A Letter From The Editor: I Took Napkins From The White House

A Letter From The Editor: I Took Napkins From The White House Bathroom

This was written by Aiesha Letman, Managing Editor & edited by Jadriena Solomon, Senior Editor at The Shade Room.

I created a core memory, one of the most impressive in my adult years — and I have the tissue to prove it.

On Friday, December 17, 2022, I was invited to The White House to chill with the President and First Lady for their holiday reception on behalf of TSR. Trying my best to prepare before flying to D.C. from Atlanta with my plus one, I shopped for “business/festive” attire, as listed on the invite. I made sure to bring my vaccination card ahead of testing for COVID. Yet, I wasn’t ready for how I would feel inside.

I faced a dozen (rather pleasant) secret service agents and a live classical ensemble outside before entering the President’s house. As I stepped in, I took a deep breath.

I inhaled presidential air. And exhaled the nerves I held about stepping into this building — one tied to Black history in many ways that triggered me, to be honest. I took another deep breath, thinking about how rare this opportunity was, and let off a tear before getting myself together.

Down the corridor, past the coat check, a string quartet played Christmas music. And through a door to the right was a portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama.

I took my last deep breath, exhaled, and felt joy. I was stunned.

My White House Experience & Paper Souvenirs

That evening, guests ate lamb chops, pasta, greens, and desserts from a buffet. The party occurred across four salon-like rooms with portraits in each of them. Some paintings, dating back to the 1700s, decorated the walls as live classical music played through the rooms. I sipped spiked eggnog. And stared at hand-painted pictures of Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Jackie O., and more historical political figures who I assume had their portraits hand painted in that same building.

Before long, President Biden stepped into the room to address the crowd of maybe 100 guests. I had to stretch my arms up to get a photo of him from the back of the group.

Once his speech died down, I decided to head to the powder room. Inside, another guest greeted me with a pleasant “hello,” as I noticed presidential seals on the hand napkins. I used one to wipe my hands after washing them. Then I immediately thought about giving one to my mother to keep in her china cabinet. I thought of taking another for myself to display on my living room bookshelf. Then I gently stuffed two napkins into my purse.


The Shade Room had a short but impactful history with the White House in 2022. This year, we shared breaking news regarding Biden’s student loan relief plan. We had an exclusive interview addressing Monkeypox misconceptions with Dr. Fauci. And more information straight from White House staff. It’s been a pleasure to serve our audience of over 30 million Roomies news that propels our culture, and the world, forward.

While looking in the White House bathroom mirror, I felt proud to be ending the year like this with my own, presidential-sealed napkins stuffed in my hand bag. And I am not sorry about it, at all.

The napkins with the Presidential seal that I took. (The White House 2022/iPhone)


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