It is believed that people create their best work when stressed, depressed, grieving, or just plain ol’ hurt. Well, just like many others across this country (across the globe) I am in mourning. Uncle O and Tee Tee ‘Chelle leaving, y’all. They can’t pass go. They can’t collect $200. There will never be another and if there is, they won’t be quite like the first BLACK family.
I was still wet behind the ears when Uncle O took office. I had turned 18 four months prior to him being voted as the president-elect so with 2008 being my first time voting, I find it nothing short of a blessing to witness such a moment. Uncle O made a trip to Mizzou (my alma mater) a few days before voting day. The line to see him probably stretched all the way down 70 and I remember several people were pissed that a few friends and I cut the line. What can I say? Much like Sasha, I had class that morning and couldn’t catch this occasion until my work was complete.
I had never seen anything like it. The atmosphere was pleasant. No, the atmosphere was LIT but we weren’t saying LIT in ‘08 but it fits the story so there have you.
This man was free of smile lines, few sprinkles of grey on the top of his head, but still had that same wide smile that made his eyes disappear when he showed his teeth. I had never been engaged in “politics” prior to this election and honestly, I never really cared to. Witnessing his campaign and his election, being able to see him in person before he became President elect, seeing him and Tee Tee ‘Chelle balance parenthood in the public eye and salvaging any type of normalcy they could find was beyond admirable to me. It makes me yearn for it all the more knowing the type of person we got coming in behind him.
“Politics” is a funny concept. The older I get, the more I realize it is something one can never get away from and has little control over how it is executed but much control over how one responds to it. When it came down to it, it HAS and WILL effect me whether I am 17 or 71 so why not try to engage and understand it. Uncle O poured Lawry’s onto the unseasoned plate of politics and made it easier (and more attractive) to digest. To say that he ran his presidency free of mistakes and issues would be extremely naive of me, however, his successes far outweigh the failures and on behalf of MOST Blacks (I won’t say all), I’ll tell you why….
For all the Black parents whoever told their Black child, “you can be whatever you want to be…EVEN the President of the United States” not knowing if they believed themselves when they said it but got to see it come to fruition with him- not just once but TWICE!
For all the Black women fawning at how much he loves his lady and his girls – how he broke stereotypes among stereotypes that Black men don’t love Black women and they leave their children behind to be raised by the ills of the world.
For all the Black people who went to apple itunes and blasted Let’s Stay Together by Al Green after he swooned us for a few seconds at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.
For the 12,000 inmates (most of which happen to be Black and Brown) who received a grant under the Second Chance Pell Grant Program who are now able to pursue two & four year degrees!
For all the Black men who found solace and unity amongst one another through the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.
For the many Blacks who now (for now) have health insurance coverage under the ACA.
For all the Black people who continue to push and persevere past opposition for the betterment of themselves and their families. Obama had to move past a petty a*s congress who actively chose not to stamp anything he introduced and he STILL kept it pushing.
For all the Black people who have been letting the world know how truly racist this country is for YEARS and Obama’s administration helped exposed it. Maybe we can actually work towards progression now that we (THEY) have admitted that this country has a problem…but then there’s trump.
For all the Black grannies who put a picture of Uncle O next to Jesus and MLK, and if they were really involved in politics – JFK.
For the 1000+ individuals (many Black and Brown) who received pardons/commutations for a second chance at life.
For those who are super heavy into “facts” (but with the current president elect, I don’t know how….nvm), those are some facts for you. Some of which are measurable and others aren’t, but doesn’t make them any less valid.
The argument that our love for him is solely because he is Black is not accurate – it makes it all the more beautiful.
I didn’t have a Black professor until I got to graduate school in the Fall of 2015 – at the age of 25. I’ve had Black custodians, secretaries, librarians, bus drivers, lunch ladies, security guards, referees, coaches….you catch my drift? To walk in to class and see that Black lady with them long locs and her unapologetic style of teaching – I sat at attention EVERY DAMN DAY. The idea of what she had to go through to get to where she is, at one of the most prestigious private schools in the country lends itself enough compassion and empathy from me to her. I wanted to pay attention. I wanted to be engaged. I wanted to lead discussion and participate in each class session because if it took me 25 years (21 of which I was actually enrolled in school) to have a Black teacher, who the hell knows how long it would be before that happens again! I was committed to do my best not just because I wanted to get an A, but she made me want to learn.
Same with Uncle O. Politics is dry as hell to me, but he made me want to know more, made me want to understand, made me want to get involved, and made me care.
For all the butt-hurt people who to this day swear up and down that Uncle O did nothing for Blacks, the key is to understand that he is not the President of Blacks; he is the leader of the country surrounded by folks who get off on the very idea of seeing him fail and will sacrifice their firstborn to see him do it.
How engaged were you with your local elections? How many school board meetings did you attend? How many coats did you drop off to the homeless in the winter time? Did you take up a leadership position with your child’s PTO organization at school? Do you volunteer at all? What information did you give up about that unsolved murder you knew about?
If you are going to offer up some complaints, have some solutions to follow up with it.
What are you doing to help Black people? It’s a collective effort with AND without Uncle O.
I’m off my soap box.
We need to keep each other lifted in prayer. This mourning is real. Clearly, the sadness that 2016 brought asked for an extension. I don’t know about y’all but I got my incense lit, Butter Pecan ice cream stocked in the freezer for comfort, Bobby Womack cued up on the record player, and my book of Proverbs open.
In the ever-so-relevant words of Minister K Dot: “We gone be alright.”
*cues Please Don’t Go by Boyz 2 Men*