By IDA HARRIS
Since November, the nation at-large has been consumed with what American life looks like after Obama’s out—and Trump is in. In his final press conference last Wednesday, the now former president gave insight on what that picture looks like to him. As part of his post presidency plan, President Obama alluded to work in activism against social injustice and a return to writing. He also doted on his girls, Sasha and Malia—as he should, because… Sasha and Malia—and gave some insight into their take on politics. While it’s not quite their bag, they, like he, was dismayed by the election outcome, Obama said, but, like their father, the girls are still hopeful about the nation’s political future, and fully agree with their dad when he says that We The People will be “ok.” However, I’m not so certain We The People agree with such an out of focus optimism (shade).
Sadly, Obama’s brand of hopefulness asks that we shirk the reality unfolding before us and our children—the rather shitty one that officially began Friday. It asks of us to be “ok” with leadership that welds toxic masculinity, promotes sexism, incites xenophobia, honors hypocrisy, sleeps with the enemy. It asks us to turn a deaf ear to leadership that threatens to obliterate the affordable healthcare that helped roughly 9.9 million Americans obtain health insurance (Gallup), while the former president and his family have the option to continue military healthcare coverage funded by We the People (no shade).
It asks for African Americans to be “ok” with leadership that has a history of Black prejudice, dating back 44 years: accounts of Trump’s racist actions range from housing discrimination and verbal attacks on the Central Park Five to current day condescension toward Black life and his stereotyping of Black and Brown skin. It asks that we sweep islamophobia beneath a rug when, according to the PEW Research Center, 23 percent of Muslims residing in the U.S. are Black. Let’s not forget that Black Christians got gunned down while church’n last year. And although, eight years proved our former chief executive is not exempt from racial prejudice, that lifetime secret service security will allow him and his to pray safely (shade).
More so, Obama’s “hopefulness” asks Blacks to ignore the wildly disturbing euphemism “Make America Great Again,” which reeks of the very ideology that justified slavery and Jim Crow: imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. In other words, this brand of optimism asks that we dress in our finest domestic wear—replete with head-rags and bow ties—break out the fried chicken, ‘tater salad, Kool-aid, and watermelon, cue the knee slappers, the harmonica, tambourine, and banjo players, practice our best wild-eyed, wide-toothed grin, bend over and kiss our collective Black asses goodbye.
I think neither Barack, Michelle, nor Sasha or Malia, with their good government insurance, fat bank accounts and political and social clout, will be at that party (more shade). Ahem.
So yeah, a new presidency is afoot and Sasha and Malia will definitely be okay:
… the[ir] livin’ is easy /
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high /
[their] daddy’s rich and [their] ma is good-lookin’ /
[those darling babies will hardly cry]
… One of these mornings [their] gonna rise up singing
And [they’ll] spread [their] wings and [they’ll] take to the sky
But till that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm [them]
With [Barack] and [Michelle] standin’ by …*
The rest of us—not so much.
*Adapted from “Summertime,” by DeBose Heyward, performed by Ella Fitzgerald
Ida Harris is a journalist and cultural critic covering a range of topics that intersect with Blackness, including art, activism, pop culture, parenting and womanhood. Ida is especially known for her critical writing on sexual assault against Black women and girls. Her work is featured in ELLE , DAME , Blavity, Teen Vogue , and USA Today.