Thursday, November 20, 2008


Only because his birthday in August is already a day off from school.

Christopher Barclay, a member of Montgomery County’s Board of Education, had a splendid idea and, accordingly has:

“…introduced a resolution Tuesday to declare [January 20, 2009] a holiday, noting that the inauguration of the first African American president will be "unlike any event that we are likely to witness again in our lifetimes." Official Seeks to Make Inauguration Day a Holiday

This illustrates what I believe will be an ongoing tactic for the foreseeable future: The country gets credit for electing a black when it’s convenient (i.e. a paid holiday) but we will be reminded that he is half-white and not even a descendent of slaves if his skin-color is used to argue against the ongoing necessity of such favored programs as affirmative action.

Side Note: White, liberal guilt being the default emotion here in Montgomery County:

“Board President Nancy Navarro (Northeastern County) said she thinks the measure has majority support on the eight-person board.”

Yep, times are never so tough that we can’t afford another day off. Maybe, if we’re lucky, the new President will forcefully remind us of the importance of education. I’m sure the kids would be properly inspired…assuming they actually bother to witness the event in-person or on TV. I’m guessing more would use the day off to be at a different kind of Mall - Montgomery Mall.

Would these same folks have celebrated had Michael Steele been elected the first African American Senator from Maryland?

I guess if I have to ask, I already know the answer. Steele's a Republican, so he's not really African American.
c'mon SD - cynicism does not become you.
I'd like to see a link to someone arguing that because Barak Obama is only half black that affirmative action is necessary. Seriously, can you show me an example where someone has made that argument? It's so bankrupt I can't imagine that even liberals wouldn't call it out.

I think the point most people make is that affirmative action is still necessary because racism, as a sociologically defined system of oppression, still exists in this country. Just because a Black Man is president doesn't mean racism doesn't exist. It just means it's not nearly as oppressive as it used to be. Ironically, your very own Barak Obama opposes affirmative action based on race. From this politico article:

"Since 2004, the first black major party nominee from either party has been offering comments suggesting that economic status should match or even trump race and gender as a criteria for who should benefit from the program — though he has yet to propose a specific policy, let alone one that matches his rhetoric."

I include the entire quote so I don't get pegged for cherry picking, but apparently Obama is at least willing to talk about changing Affirmative Action from Race Base to Socio-Economic based aid, which would at least allow poor people of any race to benefit.

As for the actual topic of your post, it sounds like a substantial number of teachers are going to take paid leave and many parents might take their kids out for a day to see the inauguration. In a county that has easy access to go see an important first in American, it isn't surprising that so many parents/teachers would do so. A one time holiday to accommodate for that reality, instead of having to coordinate substitutes to be present for a small subset of students that do show up, isn't unreasonable. The article you link to notes three counties in VA have already done this. I'm not sure if you are making the mistake in thinking this is going to be a perpetual holiday.

Also, if you don't see the difference between a black president and a black senator, even if he's the first one from Maryland, you can't tell the forest from the trees. I won't say there isn't something to be said for the Michael Steele argument, but there have already been 5 black senators (if you trust wikipedia). There have been no black presidents.
thanks for the comments ojintoad:

without doing a whole new post, I will generally note the comments of SCLC head Charles Steele from this past June:

“Why are they attacking Michelle Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and not really attacking, to that degree, her husband?” Steele asked. “Because he has no slave blood in him. He does not have any slave blood in him, but Michelle does.

"The SCLC said his larger point was that — even should Obama win the presidency in November, the problems faced African-Americans will still require an outside voice." atlanta Journal-Constitution

...and I think a review of some Harvard Law professor and Obama advisor Charles ogletree also go toward this thought line.

I certainly didn't make the mistake of thinking this would be a perpetual holiday but as a Montgomery County resident I don't want even this one day given off. I am sympathetic to the plight of parents who will then have to account for their kids day off. And what seems like a great idea now (attending the inauguration) will probably be rethought should DC wake up to a wet/windy/25 degree day.

And please no lectures to Soccer Dad and myself about forest/trees re: Michael Steele. All the bluster about the importance of "diversity" and "historical firsts" is quickly thrown out the window when that "diversity" and "historical firsts" has an (R) after his/her name...besides it wasn't even in my original post.
To your last point: You're right, it wasn't in your post. But I think my argument is still valid towards Soccer Dad's comment.

For all my points on the school day off (and all your points are valid), I've been thinking about it since writing that comment and I don't like the idea on a more general principle - it's creepy to think about having a holiday for a leader who comes into power. Stalin esque, Hitler esque much. We shouldn't be celebrating our leaders, and this smacks of that way too much.

I've already looked up the SLCL's leaders comments and a really have to agree with Black Political Thought's reaction. Especially this line: "[Charles Steele's] comments beg the question of why we continue to talk about slavery in this country as though it will determine our future." Eventually I'll look into the other sources you've posted.

Thanks for the followup, was very enlightening.
Happy belated Thanksgiving. While I am a little late to the party here, I will have a piece up about black and white identity over at my place that's apropos to some of the discussion here. While I am a libertarian-leaning liberal, the piece will I think appeal to conservatives and liberals alike.

To the more general point: I can respect practical, not ideological, grounds for having this day off as a non-school day. DC and environs are going to be a zoo, and for locals not participating in the inauguration, staying off the roads or even getting out of town for the four-day weekend is arguably a mitzvah. Most of work-a-day DC will stay shut down including almost the entire non-emergency federal government, every law firm from what I have been hearing and most non-profits. The public schools within the short-distance calling radius should follow the DC public schools' lead and shut it down for transportation strains alone.

There are townhouses in Eastern Market - nice area but hardly Beverly Hills - renting out for $3000/night that normally lease for $3000/month. Hotels in Baltimore are on scarce occupancy and Metro will probably have to haul twice as many passengers that day than ever before in its history, and will be running 15 hours of rush hour trains to get it done. The Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue will be impassable from the throngs, who will be packing the trains beyond all recognition, More justification for this than for most of the snow days that they call.

Moral to the story: go see Uncle Mickey in Pittsburgh the preceding Friday night and don't come back south of Shady Grove until very late.
I don't disagree that the first Black President is a bigger deal than the first Black Senator or First Female Governor from a given state. However, if in 1994 it had been KKT against Bob Ehrlich, I can assure that the "historic" aspect of her campaign would have been a major part of the "news" coverage of her campaign. The fact that Ellen Sauerbrey had already run (in 1994 and 1998) without accompanying fanfare, made it difficult for the media to stretch its credibility and show greater enthusiasm for KKT than they had for Sauerbrey. (That Steele was running for Lt. Gov, also had something to do with that.) The MSM are hypocritical in this regard, however there are some limits to how far they're willing to go.

MC - sorry about the cynicism. It comes with blogging.

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