By Jamari Jordan
I thoroughly enjoyed elementary school. Everything was so new and innocent. You had recess, a sizable desk, and you were home before 2:30pm just in time to catch the new episodes of Codename: Kids Next Door and SpongeBob.
However, one day wasn’t always that innocent for me. I hated Career Day. You would get students’ parents to come in and bore you to sleep. We never had an interesting parent come in who was a detective or a firefighter.
No, we had Stephen’s dad who was an accountant at H&R Block. Then, we had Jason’s mom who we couldn’t figure out what she really did, but she gave us a lot of pens and notepads with no company logo.
At the end of the day, the teacher would tell us you could be whatever you wanted to be. If we would work hard and do well in school, we could have any career. The sky is the limit.
“You could be a lawyer, doctor, astronaut, or maybe even president.”
I never bought that. Even though I was so young and impressionable, the latter never made much sense. How could I be president? There wasn’t one that ever looked like me or my classmates. I went to Shadow Rock Elementary School in Stone Mountain, Ga. None of us were going to be president.
As I would go on to quickly learn, black people played the same game as everyone else, just with a different set of rules. If you fly so high, they’ll shoot you down. Sometimes for black people, the limit is the sky.
I’m sitting in the car in a Kroger parking lot waiting for my mom to come out the store. As usual, she went in to grab “a few things” and 45 minutes later, she is still not out. Now, my Zune (don’t judge me) has died and I’m forced to listen to the radio.
To avoid to listen to Lil Wayne for the 1,000th time on 107.9, I turn to V103.3 to laugh a couple times with Ryan Cameron. He comes on and starts talking about some person named Barack Obama. My first thought is, who the hell is Barack Obama? And why are we not laughing at some celebrity right now?
As I would listen and find out, Obama was a black man running for president. To be honest, I laughed it off just as I did when Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton did. America is not electing any black man as president, let alone one with a perm. But, they would.
It was the first time I ever got into politics. Instead of coming home and turning to 106 & Park, I would turn on CNN instead and listen to pundits talk about him, about Barack Obama. He was unique for sure.
A mixed black man from Hawaii, who served the city of Chicago. He had no checkered past, no shady deals and he might’ve been the smoothest talker since Billy Dee Williams. He had a beautiful black wife that I know smelled like cocoa butter and two beautiful daughters.
I hadn’t seen such a model black man like that since Cliff Huxtable. He captivated us in a way that couldn’t be explained. He was our lightening in a bottle. He was our four leaf clover. He was OUR president.
I’m home for the summer from college (uhh, tough times), and the story of the summer was the trial of George Zimmerman. He killed Trayvon Martin and got acquitted. Black people weren’t surprised by the result. In the history of America, when has the justice system ever worked in our favor? (And if you reply back with OJ, go ahead and block me back on Twitter)
Trayvon Martin could have been me or any of my friends. He was a 17 year old kid about to go to college walking to his dad’s house. He had an Arizona, a bag of skittles, and he was wearing a hoodie. Like I said, I wasn’t shocked with the ruling, but that didn’t mean that it didn’t hurt any less.
What helped my hurt was what President Obama said.
“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”
That for me was everything. His candor and the way he spoke made you realize he is human too. As much as we glorify him and believe that he’s untouchable in the highest office in the land, he still feels what the rest of us do too, disappointment.
As I’m sitting here writing this article, I cant lie that I’ve gotten really emotional. I have tried to write this months ago before the election, but I didn’t have the stomach for it. I didn’t want to believe it was coming to an end.
I know black people have an interesting relationship with Obama. Some wished he speak out more about issues directly affecting the black community. Others wished he created more initiatives or programs to substantially help the plight of black people in America.
Honestly, I understand. I used to be the same way. But, I grew to understand that there are so many things we are not privy to. I learned even the most powerful man in the free world has someone to answer to.
While those programs would be marvelous and applauded, he gave me something even more important, hope. Obama gave me the power and belief to dream. Not to settle for the standards anyone else has for me, but that I can set my own. Now, I can really be anything I want to, even president because he has done so.
As we sit here today, the last day of your presidency, I just want to thank you President Obama.
Thank you for bringing Michelle, Sahsa, Malia, and even BO into our lives. Thank you for giving us the greatest bromance since Cory and Shawn with Joe Biden. Thank you for being the greatest orator of this generation.
Thank you for having the best jump shot of any president. Thank you for filling out your bracket every year with Andy Katz and getting it wrong just like the rest of us. Thank you for many legendary parties at the White House. Thank you for singing Al Green and Amazing Grace.
Thank you for slow jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon. Thank you (and Key & Peele) for your anger translator. Thank you for roasting every reporter at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Thank you for showing your moves on Ellen.
Thank you for wearing that tan suit on Easter. Thank you for being the inspiration behind Young Jeezy’s My President is Black. Thank you for letting that young black kid touch your hair to see if it was like his.
Thank you for handling everything with such class, grace, and dignity with every insult that has been thrown at you and your family. Thank you for breaking that glass ceiling so the rest of may soar. Lastly, thank you for proving that naive kid from Stone Mountain wrong and becoming president.