Thursday, January 19, 2017

What President Obama Meant To The Puma

As I sit to write this we are in the waning days of the Obama presidency I am sure there will be many think pieces on how he was an unmitigated failure or how he was the greatest president of all time. 

The first ever ball is life president
I’ll leave those to people much smarter than I to hash out. What I would like to do however is say what the man meant to me, so if you’re gonna read this and comment on how he is a socialist or a Kenyan Muslim who is intent on killing our grandparents this is where you get off. 

I first heard the man when I was in high school. He came and spoke and I was just in awe with how calm and relaxed he was, he was unlike any other speaker we had before. At the time he was a state senator and I thought to myself “wow, maybe this guy can be mayor one day.” Even that seemed like a long shot. I’d see him around Hyde Park, give a head nod and he’d return it in kind. I’ll be able to tell my kid I shared the universal sign of respect between two black men with the man who would be president. 

Fast forward a few years and he was running for US Senate. I was at North Park University when a debate between him and Alan Keyes took place. I skipped Journalism that night (Sorry Dave) and tried to get in. While unsuccessful I did get to see Alan Keyes as he left, I extended my hand to shake his, he walked right by. A few minutes later Obama strolled out, I extended my hand and lo and behold he hit a brother with the intricate dap and pull in.  The homie Barry hadn’t gotten too Hollywood on us.

After a rousing speech at the Democratic Convention and winning a seat in the US Senate there were murmurs that he could be a great candidate for President. I laughed. Then I thought what if he won? Nah it would never work I remember thinking. I have never been so happy to be wrong.
I remember sitting in Grant Park that night with my friends Julia, Kelly and Cooper anxiously awaiting the results.
Moments before the tears started flowing.
As it became more and more evident that he was about to become the 44th President of the United States, anger inside me grew. I was mad at him for having his speech outside. I sat there so scared that I was going to watch some psycho take away this representation of hope and joy. It’s a fear that I still have to this day if we’re being quite honest. I was so angry and scared, but he was and remains to this day so hopefully optimistic. It’s a trait I wish I had. 

Whether you like the man or not, I think we can all agree that he put up with more than any other president has before him. He had his wife called names and likened to animals, people who I’m not sure can read past a 3rd grade level asking to see his college transcripts, his beautiful daughters called everything but their names, even questioning if he was a true citizen of this country. He could have said “kiss my ass” as I would have done but he handled it with style and grace.
He worked with a congress that before he uttered a single word as commander in chief publicly made it known that their sole mission was to make him a one term president. He dealt with more threats against his life than anyone else and through it all he has kept his optimism and faith in the American people.

I remember as a young kid, I must have been 8 or so, I said in class that I wanted to be president. A kid turned around, looked at me and said “black people can’t be president.” After Barack Obama my kid will know that nothing, not even the presidency is unattainable.
You can be a guy with a funny name, who loves hip-hop, and is an unabashed basketball fanatic and you can be president. That representation matters.

While I can’t speak for every black person or tell them how they should feel I for one am happy to have had him as a president.And for one last time let us all lock arms, and swag surf to the old negro spiritual one last time.

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