2016 Presidential Election, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, News, Opinion, Politics -

Life After Obama: Will the real first black president stand up?

2016 Presidential Election, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, News, Opinion, Politics -

Life After Obama: Will the real first black president stand up?

As a Black American who had hope that this country was better than the outcome of Election 2016, I haven’t quite gotten through the five stages of grief. I’ve reloaded my social media feeds, Googled to make sure I was reading it correctly, and checked a number of news sources for good measure. I’m at the denial stage. Anger is closing in, but bargaining and depression seem far off. Acceptance is highly unlikely.

One thing that has sunken in, however, is this: President Barack Hussein Obama is leaving – no matter how many times I hit refresh. And Tuesday night’s verdict on the fate of this country took me back to Nov. 24, 2014, the night the flicker in my eyes began to shine a little less brightly for my Black President.

“First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law. And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make….

“There are good people on all sides of this debate…

“What we need to do is to understand them and figure out how do we make more progress. And that can be done. That won’t be done by throwing bottles. That won’t be done by smashing car windows. That won’t be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property…”

Those were President Obama’s remarks regarding Ferguson’s failure to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. A black boy who was proven to have been shot while his hands were in the air, surrendering. I was angry, hurt and confused. I remember thinking: How could he really expect us not to want to throw bottles and smash car windows? Was he so far removed from that feeling of black rage? We aren’t destructive, this country is!

–Donald Trump and Woodrow Wilson: How to get your bigot on as president–

Months later, when the Department of Justice also failed to prosecute Officer Wilson, Obama’s commentary was more of the same: “We may never know exactly what happened. But Officer Wilson like anybody else who is charged with a crime benefits from due process and a reasonable doubt standard. And if there is uncertainty about what happened, then you can’t just charge them anyway just because what happened was tragic.”

Months later, I was still upset with him. He and I both knew exactly what happened. White supremacy had won – again. And on Nov. 8, 2016, White supremacy stuck its knife through our black hearts and twisted it, as President Obama is on his way out of the White House door.

The truth is, President Obama has never spoken sternly enough about the tyranny that faces black people in America. He has failed to call the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tanisha Anderson, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Freddie Gray and countless others “vicious, calculated and despicable,” in the way he referred to the deaths of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. He failed to go further than saying that “the African American community is not just making this up,” and that “we can’t equate what’s happening now to what was happening 50 years ago.” He’s asked protesters to practice restraint but has never quite wagged his finger at a justice system designed for us to die so that white supremacy could live.

At the 2016 Howard University Commencement Convocation, President Obama asked the graduates the tough questions: “How are you pressuring members of Congress to pass the criminal justice reform bill now pending before them? If you care about better policing, do you know who your district attorney is? Do you know who your state’s attorney general is? Do you know the difference? Do you know who appoints the police chief and who writes the police training manual?”

Two years later, and I’d found myself in another moment where I felt like my president was not on my side. Tuned in and expectant of a resounding speech filled with black pride, his words felt like an attack on the wrong people, a conviction of those who’d done nothing wrong. But in hindsight, he had made an excellent point. And just like my moment of contempt in 2014, my defensiveness waned when reality set in.

–David Banner: Trump election ‘may be best thing to happen to blacks’–

As the president of the United States, Barack Obama is bound by diplomacy and speaks with the grace he sees fit for that office – a quality we will mourn during a Donald Trump presidency. Months prior to the Ferguson decision, Obama had begun the My Brother’s Keeper task force, a program designed to “improve measurably the expected educational and life outcomes” for young men of color. He does care about us and is doing the work – work he ensured he would continue after his presidency with the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance non-profit organization. “We are in this for the long haul,” Obama said. “This will remain a mission for me and for Michelle not just for the rest of my presidency, but for the rest of my life.”

He has also begun the legwork on criminal justice reform, becoming the first sitting president to visit a prison, commuting a record total of sentences, and banning solitary confinement of juveniles in federal prisons. Even before his presidency, as a state senator in Illinois, Obama championed the passing of a law to monitor racial profiling after lobbying with the same prudence for years. Prudence that would later earn him the title of Commander-in-Chief.

This is all well and good. These are just a few of the causes President Obama must continue to champion as Donald Trump prepares to become the leader of the racist “free” world, but it need not be done gingerly. There will be no more Congress to play nice with. Approval ratings won’t hold weight. President Obama needs to say, loud and irrefutably, that Black Lives Matter and fight like hell to help us get our freedom.

The post Life After Obama: Will the real first black president stand up? appeared first on theGrio.


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