Barack Obama was one of the most disrespected presidents in American history.
He was heckled by a reporter from the Daily Caller in the Rose Garden; he was given a chair lecture by Bill O’Reilly; and a former mayor of New York City said of Obama, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. ... He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
So, while I am sad to see him go, I’m ready for President Obama to be free from the burden of having to perform for white supremacy. But that is not to say I’ve not had my criticisms.
He pandered too intentionally to white America, and he was too quick to condescend to black America. I think we should all now see that the critiques our modern-day prophets William “Sandy” Darity and Cornel West had of Obama were largely correct—we were just too busy deifying Obama to listen to what they had to say.
There have been ups and downs with Obama, but no matter what, his eight-year tenure as leader of this country has come to an end. We’ve lost the powerful symbol of a black family living in the White House as the first family. It’s over.
Ol’ Dude is now president of the United States of America. A man who once participated in a WWE fight, and who allegedly hired Russian prostitutes to perform a golden shower in the bed where he knew the Obamas had slept, is the Leader of the Free World.
Allow me to give you a five-step guide to help you through this absurd circumstance in which we all find ourselves.
Step 1: Don’t Just Exist; Live
It seems cliché to say it, but striving to actualize our best selves in the face of unremitting social, psychological, economic, political and physical violence requires courage. To live, love and thrive while black in a world dominated by white supremacy is, in itself, an act of defiance. An old church mother once said, “Don’t let the craziness of white folks keep you from the brilliance of blackness.”
We must remember to live. Not exist; live. Thrive. Be unapologetically black and unremittingly brilliant.
Step 2: Read Black Women
They live in a world that says to them that they have the wrong lips, hips and skin pigmentation. Defiantly they persevere in the face of white supremacy, patriarchy, economic inequality and trifling niggas. They have been and will continue to be the salvation of the black community.
From Lorraine Hansberry’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window to Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns to Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow to Harriet Washington’s Medical Apartheid to Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Talents to Kimberly Foster’s For Harriet ... black women have done and continue to do bold, courageous, dangerous and necessary thinking and writing to prepare us for this moment.
Step 3: Enjoy Black Music
Enslave us, and we will sing spirituals. Lynch us, and we will play jazz. Subject us to Jim Crow, and we will invent the blues. Take away funding for the arts in the inner city, and we will invent hip-hop. Black people have endured the hardest of times and used those moments as inspiration to make art that has challenged, moved and soothed.
Our music got us through much worse than Ol’ Dude, and it will get us through this jive turkey.
Step 4: Embrace Your Blackness
Too many black people are ashamed of their blackness. They have internalized white supremacy to such a degree that their goal in life is proving they belong among white bodies. I hate to kill their hopes and dreams, but I think the following needs to be said: Black people, you will never be white.
Therefore, embrace your blackness. Be proud of your lineage. There is so much shame attached to our African ancestry, we do all we can to distance ourselves from it. We are ashamed of our hair. We are ashamed of our body types. We cringe because we are descendants of the slaves who survived. If we are here, it is only because they were resilient, because they were strong.
Marcus Garvey would often say: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” He may have been wrong concerning many things, but about this he was right. We must admit that we are mentally enslaved. Once we admit this, we can do the hard work of freeing our minds.
Step 5: Build Community
Remember that you are not alone. Our ancestors will give us strength, but you can also find solace in building community with folks who are like-minded. Too many of us live in isolation, but Maya Angelou’s poem “Alone” reminds us, “Nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone.”
It will be a long, anxiety-filled four years, but if you follow this five-step plan, you will make it through Trump and anything else that may come your way.
We will get through this. If you believe in a divine being, hear the words that my grandmother used to sing to me: “Nobody told me the road would be easy ... but I don’t believe he brought me this far to leave me.”
If you do not, just know that we gon’ be alright.