I was at grad school during the time President Obama campaigned for and eventually was elected to the highest office in this country. I remember listening to people talk about the potential of him becoming president. Some of my white friends complained, and were genuinely confused, about some black people’s fidelity to a biracial man, who is part African, running for president. I remember sitting across a table listening to some of my black friends talk about how some of their relationships with their white friends had become strained because of Obama’s popularity and the possibility of him becoming president. The obvious is clear, for various reasons, some of their white friends did not like it–and they let their blacks friends know it.
I just listened and thought.
I can remember thinking to myself that Obama’s presence has divided the nation. But this divide didn’t happen because of his politics, at least not initially. Deep divisions over specific policies manifested later. America was already divided due to the nations lack of real racial reconciliation. However, there were some tragic incidents that reopened America’s racial wound and the Bush Administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina, for blacks, was one of them.
Obama’s presence in the oval office–which, historically has only been occupied by white men–irritated those who overtly and covertly believed that this country is only for white people. Upon his arrival at the oval office, racists people used social media and their private emails to call Obama all kinds of hate filled names.
In 2008, Obama’s speech on race was a ‘peace offering’ to America. Obama needed and had to tell Americans that he was about unity, and not division. And, still it seemed as if the nation became more polarized as he continued to govern as best he could. Obama had to do this, because to plenty of Americans–he was a mystery man of color who some believed, and may still believe, he would govern with a theology and politic wrought with Marxism. He, as a person of color, had to persuade a deeply divided nation that he had come to govern all of America–and not just those black people who voted for him.
Obama is leaving office and it would be crazy to think that he was and is the most divisive president in the history of the United States, as some have proclaimed.