Today is Barack Obama‘s 56th birthday. Here’s a collection of heartfelt words from the VOX teens about the former President of the United States.
For many of the current VOXers, Obama is the only president we can remember. He was literally in the White House for half of our lives. Coming of age during the first-ever Black presidency is an experience that we will never forget. So as we celebrate his 56th birthday, we wanted to revisit some of the things we wrote about him while he was in office and after he left.
In his piece “A World Without Obama Is Like a World Without My Mom,” Mack Walker compared the end of the 44th presidency to a bitter divorce:
I like to compare Obama’s presidency with how my mom takes care of me and my siblings. Theoretically, the rest of the nation would be my siblings. Obama nurtured and looked after America, just as my mom nurtures and looks after me. My mother always did her best to make sure that my siblings and I were never in danger. She acted as an uplifter when we were down, just as former President Obama did during his eight-year reign. During times of great struggle and need, he found a way to be an uplifter…To have my president stripped away from me feels like a parents’ divorce. Now, my siblings and I have to deal with what feels like an evil step-parent, or a new president. Someone who knows little about us but is supposed to lead us to a greater good. We’re now in the hands of a man with no political experience whatsoever, who’s also openly racist and sexist. We’re in the hands of a man whose remarks have received national attention for being that ignorant.
With the current situation America is in, all I can say is this: We’ll miss you Obama, that’s definitely for sure. Obama’s presidency was more than just an ordinary eight-year term in the White House, especially to me. For the first president I knew to be black was more motivating than anything. It showed me what we can do as a country and how stereotypes can be broken.
As much as Obama was loved, he was not above criticism. In early 2016, VOX contributor Jamaya Tookes wrote “THANKS OBAMA: How I Saw Obama Through Rose-Colored Glasses” and said:
I thought he would be a brother in the White House, but when he got into office, he seemed less like family. Though he promised to have an Open Door policy, after he got into the White House he made sure to lock the door behind him.
At first, I thought he was just waiting for the right moment to institute “change,” but slowly the genuine hope I had for a radical Obama translated into the hope that you have when you want to believe someone missed your calls instead of just being “busy.”…I’m not bitter about Obama’s presidency per se, but it has left me wondering what it will take to garner enthusiasm to fight and solve racial inequality if not even a black president will empathize with Black America’s plight.
Finally, VOX Video Editor and music enthusiast Kenneth Franklin captured just about every emotion we felt during and after the Obama presidency with the “Bye Bye Barack” Spotify playlist. “Whether you love or hate him, you have to admit that this playlist is the s**t,” said Kenneth. Do you agree?