10 Things I’ll Miss When the Obamas Leave the White House

Michelle Obama, daughters Malia Obama and Sasha Obama, and President Barack Obama leave the White House before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on June 17, 2016.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Michelle Obama, daughters Malia Obama and Sasha Obama, and President Barack Obama leave the White House before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on June 17, 2016.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Although the Democratic National Convention was intended to be a celebration of Democrats, Democratic values, and (in comparison with the Republican National Convention) sanity and science, it was a bittersweet week for much of America, since it also was perhaps the last time we’ll see the Obamas on a national stage as president and first lady.


Which, as it did much of America, reminded me that I am going to miss the hell out of Barack and Michelle and Sasha and Malia (and even Bo), and I’m not quite prepared to handle a White House without them.

What exactly will I miss? Well, besides the obvious—like having black people in the White House and having sane people in the White House—there are quite a few things, including the following:

1. They’re f—king grown-ups. I know that praising a politician for being a “grown-up” is like praising a dad for knowing the names of his kids. It should be a prerequisite, but the Republican Party just nominated an adolescent Cheeto for president, so we know it’s not. Anyway, consider this: The Obamas have been in the White House for eight years now—with an unfathomable level of media scrutiny—and the only scandal that’s occurred during their time in office is the actual show Scandal.

2. Rappers finding unique ways to rhyme “Obama.” One of the more underrated parts of the Obama era is how rappers have regularly incorporated President Barack Obama’s unique-sounding last name in their rhymes. And can you blame them? Obama rhymes with so many things! Osama. A llama. Yo mama. Botswana. Benihana. Rihanna. No drama. A comma. (OK, maybe these aren’t the best words to put in rap songs. But still.)

3. Having a president who regularly plays pickup basketball. I know I’m being presumptuous here—perhaps Hillary Clinton has a killer crossover and maybe Donald Trump is great at hedging high ball screens—but I strongly suspect that when President Obama leaves office, the regular pickup games at the White House will, too. So prepare for four to eight years of either shots and stories about Clinton playing Yahtzee or Trump losing at checkers, getting pissed and then officially renaming the game “Trumps” and only playing with miniature replicas of Ivanka’s face.

4. The Not-Really-All-That-Chocolate-Anymore City will become even more vanilla. During the Obamas’ stay in office, Washington, D.C., unofficially replaced Atlanta and Chicago as the de facto capital of black America. Their mere presence there was so powerful and resonate that D.C. became blacker by osmosis, retaining that status despite the fact that the city is actually hemorrhaging black people at record rates.

Personally, as a Pittsburgher who’s only a four-hour drive away, I’d love to see D.C. keep that title. Mainly because Chicago is too far away to get my weekend fills of blackness when my well has been depleted. And Atlanta is even farther. And it has Stevie J.


5. The always entertaining act of seeing Michelle, Malia and Sasha in public, seeing Michelle with a not-too-happy look on her face, and theorizing about which one of the girls is most likely to say something “smart” enough to get them both in trouble.

(It’s always Sasha, BTW.)

And speaking of the kids …

6. Watching Sasha and Malia grow up right in front of us. One of the more underrated great parts of the Obama era is that it gave us the privilege of watching Sasha and Malia grow from young girls to amazing young women. Trump has a young child (10-year-old Barron), but something tells me Ebony and The Root and VSB and black Twitter won’t really be paying much attention to him. Probably because we’ll be too focused on questions like, “Do they have Shake Shacks in Canada? Because I can’t move there without them” if Trump wins to care about what his son does or doesn’t do.


7. Michelle Obama michelleobamaing. There aren’t many lauds I can level at the first lady that haven’t already been said. She’s a living icon—a level lifter, a frequent internet breaker and an aspiration—perhaps the aspiration. Seriously, I don’t know if anyone has ever had a higher black-people approval rating than she does. Maybe Jesus, but that’s only on Sundays. Perhaps that’s blasphemous, but Jesus never did  “Carpool Karaoke”

8. Election-, inauguration- and re-election-party-night babies. Do I have verifiable proof that the parties and unbridled joy surrounding Obama’s elections directly led to thousands of kids being conceived on those nights? No, I do not. I’m sure there’s some way to determine that, but I have neither the means nor the will to do it. But I do remember those nights. I remember the hell out of those nights. Those were some great nights. And I do know that when you put a bunch of drunken and happy black people in a room together—particularly drunken and happy black people looking for their own Baracks and Michelles—three things tend to happen:

  • Spades
  • Fights over spades games
  • Babies

9. Grandma Robinson’s potato salad. Have I ever tasted the potato salad made by Marian Robinson? No. I’m not even 100 percent sure she makes it. S—t, she might be allergic to potatoes. But because she’s a 79-year-old black woman from Chicago, I’m going to presume that 1) she makes it and 2) it’s amazing and 3) all the White House office workers are more pissed about her and her potato salad leaving—and the possibility of having to pretend to like Melania Trump’s lettuce casseroles now—than President Obama.


10. Racists having a convenient scapegoat for everything. Now people looking to blame the president for everything from their underwhelming salaries and underperforming schools to s—tty service in restaurants and seasonal affective disorder will need to point the finger toward someone else. Or maybe even a collection of someone elses. Like millennials. Or the New York Jets. And I’ll miss how easy these last eight years have made it to identify idiots.

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 damon@verysmartbrothas.com.