To Barack and Michelle Obama,
On this, the day President-elect Donald Trump became President Trump, I have to say to you both, thank you.
I was only 12 years old when Barack was running for office. I saw, for the first time, a black man and a black woman speaking to crowds of hundreds of people, of all colors, ages, sexes, genders and religions. And I heard those words at the beginning of one of your most historic speeches, borrowed from another great president…”we the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”
I listened as you said the words “slaves” and “bondage,” and you discussed how you were viewed diametrically as both “too black” and “not black enough” at the same time, and then, as you so diplomatically explained Sunday morning at a black church, you said those words that are so foreign to some…”the black experience.”
And the gravity of your historic campaign hit me, because there had never been a politician saying those words with the eyes of the nation on him-attempting to bridge that deep and wide gap that is race in our country-by becoming president. Finally, “the black experience,” would have a national voice.
Then you did it- we did it. Even though I couldn’t vote, I felt that unprecedented sense of togetherness that enveloped the black community. I watched as my parents hugged each other and cried. And I soaked in that unforgettable moment in history where all of our tears, joy, pride and celebration existed as one, alongside so many others of all races, colors and creeds. I will cherish that moment forever.
From building and working at the White House—shackled, whipped and chained—to sitting in the Oval Office…your people…my people…our people…we did it.
At 13, I then watched the outpouring of white rage. The protests and calls for your impeachment, the requests to see your birth certificate and the signs calling you a nigger, wishing for you to be hanged. And I realized in all my young naivety that just because we did it, didn’t mean the fight was even close to being over.
Your presidency not only gave me hope for the future, but it also gave me the strength, knowledge and determination, to become a warrior for change, equality and justice for all.
You let me, and so many other young black people know that we can truly be anything that we want to be in this country, but that our efforts will be met with opposition. Our successes would be met with anger, condemnation and rejection—but that we can, and must—persevere, against all odds.
Your legacy will be in pulling the economy out of the deepest recessions we’ve ever experienced in our lifetimes, reducing the number of troops we have in Afghanistan from over 100,000 to less that 10,000 and the millions of people that received healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
It will also be stained with disappointments, such as your high number of drone strikes, the high number of deportations, lack of action in Syria and most importantly, the lack of bold and candid conversations on race—unfortunately, I felt that stopped at “a more perfect union.”
While I cannot your excuse policies and practices that I believe negatively affected many people, I will never allow these things to overshadow the wonder that was the Obama years.
And BLESS, BLESS you Michelle for these years of #BlackGirlMagic. While this movement was born from many sources, I doubt it would have gained so much traction if we didn’t have your beauty, intelligence, strength and pride to bolster it nationally everyday.
As the most fabulous FLOTUS of our time, you showed us that women could be fiercely independent while still being deeply committed to their partner (#relationshipgoals), to care for others, to have a sense of humor, and most importantly, how to ignore the haters and embrace our inner black goddess.
Thank you both for serving this nation with the class, dignity and grace many people assumed black people simply didn’t possess. Thank you for proving people wrong on a daily basis. Thank you for being brave, being kind and being humble, but most of all, thank you for making this country a better place for so many of us.
While there were slights and imperfections throughout these last eight years, and much as you tried you couldn’t save us from the hate that still pervades our society—hate that has bubbled up and come out in the form of now-President Trump—you’ve given us the hope and strength to fight against it. And we will.
I, for one, am truly grateful. #ThanksObama