When President Barack Obama found a way to incorporate “folks wanna pop off” at an international press conference Monday to address people with misinformation, it was just the latest confirmation of something many of us have suspected for some time: that the president, fully secured in his second and last term in office, is not as affected by others’ opinions of him as he might have been before. Colloquially, this state of mind is also known as “giving no f—ks.”
And since the president is a 54-year-old black man, this new state of being—of existing sans f—ks; of being permanently fixed in a f—k vacuum—has resulted in his doing more things that would seem to be more a part of his “54-year-old black man” side than his “leader of the free world” side.
That said, while the f—k vacancy is a relatively new development, POTUS has been doing black-ass s—t in the White House since he’s been in the White House. So much beautifully and unambiguously black-ass s—t that I can’t possibly narrow it down to the 10 blackest things, but I’ll try to name nine more.
2. Moving his mother-in-law into the White House. Anyone doubting Obama’s black bona fides must have forgotten that one of the very first things he did when moving into his new house was to create the Obama version of the family from Soul Food.
3. Organizing a regular pickup-basketball game with his boys. Any grown black person who still regularly plays pickup basketball knows how difficult it is to find a consistently good game. One where people actually know how to play and—just as important—aren’t spending 85 percent of the time on the court arguing foul calls. Making sure to organize a consistent pickup game is the exact-same thing roughly 97 percent of the black men reading this would also have done if they were president. S—t, I fantasize about being president one day just to be able to text Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving to see if they want to play horse.
4. Singing “Amazing Grace” during the Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s eulogy. Code-switching is often described in a linguistic context. When it’s used, it’s usually a way to encapsulate what happens when black people speak one way professionally and then another way when in a more informal situation and they feel more comfortable with the audience. Yet Obama’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” during Pinckney’s eulogy was an exercise in behavioral code-switching. Because I doubt that he would have done the same if giving a eulogy in a “white” church for a fallen white leader.
Also, considering the tragedy of the event and the racially charged circumstances leading to the killling of Pinckney, the decision to code-switch right there was pitch-perfect.
5. Singing “Let’s Stay Together” while at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. If there was a list of the 10 blackest songs—and if that list doesn’t exist, I pledge to create it one day—Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” would definitely be on it. And it might even be in the top four. Right behind “Before I Let Go” by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and the theme song from The Jeffersons.
6. His recent pardons of nonviolent drug offenders. Let’s just say that if “making sure to organize a consistent pickup game” is the exact-same thing that roughly 97 percent of the black people reading this would also have done if they were president, then “issuing pardons for friends and family members with bulls—t charges” wouldn’t be far behind.
Plus, Nas and Lauryn Hill already predicted that this would happen in 1996: “If I ruled the world” (which President Obama does), “I’d free all my sons” (which President Obama is doing).
7. Giving his daughter and his daughter’s friends rides while acting as chaperone. The only difference between Barack Obama and every black dad with teenage daughters is that the rides occur on Air Force One instead of a 2005 Chevy Tahoe with 22-inch Lexanis.
8. Releasing the #POTUSPlaylist. Who cares that half of the songs were probably recommended by his daughters, and the other half by Deesha Dyer? My president is black, and my president listens to—or, at least, wants us to believe he’s listening to—Erykah Badu.
9. Launching My Brother’s Keeper. Forget about the mission of this initiative, which is a “public-private partnership of the United States Federal Government to promote intervention by civic leaders in the lives of young men of color to address their unique challenges and to promote racial justice.” And just remember that its name is the exact-same thing G Money said to Nino Brown in New Jack City before Nino shot him. Which makes its title officially black.
10. Being so actively and conspicuously in love with his wife. At one point in our history—a point that wasn’t really all that long ago—it was literally illegal for black people to profess a lifelong commitment to and love for each other. If a man and woman were discovered to be married, they could be intentionally separated, sold off or even killed. Historical context considered, there’s really nothing President Obama could do that’s more revolutionary—more unambiguously black—than taking mean-mug selfies with and nuzzling the neck of his black-ass wife on the White House lawn.
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.