I contemplated whether or not I should write something today. I contemplated whether or not I should change my social media profile picture. I contemplated mentioning our outgoing president or the incoming one.
I remember Barack Obama’s campaign, election, and inauguration like it was yesterday. I remember living in Kodiak, Alaska and learning that he, indeed, would be running for President of the United States of America. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t vote for him because our country wasn’t ready for an African American leader. I remember being on the fence until the day John McCain announced that Sarah Palin would be his running mate. I lived in Alaska so I was very aware of the mess she was involved in there. While likable, she was clearly less than competent. I remember being angry with the Republican Party for not giving me a better option, for being so blatantly obvious with their choice of a female running mate so they, too, could have a first. I remember deciding then that I can’t be on board with a candidate that would so clearly try to trick me into voting for him just because he chose a woman.
When President Obama was elected, I couldn’t believe it. This country wasn’t what I thought it was. It wasn’t the prejudiced place where everyone was against me. It was a place of real hope for those that look like me and by look like me I mean have skin that is darker than a slice of white bread. My state at the time, Alaska, went red that year. The town I lived in was so small and had less than 20 Black folks/ African Americans. Seriously. I never let that bother me though. That’s the way it goes. I made fast friends with church members despite the fact that we didn’t share skin color. That’s the way life goes for many of us. We are the “other” in a lot of places – more places than you can imagine really. I loved my life in Alaska.
Then the day after the election came and people started showing their true colors. People would not talk to me. People would not look me in my face. I could not believe it. Let me clarify something here. I didn’t campaign for Obama. I didn’t have a bumper sticker on my car or wear shirts in support of him. I didn’t talk about politics at all. I didn’t do anything to let people now who I might be voting for. (Well nothing but be Black.) So why would people walk around me with their heads hung low like I’d just beat them in the game of the century? Because they ASSUMED I voted for Obama. They assumed that because I am Black, I must have voted for the Black guy. Is that why they didn’t? Did they just vote for the white guy because he’s white?
My small, friendly town turned into a place that I no longer felt comfortable all because our new president looked more like me than the rest of the them. How could that be? How could they not see that this was more than just black vs. white? Why didn’t they understand that this historical moment might just be a good thing. What hurt the most were the pretty disturbing things from my so-called “church friends”:
- He’s just so dark. He looks dark. I don’t think I can trust him. Apparently being black makes you look devilish and demonic. Hmm…
- He only won because all the Black people voted for him. First, Black Americans do exist and have every right to vote. Second, 43% of white Americans voted for Barack Obama. https://ropercenter.cornell.edu/polls/us-elections/how-groups-voted/how-groups-voted-2008/
- He’s not even American. He’s from Kenya. I’ll just let this one be. Y’all already know this man is American. Can this one rest now?
- He’s a socialist who wants to give everything to Black people for free. I haven’t received anything free. I’m Black in case you missed that. My husband hasn’t received anything free. He’s Black, too.
Y’all. People said these to me or around me like I wasn’t even there. I had a core group of people that were great to me and remained great to me. They may not have voted for Obama but they still loved me despite the fact that he won. I’m not sure why anyone would turn on me because of our new president. I didn’t know him personally. I had nothing in common with him other than the fact that we are both of color. People literally turned on me and stopped talking to me without even knowing who I voted for. Not that that should have even mattered.
From that point on, I felt uncomfortable publicly supporting my president. What kind of since does that make? My husband is in the military. We are supposed to support the President right? We should be proud to support the President. That seemed to have changed when the President became a Black man. But why? I’m tired of having to celebrate him in private. I’m tired of having to act like I have no interest in who runs our country. I do. I have an interest in being loving and kind and CHRISTIAN to people. That means showing love and not hate. That means leaving judgement to my Father in Heaven. That means taking care of the poor and unfortunate. That means helping my fellow man. That means supporting our women, and children, and men. That means opening my heart to those who aren’t like me or those who are. That means being caring and friendly and showing a loving spirit to everyone.
Where were these people on that day? Why was my circle now so small? What happened to the Christians that were supposed to fill these qualities? Where are those Christians now?
I’ll stop here for now. My mind can only take so much. I will admit, I have been in mourning. I don’t know if I’ve been mourning the loss of the hope that I’ve had for the last 8 years or if I’m sad about the hate that fueled the incoming president. I’m not going to mourn anymore, though. I’m going to celebrate. I’m going to celebrate where we’ve come from. I’m going to celebrate the opportunities and changes that have come. My hope isn’t dead. Our hope lives on because I now know what is possible. The work continues with all of us who care. I know that love wins. I know that my life matters. I know that there are millions of people who support me despite my skin color or gender. I know that my nieces and nephews can be the leader of the free world. I know what is possible.