Black and White in Color 

Right after the election, a black therapist friend remarked she was noticing more black woman / white man couples on the street lately. That day, I saw an Embassy Suites web banner, a Banana Republic magazine ad, and a tourism ad in Bon Appetitmagazine, each one featuring a black woman partnered with a white man. Months before, Esquire magazine had declared Halle Berry -- the product of a white mother and a black father -- the sexiest woman alive. Culture and behavior were being shaped by politics. Was it any wonder when a man with a black father and white mother seized the nation's driver's seat? Despite the collective political ebullience, the dark side of the national psyche hovers.

In The City, retail stores sprout fields of bright colors, clothing in every shade of the rainbow, a pronounced departure from the traditional staples of black, blue, beige that are the backbone of San Francisco street couture. Are the vivid hues a manic defense against the dark, depressing financial and political uncertainties of our time? Victoria's Secret posters feature models exhibiting the current mass ideal of increasingly larger bust size. In these dismal times, perhaps we're all hoping for a warm, generous, nurturing mother bursting with abundant benevolence.

This endemic national depression may be reflected back in the popularity of the highly-buzzed AMC cable show, Mad Men. Making its debut less than a year ago, it won two Golden Globe awards and six Emmys. Set in the Manhattan advertising community of the early 1960s, it depicts a world where largely, men had the power, and women knew their place -- generally at home in the 'burbs, wiping tiny noses and trying not to burn the tuna casserole as they silently suffered their husbands' extracurricular activities. Divorce was shocking, birth control a license for licentiousness. Everyone sucked cigarettes, anxious as babies gasping for the breast. We may be progressive enough to finally elect an Obama, but secretly we're still longing for the supposedly good old days -- when someone doused in rose perfume waits at home in an apron, ready to welcome us back from the awful trenches of the modern world. As they say, got milk?

Cleopatra Victoria, MFT