January 20th, 2009
06:54 AM ET

Missing My First Black President

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/20/cell.jpg]

Farai Chideya
AC360° Contributor

This Inauguration will remind a lot of people of a lot of things, but to me it calls up Burning Man, the big annual freakfest/science experiment/music fair in the desert. I love it.

One of the reasons being a Burner has been so important to me, and so mystifying to some people who know me as a serious journalist, is that it’s one of the few places or things that I don’t try to over-intellectualize. It is the smell of sulphur and and the sensation of sunblock applied during a morning that is already blisteringly hot. I take it for what it is, and I look around and see a group of people become an entity in and of itself. I would say a “crowd” but that makes it sound too stupid; and “smart mob” makes it sound too smart. But there’s a moment when people become something bigger than themselves…. a quickening.

That’s happening right now in Washington, DC. There’s the woman—a woman, not a girl—dancing to Britney Spears inside the Elephant and Castle restaurant at 12th and Pennsylvania. She doesn’t seem drunk… maybe she’s good at faking it, but I think it’s the irrational exuberance of the crowd taking over. The streets are shutting down and the parade bleachers are going up. There is a hush on the blocked streets that is urban magic.


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