#ObamaFarewell: A President for My Time

Dear Mr President

I agree; that was indeed Our Moment. 

I am so glad I was actually here on the planet  in That Moment when the first Black man got to live in the White House built by slaves; this must have been especially poignant for Marion Robinson, Michelle's mum.

I have been sorely vexed with and railed against the Universe for remaining passive while people of color and all kinds of minorities plus plain black folk all over the world, from Australia to Canada and back to New Zealand, have such a FCUK-ing hard time (to put it less than mild) simply because of their skin colour or religion or sexual orientation.

Whilst some African Americans think you championed all kinds of 'minority' causes and issues except theirs,  I know you did the very best that you felt able to do. In fact it made an impact, as in many ways it brought about a kind of  unspoken or unacknowledged 'coalition of minorities', even in support of Black Lives Matter.[1]

As early as June 2008, five months before Americans went to the voting stations, Andrew Sullivan a brave or foolhardy Sunday Times columnist and political commentator, boldly and unequivocally called it for you in a double page spread. Even the Church of England got in on the act.[2]  Against all the odds, gut instinct told me Sullivan was right.  This was going to happen.

 I have absolutely no qualms in admitting to doing some serious meditation and in-depth visualisations over many months mostly on bringing you safely to the White House and then out at the other end.  Yes, I know the secret service and your protection team have your safe-guarding in hand but I've been watching courtesy of Netflix: Olympus has Fallen and Designated Survivor.  As my friend Bill would often say, 'you can't trust the besteds'.

I have this fantasy that along with Andrew Sullivan, millions of us around the world literally willed your Presidency into being.  Could you feel us? 

President Elect and First Family November 2008

I was astounded by (and secretly proud of) America on that fateful day in November 2008; the day you walked on to that stage in Chicago's Grant Park with your beautiful family. I was here in London participating too. 
Suddenly all those vile things burnt in memory faded into a distant past: apartheid which continued to the end of the 1960s – Jim Crow Laws - Separate Is Not Equal, the lynching and beatings, Selma Alabama, and not least the events depicted in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown  After seeing that movie I could never bring myself to read the actual book; it remains on my bookshelf unread for 30 years.  All was momentarily forgiven, if not forgotten when White America (it would never have happened without you guys) elected a Black man (well of mixed heritage) as their President.
People across continents took you to their hearts as if one of their own, while many in your own country sneered at what they described as your ‘rock star’ status.  Well, actually, the truth is you rock!

Inauguration 2009
Just to keep up the fantasy of my direct role in it all: do you know that on Michelle's first solo visit to the UK, of all the schools in Greater London, she chose to visit my granddaughter's  in North London? What are the odds against that happening?  There was a return visit to the White House for a small group. And I took all of that as a personal 'thankyou'. I really did.

Inauguration 2009: 1.8M on National Mall
  We were also there, in imagination and via satellite, amid the euphoria of your first inauguration.  I will never forget those iconic images – your young daughters, the unending crowds on the National Mall, 1.8 million of them and still they came; that dance with your First Lady serenaded by Queen Bae.  This too is burnt in memory.  It will never be erased. 

I have countless press cuttings, a huge glossy poster, a video recording, the t-shirt and that iconic 'hope' sketch.  I have a treasure trove of memorabilia for my great grandchildren to savour the occasion when an African-American became the most powerful man in the Western world, indeed on the planet. 

In truth American Presidents are never really that...the most powerful men I mean. In your case it was even less so not least because of the unconscionable blocking tactics of Republicans in the House and Senate.  Another load of besteds, they held America to ransom just to thwart you. 

Your election was probably the last straw for the Alt Right[3] who has always been there but grew in ascendency since Trump. They believed that you and those liberals would ‘take away their guns’ leaving them vulnerable presumably to those ‘neggras’ and anybody else seeking revenge. I even hear tell they blame you for 9/11!  And that says it all.

How they tried to undermine and vilify you and Michelle at every turn: about your birthplace, demanding that you produce your birth certificate; spreading downright lies branding you a socialist and accusing Michelle's of racism, claiming she used the term 'whitey'. The level of personal abuse was monstrous.  The ignorance was breathtaking. The vileness continued unabated throughout your Presidency to the very last months and weeks but they could not breach your strength of character.

 The both of you simply passed through it all with amazing grace.

 Sometimes it’s really difficult to hold on to Mandela’s quote:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” {Long Walk to Freedom}

Even as the death penalty was handed down a few days ago, Dylann Roof[4] said he still felt he had to murder those nine black churchgoers. If Roof was not born to hate then where did he learn that visceral hatred? Who taught him?

I know you tried hard to put America’s best interest first, even when it proved hugely controversial like your Affordable Health Care Act which many disparagingly labelled ‘Obamacare’.  The irony is you do care, very deeply, and so 'Obamacare' is in my view totally appropriate.  The Obamas really believe that 'I am my brother's keeper'.   

The AHCA will likely be dismantled now.  Among the group who will suffer most are those very White people who need it as much as anyone else but probably voted for the very first time in their lives simply to get rid of a provision you pushed through on their behalf.  It's called cutting off your nose to spite your face.

From the guy in my local corner shop through to national leaders, much has been written and spoken by various commentators about your Presidency, both positive and negative.  The vox pop range over issues from warfare and climate change to health care and same sex marriage.

They will try their damnest to naysay and to dismantle your legacy.  In the short term they may well succeed in undoing some things in an attempt to airbrush you from America's history. This has happened to countless African-American achievers in the past.  But we will keep the faith.

America cannot 'unknow' what it knows. It will soon become patently obvious what is missing from the highest office of public life streaming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: your strong impulse to always serve the nation's best interest, your authenticity and integrity, your humour and sense of fun.  Above all in the words [5] of political commentator Ezra Klein: America will miss Barack Obama's Decency.

I too will miss you 'My President'. Go in peace with the admiration and gratitude of millions of us around the world.

With Much Love

[1] Serious.TV https://www.facebook.com/OfficialSrslyTV/videos/1018647578258635/


 [3] Alternative Right | Southern Poverty Law Center

The Alternative Right, commonly known as the Alt-Right, is a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white ...

[4] Dylann Roof sentenced to death for the murders of nine black church ... https://www.theguardian.com › US News › Charleston shooting

[5] https://www.facebook.com/


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