When I saw the image of former President Barack Obama in flip-flops, shorts and a backward cap, along with his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, in the shortest of shorts, walking across the beach, I was relieved for them. They served this country well for eight years—even when millions of its citizens blatantly disrespected them for no other reason than that the hue of their skin made them antithetical to the virtues of their America. So much so that Obama’s successor is the most unqualified president in U.S. history; a man who is small by every measure who won, largely, because he sold his supporters the notion that he could restore the nation to the lily-white land of yore.
So, mere days into 45’s administration, the same mediocrity and monstrosity that followed him in his private life and professional dealings have unsurprisingly followed him into the White House. The man told the electorate exactly who he was, and they chose him anyway. Now that the sky has cracked and pieces have begun to fall, political journalists along with average citizens have been calling on former President Obama to speak up. So he did, 10 days after leaving office—which, in some respect, felt hasty—to disavow the travel ban targeted to immigrants from primarily Muslim nations.
The statement was appreciated, but make no mistake: Obama may speak out when it suits him as promised following the election, but he owes this country nothing. Not while on vacation. Not after eight years of service to a sizably ungrateful nation. Not less than a month after leaving office.
To quote DMX, “What these bitches want from a nigga?” Feel free to pour bleach to remove the stain of misogyny, but after you do, wrap yourself around the sentiment. Squeeze it tight.
Similarly, on the day of the Women’s March on Washington and subsequent days after, quite a few called on former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to also engage and help the resistance. Typically, after an election, the losing presidential candidate goes off and finds some business. While we are undeniably living in unique and increasingly dire circumstances, not only do I question the push for Clinton to more aggressively speak out against the antics of this amateurish administration, but I also worry about its ineffectiveness this early.
If she were to level stronger statements against Tropicana Jong-il, all that would do is invite comment from a man who can’t seem to escape campaign mode for the kind of needless public feuds he’s known for courting. No. 45 would foam at the mouth at the chance to continue assailing her as if he had another chance at losing the popular vote and winning on technicality. So, America may be calling to sing, “Pick up the phone, baby/I know you’re home, baby” to HRC, but I would label that number “Do Not Answer.”
Last August, Clinton spelled out in no uncertain terms the dangers of electing an orange clown who surrounded himself with men modeled after the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis. In each and every single debate, she pointed out that her political opponent was a con man who would be a puppet of a Russian authoritarian obsessed with shirtless selfies and unlawfully seizing neighboring land. Clinton was not my ideal candidate, but had she won 70,000 more votes in three states with laws designed to make it much more difficult for people who look like me to vote, there would be less talk about what a disastrous campaign she ran. Then again, it would have been yet another instance of black people picking up the slack for white people.
Many of the very people who have pushed Obama and Clinton to speak out more are the same people who didn’t initially want to talk to their white relatives about what it means to support a man who has an extensive history of bigotry. After the election, a HuffPost/YouGov survey revealed that a 53 percent majority of those celebrating the holidays said that they were either not very likely or not likely at all to discuss politics during their dinner. Around that time, there were countless articles written about how to avoid talking about politics at Thanksgiving. This is a white-folks burden because talking about the election at a black Thanksgiving isn’t hard:
Me: Fuck that man.
Auntie: What he said. AND MELANIA IS NO MICHELLE.
Uncle: Fuck him is right.
Cousin: Fuck him.
I will say that I am actually pleased that so many people have taken to the streets in every part of the country to protest what has happened thus far. However, when a reality-game-show host routinely insults Mexicans, Muslims, women, blacks and immigrants and touts policies that sound like they were first discussed at a Klan-Nazi orgy, the immediate response should have been, “I’m with her (I guess).”
People had to see the sight of the absolute worst in order to take to the streets. Even after they were warned. No, no, no. Obama and Clinton warned y’all, and some of us voted accordingly. They’ve done their duty. It’s time to get off their straps and sacs and go do your part.