As we ready ourselves to hear President Obama’s farewell address from Chicago tonight, I find myself facing what I’ve been trying to avoid for some time: having to really say goodbye. I’ve been slowly but surely feeling it as each last thing happens, but it’s really coming to a head; in 10 days this country will look a lot different.
From a political standpoint we can all haggle over how we felt about different policies & the way things were handled in the last 8 years by the Obama administration, but as we are seeing with what is to come, there is a great deal to appreciate about having The Obamas represent our country. I’ll never forget what it felt like to sit literally right in front of the TV in 2008 & watch it be declared that Barack Obama was our president elect. The impact was immediate. The tears came on strong. Watching as the Obama family walked out waving in celebration of that historic moment. Yes we can, yes we did, & yes we celebrated. At the time I felt a bit of disappointment, being just shy of being able to vote, but still I felt the surge of gratefulness & joy. The history of this country has shown us that things like that don’t often happen. It was a long shot. A phenomena. It felt like a miracle. Certainly a dream come true.
Was it all about him being Black? No. But that had plenty to do with it. Think what you want to think about how far we’ve come, looking at what has happened since, we should know how incredible it was to have a Black president. The 90s & early 00s show that we had thought the posibillity of a Black president was only a thing in movies & jokes. Plenty of Black comedians joked about it & why it wouldn’t happen. Then it did. What a time! There are people alive right now that have only ever had a Black president of the United States.
For nearly a decade, the Obamas have been symbols of hope, of what the American Dream should look like, of dignity, grace, & intellect. That good-looking couple moved into the White House & opened the floodgates for so much. Unfortunately, racists were incensed with having a Black president & what we see today is the wretched result, but aside from that, we could feel them pushing the doors wide open & inviting us all inside. I just think about what it meant to sit in the bleachers of my gymnasium on January 20, 2009 & watch as President Barack Obama, mixed race son of a single mother, who went from bumming around Hawaii not knowing what to do to finding his place in public service &, through hardwork & vision, sailed straight through to the White House. It was a glorious day that made it feel like anything was possible.
There are so many favorite moments in the administration, so many firsts. With what is coming our way I think we’ll truly be able to appreciate what we have witnessed & taken part in over the last 8 years. From hope to hopelessness, many of us have found ourselves & as we gear up to watch the Obamas depart, having watched Sasha & Malia grow from cute little girls to beautiful young women, we must take a minute to reflect on what has been & what we need to insist continue. It is with a heavy heart & I’m sure plenty of tears that I will sit down & watch the address tonight. Just a little over a week of having President Barack Obama in office. Don’t call me on the 20th, I’ll be in mourning.
And what do we say about our First Lady? Michelle Obama has been such a beacon of light for us all. I mean, really, I could go on & on & on & on about her. She is just so beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, generous, loving, funny, & graceful. In the face of unbelievable disrespect, she has maintained her dignity & continued to be a shining example of “When they go low, we go high”. I’m not going to pretend like I won’t miss her most of all. I won’t feel better until they resettle in Chicago & I can at least feel that sense of proximity to her. I know it won’t be for at least a few years, but I need something to get me through.
The sorrow is real, even as we lovingly reflect on this administration. I just have to send out there to President Barack Obama (Still my president), First Lady Michelle Obama, Sasha, Malia, & even Sunny & Bo, I’m going to miss you all so much & I am so grateful to have lived for so long with you all as the face of my country. I can’t even begin to describe what it has meant as a young, Black woman. Going forward as I find myself having to fight for things I shouldn’t have to fight for & work against a regime that will try it’s damndest to undo what you’ve done, it will be with the example that you have shown that I continue to hold my head & know what we can be. Yes, we still can. Thank you for showing us that. Below is a video of a tribute to President Obama: