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‘Even As We Grieved We Grew’: Poetry and Promise at the Inauguration

“Oh my god, Black baby Jesus done shined on us today. The fascist is gone,” says Toure on this week’s democracy-ish. Meanwhile, Danielle sips Champagne. “I'm celebrating you, America,” she says.

  • The day we’ve been waiting for finally arrived: We witnessed the historic inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol, which was attacked by domestic terrorists just two weeks ago.

  • In his inaugural address, Biden urged Americans to unify around common values and unprecedented crisis.

  • It’s the message we need, but can we really unify with a racist, fascist-sympathizing right wing? And can the Biden-Harris administration right this sinking ship?

On Wednesday, under a bright blue sky on the very Capitol steps that were defiled by insurrectionists two weeks ago, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office in a cathartic, poignant and socially distanced inauguration for the ages.

“The QAnon fantasy did not happen,” says Toure. “Lots of tears flowed. Lots of happiness happened. Lots of Trump clouds moved away. It was quite the ceremony.”

It did have everything: history, music, poetry, fashion and, at long last, unmitigated joy.

Danielle had been crying happy tears since Tuesday evening’s COVID memorial, in which our new leaders led the country in mourning the over 400,000 Americans who have died since the pandemic began.

It was “unfathomable” that it was the first time we were “collectively able to grieve, shed tears, hold one another,” she says. “To feel held.”

“Inauguration Day exceeded my expectations,” she says. She had been worried about security and wanted the ceremony to take place indoors, maybe even underground. But she’s glad it took place in the light of a crisp winter day on the West Front, as it has for the last 40 years.

“I’m so happy to have the vision of a renewed Capitol and our renewed democracy following the desecration we all witnessed on January 6.”

Toure agrees: “The determination to perpetuate the important rituals and traditions is strong, and we saw its importance. I want the traditions and the continuity maintained.”

Oh, happy day. Pop a bottle and get ready for some unfettered optimism.

Episode Highlights –– Oh Happy Day

We can’t ‘unify with the oppressor’

Biden’s inaugural address was heartening –– and refreshing –– precisely because he did what a leader should: telling America he’ll be president for everyone, including those who didn’t support him.

“That should not be revolutionary,” says Toure. “But at this moment, it is. And I'm glad he's saying it. But I am not here for unifying with the violent, treasonous, seditious insurrectionists who tried to take over the government … with an entirely surreal approach to the world.”

Trump’s supporters are “not tethered to actual reality,” he adds, “but floating off in some other netherworld where Trump is good and he's a god and strong and powerful.”

“And 180 pounds,” Danielle chimes in.

“And Democrats are pedophiles,” says Toure. “And I'm not even talking about the QAnon maniacs. The right wing of America is crazy, racist or racist-adjacent, sexist or sexist-adjacent, homophobic … I don't want to unify with them. And I don't think that we should. You wouldn't ask somebody to unify with your oppressor.”

‘What democracy is made of’

Meanwhile, it seems that nobody on the maskless side of the aisle is repentant, says Toure.

“They are a cancer on the nation. And they continue to be aided and abetted by the rest of the GOP.”

Danielle isn’t looking to unite them either –– “the 75 million people who decided to vote for white supremacy, who wanted an extension of misogyny and hatred,” she says.

But President Biden's address, in which he called for the country to come together and heal, was “what democracy is made of,” she adds.

“We have the right to debate. But we do not have the right to insurrection, to incite violence … We deal with things we do not like in this country by voting, by protesting.”

She also thinks the speech was an important reminder of “the responsibility leadership has to bring us together –– to exemplify legacy, honesty, transparency, truth, history, all of those things. Symbolism, ritual.”