The following story, "No, White Friend — You Weren't 'Embarrassed' by Barack Obama," was originally published on JohnPavlovitz.com.
I remember the day after the Election, a friend of mine who happens to be white, remarked on social media that he "finally wasn't embarrassed of America and our President."
I sprained my eyes rolling them and they have never fully recovered.
Since then I've heard this sentiment echoed by more white folks than I can count, especially in recent months; supposed relief at once again having a leader who instills pride.
Since I don't have the time to ask each of the individually, I'll ask here:
So, you were embarrassed for the past 8 years, huh?
What exactly were you embarrassed by?
Were you embarrassed by his lone and enduring twenty-five year marriage to a strong woman he's never ceased to publicly praise, respect, or cherish?
Were you embarrassed by the way he lovingly and sweetly parented and protected his daughters?
Were you embarrassed by his Columbia University degree in Political Science or his graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School?
Maybe you were embarrassed by his white American and Black Kenyan parents, or the diversity he was raised in as normal?
Were you embarrassed by his eloquence, his quick wit, his easy humor, his seeming comfort meeting with both world leaders and street cleaners; by his bright smile or his sense of empathy or his steadiness — perhaps by his lack of personal scandals or verbal gaffes or impulsive tirades?
No. Of course you weren't.
Honestly, I don't believe you were ever embarrassed. That word implies an association that brings ridicule, one that makes you ashamed by association, and if that's something you claim to have experienced over the past eight years by having Barack Obama representing you in the world — I'm going to suggest you rethink your word choice.
You weren't "embarrassed" by Barack Obama.
You were threatened by him.
You were offended by him.
You were challenged by him.
You were enraged by him.
But I don't believe it had anything to do with his resume or his experience or his character or his conduct in office — because you seem fully proud right now to be associated with a three-time married, serial adulterer and confessed predator; a man whose election and business dealings and relationships are riddled with controversy and malfeasance. You're perfectly fine being represented by a bullying, obnoxious, genitalia-grabbing, Tweet-ranting, Prime Minister-shoving charlatan who's managed to offend all our allies in a few short months. And you're okay with him putting on religious faith like a rented, dusty, ill-fitting tuxedo and immediately tossing it in the garbage when he's finished with it.
None of that you're embarrassed of? I wonder how that works.
Actually, I'm afraid I have an idea. I hope I'm wrong.
Listen, you're perfectly within your rights to have disagreed with Barack Obama's policies or to have taken issue with his tactics. No one's claiming he was a flawless politician or a perfect human being. But somehow I don't think that's what we're talking about here. I think the thing President Obama did that really upset you, white friend — was having a complexion that was far darker than you were ever comfortable with. I think the President we have now feels much better.
Because objectively speaking, if what's happening in our country right now doesn't cause you great shame and doesn't induce the continual meeting of your palm to your face — I don't believe embarrassment is ever something you struggle with.
No, if you claimed to be "embarrassed" by Barack Obama but you're not embarrassed by Donald Trump — I'm going to strongly suggest it was largely a pigmentation issue.
And as an American and a Christian committed to diversity and equality and to the liberty at the heart of this nation — that, embarrasses me.
Image Source: Getty / Alex Wong
I have yet to find the words to describe the overwhelming sense of satisfaction I felt on Nov. 4, 2008 when Obama won the popular vote by 53 percent. With tears in my eyes, and joy in my heart, I stood alongside people of color across the nation as we celebrated America's first inauguration of a black president. As a young black man, I felt a true sense of patriotism as I witnessed our country rally together to show, finally, that we are more concerned about who is the most qualified man for the job, regardless of race or age. As Obama so simply, yet eloquently, stated during his celebration speech -change had come to America -a change we so desperately needed after eight painful years of George W. Bush's colossal failure as our nation's leader.
A lot has happened since then. I am loyal to the Democratic Party and to my president, but I am not blind, deaf or dumb. I recognize that Obama has made more than one controversial decision and rocked the boat a time or two during his presidency. Sure, he has committed his share of blunders and tripped over his own words from time to time. But, there isn't a president in American history who didn't flub up big time at some point during his administration. While I acknowledge he has made a number of mistakes in recent years, I stand firm in my conviction that Barack Obama is one of the greatest presidents America has ever seen. I believe history will prove this, and with time, he will be remembered in the annals of history as a revered revolutionary.
Here are 12 reasons why Obama is one of the best presidents ever:
- He is for The People. Say what you will about Barack Obama, but unlike the many presidents who preceded him, he cares about what is best for the greater good. He truly does represent The People. His actions have always been motivated by a sincere desire to do what is best for the majority, even if it meant losing ground with the wealthy, influential or powerful minority.
- He is for civil rights. He has consistently spoken on behalf of the disenfranchised, the underdog and the most controversial members of society -despite the fact that it was politically unpopular to do so at the time. His outspoken support of gay marriage is an excellent example. Gay marriage is, and has always been, a legal and civil rights issue -not a moral one as conservatives would have you believe. Obama's open support of gay marriage speaks to his core values and his inherent belief that there truly should be justice for all.
- He is for one race -the human race. In just a few short years, Obama's professional achievements and continued demonstration of equality and integrity have done wonders for race relations. America has never been more unified as a people than it has been under the direct leadership of Barack Obama. Finally, the racial lines that have divided blacks and whites for decades seem to be narrowing.
- He is for a healthcare system that brings hope and healing to the hurting. Obama's healthcare plan has allowed uninsured Americans to reap the benefits of a universal healthcare system. A suffering child should never be turned away because his or her mother doesn't have health insurance. To deny medical assistance to people who desperately need it is barbaric. Obama's health care plan has placed America among the world's greatest superpowers who demonstrate care and compassion toward its constituents with healthcare that serves all.
- He is for the middle class. Here are just a few of the comments made by President Barack Obama in recent months: "Rebuilding our economy starts with strengthening the middle class. Extending tax breaks on 98 percent of families now would give hardworking Americans the security and confidence they need." In July 2012, during a visit to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he said, "The vision of a strong middle class is what we're fighting for. What we need is somebody who's going to fight every single day to grow the middle class because that's how our economy grows, from the middle out, from the bottom up, where everybody has got a shot. That's how the economy grows." Enough said.
- He is for women's rights. Obama's very first executive action as President was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill specifically designed to annihilate wage discrimination barriers for women. He also fully funded the Violence Against Women Act, which addresses the criminality of sexual assault and domestic violence and provides women with the services needed to overcome such atrocities. President Obama nominated two women to the Supreme Court, including the first Latina justice in American history. Furthermore, Obama has taken exceptional measures to secure grant money for women business owners and get them a fair shake from the Small Business Association.
- He is for doing away with pomp and circumstance. Let's be real -Obama is one cool cat. As the 44th president of the United States, he has changed the face of the Oval Office forever. Many suggest Obama's casual demeanor and informal interaction with the American people is inappropriate, and even downright offensive. Millions of people, however -me included -perceive his relaxed deportment, humorous candor and outright honesty as a breath of fresh air. In spite of the fact that he is a politician, and the president, there is something about him that makes him real and relatable. Even though he is the most powerful man in the world, he is, at heart, just a man. In almost four years under perhaps the most intense public scrutiny ever placed upon an American president, he has never lost sight of the fact that he bleeds red, just like everyone else.
- He is for the environment. President Barack Obama has taken a forward thinking approach to creating a red, white, blue and green America. His policies and initiatives for a clean energy economy have had an incredible impact on the future of the nation. For instance, the U.S. reduced oil imports by more than 10 percent from 2010 - 2011. That's more than 1 million barrels a day. The Administration continues to seek ways to reduce America's dependence on oil, promote efficient energy and invest in clean energy practices. Read more about Obama's environmental strategies here.
- He is for veterans. Obama has consistently promoted the allocation of funds, increased benefits, job opportunities and extended resources for our nation's veterans. Although Obama never served in the U.S. Armed Forces, he has always been a responsible and thoughtful commander-in-chief. Unlike his predecessor -G.W. Bush -he has always been conscious of the fact that troops serving in combat zones are sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. He has never lost sight of the commitment, dedication and sacrifice made by the brave men and women who volunteer for military service and he has been adamant about rewarding them accordingly.
- He is for peace. Let us never forget that Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 -one of the greatest accomplishments any man or woman could hope to achieve in a lifetime. The award reads, "The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons." During his presidency, Obama successfully ended the war in Iraq and is close to finally putting an end to the conflict in Afghanistan and bring our troops home for good. Speaking of Afghanistan, remember public enemy number one, the King of Terror? It was under Obama's order that Osama Bin Laden was annihilated and put out of the warmongering business for good.
- He is for education. Obama has always been an advocate for education, making it a top priority during his administration. Believing education is what brings about the strength of a nation, Obama has set a goal for the U.S. to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. He has increased federal funding and doubled the amount of grant money allocated to students seeking a higher education to cover rising tuition costs. During his presidency, Obama also passed the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics to ensure equal education for people of color.
- He is for entertaining the masses. If we have to listen to a president yakitty-yak about this or that for another four years, we might as well pick one with charisma and charm. If you can't find anything else appealing about Obama, you can't deny the fact that the guy is an amazing speaker with wit, fantastic comedic timing and an incredible intellect. In fact, I will go so far as to say that when the man does finally retire from politics, he has a rewarding and lucrative job as a stand up comic awaiting him if he so chooses. When's the last time you heard a president joke about drinking beer, belt out Al Green with poise and precision at a moment's notice and admit to watching the Kardashians?
If these 12 reasons aren't enough to convince that president Obama is one of the best presidents ever, then you are not thinking objectively!
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