While perusing Facebook a few days ago, I came across this ad for President Barack Hussein Obama’s last State of the Union address this coming Tuesday:
Typically, I couldn’t care less about these speeches; it’s an annual event where every sitting president lays out his priorities to a Congress and nation to either silence or applause, depending on who he’s giving the red-ass to in the moment. I often gain nothing from it aside from drunkenness, since there are a plethora of drinking games you can create based on a SOTU address.
I might watch this year, though. In fact, I’m more inclined to do so because this will probably be the last time in my lifetime that a person of color, let alone a black man, will be delivering a SOTU speech. I never thought the man would be elected in the first place (and, privately, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had felt the same way), but for him to ascend to such a vaunted position within American society and get re-elected means something.
Hell, I still remember exactly where I was standing the moment he was declared the victor in 2008. I was managing a bar in Washington, D.C., and as soon as they announced him as the president-elect, I almost broke down, and a white guy, of all people, patted me on the back and told me to take it because it really happened. It was such an overwhelming feeling. Seeing the streets of D.C. come alive that night is a moment I’ll never forget.
Even if you weren’t a fan of his, the history of the moment was hard to ignore. If I’m being honest here, I’m going to miss the man. His being in the Oval Office has brought a different feeling to America these past seven years. Knowing that people who look like me and would likely get my cultural references are sitting in the most famous house in the world, a house that was never meant for them in the first place, is a mind f—k. And knowing that they’ll be leaving in about a year might bring a tear to my eye at some point.
It’s just been … different. I can’t even adequately describe what I mean, but the Obama years of my life are going to stand out, and it will suck to say, “former President Obama.” While I’m sad that his time as commander in chief is coming to an end, it also brings some relief. There are some crazy motherf—kers in this nation, and Obama has been on watch for them for long enough. Obama is in his victory-lap phase, and I’m here for it. He’s begun to run out of f—ks, and it’s starting to show.
That’s what this ad says to me. That smile is one of victory. It’s that smile you give when you’re playing the dozens and your jokes connect in a way that shuts the other person down completely. It’s the smile you have in spades when you realize you’re about to set your opponents, who think they’re about to get their books. It’s the smile that Eminem had in 8 Mile when he realized how he was going to beat Poppa Doc. It’s the smile every single person gets when he knows he’s about to win while the other person thinks he’s going to win.
My n—ga, it’s the Kool-Aid smile.
Obama has perfected the Kool-Aid smile. And for good reason. How did you get here? You’re not supposed to be here, Barry O. But since we’re here and we’ve reached the conclusion of a presidency that will be talked about for centuries, we might as well enjoy this last year in office and do what the f—k we want. I imagine that Obama was listening to Frank Sinatra … or Jay Z … when he took this picture.
And that’s what I’ll miss most. Obama does listen to Jay Z. We have a president who listens to the same things that the rest of America is listening to, and is OK with sharing that. The fact that Obama said that his favorite song of 2015 was a Kendrick Lamar song (whether or nor he was fed this by his daughters) says a lot about who he is and what he truly represents on a macro level. He is a black man, but also one with the kind of temperament that is both cool enough to say that publicly and smart enough to realize that he can say that publicly.
The smile in that ad says it all to me. He’s unapologetically black, and he understands what that means. He also realizes that what he’s accomplished is something that we, truthfully, may never see again. Most people reading this right now won’t see it again in their lifetimes. He understands the moment and what it means.
And he knows he won a game he wasn’t supposed to be playing.
That’s the Kool-Aid smile, and that’s what Obama represents to me. And I am going to miss this man’s presence in my life, in that capacity, way more than I should for a person I don’t personally know.
All I can say is … thanks, Obama.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.