Many black folks averted their eyes as Trump was sworn in
The end of the Obama era was difficult enough. But the first black president handing the keys to the country to President Donald Trump was so painful for some African-Americans, they chose to treat the whole ceremony like a bill collector’s phone call.
Some families chose to turn off the television, attend a concert or perform community service. Social media provided a popular refuge in the form of hashtags such as #InaugurationBlackout, #BlackoutTrump and #ThankYouObama. Array, the independent film collective founded by black director Ava DuVernay, tweeted a call for people to watch and live-tweet Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X as the inauguration took place, calling it a “movie sit-in.”
To all who tweeted w/ @ArrayNow watching @SpikeLee's mighty #MALCOLMX, let's stay in formation. Onward. #ByAnyMeans pic.twitter.com/EG2Ldm7pAt
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 20, 2017
Jamilah Lemieux, a vice president at the black media company Interactive One, summoned her 131,000 Twitter followers to live-tweet a Netflix viewing of The Wiz. She said about 150 people heeded the call, and their tweets reached about 175,000 accounts.
Tomorrow at 11AM est, please join us in ignoring the Inauguration and, instead, live-tweeting The Wiz! More to come! #InaugurationBlackout pic.twitter.com/sJGJIFeWjr
— Jamilah Lemieux (@JamilahLemieux) January 19, 2017
“I have to deal with the outcome of the election in my professional life, but as an individual, I was feeling really depressed and down,” Lemieux said. “As someone who works in media and as a U.S. citizen, I cannot ignore the outcome of the election. I’m going to have to deal with our new president and everything that comes with keeping him accountable. But what I did not have to deal with was the pomp and circumstance of that transfer of power.”
Referring to Trump’s years of falsely claiming that Obama was not born in the United States, she said, “I could not stand to watch someone who forced the first African-American president to essentially present his freedom papers, I could not watch him celebrate. … I just didn’t want to be bothered. If anybody deserved a day of self-care and joy, it was black folks.”
But once Diana Ross as Dorothy hugged Toto at the end of The Wiz, reality set back in: Donald Trump is president of the United States. “It was a nice moment,” she said. “It can be important for people feeling hurt and disappointed to find moments to find pleasure and joy, because we deserve it. We must fight, we must resist, we must be proactive. … But we also have to take care of ourselves.”