Barack Obama represents many things. Mention his name and you’ll get a variety of opinions, facts, and questions. Were his policies truly progressive? Did he inspire hope and implement real change in the world? What will be his legacy? I’m not going to dive into his policies or his record as president, I’m not even going to say if I think he was one of the greatest presidents ever, or suggest what he should do next. Instead, I’m more interested to sift through all the noise and look at what he meant to those who identified with him the most.
The main thing I will remember about Barack Obama is his ability to stay calm through everything he’s had to put up with these last eight years. He was always the one reaching out with an open palm, never with a sword, or in a fist, or with a gun even if people on the other side would never give him the same benefit. Do I wish that sometimes he would channel his inner anger translator and go off in a speech? Of course but he is smarter than that, he never seemed to lose sight of what he wanted to do and the bigger picture.
My President Was Black
The first piece you should read is Ta-Nehisi Coates for the Atlantic. I’m not going to lie to you it is a long piece but don’t let that discourage you. Coates, whether fair or not, is the go to guy to speak on Black issues. In six chapters Coates takes a snapshot and pulse of what it was like to be a Black man during Obama’s presidency. This is Obama as a symbol.
"They're a rotten crowd," I shouted across the lawn. "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together." - F. Scott…www.theatlantic.com
This isn’t a piece that directly focuses on Obama. Instead, Obama is the catalyst for debate, discussion, and for some a revelation. Wesley Morris asks a simple question, “Who do we think we are?” He paints a picture of the world today where labels, binaries, and colours no longer tell the whole story and instead blend together to make something new. Definitions of race, gender, and sexual lines people thought to be set in stone are now crumbling. Something new is being built. Identity is in flux. For the past eight years people have tried to put Obama into a box, he has been called so many things we’ve lost count. This is Obama never apologizing for who he is.
We can see it in the recently departed half-hour sketch comedy ''Key & Peele,'' which took race as a construct that…www.nytimes.com
If you had the opportunity to ask Barack Obama one question during his two terms what would it be? Rembert Browne had this opportunity in 2015. In the moment leading up to the question Rembert dives into his history with Obama, he sheds light on what he thinks of the president, what it was like to follow him in 2004, and what happens after asking the POTUS one question. This is Obama as a role model.
What else would you consider essential Barack Obama material to digest?