Thursday, January 19, 2017

To President Obama and The First Family

This is my personal love letter to President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and the millions of Americans who said, "Yes, we can!" (twice).

As a young black boy in America, I was privileged enough to be thoroughly educated on the contributions African Americans made to American history and culture. Reciting MLK speeches and Langton Hughes poems inspired me, but none of that prepared me for the swell of pride I felt when I witnessed Barack Obama get elected POTUS. It was history in real time. I framed and continue to display this article as a reminder of the audacity of hope. Thank you for being a thought leader.

Thank you President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for showing us what excellence looks like. Thank you for showing us that hope and dreams are still relevant in this modern day and age.

Under Obama's administration, I witnessed a determined president who bailed out the auto industry because jobs matter, the repeal of DOMA because LGBTQ Americans deserve to live their lives out loud, the implementation of marriage equality because LGBTQ Americans deserve equal rights, the appointment of fair and open-minded SCOTUS justices, and the enactment of an Affordable Care Act that allowed me to have great health insurance as a post-university, tax-paying citizen who needed specialty care to treat chronic migraines.

Thank you for standing up to our imbalanced justice system and pardoning many undeserved sentences for non-violent drug offenses, for championing the arts by encouraging literature and bringing hip-hop music to the White House and showing us that it is indeed an integral part of American culture. And thanks to Mrs. Obama for always setting the mark and prioritizing up-and-coming designers by wearing their clothes, and for showing us than an Ivy-League educated lawyer and former executive could be the trendiest woman in America. The Obamas have consistently been so damn cool.

Thank you for being an intellectual and making me, a liberal arts major, constantly look up big words you used in speeches and interviews. You reminded us that education is to be inspiring and we should always want to learn more.

You, the First Family, took so much heat from the opposition. When hateful America couldn't find any scandals, they tried to delegitimize your citizenship. When they couldn't fathom Michelle Obama's leadership skills and modern self-assurance, they called her angry, and mocked her bare arms. When Fox News couldn't critique your love, they wanted to demote Michelle by labeling her as your "baby mama." The majority of congress completely abandoned you, but you pressed on. Mr. President, you showed us that a biracial, quirky, but confident young senator was going places, and we are so much better for it. You and Michelle did it all with such grace and swagger that the most serious office in the land was now deemed popular and cultural. So many were envious of the way you connected with the American people and their envy progressed to hate.

Thank you for always going high, because so often many were desperately trying to pull you into the gutter. Misery loves company.

We as African Americans, decedents of the slaves who built much of this nation and its economy through unpaid labor, have always been a resilient people. We are not done, and your work is not done. My nephew, like many his age, has only known a president who looks like you, so thank you for disrupting the mental slavery we were all born into by thinking your presidency could have never happened. "Yes, we did!" Twice.