I Still Got My Blue Ticket because [turn to your neighbor and say] “Favor ain’t Fair”: an Uppity Negro Inauguration story, Part Two


Okay, yeah, I’m late.  It’s February and I’m just now writing this post.  Oh well, the joys of having one’s own blog.

In short, the Inauguration Planning Committee had an EPIC FAIL when it came to the idea of tickets.  

So this was the largest we’ve had on record, apparently the city was planning minimally for 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 people to be on the Mall on Washington.  Alright, they had Metro set and planned, no real complaints with Metro from here, but Oh Gawwwwd when we got in that line…..

It was about 7am by the time we got in “the line” for Blue Tickets.  I use the term loosely because clearly it wasn’t a line.  We had come up Independence Ave. after meandering through the neighborhood from the Eastern Market Metro station because the fools didn’t open the doors to our car, and our car alone at the Federal Center station and so we walked up to the Cannon House office building and then was forced to be detoured south to C Street and walk back toward the ticket gates.  We saw a line and asked someone in a uniform and they told us that it was the line for the Orange Tickets.  So we walked through a clearly formed line toward the general direction of the blue tickets.

We ended up just in a little island park over the 395 tunnel entrance on Washington Street or Canal Street–and stayed there for about 3 hours.

We saw the line progress for the Orange Ticket holders as they walked through the security lines and we saw where we supposed to end up for the Blue Ticket holders, but by about 8:30 long after the Orange Ticket Gate had been opened we still hadn’t seen people with Blue Tickets walking from the main entrance gate toward their seats.  Slowly tensions had begun to build.  People were yelling at each other to not cut “the line” because we had been out their patiently since 7am and earlier clearly.  But the lack of visible uniformed individuals had left the crowd to their own devices.  

Somewhere around 9:30 when our position had moved up to about C Street (and as I look on the map, we had moved LESS than 1/4 of a normal of a city block in 2.5 hours) it was really a big mass of people moving in the general direction all with blue tickets.

Somewhere about 10:00 am I told my girls that we were ditching and just walking around like the rest of the people and try and the line because there was no way in hell we were going to get through the gate by 11:30.  By now we had already begun hearing the musical prelude and the crowd was getting very VERY nervous about whether or not we were going to make it.  So we heard a few individuals from various states making their own witty complaints about the EPIC FAIL that was the Blue Ticket line.  One white girl from Ohio was so pissed that by about 11, she left the line mumbling under her breath about how this could not be an Obama coordinated event because his events were ALWAYS well planned.

This CLEARLY was not.

I think what was more tragic about her story was that many of these people were like me, who had taken off of work, traveled and spent time and money to go there–WITH A TICKET IN HAND!  

I know people’s frustrations wouldn’t have been as high if we were, let’s say down by the Smithsonian Castle or something because we never fully expected to be so close to see anything.  But the assumption is that with a ticket, you’ll get inside the gate.


To help bring this point home, work with me because apparently I don’t have software (or just don’t know how to use what I already got-PREACH PREACHA!) that can do captions inside the picture and use arrows and what not.

The top of the picture is East, the left is North the right is South and the bottom is West.

The long white continuous line in the middle right of the picture is the security checkpoint for the blue ticket line.  Cross the street and you’ll see the mass of ants and that’s ALL of the blue ticket holders trying to funnel through a gate to the bottom left of that white continuous line.

I’m actually somewhere in that line probably–seen from satellite in space.

Now for my rant:

HOW IN THE HELL could you bumble this one up this was SIMPLE THIRD GRADE MATH?!?!?  This was the easy part.  You knew how many tickets were issued.  No more than 240,000.  That meant that corrals and the officials necessary for 240,000 people should have been in their places.  Moreover, this was simple math people.  There were approximately 52,000 tickets issued for the Blue and Purple Zone which mirrored each other on the Mall.  Ultimately (which we never got close enough to see with our own eyes) was that they were forced to funnel that number of people through essentially two normal sized double doors.

And at maximum capacity, each of the 24 gates could process only up to 400 persons an hour?!!?  Did I read the article correctly? 

Simple math would say that perhaps if there were approximately 24 gates with which to process people and the average person took no more than 30 seconds even with a magnetometer, that’s approximately 6 or 7 people a minute not to mention the person who was old and slow and mad about having had stand in line taking up more time.  From there they could have suggested and planned for people to be standing in the line 5 to 6 hours earlier.  

But, I was–I got there at 7am!

And then to hear that the police officers possibly opened up ticketed areas to non-ticket holding people–that’d been fine if the ticketholders had already been in place.

I guess favor aint fair.

They said that there is restitution for the ticket holders, but what about the many of us who clearly aren’t from the DC area and strolling into a congressional office isn’t as easy as “oh, I’ll do next time I have to go downtown”?  So, I guess I’m stuck with my ticket as souvenir.  I just looked at it and realized this stuff may as well had been printed back when Reagan was inaugurated since the date never changes.  Barack Obama’s name isn’t even on it; just says “January 20, 2009” on it.

Sorry, it’s not, but dammit I feel mildly played after all of this.  Will I be bitter the rest of my life?  No.  It’s a decent story set up for the grandkids, lol.  

But, while I’m talking about seating, I have a little rant about those who did receive special seating to get off of my chest.


Personally, I never used to care about reserved seating, but then I talked to my friend over at Soul Jonz who’s not become The Critical Cleric and he informed me that’s he not a fan at all.  I had told him that during Trinity United Church of Christ’s thrust into the media spotlight nearly a year ago (can some say Thank you Jesus that’s over) that they had removed the seats from the pulpit and that the only chair up there was the central chair.  We both joked that it harped of deification of the pastor by leaving his lone and empty chair in the pulpit while the rest of the pastoral staff operated from the front row.

Perhaps it’s ingrained in black culture, and probably from the Black Church specifically.  The only spaces we owned worth meeting in were the churches.  Aside from random barns and brush arbors, the church house, or the building was a multipurpose room in many communities, rural and urban.  But still as a result, this idea of a raised pulpit with ministers sitting on and behind has been something the black church has been remiss to let go.

Okay, before I go on a tangent…

It’s normal in the black church setting to have reserved seating.  Don’t get me wrong many a-white church does it as well, but look at many of the newer white churches, it’s usually only one person at a time, aside from the worship band, that occupies the raised platforms (often times movable) where the focus of worship takes place.  But in the traditional settings, in the black church especially from the mainline denominations, there’s the pulpit reserved for the persons on ministerial staff (and you can’t walk across the pulpit if you’re not ordained), the front row reserved for the deacons, various people have the first and second rows reserved by de facto law, hell, even the back row is reserved for the ushers.  I’ve been to church and seen big ole fat women who can barely walk ask people to move from their end pew seat so they can sit on the end and then have the unmitigated gall to get mad when the people on the inside of the pew ask to get out of the pew to go to the bathroom or something.

And then the passage of Jesus’ disciples James and John asking to sit one at the left hand of Jesus and the other at the right hand when they’re all in glory comes to mind.

Seriously people are we really that blind, deaf and dumb to what we preach on Sunday morning?

Countless times have I heard that scripture from Mark chapter 10 quoted, but never practiced.  So, it was more than a bitter pill to swallow knowing that I had waited in line after taking the Metro for four and half hours with a ticket–with something that should have guaranteed me access–and my access was still denied, but other’s who hadn’t waited as long as me were able to get access.

Real talk y’all, I was [am] still pissed that Jay-Z and Halle Berry and Beyonce got front row seats.

Alicia Keys at the inauguration. I guess the only thing in common with her and Obama are their mixed race status because aside from sporting a t-shirt at a concert here or there--what did she do!??!?!
Denzel Washington getting his seat earlier than the rest. Again...what was his contribution that was so great that he deserved a seat
No name needed, lol
....and it gets worse.
Maybe I could see Richard Roundtree only because he was still an early black actor in Hollywood. Same as if Sidney Poitier was there--but still what did he contribute to the campaign that was so damn special that he needed special seating?
Bee-yohn-niss and her husband (blegh!) Jay-Z. Oh hell naw! See y'all at the inaugural neighborhood balls!
C-Martin Luther King, III. I mean this guy spoke at the Democratic National Convention on the nomination acceptance night, now HE deserved a seat.
Oprah and Stedman. Oprah used her star power to gather votes for Obama, and she campaigned along side of him at rally and introduced him and used her strengths to Obama's favor. She deserves a seat. Stedman can have a blue ticket.
Sean "Piddy" Combs. Another resounding "Oh hell naw!"

Say what you want, say what you will, but I’m hatin’ on this one.  Honestly, from the list of celebrities’ pictures I put up there, none but Oprah really did any mobilzing of troops.  We see how Puffy’s campaigning and organizing skills flopped back in 2004.   Who the hell sells a friggin T-shirt for $39.99 on a HBCU campus?!?!?!  And then Jay-Z–oh my Gawd, where do I start?!?!  Seriously, what did he really do for the Obama campaign except make fodder for the FoxNews outlet?

Frankly, none of those celebs except Oprah Winfrey or Martin Luther King III, can anyone point to ONE blessed event that they did that placed them more worthy of a reserved seat than the million or so other people at the inauguration.  You see, that’s why they had the concert that prior Sunday and the various balls that night so that the stars can do what they do best, which is entertain.

As I sip more of this Haterade on my nightstand as I type this blog, I fail to understand why we as a society are so tacit when it comes to grand disparities such as this.  I mean, I would have had much more respect for these various celebrities if they had hosted various inaugural parties in their various hometowns, donated proceeds to various charitable organizations and hopped on a plane to make it in town for their ball appearances that night.  

Or hell, at least have a celebrity viewing booth or something.

I’m just against them being front row center when there were others who didn’t have the same privileges as they did.

Well, this is two down, and two more to go in the “an Uppity Negro Inauguration” series.

Do you feel that the whole ticket debacle was a foreseeable SNAFU, even with alleged generators going kaput?  Do we even need to worry about “the next time this happens” to plan accordingly?  Should there be reserve seating–this event notwithstanding?  Should those celebrities gotten a seat over, say the person I met from Portland, Oregon who came, or the field worker who had spent over 1 year campaigning for Obama?

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

4 thoughts on “I Still Got My Blue Ticket because [turn to your neighbor and say] “Favor ain’t Fair”: an Uppity Negro Inauguration story, Part Two

  1. It’s okay to sing the ‘Blue Ticket Blues’ because your earlier post reflected the joy of having witnessed being a part the significance and majesty of the inauguration of President Barack Obama. You stated, unequivocally, how happy you were just to be there–on the mall. Clouds (or ants) of witnesses shared your joy.

    Rank has its privileges; life ain’t necessarily fair….

    Here’s my question: What is the definition of racism and bigotry? It seems that the the term ‘racism’ is being bandied about rather loosely regarding black people–as though racism no longer refers to the absolute economic control of wealth as part of the definition no longer counts.

    A working definition of racism IMOHO, is that one cannot be racist (based on ethnic origin) if there is not attendant power and authority associated with that racist attitude in action. Example, I can be bigoted, not like you, but if I have no power to deny you access to education, employment, societal entry, etc., I am merely biased and probably evil and definitely ignorant.

    In these new wannabe ‘post racial’ times, don’t we need a better working definition of racism? Because if we don’t watch out, blacks specifically will be acceptably tagged ‘racist’ and history will change in a way that distorts and absolves the actual devastating results of codified slavery and the legacy of Jim Crow. Blacks cannot simply be told, ‘get over it, we have a black president.’

    We are stuck with racial identity politics due to the ‘birth defect’ (best thing out of the mouth of Condoleeza Rice) of this relatively young nation.

    Keep it uppity, blue ticket holder!

  2. I don’t get why celebrities who didn’t really contribute that much to the campaign get special treatment. I find Jay-Z and Puff Daddy to be negative role models, how the hell did they help? I don’t think any white people on the fence about Obama listened to a Jay-Z song and instantly felt better about voting for a black man.

  3. Some of these “celebrities” reportedly gave mega-bucks towards the campaign and inauguration expenses. “Write a check – take your seat”

  4. By the way, thanks for the historical perspective on seating in the black church. I’ve seen many a sistah lose her religion because she arrived late for service and someone was sitting in her seat.

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