White House Parties
Naughty, naughty, naughty
We like to party,
I know you hate it 'cause
I flirt with everybody – Porcelain Black
Superstorm "Sandy" caused the Obamas to cancel their 2012 White House Halloween party. There's been a Halloween party and trick-or-treating at the White House every year since 2009, when the First Couple threw a star-studded, "Alice in Wonderland" themed-party and Michelle wore a cute leopard costume. From their initial year in the executive mansion, the First Couple set a pace of fun and frolic. While Barack has avoided racial issues throughout his presidency, there's no question that the Obamas have the culture and creativity to throw some cool parties.
President Obama spent more on White House events and dinners than any previous chief executive. Domestic affairs, or foreign dignitaries, the First Couple "entertained" at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest. Though Kwanzaa never made the grade, an event that's celebrated annually is the President and First Lady's Hanukkah Party.
The White House celebration of the blues, during which Obama sang and he, his wife and guests boogied in the East Room to some of America's greatest musical legends, is just one of the command performances and swinging parties they've thrown. The Obamas have also enjoyed a rendition by rap artist Common and were treated to an "ole time" review by Motown-era surviving stars.
The Obamas have "done it on the good foot" while they have been at the White House and have left American taxpayers with some pretty big tabs. But, among the many who attended events there, "a good time was had by all." The Obamas hosted congressional leaders, honored Stevie Wonder with a glitzy tribute concert, and invited the a cappella group "Sweet Honey in the Rock" to perform. On Obama's 50th birthday, Aug. 4, Charles Barkley, Chris Rock, Jay-Z and Tom Hanks honored the POTUS in the Rose Garden. Performances the Obamas have held over the years at the White House include salutes "to Broadway", "music of the Civil Rights movement", and a "dance tribute" to dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison.
The White House got some mainstream media criticism for their decision to invite the Rev. Al Sharpton to the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, while excluding top leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention – the nation's largest Protestant denomination. What the mainstream media misses is that the Rev. Al is on the White House's "Black A List", he's a strong Obama supporter and a "frequent Black visitor." Others in the league with Sharpton are disc jockeys Steve Harvey and Tom Joyner. Ardent Obama defenders, both Harvey and Joyner are enthralled with the proximity to power the Obamas afforded them and will use all of their clout to keep Barry and Michelle, First Family forever.
Giants among Blacks in America, The Tom Joyner Morning Show airs in more than 100 markets and reaches an audience of over eight million, and Steve Harvey has shows on the radio and network TV. With the assistance of the Obama White House, Joyner and Harvey have been transformed from mere entertainers to thoughtful political pundits. Joyner joined the Obamas to greet Tuskegee Airmen at a screening of "Red Tails" in the family theater inside the White House. On the day of their 20th anniversary, Michelle shared the story of her first kiss with Barack on Steve Harvey's show.
As Black audiences celebrate their "Step-N-Fetch-It" syndicated radio shows, consider that Joyner, Harvey and Michael Baisden, epitomize what is wrong with our insight and our information. Their programming has the power to make their Black adult audiences stay in tune with syndicated radio programs' "group think."
Obama and friends may have "partied with a purpose" while in the White House, but their four years in office must be considered a disappointment for Blacks. All that glittered in the White House between Obama and friends wasn't exactly gold for all. Fess up, having a Black family in the White House has enhanced racial inequities rather than challenging them.
(William Reed is publisher of "Who's Who in Black Corporate America" and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org)