Black History Month Series, Social Policy

Barack Obama’s Presidency worked to ‘Barrack’

Now that Obama is officially our former president, his presidency is officially apart of Black history and at this end of the first week of February I want to take a moment to reflect. During the near end of his presidency I wrote a letter addressing the way he’s served the Black community by progressing our agenda of racial equity. 

The morning of Sunday November 6th a friend and I traveled to Renton to visit a new church, Black founded, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship. There we broke bread with the congregation before hearing an incredible sermon by Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, an educator at Seattle Pacific University. Her sermon focused on the importance of identity out of Genesis 32:22-32 where Jacob is blessed by God with a new identity, renamed Israel. This is especially relevant within the Black community where our identities have been distorted by White supremacist (Western) culture. Genesis 32:26 when Jacob pleaded with the angels to bless him, God renamed him Israel. Here Dr. McNeil points out the translation of ‘bless’ in the Bible to its Hebrew word, barak, which means to reveal. In this scripture Jacob was ultimately asking for his true identity to be revealed so that he could heal himself from past trauma and move forward in his life renewed. In this same way there are centuries of past trauma that Black America must heal from. We must re-identify with ourselves because many of or names date back to our ancestor’s masters. We must renew our identity, the majority of us do not even know our true identity. Dr. McNeil shared her recently reviled ancestry results, she described them as a transformative blessing. Knowing where one’s roots are in Africa in an important revelation every Black American must experience. 

Barack Obama, blessed us with a revelation of a new perception. Although we thought that Obama was supposed to come into the White House to ‘save’ Black America, his true purpose was to bless us with a revelation so that we would be prepared to save ourselves. Barack, just as his name phonetically implies, was a blessing because he opened the eyes of America and the world. We’ve learned from the conviction and murder of our leaders that we cannot rely on a select few to follow and ’save’ us. We must unite and save ourselves, and now that our perceived savior is out of office, being replaced with our worst nightmare there are no more excuses. Obama came to show our children that they can rise out of a single parent home into the highest position of the land; Michelle and Barack Obama showed us the power and beauty of Black love; Sasha and Malia Obama revealed to us the beauty of intelligent Black womanhood unaffected by the negative stereotypes that African American women are forced to combat with. The Obama’s revealed to the world proof of a happy, nuclear Black family free of negativity, drama and scandal while operating in the highest position of the ‘free world’. 

In my Letter to Barack Obama I recognized Obama’s inability to make agency for the Black community in America’s political agenda. I am aware of the odds that are always stacked against us to advance our agenda in this country. I respect President Obama and I am forever in awe of the wonder he left on the white house and the blessing he provided to Black America. Now that we have seen #BlackExcellence in the essence of the Obama Presidency we cannot allow ourselves to settle for the offensive and insulting nature of Donald Trump’s campaign and subsequent election. 

I’d like to end this with a conversation I had with my mother, a Black woman in Detroit who drove to the polls to vote for Hilary, “Donald Trump was appointed for this season, God’s plan never fails”. Even as a Hilary supporter, aware of the way that Trump came into office against the popular vote my mother gave her respect to the President Elect while resting it in her faith in God, “If it has to be Trump in office for God’s plan to take place then it has to happen that way,” she joked, “If nothing, at least they’ll be appreciative of Obama”. She recognized Trump’s election as a complete miracle, outside of the olds, saying that if Barack had done any of the things that Trump had done during his campaign or Michelle had posed for an adult magazine, there is no way that they would have been in office. The disrespect that Trump has treated Obama with is another example of the racial double standard that further pushes the veil off of America, now there are no more excuses. 

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