To be honest, I did not expect any form of emotional dissonance upon the departing of President Barack Obama.
Mainly because I don’t regard myself as a particularly political person. So, of course, in my attempts to be a responsible American, I loosely followed his Presidential exploits, but I was largely emotionally divorced from them. Even his groundbreaking, political definition reassignment of what marriage is, didn’t draw me in much. I wrote about it, yes, but I wrote to and about the Church. Not him or the government really.
My prevailing sentiment has been that, ultimately, Government’s gon Gov! We can vote and push and whatnot, but without taking up simultaneous residence in all of the significant places of influential power, it largely wouldn’t amount to much. That’s the system we have. It takes decades to achieve the smallest amounts of change. And even though Obama was black (a powerful point NOT to be overlooked), I also knew he was President of everybody. He wasn’t going into office to help black people out of the hole- he was going into office to use his hands to invoke healing upon an entire nation.
That wasn’t a bad thing either, per se. That’s a potent office to hold, an immaculate burden to carry. But the facts remained- he had a major mission, rooted in political lore, that didn’t necessarily have a whole lot to do with me. And his wasn’t a “spiritual” Presidency in a visceral sense, so my investment wasn’t piqued in that way either.
All of these things are true.
And none of them mattered.
Because when 2017 commenced and he began final tours and final speeches and the last of everything, it hit me like a pile of bricks.
Obama is really leaving. He’s no longer going to be President.
Barack Obama is the type of man who could just… rule forever. Could just run the country until he dies or passes it off. Especially armed with his dynamic partner in awesome epic classiness, Michelle Obama. The thing that they taught me most is that you can believe in people and not all of their policies, if the people are genuinely loving and selfless people. Which they are!
He’s really leaving.
He’s really gone out of office.
I then remembered back to 2008, when I voted for him. I remembered what a big deal it was. A black man as President? Who WASN’T crazy? What? Whose mantra was about hope? What? YES!
And what a legendary run he had. 8 years, no scandal.
That’s plenty right there. 8 years and no scandal! I would dare wager, that’s a first in American Presidential history. The people he would invite to the White House, the many personal trips he and Michelle made, the honor he strove to show to those overlooked, their overall preoccupation with doing good. Treating others better than they were treated. And not with bitterness, but with class and poise. Style and grace. Suavity and humour. Obama was cool.
All of this reminiscing took me back to this phenomenal Blackish moment.
And the final walls fell down.
Because that was all true.
He was such a symbol of hope and I was terrified he’d be shot on that walk… or anytime in office. It wasn’t until he got elected for his second term that I finally relaxed in that regard.
But now his time done. He’s out. And it SUCKS. I’d gotten used to that rare-for-us-yet-ubiquitous-for-white-people experience of seeing someone who looks like you in an extremely powerful office. One of the most powerful ranks on the whole planet. A BLACK man. We get such training on pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps and being that for somebody else, that it’s a bit blindsiding to receive it. The inspiration. The proven knowledge that anything really is possible. Less than a hundred years ago, this country still ran on the backs of slaves. Barely fifty years ago, Martin was marching for equal rights and desegregation. And now- President? For TWO terms?
And I felt the pang of his departure in the depths of my heart.
Barack Obama is a terrible loss, highlighted in neon purple florescence by the profound lack of like spirited successor. 8 years of legacy building put on pause.
… unless we do something.
… unless we pour our lives out for Goodness.
… unless we dare to hope again.
President Barack Hussein Obama- champion scholar, athlete, family man, and people lover- set out to rework the fabric of an entire nation with nothing but the power of hope.
And he did.