I type this entry on my bed at my family’s home on the Southside of Chicago.
Winnie The Pooh would say that today is a blustery day as it is very windy outside.
It is in fact so windy that even Chicago, The Windy City feels it necesary to issue wind advisory warning.
Today also happens to be the day that President Barack Obama gives his farewell address to America from “the city of the broad shoulders”.
His speech comes as our country is in for a dramatic and unpredictable shift in power from Obama, the Harvard Law Grad with a big smile to Trump; a manipulative reality tv personality with tiny fingers for tweeting his even more tiny thoughts.
And so, the winds of change are blowing.
Which is why I truly believe that the strong wind outside my window is not only a metaphor for the presidential shift, but also mother earth’s tumultuous cry and regret that Obama, the candidate of hope and change cowered from his opportunity to do just that.
The wind howls in contempt of the President’s decision to once again use the city and the people he’s neglected as his political decoration and stepping stool.
Dear Mr. President, if you’re hesitant
your presence is requested
in the midst of negligence to fix your residence
It’s a message in our restlessness
Trying to wrestle with
being the lesser of
whatever the lesser get
– King Los “God Money War”
I love being from Chicago. Wherever I go, I’m always representing the southside.
Despite the negativity you may see told about us in the news, southsiders and Chicagoans in general are beautiful, friendly people. Many of us are the product of midwestern simplicity and southern influenced courtesy. We also pride ourselves in being the most down to earth people of any of our other big-city peers like New York, LA & Miami.
Shifting the perspective back to my native southside, we value
Keeping it real. Not selling out for political gain. Loyalty.
Being true to who you are and using the strength of community to get by and to overcome.
These are attributes that Barack Obama, like many politicians before him took advantage of in order to use my community and my city as his stepping stool.
President Obama loves Chicago and Chicagoans love him.
He tapped into Chicagoan’s built in desire to get in the trenches and fight the good fight on behalf of the common man/woman. Their loyalty was the springboard from which his meteoric rise to the national stage was built.
For their loyalty, what did they get in return?
How did President Obama thank Chicagoans?
How did he repay these blue-collar people with a humble “do-unto-others” sense of values?
He abandoned the working class and the poor while giving policy precedence to the millionaire and billionaire class.
“Everybody’s President” (Except Ours)
African Americans were a tremendous source of support for Barack Obama in both his Senate and Presidential quests.
They raised money for him via sacrifices in their bank accounts and fundraising with church dinners.
They voted for him with overwhelming and unflinching numbers.
They wrote songs for him, stenciled his face next to Jesus & Dr. King and would almost go to blows with anyone who dared to question the ingerity or authority of their president.
How did he repay them? How did he repay Black Chicagoans in particular?
By politically ignoring us.
He crafted his own method of white-splaining racial disenfranchisement by advancing the narrative and lie that because he was the President of ALL races, that African Americans shouldn’t have reasonable expectation that their needs would be a priority at his office.
Fearful of alienating and or undermining the first Black president in the face of obvious right-wing instruction tactics, most Black voters fell in line and refused to criticize Barack.
Knowing that he ( along with the bigoted attacks of the right wing) had successfully lowered the bar of Black political expectations, President Obama proceeded to ignore issues of segregation, discrimination, poverty and joblessness that disproportionately impact Black communities.
The candidate of hope presided over an era in which Chicago youth feel even more hopeless because of systemic challenges and the lack of attention & brave action from their president. Young people are being murderd in Chicago, sometimes by police who cover-up the crime. Yet, there’s no palpable concern from the White House.
Black Chicago has been “ride or die” for the 44th President. So why has he been so indifferent to the dying part?
Chicagoans of all backgrounds voted for this President based on his promise to defend them against corporate greed and attacks on their unions.
Instead, he abandoned union workers when Republican thugs in waged a successful war against union rights in the midwest.
While Chicago’s schools were struggling in part because of cold, political beaurcracy that places students and children behind profit and politics, President Obama made former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan the head of the department of education.
Arne Duncan is a man whose claim to fame is managing the city government’s growing war against public schools by weakening public schools in favor of privately run, government charters.
Apparently Barack Obama approved of this vision so much that he decided to make Duncan, the manage of Chicago’s unequal education charge of the nation’s policy.
Barack saw our pain and decided to reward it’s perpatrator a promotion.
Most Chicagoans proudly share their hometown with President Obama.
To thank them, he repaid their loyalty and pride by endorsing one problematic mayor and practically installing another.
As a Presidential nominee, he thought it was necessary to endorse one of the most heartless American politicians in 20th century politics, Mayor Richard M Daley.
Mayor Daley and his father were pretty much like Chicago’s version of George Bush 1 & 2.
-Mayor Richard M. Daley ignored reports about police torture including the actions of Jon Burge who tortured more than 200 suspects in his time as a Chicago detective.
-Mayor Daley was in charge and complicit as Chicago continued to be an incredibly segregated city both logistically and socio-economically.
-Mayor Daley and his administration was under federal investigation for various charges of corruption and fraud.
Obama didn’t just endorse Daley. He spoke glowingly about Daley’s effect on the city by saying
“I can honestly say I am always glad to be back home because I don’t think there is a city in America that has blossomed so much over the last couple of decades.”
Despite accusations of corruption, federal investigations and the very real pain felt by ordinary Chicagoans and it’s disenfranchised people of color, former community organizer Barack Obama used his influence to embolden our tyrants and exacerbate the community’s misery.
Most recently, President Barack Obama gave us Rahm Emmanuel.
Rahm Emmanuel has continued our city’s long history of economic inequality and racial disharmony.
Rahm Emmanuel closed neighborhood schools without regard for the students and how their lives are drastically (and potentially, fatally) effected by such a decision.
Rahm’s arrogance and lack of respect for African American youth was highlighted by the infamous Laquan McDonald murder. When 17 year old Laquan McDonald was murdered by a Chicago police officer, the department and Rahm Emmanuel covered up the truth for a year until persistent journalism and public outcry wouldn’t allow the truth to be suppressed any longer.
President Barack Obama remained on the sidelines, silent.Why?
Because Rahm Emmanuel is the mayor who he is largely responsible for helping to elect and because Rahm is his former employee and friend. Barack Obama, a man who claimed to be an ally of the vulnerable, a man who claims to represent a south side community that he’s so proud to be apart of- instead chose to protect the powerful with a coward’s silence.
For 8 years, the Obama administration’s message to disenfranchised, non-wealthy, Black, White, Asian, Hispanic and Native communities has been clear; that he would continue to empower the powerful at the neglect of the vulnerable.
This is not to to say that there haven’t been positive gains that Obama supporters can be proud of. There have been. I myself am most appreciative of President Obama’s graciousness and humility on a world stage. The dignity and patience with which he engages other cultures and world leaders will be greatly missed when President Twitter Nincompoop takes office.
But all those who have made it their business to exalt this politician to God-like status did so and do so to detriment of those communities who would otherwise be empowered by the truth.
President Obama was not as interested in boldly challenging corrupt systems as he was in being an empty symbol of hope and an appeaser of the financial status quo.
The Obama era ends with African American poverty, joblessness and many similar markers on the rise.
The south and west sides of Chicago are inches away from slipping into Detroit levels of despair and collapse.
The wealthy have thrived and have been protected in the Obama White House while the rest of us claw to stay afloat.
The fact that President Obama chose to return to Chicago- this city that he’s disrespected as the farewell bookend to “hope and change” is grossly offensive.
I’m sure that his speech will be a speech of measured and inspiring stanzas- humbly touting the successes of his administration as the product of America’s collective work.
He will certainly evoke a theme that uses evidence of America as “a more perfect union”.
I have no doubt that he will speak with perspective about the work ahead and will even vow to fight with us as a private citizen with his usual soaring eloquence.
But for many women and men like myself who having been living in the belly of the wealthy, Chicago political beast, these will be nothing more than pretty words.
Even more, it’s really just another political piss in the face.