I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours. – Barack Obama
As I watched Barack Obama deliver his farewell address for the last time as President of the United States, I was touched. Not exactly touched by his words, but the impact his presidency had on me and so evidently on others over this short eight years. As I listened to him give his final goodbyes, I remembered the day when my mother took me into the polls with her. I remembered when he won and I saw he had two little black girls my age walking on that stage with him. I remembered joy. At the time I didn’t fully understand, but I knew that his victory was a special thing.
During Obama’s farewell, the one moment that touched my heart the most was when he declared his appreciation for his wife and children. Tears began to fall because suddenly I saw the immense strength of that family. And as I saw the crowd give Michelle Obama a standing ovation, it reminded me of how much credit and respect black women, mothers, and wives often deserve but never ask for. I can only imagine what Michelle had to endure throughout this entire presidency, not only as an iron backbone for her husband, but as a mother, a role model, and a representative for black women across the nation. It was a beautiful moment being able to reflect on the many accomplishments the Obamas had and their impact on this nation.
In his speech, Obama’s final request was for Americans to believe. He asked that we believe in ourselves and work hard to create a better future. As his presidency comes to a bittersweet end, the excellence that the black community has consistently displayed will not. What a privilege it was to not only experience a black president spend not one but two terms in office, but to experience black excellence in all areas of society from film to music to sports and education. I experienced unity and greatness like never before. Through the tension and despair these past few years/months brought, I saw great things happen because we supported one another and believed in each other. From simple little things like Gambino shouting out Migos and causing an increase in their sales (R.I.P to Bad and Boujee though), to black actors and actresses being cast in diverse roles (and delivering amazing performances), to average people like you and I donating thousands of dollars towards families of victims of police brutality, we had an impact and made a very clear statement; that we are powerful beyond measure.
This also applies to my millennials (its about to get real y’all). We’ve been flourishing and displaying our excellence so well. For a bunch of lost lazy social media-obsessed optimists, we’re doing a pretty damn good job and we can do even better if we remain optimistic and keep believing in ourselves, regardless of the criticism we so often receive. I am amazed at how socially and politically aware we are, how we’ve used social media to create a platform for unheard voices, how we hunger for knowledge and strive to obtain an education, and how we are so driven to make change. Like Obama said, he believes in us and he is waiting for us to finally believe in ourselves too…like for real for real. There’s so much pressure for us to have it all together, to grow up faster because the world needs us more now than it needed those who came before us. Take your time to grow and find yourself. Don’t let some of those dusty milky miserable old people discourage you, we got this. But also, let’s not forget to constantly reflect on our history and gain wisdom from past generations, because even though we lit af…we still young af. There’s some things they have that we’re going to desperately need later; so stay humble, observe, and be willing to learn.
Many of us have been dreading this goodbye, because we all know orange is really about to become the new black. But we too have to wipe our tears and while we cherish those moments, we move on and push forward so that one day we can experience those moments all over again. Obama’s farewell was a clear call to action and it’s our responsibility to follow through.