The final chapter of the presidency of Barack H. Obama has been written.
President Obama delivered his farwell address in his hometown of Chicago this past Tuesday night. He spoke with power, grace, and class. He was poised and articulate. The choked up as he praised his wife, Michelle. He was gushing as he spoke highly of being a father and the successes of his daughters. The usual traits we’ve seen from him these last eight years. The Chicago audience hung on to his every word as he presented a call to action.
Americans, lace up your boots and get to work.
For the last 16 months, President Obama’s legacy has been under attack by a growing section of dissatisfied voters, and most of all, President-elect Donald Trump. As such, President Obama has been scrambling to enact legislature that will keep President-elect Trump from halting this country’s progress. All the while, I feel he failed to realize one thing.
His legacy is set in stone.
Without a doubt, President Obama was one of the most hated presidents in modern history. From 2008 to now, he has been met with scrutiny and criticism at every turn. People confused disagreement on political philosophies with personal affirmations of their own hatred.
People debated about his birth place, a topic that would not be presented for discussion if President Obama’s skin was white (remember his mother is white). They called his wife a “ape in heels.” They labeled his daughters as thugs. From Washington to rural America, people attacked the entire Obama family. The irony is these negative remarks were spoken (and repeatedly reiterated) in a “post racial America” by people who believe racism no longer exists. They used President Obama’s dual election as proof of this, and they argue against the racism he has faced.
Some will say, “Every president is criticized!” I would be inclined to agree; however, I’ve never seen this level of pugnacity (by his own peers nonetheless) in a presidential term. I have never seen the level of hatred like I witnessed these past eight years. It goes far beyond being Democrat or Republican. It was personal. What stands out about President Obama’s legacy is this:
He made peoples true feelings about race come out.
If you didn’t like having a black president in office, then I guarantee that it showed. Through manner of speech or approaching other people of color, President Obama triggered racists to come out of the woodworks.
People say he divided the country, yet they fail to realize these divisions have been in place for years. He spoke truth that the some of the country is not willing to hear. He talked about what it means to be a person of color in America (the only people of color that disagree are Republicans). He spoke on why there is a rift between police and community. He told people to stop discriminating against one another.
He basically said treat people right.
For whatever the reason, that message didn’t go over well. Some people didn’t like having a black president sympathize with people of color. Apparently, that’s racist, and it certainly is not the norm in America. Some people felt like they had no representation for eight years. Now that President-elect Trump is on his way into office, they feel they have a leader that presents them. Imagine feeling like that for the last 200 years.
In spite of it all, President Obama has inspired hope. Black children had the privilege of seeing the world’s most powerful position filled with the face of a people who have historically been cast aside. I, and millions of other black people, didn’t have that chance. His presence in the highest office in the land said yes we can. We are not drug dealers, deadbeat dads, and baby mommas. We aren’t shooting someone every time there’s a dispute. We are intelligent, classy, strong people, and we can do great things in this life.
We witnessed the hatred he endured and how President Obama rose above it. Like the First Lady said, “When they go low, we go high.” That’s a lesson we all should internalize.
And that’s why President Obama’s legacy is set.