Yes We Did: Obama Farewell
Well folks, today it hit me. To quote Kevin McCall’s verse from Deuces, “like Tina did Ike in the limo it finally hit me”… the Obama family has left the White House. President Obama served two terms, so we all knew this day was coming but I think many of us hoped time would somehow slow down a bit. The 2016 presidential election was one for the history books as we saw unprecedented mud slinging and media frenzy, especially between the two primary candidates. In the two months following Donald Trump’s victory, I seemed to begin taking mental inventory of all the things I either liked or disliked about the Obama administration. What resulted is exactly what lead me to vote for Barack Obama a second time, I genuinely trusted his judgement and ability to lead our country.
By January 10th when he gave his farewell address to the American people I most definitely had to come to terms with reality and let him go. To be honest, I felt like I was being dumped; rather kindly and eloquently but dumped nonetheless. I’ve been with this man for as long as I’ve been with my fiance. How dare he leave me – leave us? The 22nd Amendment prohibits any American president from serving more than two terms (thanks FDR), so as I and many of you cope with this break up of sorts, I’ve decide to list a few things I’ll take away from Barack Obama’s presidency.
- Always Go High – Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2016 DNC was one of the most memorable political speeches in history, given by anyone, not just a first lady. She spoke of the challenges she and her family have faced their entire political career. Challenges won because of the many unknown battles she and Barack faced as individuals and as a young family in Chicago. She reminded America that the White House itself was built on the backs of her ancestors, enslaved Africans whose descendants would be oppressed for centuries. Finally, she instructed us that “when they go low, we go high”. A peak into her family’s motto, even in the midst of an ugly campaign. A call for us to take the high road and err on the side of integrity and dignity, even in politics. Something we’d seen her husband do continually since his 2008 campaign when bullies screamed for his birth certificate, published racist cartoons of his family, and labeled him a terrorist.
- Keep Your Word – From the very beginning President Obama’s mission for the country was clear and his intentions were made known. Whether you agreed with his proposed policies or not, at least you knew what they were and how he planned to implement said policies. National health care, Gun control, and Economic Stability were the three major goals of Obama’s entire eight year presidency. Each of these goals represented a bench mark achievement for our nation. Inheriting a country going through what is now called the Great Recession and coming off the clutches of both an Iraq and Afghani war (which ultimately lead to the elimination of Bin Laden), Obama managed to stay focused on the long term. Although congress refused to pass stricter gun control laws, we have raised employment levels to 52% and 95% of the country is medically insured.
- Family First – In a culture where the most popular tv shows include shows where Black couples are violent, Black children are disrespectful and poor students, Black fathers are absent or uneducated, Black mothers are angry and belligerent – the Obama’s have dismantled these perceived norms. Some say they’ve represented what Black America aspires to be, I say that represented what we already are. Yes, we seem to live up to some stereotypes, but this is true for every ethnicity in this country. However, Barack and Michelle have shown America that a Black family can indeed be the nation’s first family without the shame, scandal, treason, and dishonesty of the many who’ve come before. Better than the Huxtable’s, the Obama’s as a true power couple have shown us all how to love and lead. Michelle modeled how to be an independent, educated Black woman but embrace the title of Mom-In-Chief. She talked early on about insisting that the president be done his duties by 6:30 to have family dinner or how they make a point of date nights… even in the White House. Sasha and Malia have grown into beautiful, intelligent young women, carrying themselves with dignity and grace. Finally, Barack has shown us all that being an affectionate, loving husband and father is not a weakness. It doesn’t subtract from his manhood that he cried over the Sandy Hook shootings or admitted to being unable to be his best self without Michelle.
This was a historic presidency for so many reasons, but if nothing else the Obama’s brought dignity and grace to the oval office. They won the hearts of the American people and as a result they’ll forever hold a place in my heart!