Reflections on the Last Day of the Obama Era

Tomorrow, we will wake up in a very different America. At thirty two years old, I want to focus on myself, my needs, my wants, goals and dreams. But all I keep thinking about is the children in my life. How will the next four years shape them? Who will they become under this administration? Children who grew up after the September 11th attacks had a different understanding of America, just as I’m certain that children who witnessed America post Pearl Harbor did. How will this inform them?

Even the most conservative of children still witnessed a Black Man as president, and more importantly a Black Woman as First Lady. I believe I will miss Michelle the most. First Lady Obama was everyone’s cool ass auntie. I highly doubt I’ll be able to truly articulate how impactful she was on my life.

In the fall of 2008 I was twenty-four years old, a junior in college, ready to take the world by storm. I remember walking across my quaint campus to vote. I remember feeling so proud. I stood in the freezing cold at the inauguration watching history unfold before my eyes. I even had a 44th President hoodie. I had hope. It wasn’t the post-racial America hope that folks tried to insist existed. It was an equitable hope. That everyone could just have a chance to prove themselves competent. Not even worthy… just simply competent to get things done.

Eight years later, I’m thirty-two, I’m married, and I find myself in school again. The sun isn’t shining as bright this time around. Though we know that sustainable change happens on the local level, every municipality takes its cue from the White House. Be it good, bad or indifferent… what our cities will morph into will be heavily influenced by our President.

And even though a horrid taste infiltrated my mouth when I typed the words “our president,” he now belongs to all of us. What will we do to combat the vile spewing he’s done for the last almost two years? Even if he decides to temper himself, the damage has been done. Every single one of us, conservatives included will now have to carry this load.

So to every American young, old, and in between…

Become who you’re destined to become. Be kind people. Take care of the earth. Do better than us. Come out of the closet on your terms. Love who you want and how you want. Be safe. Be whole. Laugh loud. Serve your community. Learn more than what the school will be allowed to teach you. Go your own way. Love yourself unconditionally. Hustle, collaborate, and uplift. Trust your gut. Stay active. See the world. Go outside. Meet someone new. Have joy. Be authentic.

Understand what is happening in the world. Shake shit up. Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t let teachers tell you that you’re less than. Mentor someone at every stage of your life. Get yourself a mentor. Follow your passion. It will sustain you. Have a vision for what the world needs to be. Always be proactive. When someone causes you harm, say ouch. Tell your truth and don’t be sorry for it. If you caused harm, apologize, and mean it. Learn how to be better.

Love your city with a critical eye, push it to be better. Better cities make better states which makes a better country. Have friends who don’t think like you, look like you, live like you, love like you. Don’t be an island. Again, be kind to people. And be kind to yourself.

We’re going to survive this. Love, Eris

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