Champagne Music

I watched The Lawrence Welk Show

on PBS last night half-drunk

on whiskey and was struck by

the blatantly overt whiteness of it,

like this was the model vision

for the reinvention of Making America

Great Again, a sea of well-off

church-going, content and polite whites,

smiling and swaying slowly in

“living-color” to the orchestra

following that white baton waving

hypnotically under glinting chandeliers,

nary an off-white complexion in the bunch,

nor anywhere on screen I frantically scanned

for a hint of that darker American story

of melting or melding pots. Nothing

but Anglo blood bobbed to the polka beat

till Arthur Duncan stepped out to dance

one of his pat “Mr. Welk” style taps

where he’d step-tap and fetch-flap

to a gangly-grinning unpassionate climax,

no smart-assed Sammy Davis, Jr. act,

more of a token appropriate Bo Jangles show

of kowtow and restraint. It Made White

America Feel Good, generous about creating

a space, a prominent (if small) place

on the program to feature a Colored man

exercising his physical agility, the prowess

of his race. Yes, it was mighty white of us,

we thought fifty years ago. We believed

the rhetorical American rainbow was just

a few miles down the road, but the further

we drove, the better we understood that

elusive pot of gold, brother/sisterhood,

wasn’t anymore tangible than Lawrence Welk

reruns—a satiric stroll down memory lane

when white men were forced to integrate.

Change is slow, painful, and that pot of gold

is a complicated metaphor. So before

I pour another glass of whiskey to toast

the luxury of my lower-class privilege,

go ahead and uncork a bottle of bubbly

to join me in celebrating Bohemian Rhapsody,

Roma, Blackkklansman, The Wife, and

let’s hope the hounds baying on the News

tonight are on the trail of a Hollywood ending.

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