Let the brotha live his life.
If I were old enough to vote in the 2008 and 2012 elections, I would have voted for President Obama. Hands down. Fast forward a few years, and I sometimes I really wish I was still twelve so that I didn’t have to participate in the horrid election that was the Presidential Election of 2016 for our 45th President.
I was distraught on Inauguration Day. I was in RA training, and the big TVs in one of the eateries on my campus was broadcasting the election. I watched, with some kind of horrid food in hand, (former) President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama board that helicopter. And as those choppers gave way and lifted No. 44 and his wife into the air, the camera panned back to Cheeto Satan, and I felt like someone I knew had died.
Was Barack Obama a perfect president? No. Absolutely not. And on that note, who really has been?
The unique thing about Prez. Obama’s situation is that every little thing he did was held under a microscope. I mean, what else would we expect while the first black President sat in office? The entire country held Prez. Obama to a higher standard, and we (black people) knew that if he messed up in any way, the media would flock and encircle his mistake. We also knew that Prez. Obama, as unfair as it might be and as much as we don’t want to admit it, was responsible for making sure another black person could run and get elected in the future. If Barry was out here being a radical Black Panther, it was going to be a minute before the Democrats let a black person near their coveted nomination. That’s just the reality of the situation, and you can fight me on it.
If you’re someone of color who usually occupies spaces dominated by whiteness, you know this phenomena all too well. We must be better, we tell ourselves. There’s no room to screw up, step out of line, or be too radical, for the fear that we may be looked at as a problem or that we may mess it up for the next person in line after us is very real and very valid. Until we’re sure we’re at a place in our lives where we can handle the pushback of being deemed too radical and not complacent enough, we walk the fine line of preserving our character and making sure we’re not making it too obvious that we’re black and not just really tan white people.
Would I have liked better options for the 2016 election? HELL YEAH. Would I have like four more years with Prez. Obama and FLOTUS Obama? HELL YEAH. The White House finally had some life, vibrancy, and love in it. Am I glad Prez. Obama is out of office? Yup. Well, kinda sorta.
America drifted down a weird and dangerous road back in 2008 when it elected its first black President, and it really doubled down on this alternate reality in 2012, with Prez. Obama’s re-election. To his credit, Prez. Obama even referenced this road during his Farewell Address. He said, “After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. And such a vision, however well intended, was never realistic.” Well-meaning white people (and some not-so-well-meaning white people) saw the election of Barack Obama as an answer to the million dollar question: Was racism in America over? Black people have been screaming “no” as the answer for years, decades, centuries, and Prez. Obama, the man who supposedly ending racism to these white people, was like “nah.” (He didn’t actually say that, but I’m pretty sure that’s what he was thinking.) There were so many times when a black person (or any person of color, really) would talk about racism and how it still exist in America, and a white person would hit them with “How can we still be a racist country? We have a black president.” And then they’ll follow that statement with a long list of black celebrities (Oprah, Michael Jordan, Beyoncé, etc.). For some reason, white people think that because we have some black celebrities and black people with money and power that racism just magically disappeared.
And this is why it was time for the Obamas to leave.
This illusion of a post-racial America was dangerous before, but it became even more dangerous as of late. During the election (and into this supposed President’s term), we saw a spike in the number of hate crimes being reported and showing up on our timelines. Racism, hatred, and bigotry seemed to be bursting at the seams. Racists now had a new figurehead, and he was gunning for the Oval Office. Cheeto Satan had given these bigots permission once again to be loud and proud and rail against the people of color who they feel so threatened by. This is scary, yes, but it moved people into action in unfathomable numbers.
The fact of the matter is: if you aren’t black, during Prez. Obama’s term, you were complacent and confused. Lazy. Unbothered and unmotivated. The President wasn’t directly threatening your livelihood, rights, and support groups (or those of your friends), so you figured these issues could be dealt with at a later time. Well, wake up! The time is now!
You see, black people (and other people of color, but specifically black people) knew that our lives, rights, and humanity were still under attack during Prez. Obama’s administration. Just because you have a black president doesn’t mean that racist, trigger-happy cops or a prison system that is designed to trap you will magically disappear. We knew this already, but everyone else was still basking in the afterglow of Prez. Obama’s inauguration that no one wanted to open their eyes to what was actually happening.
You know that feeling of terror you felt when Cheeto Satan was elected and then inaugurated? That feeling of despair and hopelessness, yet a burning need to stand up and do something, to fight for your right to live, exist, and prosper? Yeah, well, that feeling has existed for black people and other people of color for a very long time. Welcome to the party and nice of you to (finally) join us.
Also, as a black woman, I became mentally and emotionally drained by how much I saw President Obama, Michelle, and Sasha and Malia attacked with racist, dog-whistle, and stereotypical hate just for the mere fact that people could not stand a black family in that white house. That hurt.
And let’s be real: this country never deserved the Obama family, anyway. This country got the same crap it dealt out, only in the form of a President and not some “hidden” agenda.
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Copyright 2017 Ahtiya Liles