I’m not going to talk about Donald Trump right now because I am very exhausted. But I am going to talk about the man who has been my president for the past 8 years.
I remember Obama’s first inauguration. I was 12 years old and super thrilled because I borrowed my mom’s Uggs that day (without asking). We missed a big chunk of class and watched the whole ceremony. If I’m going to be honest, 12 year old me did not give a fig. I didn’t know anything about politics yet, and I barely knew anything about this Obama guy.
Fast forward a little less than 4 years and it’s the fall of my junior year of high school. I care about politics now, and self identify as a bleeding heart liberal. I care about politics because I care about people and I had some very choice words for Mitt Romney and his binders full of women. I was in AP Government and Politics and volunteered with my local Democratic field office. I phone banked, I canvassed, I left Democratic Party fliers on the porch of a house with a huge “Don’t tread on me” flag.
I grew up in a very white town. My president was black before I had any insight on what it meant to be black in America. I didn’t know about policy brutality, I didn’t know about mass incarceration. I didn’t know about identity politics. I was so young and naive and thought the world was a lot kinder than it really is.
Obama was not a perfect president by any measure but he means so much to so many people. Myself included. I developed my interest in politics under a black president. A charming, brilliant, hopeful, black president (with an equally brilliant wife). He led us through the recession and a global financial crisis. Under Obama, millions of people gained healthcare and the LGBTQ community gained marriage equality. And I wish I could stop there. I wish I could ignore the record amount of deportations and the thousands of innocent civilians that lost their lives due to drone strikes. An Obama presidency has taught me that things are not as just and beautiful as I wanted them to be. That politicians can be good but they aren’t necessarily the best of us. That natural charm and a well written speech aren’t always enough. Progress isn’t perfect and neither was our president.
But there was some sort of poetic justice in a black man leading the United States of America. Obama promised change we can believe in, change we need, and most of all, hope.
The next 4 years are going to be tough. Let’s hold on to hope.