I was planning to attend the inauguration with my friend and her 6-year-old daughter if Hillary Clinton won. Just like I attended the historic inauguration of the first Black president, I was going to make sure I was there for the inauguration of the first female president.
As we all know, those plans were shot.
Now there is an endless stream of tragic news- disastrous Trump appointees, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, passage of the REINS Act, a coordinated lack of transparency around multiple simultaneous cabinet nominee hearings, and more.
I was in a bit of a haze since the election and avoided any in-depth news coverage. I wasn’t in denial, but unwilling to let a Trump administration become a daily part of my thoughts and worries for the sake of my mental and emotional health. Now, with 8 days left in Obama’s presidency, the feelings of loss and fear are catching up to me.
Though I don’t agree with everything President Obama has done, he has meant a lot to me and so many people around the world. There were many instances when his thoughtfulness, intelligence, love for his family, humor, and progressiveness made me proud.
His views on feminism and treatment of the women in his life were nothing like what I’d seen from a U.S. President. He set an example for the men who haven’t caught up yet and showed everyone what a loving, beautiful Black family looks like. In June 2016, I was invited to attend the first ever White House United State of Women Summit. I reflected on how amazing it was that this kind of event can happen under a presidential administration. Trump wasn’t even on our radar yet, but I wondered whether it would be the first and last summit of this kind. I think we all know the answer to that now.
I particularly appreciated his unique perspective given his biracial and international upbringing. From reading his memoir and throughout these eight years, I recognized how I can relate to his worldview in many ways. In other ways, I see how the difference can be attributed to generation and other life circumstances. (Video: The Making of a Black President)
The 2016 presidential election was personal. It happened the way it did largely in response to the personal and cultural significance of a Black president. With pride and jubilation on one side and defeat and loss of perceived power on the other, backlash was inevitable. Even without the racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia, this election was a defeat of human decency at the most basic level. The severe contrast between presidents makes the departure of President Obama even more painful. Still, one thing we can look forward to is seeing what Barack and Michelle Obama do after leaving the White House. Following some much deserved time off, I’m sure we will see more of them both.