Photography by Pete Souza
“I. Am. Not. Ready…. I am not ready for a new one…. “
I am starting to feel just like that adorable little black girl who completely and utterly loses it once she realizes that Barack Obama will no longer be president. It was way back in February of last year when the video came out and instantly became viral. The original video, which was first posted on Facebook by a relative, has garnered over 3 million views. Barack Obama even responded by posting a message in the comments section of the post, saying, “Caprina, tell her to dry her tears, because I’m not going anywhere. Once I leave the White House, I’ll still be a citizen just like her. And when she grows up, she can get involved right alongside me.”
Back then it was cute, quaint and harmless (or so we thought). Don’t worry honey; there is no way America would elect an ardent racist\misogynist\climate change denier\demagogue to the most important office on the planet. That is ridiculous – that could never happen here. Right? America wouldn’t let a world-class scam artist and psychotic narcissist anywhere near the most important office on the planet. Americans will of course choose the flawed but at least competent Democratic candidate.
Boy, were we wrong. Well sort of. Winning the popular vote is a significant, but ultimately, very small consolation. The fact that Hillary actually won the popular vote by almost 2.9 million more votes means nothing when almost 63 million people voted for the White Supremacist candidate. The one that employed outright racism and old-fashioned xenophobia to appeal to the absolute worst in people – that guy won. The guy that is on video talking about grabbing women by their private parts and tweeted about global warming being an elaborate hoax concocted by the Chinese. That dumbass won. Stick a fork in America. It is done.
How did we get here from Obama? How does a country that twice elected a Black man name Barack Hussein Obama to the Presidency choose to democratically throw itself off of a cliff?
Well, to be completely honest, the election of Barack Obama to the Oval Office was a real blow to the psyches of far too many white people. Unfortunately, we still have a significant portion of white people, especially older ones that, while they may never admit it, are not comfortable with a Black as President. It is as simple as that. Bottom line. For many, Obama represented the end of something. The idea that this was a White Man’s country and everyone else needed to know their place. If the Presidency wasn’t safe, what was?
Through it all Barack Obama remained dignified, stately and above the fray. Barack Obama saved this country from another depression, rebooted the auto industry, gave millions healthcare, won marriage equality, made climate change an international priority, restarted Cuban relations and killed Bin Laden among so many other stellar accomplishments. He did it with a steadfastness, intelligence and optimism that we will sorely miss in the coming years.
Personally, Barack made me believe in America for the first time. As a life long devotee of Malcolm X, who I was first introduced to via The Autobiography of Malcolm X as a teenager, I did not see America as the beacon of freedom that our textbooks described. Until Barack came on the scene I considered this country to be irredeemable. Barack made me and countless other marginalized people buy in and believe in the American Dream. That it still existed. That it still mattered. That all of us, irrespective of creed, race, religion, sexual orientation or whatever our differences, were Americans. That belief is starting to waver with the ascent of Donald Trump.
As I look back at the last 8 years, it becomes painfully obvious that Barack Obama was too good for America. This country doesn’t deserve him. Barack Obama was not the new norm but simply an anomaly. Not the rule but the exception. America does, unfortunately, deserve Trump. Now we got him. God help us all.