During MSNBC’s live coverage, Keith Olbermann asked, “Is the White House ready?” Hard work begins in earnest Wednesday for President Barack Obama, but governance won’t be the first family’s only impact on American life—yesterday the Negro National Anthem made a joyous comeback while the Obama girls’ inaugural outfits crashed the J. Crew website.
It was a mash-up worthy of Jay-Z and Linkin Park or maybe even The Isley Brothers and Garth Brooks. Cultural touchstones new and old blended together harmoniously as the Rev. Joseph Lowery uttered James Weldon Johnson’s words full of hopeful irony at the opening of his inaugural benediction: “Shadowed beneath thy hand/May we forever stand/True to our God/True to our native land.” Simultaneously, at least one recession beleaguered retailer got a boost as the country swooned over the Obama girls’ African American preppie chic while Michelle Obama turned Cuban American designer Isabel Toledo into a household name with her inauguration ensemble.
Move over André 3000. Get ready for four, and possibly eight years of sights and sounds that will turn the Obamas into a cottage industry, and bring a crescendo to the mainstream trajectory of black culture becoming the official popular culture.