44th Presidential Inauguration Celebration: Part Two

The Root Inaugural Ball

I suppose now is a good time for me to try and recap my whirlwind inaugural week. Of course the balls preceding the actual events were lots of fun but the highlight had to be seeing Barack and Michelle Obama on the cover of the Washington Post on my 35th birthday. What better present could a brother ask for? A black man is the most powerful man in the free world. Say word!

One of the flossiest events that I went to was The Root Inaugural Ball.  There were more celebrities there trying to impress the print media than there was actual print media. This was by far the most telling event that I attended because it drove home the point that if that a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, did it really make a sound? Newsmen in the political process therefore dominated my focus. I am an extremely big fan of people that read the newspaper and check everyday for their favorite columnists. I can usually be found in the comment section of the Washington Post and I couldn’t imagine being with someone that didn’t read a newspaper regularly.

All of the boys had a really good time.  I had to rock the velvet Sean John on them, though.

Eugene Robinson is one of those guys that I typically read. As far as his opinions go, we don’t always agree but I believe that he is a voice for the sort of people that I pay attention to. Namely, Eugene Robinson represents the demographic that I like to call: black-folks-that-have-some-sense. I’m talking not just talking about the Black Bourgeoisie, again or the groups most likely associated with the Talented Tenth. I’m talking about black people from a diverse socio-economic stratum that are not overly influenced by the negative stereotypes or mentally disenfranchised. If you want to have your finger on the pulse of what black people could be thinking about a variety of subjects, you should really check him out.


The Root Inaugural Ball was that rare mixture of celebrities with public intellectual figures and print news. Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates is the co-founder of the online magazine and enterprise known as The Root. Gates has broken new ground in relation to minorities in the media by introducing a web site that focuses on genealogy issues specific to our community. The Root also offers a venue from which the world renown Harvard professor can push a responsibly agenda as he chairs the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research. As both an educator and a writer of great importance, Dr. Gates has been a lion of our time.

Dr. Gates is also one of my good friend’s supervisors as she is one of the editors of The Root: Natalie Hopkinson, of course, holds it down in her own right as an author and is Rudy’s wife. I would be really remiss if I didn’t thank her for all that she has done for my own writing career as well as providing for admittance into such great events.

Now, on to the foolishness: once again I had to engage in paparazzi status because none of you people believe stuff without seeing it. I got a chance to take pictures with a few celebrities but I really saw a whole lot more. Oprah Winfrey came through, as well as Spike Lee. I didn’t get to talk to either of them, however. I don’t think that I was on their list of people to talk to, although I did see both of them. I actually tried to speak Spike Lee, but he wasn’t really feeling me I guess. Oprah was too busy being Oprah, and she was mobbed by every woman on the set trying to get their picture moment. It was at this point that I headed for Samuel Jackson.


True story about Samuel: seconds before my picture was taken next to him a white lady and professional photographer walked up to him and said, “Danny I’m a fan of your work.”

Samuel Jackson looked her dead in the eye and said, “I’m not Danny Glover.”

I took this as my cue to chime in with, “I’m Danny.” I think that Samuel Jackson got a kick out of that because of the inference that if we all look alike the names shouldn’t matter much either. Anyway it got me a picture next to a screen legend and I didn’t even have to use one of my “motherfucker” jokes do it. I was really proud of myself for that moment.

Another proud moment came with actor Jamie Hector of the acclaimed series The Wire remembered meeting me at Penn Station three years ago. I guess he was really serious about building a house and when I told him that I was an engineer so long ago, it made quite and impression on him. Of course, when I told my sister this, she was immediately like “I know him:” Which is Lysa-speak for I know him better than you. No worries, I was just happy to be there.

Chris Tucker was getting interviewed by some kid. I thought it was cute and I took a picture. I was really feeling the 360 degree, dope boy, waves that Chris Tucker was rocking. I wish my hair did that, but it doesn’t. I think that Nigerian hair is probably the most unruly hair on the planet, though. I bet that Chris Tucker couldn’t get his hair to bead with a few drops of water and a verbal command. There is a positive in everything if you look hard enough, I suppose. I could be a Rastafarian any time I wanted to be. I could rob a bank with an afro and go into a bathroom and have dreads as a disguise in the space of thirty seconds.


Anyway, because there are so many Howard University folks in mainstream print media, this affair turned into a quiet Bison Ball.  Aside from Natalie, Ta-Nehisi Coates was there and so were half of the political science majors that came through in our era.  Man, there were a lot of Howard lawyers in that place!  These days, none of them want me to call them out so I don’t say anything.  I just take their pictures and their cards in case I finally get busted for urinating in public.  To have so many lawyers and stuffy media-types in the building all at once it sure didn’t stop folks from getting down to DJ Biz Markie, though.  I’m sure that this was the first official inaugural ball in the United States, or any other legitimate country for that matter, that ever featured a hip hop pioneer.  Now, how fresh is that?


Well much ado was made about the whole affair on CNN and apparently on Larry King. I had friend call me all the way from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and he told me that he saw me on television. The whole thing doesn’t surprise me because another Howard friend, AJ Calloway, was covering the event for Extra. Not long after we dapped the camera mysteriously panned in my direction for the coveted background shot. I must have been on television for two minutes, just standing there, trying to make small talk with the passerby’s. I’m mad that ya’ll missed me.


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