Askia MuhammadColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

MUHAMMAD: Cheering for AOC on the Red Carpet

One rule I learned from the #MeToo movement is to not comment about women’s appearance or their clothing. Muslims are advised to “lower your gaze” rather than leer at a woman’s appearance.

Then came the glitzy Costume Institute Gala benefit for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and because of a bold fashion statement by attendee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, I really paid attention to her and noticed that not only does she have a pretty face, but she’s endowed with a shapely figure as well. And, she has lofty principles.

It’s because of who she is — a member of the U.S. Congress representing New York — and what she wore to the soiree, whose invitations cost $50,000 each that we noticed her. What AOC wore was not a Prada, nor Givenchy, nor Michael Coors, nor was it by Yves St. Laurent. Her white, off-the-shoulder gown was by Aurora James, creator of Brother Vellies designs, which gives shelf space to Black designers. The words “Tax the Rich” in bold red were emblazoned across her backside. Bravo, AOC.

All those wealthy patrons were made to squirm. While so many of the wealthy donors just like to watch, the ingenues in attendance mostly were searching for the best ways to get noticed by revealing skin, the more skin from intimate areas of the body, the better they liked it. But not AOC. She looked cute, and by comparison, modest.

While the rich folks in attendance may have been annoyed at the intellectual jab at their pocketbooks, they’ll quickly get over it. the so-called “filthy rich” in this country saw their wealth increase.

“Twenty million Americans lost their job in the pandemic,” Biden said in remarks to Congress back in April. “At the same time, roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 trillion, and they’re now worth more than $4 trillion.”

Those wealthy rascals have earned even more billions and billions since Biden made that speech. Now it’s time, says AOC, to Tax the Rich!

Too often when we get around rich folks, we get very deferential. We laugh at their jokes that are hardly funny. We want them to like us. We address rich men, even those younger than some of our own children as “Mr. So-and-so.” Not AOC. She got up in their faces with a fashionable statement which most of them detest, but she got rave reviews and ovations from folks who appreciate her spunk.

So, while gloomy news about the weather, hurricanes, floods, and out of control wildfires made worse by human activity command most of our attention on most news days, not to mention the effort by right-wingers to seize control of the apparatus of government — by force, if necessary — there comes what blind jazz saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who is known for playing three saxophones at the same time (!) describes as “Bright Moments,” like these, when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez literally “showed out” at the glitzy Met Gala, with a dress which rubbed salt into the eyes of some of those rich folks in attendance: “Tax the Rich.”

Funny thing about the popular taste of the American people. “Regular” Americans are infatuated with the wealthy, but often infuriated by those who are smart, or who act smart. If you’re driving around in a pickup truck with three or four computers built in, that costs $80,000, many folks figure, “you’re plenty smart enough for me.”

“Tax the Rich” would make a great motto for me, if I didn’t already have a motto which this bold act by this young member of Congress calls to mind when I think about a guest at a $50,000 evening affair with only cocktail snacks served, wearing a dress with that bold note on her buns. When I think about this stunt at the Met Gala, I’ll say to myself: “Dare to giggle. Dare to grin.”

Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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