Today is the day. It’s a somber one, but I view it as one of victory in many ways. Barack Hussein Obama II, the first African American President of the United States, the son of an immigrant Kenyan father and an American mother, steps down from the American Presidency as required by the Twenty Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Standing tall, strong, and in good health, President Obama has completed two of the most historic terms in American history, in the face of naysayers, cynics, racists, fools, and misguided religious zealots. So much has been done. So many peaks, so many valleys. This has been such an incredible journey.
I cannot even begin to explain what this man means to me. As the African American son of immigrants myself, I know all about this country’s shameful history as it concerns Africans living on this continent. I know all about the abhorrent practices that, to some extent, have managed to evolve into systemic practices that still echo the oppression that continues to ravage my people. Yet despite all of these things, one of us was able to emerge from a humble Hawaii upbringing to become the President of the United States that passed comprehensive health care reform. We’ll fix that too.
His Presidency truly made me believe that I can reach whatever goals I set for myself, that my skin color, though still a barrier to certain privileges enjoyed by Americans of European descent (as it has always been), will not prevent me from leading the country, provided my will matches that of the American people. I can rise above my circumstances. I can knock down any obstacle set before me. I can be the change I wish to see in my community. I can hope. I can lead. I CAN SUCCEED!
As a man of color with a funny-sounding birth name, Arabic middle name, and foreign surname, President Barack Obama has inspired me in ways I could never properly articulate. I remember weeping the night he was chosen by the people to lead. I remember swelling with immense pride as he took the oath of office for the first time eight years ago today, despite the disrespectful, un-Christian, virulent, shamefully anti-Obama behavior I witnessed at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where I was a student at the time between 2008-2012. I’ll detail this in a book someday very soon.
Hopefully they’ll be in the form of brilliantly-written memoirs. That experience changed my experience at that school forever, where I witnessed the ugliness and ignorance of so many people, as well as the hypocritical environment that enabled it. That place, even now, seems to be a subtle enemy of diversity. Just look at the campus today and see for yourself. But this isn’t about them. This is about the man that would define a monumental chapter in America’s story. He inspired my desire for public service. My mother, watching him speak on one of many fateful occasions, would prophesy that I would one day stand before him at The White House. I often laughed it off.
My journey eventually resulted in me becoming one of the privileged few to serve under his Administration in the Spring of 2016. My mother’s prophecy came true. I stood before the man that I had idolized for nearly ten years, dating back to his groundbreaking speech one night in Boston, when he introduced himself to the world at the Democratic National Convention. That was what sparked my belief. That was what legitimized my desire. There’s something to be said about the visions she gets regarding her children. Always trust a mother’s intuition.
Michelle Obama, the President’s wife and our First Lady, has been the definition of class, style, and grace since she introduced herself to us. Meeting her was one of the highlights of my internship. Watching her conduct herself like the Black Queen that she is (and will always be) made me realize her perfection as a role model for my three younger sisters. Watching her and Barack epitomize a positive black family in a culture that glorifies the opposite gave me hope. Their #BlackLove gives me hope.
It makes me believe.
Without question, Michelle exponentially raised my standards as far as what I seek in a potential mate are concerned. She changed the game. She made being smart, ambitious, unapologetically black, and classy cool, all at once. She demonstrated to the world that #BlackGirlsRock, and my little sisters are all the better for it. I am so proud of the beautiful young women they are becoming before my eyes, and the sky is their limit. Everything I do is for them.
She gave little black girls all around the country something to strive for, like the young queen that once told me she planned on coming back to the White House one day as President. She made that happen. The class these two have shown in the face of an unprecedented level of disrespect, hatred, ignorance, foolishness, conspiracy theories, and racism was something to behold. ObamaCare is here to stay, and because of it, I finally have affordable health care. Let’s keep building upon this.
Barack Obama will always be my President. He will always be my leader. He will always be my role model, forever joining the Pantheon of greats, such as Yeshua Melekh ha-Mashiach, Muhammad Ali, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Will Smith, and Nelson Mandela. Because of him, this dream I have, of maybe one day taking a photo like what you see above, with my loving wife by my side, can truly be a reality. If God wills it, this will be a window into the future. I have no problem believing that another African American will boldly walk through the door the Obamas have opened. Why not me?
But it must all start from somewhere. I’m ready to serve. I’m ready to lead. I’m ready to inspire. I’m ready to speak. I’m ready to walk, to march, to shout, to move. I look forward to representing and speaking on behalf of those that cannot speak for themselves. I look forward to advocating for those that cannot advocate for themselves. I look forward to instilling hope in not just those around me, but those that are coming after me. I can’t wait to organize. The time is soon coming.
Nothing, not even the events of this day, will change what I will say until the day I die, and that is this: I lived during the time when I could say, without being wrong, that MY PRESIDENT IS BLACK, and nothing will ever take that away from me.
P.S. We’ll make this right. I promise you we’ll make this right. Change comes in 1,077 days. That’s 93,052,800 seconds. 1,550,880 minutes. 25,848 hours. 153 weeks and 8 days. We’ll make this right again. On my unborn children we’ll make this right again. We’ll do it for the neighborhood, the community, the county, the state, the country, the world. We’ll be back. Love trumps hate. Compassion conquers condescension.
We’re going to be okay.