One Last Time, Thank You President Obama
Like a lot of Americans, particularly those of us of African descent, I’m all in my feelings as President Barack Hussein Obama, his incredible wife and First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, and their amazing daughters Malia and Sasha bid adieu to the White House after 8 long, yet short years. There are already so many think pieces on Obama covering multiple angles of his presidency: His stance against racism and police brutality in the era of the first Black president, his efforts towards reversing climate change, his battles against an intransigent Republican congress, and of course “Obamacare”.
This isn’t one of them. This here is just one brotha’s inelegant but honest attempt at saying “Thank You President Obama” to a man, who together with his family, literally changed the world.
Thank you President Obama for daring to do what many thought would never be done, at least not in this lifetime. By becoming America’s first Black president, you took the entire diaspora from slaves, to housemaids and mammies, to the most powerful house in the free world. Oh how the ancestors must have wept as their son walked into the White House not as a slave or servant, but as its master!
Now some may argue that you didn’t do enough for the Black community on certain issues (Hey Dr. West! Hey Tavis!), and while certain points may be debatable, you never shied away from your Blackness and neither did your family. You married to a strong, fiercely intelligent Black woman from the Southside of Chicago, and together brought up two beautiful Black queens in the process.
I remember when you were elected and my roommates and I being ecstatic about the White House smelling like Motions Pink Lotion for the first time. Of course we have no idea what hair products your family use, but just the idea that items like cocoa butter, Murray’s hair grease, wave caps and hair bonnets were now on the presidential shopping list brought us so much joy. The same sentiment was on full display when you let 5-year-old Jacob Philadelphia touch your hair so he could see that the President of the United States was just like him.
I remember one of my first stories on Parle was about how the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (PTFA) saved my roommate and I from potential homelessness after discovering that our landlord hadn’t paid the mortgage on the house in months. It was right smack in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression. The PTFA you and a Democrat-led congress passed gave us seed money for our own apartments. Without it, neither of us would’ve been able to afford our respective down payments and first month’s rent, especially on such short notice. I thanked you then in that piece, and I thank you now.
I remember how the GOP slighted you at every turn, including Rep. Joe Wilson shouting, “You lie!” while you were in the middle of a presidential address. I remember your humble attempts to work with Republicans on economic stimulus packages, health care reform, and more, even though GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell brazenly bragged they wouldn’t work with you. They even secretly met the night of your inauguration to devise a plan of intransigence and disrespect that would last until your final day in office.
I remember how for 8 years you and your family didn’t give us any scandals. There were no shady business or investment deals, no tawdry affairs or mistresses, no DUIs – nothing. Just a regular American family refusing to let the international spotlight burn their family unit to the ground. The Obamas are the epitome of Black love, Black strength, and the power, love and unbreakable bond of the Black family. In you, we see us, and not the media caricatures mainstream America has made us out to be for centuries. For all of this and more, I can only say one thing:
Thank you President Obama.
P.S. If Michelle wanna change her mind and run, we wouldn’t be mad at her!
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