As you’ve probably heard, Aretha Franklin died today at her home in Detroit. Kathleen has been in writing lockdown for an event the last few days and I’ve asked her if she’d like to write about Aretha and her significance for tomorrow. We are sorry we aren’t able to get this up immediately but I know Kathleen would want to take her time with a piece like that and give Ms Franklin the care and consideration she deserves and has earned. 

This morning my friend and colleague Marci Ien talked at our meeting about what Aretha stood for, how she made a difference in her community, how through her art she voiced dissent and demanded equality. I was reminded of a moment of personal shame. Remember the hat Aretha wore at Barack Obama’s inauguration? And how so many people laughed? I mean I loved it. But I also laughed and didn’t understand that it was more than just an extra diva moment. 

A friend of mine very kindly educated me on the significance of that hat, explaining to me that for the black community, it was like church that day, it was a day of worship, and for Aretha Franklin, a black woman and civil rights advocate, seeing a black man become the President of the United States was so monumental, she wore her Sunday best to show her respect. Laughing at the hat then, or mocking it, as many people did, and believing that Aretha was out for attention that day, was ignorant. I was ignorant. I was also lucky that there was someone in my life who had the time and the patience and the grace to inform me. It shouldn’t have been her responsibility but she assumed it anyway. I’m reminded of this today and I should remember it every day – that I have blindspots and awareness gaps, and this underscores the importance of diversity and inclusion, what Aretha Franklin fought for during her life.

Do you think Justin Timberlake is thinking about that today? Please. 

This f-cking guy. 

How much of Aretha Franklin’s face can you see in this shot? How much of HIS face can you see? He’s paying tribute to a legend and somehow – SHOCKINGLY – it’s all about him and his f-cking face and the time HE got to sing with her…  

It’s breathtaking, isn’t it? His capacity to do this, reliably, each and every time? Spectacularly breathtaking.