What Obama demonstrated

Today, Peter Greene wrote on Diane Ravitch’s blog about music:

“In music, everyone’s a winner. In sports, when two teams try their hardest and give everything they’ve got, there’s just one winner. When a group of bands or choirs give their all, everybody wins. Regrettably, the growth of musical “competitions” has led to many programs that have forgotten this — but music is the opposite of a zero-sum game. The better some folks do, the better everybody does. In music, you can pursue excellence and awesomeness without having to worry that you might get beat or defeated or humiliated. Everybody can be awesome….”

This encapsulates the approach to music found in Black culture. It was manifest when President Obama sang Amazing Grace during his eulogy to Clementa Pinckney. Obama’s pitch wasn’t perfect but all he got was encouragements to sing. Those unfamiliar with Black culture will say that’s b/c he’s the President, stupid. That shows they’ve never been in a Black church. The European approach would’ve been to send in a substitute, a highly trained singer, to make sure everything was perfect. Black culture instead focuses on personal expression, style, if you will, and President Obama put on display for all to see his alignment with Black culture and Black expression. As many said in commentary, only Obama could have done what he did, of all our presidents (though Bill Clinton would’ve done a good job, too). Hillary can make comments that resonate with women. Our first (?) gay president can make comments that will resonate with gays. Our first Italian-American president can make comments that will resonate with the old ethnic coalition of the New Deal. Our first Hispanic president can made comments in Spanish….. and so on.

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