…but most of all I’ll miss Michelle. By Nia Hampton
It’s over and done now. The Obamas are leaving the White House, and we all await the president elect with baited breath, crossed fingers and all the medicine we can stock up on while we still have health insurance. I look at the President Elect in disgust mainly, but sometimes with a sense of amazement. Barack and Michelle Obama were-if nothing else- a very beautiful couple to look at. The new guy and his wife. Not so much. Honestly, I find myself in awe that we even had the experience of a black president. It was a complex and enlightening ride.
I learned a lot under the Obama administration. I campaigned for his first run in office. By the second term I was a bit detached from him as a leader after he did nothing to stop the killing of Troy Davis, and was a bit too quiet for me as the wave of publicized death of Black American became a societal norm. He also was the deportation president, despite being voted into office, by mainly Latinos. But he spoke so well. And he dressed so nice. And he married Michelle Obama. Society told us through various films and TV shows that men like Barack don’t marry women like Michelle, and we believed it. Had Barack not married Michelle I truly believe he wouldn’t have been president. Michelle added depth to his character, because we as a society have been taught to believe that women like Michelle are “real” and “strong” and “tough”. He’s married to her, he must be something, right? Well, this thought process isn’t exactly wrong. But it showed the world where Black Americans are the most vulnerable.
We still desperately want to be apart of this country. And rightfully so, we built it. And I think we all thought a black president would mean something that it didn’t. It didn’t equal freedom for the black citizens of the States. It was almost quite the opposite, actually. It was during Barack’s presidency that we watched digital postcards of modern lynching’s become normalized. That urban environments began to regurgitate its black folk to make space for whites all under the guise that America is now “post-racial”. It took the election of El Cheeto for us to realize how much of a fantasy we had been sold. No one is free here-yet.
In the same way that the government implemented free lunch in public school to undermine the Black Panther Party, Barack Obama was allowed to be the President to quell resistance. And now that the black pacifier is out, we as nation must be prepared to scream and scream and scream. But next time, we won’t be pacified. We won’t stop caring for our own communities and expect the government to do it for us, even though they are supposed to. We won’t get comfortable with the fact that the President merely looks like us, if his policies don’t actually support us. Next time, it will be different. As a species I think we are all realizing that these institutions have gotten too big and are beginning to fail. So next time has to be different.
In the meantime, we can mourn the loss of an important image, the beautiful brown Obamas. Even if he wasn’t a perfect president, he married Michelle Obama. And the importance of her being in that White House may seem sentimental to some, flawed to others, excusatory to many-but it’s my truth. Seeing her in that position, not only as powerful, or strong or tough, but as loved. Barack was public about his affection and love for her. And even if he didn’t love black folk when it came time to sign certain policies, the way he looked at Michelle in that final press conference-reminded me of how he won our hearts in the first place. He wasn’t perfect, but I’m comforted in the fact that we even got to experience his flawed black presidency. And most of all, I’ll miss Michelle.
Graphic by Sophia Gach-Rasool.