In Virginia, some idiots who like to celebrate lost causes busted out their tiki-torches and hued and cried over a soon-to-be-homeless statue while outrage drove an impudent white boy to drive his car into a crowd of counter-protesters scattering Black bodies like bowling pins while somehow making a white woman the new face of Black resistance.
It seemed crazy to me at first when my best friend laid the blame for the current racial unrest and distress at the former president’s feet, but as I watch white America wild out over the incredibly slow progressive change that is taking place across the country it occurs for me that these people are afraid.
Afraid they’ll lose the race war they’ve been calling for. Afraid they’ll lose the country they stole. Afraid that the people they’ve stepped on are no longer afraid of them. And afraid that we are aware of our own power.
And all this fear that has white people acting out of pocket is because they think they just got out from under the rule of a Black President. And I can’t help but wonder, “What if this country had actually HAD a Black president?”
I’ve had my share of praise and admiration for the 44th President of this nation and he’s still the best president I’ve known in my lifetime. But Obama didn’t want to be “the Black President.” And because of that, we all suffered.
Whether he wanted to or not, Obama, in his position, stood as a proxy for all Black people. This was a responsibility he understood but consistently rejected. And by allowing the constant, galling disrespect hurled at him to continue unchecked while he only floated above it all, going high when they went low, Barack Obama lost touch with the fight on the ground while repugnant racists dug deep trenches and settled in for a long battle. He played both sides against the middle, leaving us stuck there. And the pain is thunder. Because if they could call the highest sitting Black man on the planet a liar, and a monkey, and essentially ask him for his papers, then there’s no way these unqualified dirt bags are going to feel they owe any respect or humanity to Tariq in the mailroom.
Obama was so busy playing to the right, and playing both sides, and playing the politics game that he never developed the credibility or capability to say “I’m not playin’ wit y’all” with that “this nigga crazy” bass in his voice that would make people siddown, be humble. Yes, he suffered all the disrespect, antagonism and patronizing liberal bull-crap that is afforded a Black man. But never responded to it as a Black man. He never… well…He never got on some nigga shit.
Meanwhile, the man I will only acknowledge as “45” is increasingly on some hood shit, not some Compton, South Central, B-More, Bed-Stuy shit. Those hoods don’t fit the sitting President and his minions. They prefer the kind of hoods that let them play in the fecal muck of white supremacist ideology on Saturday while keeping their identities hidden and their clothes clean enough to return to work on Monday. But now that they have a leader who is willing to unabashedly rep their set, they have traded cowardly robes for a uniform of khaki slacks, white polos and red hats, a move that shows not only are they no longer afraid to be seen, but that they plan to renormalize this behavior. The forces of hate have a crisp new uniform, and they are moving freely through the streets as comfortable in their liberties and assured of their positions as can be.
And that could have been us, Obama, but you was playing.
If we’d REALLY had a Black president, if he’d operated in the full authority of both his office and his Blackness, we might have seen an America that was Blacker than it’s ever been. One where we could have the liberty walk around free in our skin and our rights and confident that our positions at work and in the world would not be jeopardized for the simple crime of being as Black as we wanna be. We wouldn’t be watching the unmitigated slaughter of Black folks by white folks in blue or be forced to listen to the apologetic arguments about “really nice, decent people” who think torches and makeshift bayonets are historically and politically appropriate props to a protest. We wouldn’t be coddling and “opening up the conversation” to bigots who are simultaneously disillusioned by their perceived loss of power and delusional enough to think that the rest of us Black folk will play it as cool as a man who made his name politically by rhyming it with “No Drama.”
Well, we needed some drama. The racial horrors that happened during Obama’s term – the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Miriam Carey, and countless others demanded radical, dramatic reaction. We needed more than cautious words and silent tears. For our souls and for our safety we needed the daddy in the big chair to BLACK OUT.
Instead, we had a Black-presenting president that left us to deal with the symptoms of the allergic reaction caused by the appearance of his administration rather than its actions.
So no, I am not longing for Obama to come back and make things better. He had his chance in the chair and ushered in a season of racist backlash with no expectation of retaliation. And even now – outside the restrictions of the office – his only response to the endorsement of racism by the man sitting behind the desk he once used was a tepid quote from another leader – not strong condemnation from his own heart.
"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…" pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
But I guess this was to be expected, because even at something as inconsequential as the Correspondent’s Dinner – his LAST Correspondent’s Dinner – the man performed his celebrated mic drop – with a prop mic.
Still playing the part but not filling the role.
I respect the good that Obama did do, but when it comes to this nation’s racial turmoil I’m hard pressed to find a reason to bring up its first Black president because unlike the Khaki Klux Klan, I don’t enjoy celebrating lost causes.