by Jeff Fecke • You know, it is the year 2009. The Civil Rights Act is 45 years in the past, and in that time, there have been a whole bunch of African-American legislators and cabinet officials, not to mention staffers and aides and such. So you’d think that in the past five decades, The Village would have, I don’t know, actually integrated.
|Jeff Fecke is a freelance writer who lives in Eagan, Minnesota.In addition to his own blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, he also contributes to Alas, a Blog, Minnesota Campaign Report, and AlterNet. Fecke has appeared as a guest on the “Today” show, the Alan Colmes radio show, and the Mark Heaney Show. Fecke is divorced, and the father of one really terrific daughter. His debut novel, The Valkyrie’s Tale, is now available.|
But of course, that’s crazy talk. Invite a Negro to the party? Why, that might make Pat Buchanan angry! And so as our country has gotten less white, our power centers have remained lily white, with a few token exceptions. Which is a problem, when your incoming president isn’t:
Every four or eight years, Washington’s primarily white, influential, moneyed set rushes to cozy up to the new power brokers in town: Texans when George W. Bush arrived, Arkansas buddies when Bill Clinton came to town. The city’s high-level social scene — dinners, black-tie fundraisers, receptions, ubiquitous book parties — is the place where money and experience are subtly traded for access and influence.
Except for the first time, the face of ultimate power is African American. With a black first family in the White House and a diverse group of appointees and Cabinet nominees, the all-white dinner party feels all wrong. Certain hosts are suddenly grappling with a new reality: They need some black friends. Overnight, black politicians, lawyers and journalists are hot properties, receiving engraved invitations from people they never got invitations from before.
What a crazy idea! Why, it turns out that there are an awful lot of talented, successful African-Americans who would have totally been invited to parties if they’d been, erm, less colorful. But now that our president is a ni — um, one of them, well, it just stands to reason that Official Washington would reach out to them.
Of course, Official Washington still won’t reach out to anyone making less than seven figures; that would be silly.
Originally published January 18, 2009