Dec 24, 2007

I've Been To Graceland

Many moons ago I visited Elvis' home Graceland. At the time I worked for Time Warner and we had to go to Memphis for training. I worked on the team that coordinated this Memphis training. We knew we had to work in some "fun" activity for the people that would participate.

The idea of visiting where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated entered into our plans. This place is now a museum about the civil rights movement and the place he stayed before he got killed. Well, the idea was killed. Many of my white co-workers felt it would be too heavy for our guests.

The only other point of interest of Memphis was to visit the home of Elvis. Ya know him. The white boy that helped Black music become part of the white audience vocabulary. Man! How that boy co-opted so much of Black culture.

Anyway. We went to Graceland. Our tour guide was a white woman that told us she dropped out of her Phd. program to work at Graceland because, she was so moved by the life Elvis lived. In her discussion of Elvis she talked about how he was so connected to the Black people of Memphis. He was so connected, that I quote, she said "He ate what Black people would eat." A saint he was.

In our tour a fellow co-worker, who is a Black woman said "Excuse me, what Elvis ate was what poor people ate." The tour guide than got flushed and was all like "Well yeah, he ate what people ate." My co-worker than said "No, you said he ate what Black people ate, meaning he had to adapt to what was available, when what he ate was what his MOTHER was feeding him because back in those day poor people had to eat what was available."

Basically, what my co-worker was saying was that don't put your Elvis on a pedestal. He was just as poor and struggling as many of the black people around him. He was NOT this benevolent saint slumming amongst the masses.

Well, after our tour guide finished her scripted speech she left the bus, to get our tickets for our tour of Graceland. I had a window seat and looked at her as she exited. I will swear on a stack of bibles that these words came out her mouth when she thought no one was looking: "That nigger bitch had to talk shit about the king."

We went on the tour and I have to say Elvis' house was not as tacky as I thought it would be. Also, he gave tons of money to charities that assisted the Black community in Memphis. I know this because there was a room of plaques that affirmed his contributions to the Black community.

Fast forward. On Oprah his daughter Lisa did that whole raised from the dead, thanks to the aide of clever editing music video moment. She sang, a pseudo-duet with her father and picked the song "In The Ghetto." It mixed her face with his face, and in between their faces as they sung about the ghetto, they kept showing faces of children that are Black.

The message here folks is that many people of certain race and or class, believe that the darker the berry the bitter the juice. Elvis was once asked about the influence that Black music has had on his career, and whether he owed a great deal of his success to Black culture. Elvis replied "the only thing a nigger is good for is for shining my shoes."

1 comment:

Kitty said...

I said it before and I will say it again, "Oprah is tied up with those Scientologist folks and their close associates."

Elvis didn't cotton with no black folks and once or twice slid a couple of hundred dollars out of his pockets to the down and out black musicians whose songs the Colonel purchased for him.