more so than any I had heard in the past.  My Mom, the ultimate Progressive mentioned she would not vote for the Republican candidate, register in the Grand Old Party; nor would she lie to the man whose bloodline I share and say she had.  I was intrigued and remained so forever.

The two, Mommy, and her husband whose home I lived in, but rarely saw, and never really knew, divorced. However, sadly, the Washington's exited.  Much occurred in the time of transition.  Mary and Arthur had reason to believe they were no longer needed.  Oh, what they did not know was how wanted they were, how honored I was to be raised in their world.  

The people who did not reject me, taught me to trust.  Mary mentored me in empathy.  Arthur, her spouse, and their offspring, through their actions, helped me to understand the principle, love thy fellow man.

I never forgot how safe and sane I felt when with what felt to be my family, the persons who served as my surrogate parents.  I could not have had a better home, more love, or been as welcome as I was in the neighborhood where residents did not appear as I did.  At the age of eleven or twelve, I had an opportunity, the first of many, to stand up for the rights of the people who gave me more than a physical presence in the world.  I marched for equality, civil rights for all.  With Civil Rights leader Father Groppi, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I was among the many who said and sung, "Set my people free."

As I aged, I searched for Mary [Hazel] and Arthur Washington.  While I never located the couple who bestowed upon me the freedom that comes with acceptance, as a politically active person, particularly in the 2008 election year, I saw them frequently.  The Washington's were within me each time I made a telephone call in support of Barack Obama.  My mother and father, brownish-purple in hue, were with me as I waved banners for a President Elect Obama.  Mary and Arthur drove to rallies, spoke to relatives.  The two were close at hand when I registered voters.

My hope is that if I am able to find my way to the inauguration, Mary [Hazel] and Arthur Washington will know that with thanks to them, "Yes, we can," and indeed, "We did achieve a dream!"

Mary [Hazel], Arthur, and sons, Arthur Junior and oh, how I wish I recalled the name of the younger, if you read this, please, please, please, get in touch with me.  For as long as I recall, I have, from time to time, searched telephone books, cyberspace communities, asked relatives, sought some clue of where you might be.  I wanted, I yearn for you to know what as a five and one half year old I could not, did not know how to share.  You, your kindness, commitment to my well-being, the care you bestowed upon me has forever meant more to me than mere words.

I speak of each of you, your family, even when my mouth is closed.  Who you are exudes from my every pore.  So much of what I think, say, do, feel, and am, at least all that I treasure of me, is with thanks to each of you.  Mary, I know my parents rejected what seemed the perfect reason to name me Hazel, your given name, as you requested.  Nonetheless, please trust that while you and I may not share a moniker, for me, we share sooooo much more.

I thank you for being my first and best teacher.  You are a mentor, one that money cannot buy.  If I have any hope in 2009, it is that perchance, one day, you and I will meet.  I wish to do more than merely greet you with a smile.  Even from afar, I will, as I have, embrace the being that is you, and express my sincere gratitude for the being you helped me to become.

The Washington family, this is my Inauguration Invitation to you.  May we begin to bring hope for a renewed future alive.

Hugs, kisses, and references for other realities . . . 

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I am an Educator, a student of life; I am an Author. On each path I learn from you and with you. Indeed. we all teach and study. Together we advance awareness and acumen. We learn, grow, and glow greater. Please peruse my prose at and (more...)
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