This article is a little different than most. This article on Obama was supposed to be a reflection on a decade of the Obama era. Being that his tenure of presidency is coming to an end, and he have made a serious mark on history and the people of the United States, it’s only right to do a column on the man. I found writing this column incredibly difficult in the normal format articles or blogs are written. So for this one, I’m figuring a “collection of essays” format similar to the writings of James Baldwin or Eldridge Cleaver. This is the only way I can do it, so, here we go…
Holy Crap, Did You See That Guy at that (Democrat) Convention?
When I first saw Senator Obama, he came out of nowhere. It was roughly 2007 or so when I first got note of the man. Senator Obama was a royally young prince from out of Chicago, who, had a loud booming voice. The way he conducted his speeches, the way he sounds… I’ll have to say black folks have not seen anything like him (on the political stage) for a very long time. How come there’s not more of him?
The warmth of his voice was buttressed by his seemingly infinite cool. His disposition was amazing; by the time his speech ended at that Democratic Convention I already have made my assessment that this is a man that is unstoppable, who is capable of doing anything, which includes becoming the first black president of the United States. After his speech at that Democratic Convention in 2007, I said myself that this guy is going to be President. (Looks like I called that one right.)
Senator Obama (2007) looked like one of those dangerously polished black folks; a man who all men would either admire or fear, and a man whose looks and voice would wet the thighs of women of all races, colors, and ages. Senator Obama was most certainly a man that caught my admiration… after all of this time, being articulate, “intelligent black guy” there was a man to look at and be like, “that’s the level I’m on.” This guy is going to be the next President on the United States. He’s winning. And he’s unstoppable.
Thoughts on Fear: Fearing For Barrack’s Safety
I remember in 2007… I’m not sure of the month… but I remember coming across a discussion on Obama and one woman, a black woman between her twenties and thirties, saying that she didn’t want Obama to succeed in becoming the president of the United States.
I was of course, a bit caught off guard.
The woman’s concern was very genuine; she really didn’t want to see an assassination of a first black president. Honestly, I get it… I most certainly didn’t want to see that either. While understanding her, I had an immense rebuttal.
I pointed out to her that there’s numerous black people who risk their lives everyday. If a black man can join military service and fight wars he may or may not believe in, then a black man can become President of the United States. Black military folk suffer the threat of being shot, or blown up, killed or captured my enemies of the Unites States; many have been killed during the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. If a young black man can die for his country, the same can be said for an old one serving at another capacity.
I wasn’t afraid for Barrack, and told that woman that she shouldn’t be either. I wonder if I changed a life, one who might be based on fear.
Thoughts on my little brothers: Born seeing a black President
When Senator Obama arrived on the scene to capture the presidency in 2008, I never seen anything more beautiful. This isn’t the type of beauty that’s based on aesthetics of what something looks like; this was a conceptual beauty of a reality shattered and reborn.
When I was a child (remembering all the way down to kindergarten) I remember always having dreams and plans of what to become as an adult. When I was a kid, my answer to the “What you wanna be when you grow up?” question was, “A scientist!” (which more or less did happen). When other black kids and students had the answers like “President of the United States!”, on both black and white teachers had an oddly specific response to this.
As a kid, it didn’t register in my head, but looking back as an adult I have the capacity to decypher the faces. The white teacher had a smile that was either very mechanical and treacherous, as if he knew that that wasn’t going to ever happen but as an educator he has to facilitate the dreams of children… or dangerously naive just like the child, because this is the white person who “doesn’t see racism”, and thinks everything is peaches.
The black teachers however — the ones who had the least white identity matter in their brains — their response to the possible black president answer was one of hidden despair. They wanted to be positive, because they couldn’t. Their souls have weathered the storm a child has no idea of. The black teachers, as well as black adults ranging from uncles, aunts and parents… they all had the same look. Some parents’ response to the “wanna be president someday” declaration was gut-wrenchingly cynical. Some parents told their children that such a thing would never happen. This is not due to the notion of a parent not believing in their child’s talents, but a firm understanding of how
AmeriKKKa America works. It’s like if there’s an electric fence down the street, or a rabid dog down the street, you’re gonna warm your child. The teachers wished they can warm our children, warm us. They could not, and were thus stuck between facilitators of dreams and realistic black folk. That’s why they had that look in their face. Well, after November 2007, not anymore.
The beauty President-Elect Obama was that he effectively killed an era of moderated, tone policed hope. When my little brothers say they want to be president someday… well, shit, they were children in the existence of a black president. How effective that black president is, and how and who that president serves is another essay… but still, President Obama’s existence did something for all of us. Something that was once deemed impossible is now possible. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing. I have no idea how the teachers look at our inspired black youth now. I imagine it’s different now. If it isn’t, it damn well should be.
A More Perfect Union: “The Race Speech”
“This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.” ~ Candidate Obama, March 18, 2008, Philadelphia, PA
The strategic reveal of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s sermon (that Obama didn’t even attend) was damaging to Candidate Obama’s campaign. Reverend Wright’s sermon was used to paint the picture of a “black radical Obama”, as if Barrack Obama has been inculcated in numerous sermons which of course, suggest that both he and Rev. Wright “hates America”. Back then, I had no idea what white fragility was. Looking at the reaction now… just wow. Looking at what Rev. Wright stated, there’s nothing but truth in all he said. Rev. Wright was far from the firebrand preacher Fox News and conservative media made him out to be. For starters, let’s look at what he said:
“[The United States] government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth is they believed that all white men were created equal. The truth is they did not even believe that white women were created equal, in creation nor civilization. The government had to pass an amendment to the Constitution to get white women the vote. Then the government had to pass an equal rights amendment to get equal protection under the law for women.”
“The government still thinks a woman has no rights over her own body, and between Uncle Clarence who sexually harassed Anita Hill, and a closeted Klan court, that is a throwback to the 19th century, handpicked by Daddy Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, between Clarence and that stacked court, they are about to undo Roe vs. Wade, just like they are about to un-do affirmative action. The government lied in its founding documents and the government is still lying today. Governments lie.” ~Rev. Wright on U.S. government”
“The government lied about Nelson Mandela and our CIA helped put him in prison and keep him there for 27 years. The South African government lied on Nelson Mandela. Governments lie. The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposely infected African American men with syphilis.” ~Rev Wright on government hypocrisies”
“And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating her citizens of African descent fairly, America failed.” ~ Reverend Wright on more government hypocrisies
“She put them in chains, the government put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton field, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness.” ~ Reverend Wright on yet even more government hypocrisies
“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing “God Bless America”. No, no, no, not God Bless America. God damn America — that’s in the Bible — for killing innocent people. God damn America, for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America, as long as she tries to act like she is God, and she is supreme. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent.” ~ Reverend Wright on even MORE government hypocrisies!
(Reverend Wright was fucking right about everything he said!)
Anyway, Candidate Obama’s speech on race relations was among the most beautifully constructed speeches he’s ever given, and, it let the whole world know that he was not a man who is thwarted so easily. Upon further reflection, the speech was also as empty as a banana peel, which gave the socio-politically aware black person insight on how he will become president of the United States.
“They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America.” ~ Obama
Candidate Obama, in this speech that many folk champion as his best, already began laying down the groundwork for how to become a black president: You pretend the reality of racism does not exist. You deny both history and modern day, and you execrate those who are radically honest in mentioning such. From here, it must be understood that Obama had a cognitive understanding that he will have to effectively duck and dodge the reality of racism in America, especially as a black president.
One of the recurring themes that you’ll find with President Obama’s “race speeches” is how he infinitely attempts to place both white and black problems on the same scale. In the advent of police brutality and the criminal justice system, Obama for example always tries to justify white wrath in the face of the fears and frustrations that blacks have with let’s say…. racism within the criminal justice system for example. White and black people are NOT on the same level of fear and terror. Black people didn’t create racism; whites did. Barrack Obama frequently speaks as if there’s this racial peace, and every time a black person speaks about racism it breaks this peace. Obama, like most, obfuscates peace with silence. Black people have never known an era of peace in the United States, ever. So no, whites are not in the same boat.
In the Republican campaign and conservative media trying to demonize Obama by giving him a “radical black” association, all they done was give him a target. Instead of logically concluding that Rev. Wright (and to a larger extent, the black community) has a point and is still being bullied by the white America, he joined in on the mayhem. Rev. Wright, representing free black thought, was put on trial, and was executed by hanging that day. In my opinion, the effect was no different than when Bill Clinton decided to strategically watch the execution of Ricky Ray Rector in 1992 — the point was the convey the message, “Yes, White America. I’m cold enough to put any nigga down.”
“We Hope He Fails” – Republican Party
I have to speak on the day I heard that Republicans stating that they hope President Obama fails. This declaration from conservative media, who, without question, controls the Republican Party, was among the most strangest things I’ve ever seen in my life. How can a man be that hated already? Want him to fail? Doesn’t that mean America fails too!? Are you actually that incredibly selfish?
The years that followed were nothing but obstruction. Sure, Obama had the Democrats controlling the Senate and the House at first, but during the majority of his tenure the Republican Party became the party of obstruction.
The biggest problem with how childish the Republican Party has become, is the fact that they normalized a ton of destructive political behaviors. Government shutdown strategies? Claiming the President is illegitimately in office? Birther Conspiracies? Falsely accusing him with being of a religion he isn’t? Immense disagreement?
The more I think of it, I think the Republican Party is jealous of the fact that there’s no one like him within the GOP. I think the Republican Party wished Obama existed as a good looking, great sounding minority pet of right-wing politics. I assess, that if Obama was a Republican, then the rest of the GOP would bow down to him and anoint him as the Next Reagan wannabe.
In addition to this, I believe that had Barrack Obama been born a white man named Barry Owen or Brad O’Connor or something, all of this obstruction wouldn’t even exist. Sure, there would be disagreement here and there. Sure, there would be healthy political debate. But the Republican Party would have never made it their mission to solely see the president fail, however. If Obama was white, there would be no grand scale misinformation campaign on him. Keep in mind that the last 40 presidents did not have grotesque lies placed upon them, totally myths of their existence that subtract from their humanity.
Between Barrack and a Hard Place: Thoughts on Obama Hate
The pure hatred of President Obama placed Black America in a very fascinating position. As America’s designated “boogeyman”, black people are well aware of the the struggle to cancel negative stereotypes. You see, as a black man (or woman) in America, you are more or less forced to be better than anyone else in order to succeed. As a black person there’s no such thing as middle; either you succeed or you fail. Either you are incredibly amazing or you are lame. To be mediocre, to be lame, a failure or so, you are most likely going to be (stay) poor.
To be poor, you’re more likely to be considered the thug or criminal even though you never engage in any associated behaviors of. Trust me, being poor (or simply not rich) plus the skin tone is more than enough to suffer the demonization of the black race, by white people. To make it, so to speak, there is an illusion that you as a black person should be above the mechanical stereotyping and social biases against black people. If you are a professional or career black person — middle-class or wealthy — there’s an illusion of safety from white supremacy. There’s an illusion of safety from racism. This illusion of safety from racism is so fierce there’s actually many black people who actually buy into the narrative. There’s actually black people, wealthy or so, who literally join in on reinforcing the illusion, to the point of execrating black people who haven’t made it, anathematizing black people who are stuck in the prison industrial complex, stuck in the projects.
Right now, this illusion should be remarkably shattered. Looking at the amount of hate and opposition that Obama faced as a President — a man who does everything fairly and earned everything he owns — it should be self-evident It doesn’t matter how successful you are as a black person.
Respectability politics in regards to the common black person should be over. Made it to the highest office in the land? They will just deny your legitimacy. No matter how successful you are as a black person, you will always be considered a nigger in their eyes. Oh I’m sorry, let’s use white America’s favorite euphemism — you will always be considered a “thug”. Words may change, but racist sentiments and ideologies have not.
Thoughts on how Obama uses his inherent “Blackness”
It should be known by now that there’s an inherent blackness that goes with the essence of Obama. In regards to Obama’s blackness, I most certainly accept and approve of how he exists as a professional with his characteristically black disposition. The problem I have with Obama and his blackness is how it seems he uses his blackness to gloss over the fact that he doesn’t do anything in regards to combating institutional racism in America. Obama is guilty of doing nothing for black people, generally speaking. Technically Obama’s outward showings of black identity are mostly ooh-aah distractions from the fact that he refuses to engage in approaching systemic racism.
In regards to Black America President Obama is highly likeable, and his likeability is linked to his charm, cool-headed disposition and a variety of other behaviors. Most people tend to attempt to use their likeability to mask the fact that they are not solving problems, and Obama does this in spades. As a person who campaigned on Hope and Change, it’s frustrating as a black abolitionist to be kept waiting for Obama to really engage in action concerning racism in America.
Obama has addressed sexism. Obama has addressed homophobia. Obama has addressed transgender hate. Obama has yet to — with radical honesty — address racism in America. I’m not talking about the mere bread crumbs of mention; I’m talking about problem identifying and problem solving like how he addresses everything else. For a black lawyer to become president of the United States and not attempt to eradicate systemic racism… I’m going to have to say that I’m not okay with that.
President Obama will most certainly retain his high popularity when he leaves office.
President Obama has hinted that after presidency he’s going to be more vocal on “the issues”. As an abolitionist, I’m a bit pissed.
Why wait? Why wait until he’s not president anymore? What power and/or authority would he have that he couldn’t use while still in office? Black people are tired of waiting. Tired of forgiving. Tired of hoping.
So after nine years of getting to know Barrack Obama… we are all left still hoping.
President Obama, the Last American President
President Obama might be, perhaps, the last president if the United States.
You know… President, of the United States. I don’t know about most, but I prefer me presidents to be, well, presidential. Looking at how America chose the least presidential person to run the executive branch, it is clear that standards of politics in America is going to take a severe shift. Trump’s ascension to presidency may create a new (actually, old) blueprint for presidential candidates to follow.
It is a shame that, out of all the hardship President Obama was given by merely being a successful black man, he will have to side-seat with Trump far more than any president has ever done with a presidential-elect. As a guy who is an intellectual, it has to be gut-wrenching to have to train an under-qualified, reality-TV star to be president of the United States in a month’s time. I personally feel sorry for Barrack on the account that he has to have the patience to train up a man who has the attention span of a nine year old.
America has selected a pathological narcissist as their President. Trump is a man who requires constant admiration — which is why he needs to go on tours to be in front of crowds. Being that Trump engages in conspiracy theories, racism, sexism and other xenophobias, Obama might be the last, final President of the United States.
Despite the fact that you didn’t fulfill our needs as the black community, you will be missed Mr. President.
See you around, Barrack Obama.