If there is one thing everyone agrees on regarding Barack Obama, it is that he is Black. Some will point out that he’s mixed race, so “not totally Black”, but few, if any in America, are mad at him for his being White, so I’ll stick with my first statement. Bill Clinton not withstanding, Obama also really is the “first Black President of the United States”. Love him, hate him, agree with him, disagree with him, it is true that he was the President of the United States.
Donald Trump, according to the historian at NBC News, is the first President in American history to try to actively undo the work of his predecessor. It is now widely believed that Trump’s entire agenda — at least the parts he’s been successful at — are all related to destroying Obama’s legacy — from the most inane to the most extraordinary achievement. From the Paris Climate Accords to Obamacare and the Iran Deal to the restrictions on the mentally ill owning guns and the removal of flooding regulations, birth control, DACA and so on, Trump is trying to pummel Obama’s legacy into submission.
For those who believe in such things, Obama is the ultimate example of an “uppity n-word”. He is an example of how far we had come in American diversity/race relations. He was the classic example of what a Black Man can achieve in this society, the ultimate proof that African-Americans are not only human, but someone for all Americans to aspire to. Intellectual, kind, decent to those who are not like him, scandal-free and so on. If you can think of a Black stereotype, Barack Obama’s existence denies its reality.
It is also well-known that Mr. Obama was merciless in his roasting of Trump at a White House Corresponence Dinner a few years back. Reality TV star Omarossa, now on Trump’s staff said, in essence Mr. Trump didn’t like that humiliation and wanted revenge for Obama saying what he did … after Trump had lied and berated him for months about “not being born here”.
To sum up: Barack Obama is Black, and was President — a problem for racists everywhere. Trump apparently hates him, and is doing anything to remove examples of Obama’s power he can. Here’s the tricky question, though: Does Trump hate Obama personally or racially? The answer to that question determines the moral of the story and the narrative for a whole country.
If Trump only hates Obama, then he’s just petty, vengeful, and spiteful. If Trump hates Obama because he is Black and was President, however, the moral becomes something very, very different. In that case, the lesson Trump is trying to teach American Blacks is that Whites can — and will — erase any attempt at racial “uppity-ness” you can come up with, because we can erase the best of you. Go ahead, believe in yourselves and we’ll remove any trace of you. In that case, Trump becomes a racial vampire, sucking the life out of a whole culture. In the words of Bob Marley, “every time that I plant a seed, he say ‘kill it before it grows’”.
The first option is horrible, contemptible and beneath the dignity of a President. The second one can not stand. It simply cannot be left out there, like a flowering weed, if America is to live up to its full potential. We must remember all of the things that our former President has done for the country — and more than Trump wants us to forget. We need to tell our children that a Black man can save the earth if he pays attention to science, that he can decrease violence in the world with his actions regarding guns, that he can save the country from bankruptcy, both after a crash and before a storm. We need to tell out children that a Black boy can be a leader, can be compassionate, can do the right thing with the stroke of a pen, or with arms that held parents after the Newtown massacre. We need to tell our children that a Black father can stick around, and raise two brilliant and decent daughters. We have to remember them, because they are all true and because they matter.
It occurs to me as I write this that Hillary Clinton is the same symbol for women that President Obama was for Blacks. Trump, the Republican men and some women, are trying to undo any gains the women’s movement has made and Hillary is the perfect example of how far a woman can go in this country. For the same reasons as above, we must tell the stories and remember the successes of women to prove equality to men. Trump hates Hillary as much as he hates Obama. Let him not steal the souls of little girls, teenagers, or adult women simply because he can demean them or grab their genitals. If we are to have the strengths that women bring for our country, we cannot let this man or any other one boil her entire time in office to Benghazi and Monica Lewinsky. We must tell the true stories of everything she has done in her career. We must tell our children that girls can be Senators and Secretaries of State, that they can defend democracy, that they can make a difference in keeping people healthy, that they can change the world.
We must remember and tell the truth, as much as Trump and cohorts want us to forget and deny. Truth and gifts are too important to lose.
Resisting with Peace,