Sunday, November 04, 2018

Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents by Pete Souza

Let's start with the definition of "throwing shade" from Merriam-Webster. The dictionary says it's a "subtle, sneering expression of contempt for or disgust with someone - sometimes verbal, and sometimes not." When White House photographer Pete Souza started posting his photos on Instagram, contrasting pictures of President Obama with tweets from Trump, readers started commenting that he was throwing shade. The title of Souza's latest book is Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents.

Souza started using photos of President Obama's actions in contrast with Trump's tweets as early as January 2017 when Trump insisted the inauguration had "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period." Well, no. According to Souza's photo, "The biggest crowd in history was really on January 20, 2009", and he illustrated that with a two-page spread showing the crowds on the Mall during President Obama's inauguration.

Month by month, sometimes day by day, he examines the outrageous tweets made my the current resident of the White House, including comments about the White House itself, "this incredible house or building, or whatever you want to call it." Yes, it's called the White House. Souza's comments and photos go from Jan. 21, 2017 to June 14, 2018.

Sometimes, Souza's comments and accompanying photos cause laughter. Other times, it's hard to comprehend the lack of knowledge exhibited in those tweets. In my case, I felt nostalgia and sadness that we're missing dignity and a sense of humor in the White House. We're missing respect for the office of the Presidency and for people in this country, no matter who the people are.

The only way to end the commentary about Shade is to end with a few of Souza's final comments. "Throwing shade is one thing, but it's time for us to take the next step. It's not enough to voice disbelief at what's taking place. Let's use our energy to do something about it."

"Vote, for one. Help others get to the polls. March in the streets for issues that are important to you. Write or call your Congressperson about how you feel. It all matters."

Pete Souza's website is He's on Twitter and Instagram @petesouza.

Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents by Pete Souza. Little, Brown & Company, 2018. ISBN 9780316421829 (hardcover), 240p.

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