Grace, Grit + Style | Obama Out
I'm sitting here listening to "Redbone" x Childish Gambino trying to get my thoughts together for this and I'm simply overwhelmed by the abundance unapologetic blackness that has permeated the nation within the last 8 years under the Obama Administration. Now, WE have known about our greatness forever; the world, who is late per usual, is finally getting a taste. And it's so sweet. It feels so good. It felt so good. BO has served up the epitome of #blackboyjoy in The Black House (not a typo) for the last two terms; Tuesday night, we said farewell to a smooth, accomplished and resilient era. BO was not only the first president I helped elect, but he's a BLACK man. I can't wait to tell my children the first president I voted for was Black! And to be in the midst of his farewell address? Chile. History at its finest.
But let's go back to Saturday -- the day tickets were being distributed for the address. I woke up at 4 a.m. that morning. A group of friends and I arrived at McCormick Convention Center shortly after 6 a.m., thinking we surely had secured a great spot in line. After all, how many people would actually commit to waking up before the sun, on the weekend, for Pres. Obama?! Only a few thousands Chicagoans...
By the time I arrived (I missed the 5:30a meet time; Uber pricing was all over the place), there were so many people, I can't even give you a number -- there were just a ton of folks. I get slightly overwhelmed by large groups, so I was low key spazzin' out, but I just had to suck it up that morning. I finally found the crew, but it seemed as if people had been camped out at the convention center for HOURS. We wait in line for about 2 hours, making very little progress because there was a totally different building we had to get to for the tickets, and some lady on a segway tells us, "The tickets are all gone. You guys can go home, we're all out." Now, they had just started distributing tickets at 8 a.m. -- by the time we got this announcement, it was around 8:30ish. The segway cop (a.k.a rent-a-cop) went on tell us there only 3,500 tickets printed and that they were just gone. Something about this information did not sit well with me; I couldn't believe that at all. And before I knew it, the hundreds of people who were in line behind us, were gone. Like, what? Y'all just gon give up?! Nah. Our group wasn't having it; we found our way around segway cop to another area where we saw people congregating. None of us really knew if this was the correct line or another send off line (like the one we had just been in for two hours), but it was worth a shot. We had come too far to just pack it up! This Chicago, n______.
It turns out, this new line we were in was the correct line leading to the auditorium. Another two hours and several volunteers later, we had golden tickets! Apparently, there were two 'official' lines: one outside and one inside. Nothing about that distribution process was organized; if you ask me, NO ONE should have been waiting outside -- it was far too cold that day! And why were there two different lines leading to the same place? Not trying to hate or be shady, but I had much better expectations in terms of execution for the distribution of those tickets. Just a mess smh. I've also been told we made WGN news -- I'd love to see the spot lol.
Fast forward a few days and we find ourselves back at McCormick for the actual address. IDK what I was thinking wearing boots with a heel that day, but have mercy. My feet were literally screaming to me, "You idiota, Kikora. Why would you stand me in these boots for SIX HOURS?!" I'm sorry feet. I'm paying for it today, I promise. But aside from hurting feet, it was a remarkable experience. There was so much emotion in the room -- y'all know Chicagoans are passionate folks, so of course the outpouring of love and support for BO was on 1000. He bid his farewell the same way he began his initial campaign in '08; with messaging of hope. He knows the American people are concerned about this next administration and he was honest about the work that still needs to be done, but had receipts ready so y'all understand everything that was accomplished under him! He noted that the country is in a stronger place than it was when he began, but democracy only works when there's a sense of equal economic opportunity available for everyone. Here's what else he had to say that resonated with me:
On race relations.
To call America post-racial, at this point, is unrealistic. We're not where we need to be. I love that he said Black people (and not POC) are not demanding special treatment, but EQUAL treatment.
On American politics.
Our politics reflects the decency of its people. We're all in this together, we rise and fall together. He was honest in acknowledging there are challenges in working with Congress and that politics is a battle of ideas. But the job of elected officials is to serve, to make people's lives better.
On the 1%.
Wealthy folks should pay their fair share of taxes. Period.
On Michelle, Malia + Sasha.
BO shared that his proudest accomplishment was being a father to his two daughters. He said Michelle has been by his side for the last 25 years as his wife and mother to his children, taking on a role she didn't ask for. Ugh! Just all the feels! I'm not going to say #relationshipgoals because every relationship has its problems, but...they're pretty darn close. Oh, he also said Michelle is his best friend. Yes! That's what I'm talkin' about!
My view that night wasn't the greatest, but that didn't stop me from getting emotional. I had to remind myself I was in public (I was close to just breaking out into a messy sob session a couple times), but there were def thug tears shed.
Now. Remember the fiasco on Saturday getting tickets? Well, I think the send off lines could have been avoided if adequate security was around -- and on Tuesday, I think security could have been a lot tighter than it was. I saw on Instagram, a consumer (who wasn't Media or a WH official) had made his way BACKSTAGE to personally shake hands with BO. I was hot when I saw this; if this was the case, my friends and I (all advertising/PR professionals) could have talked/finessed our way backstage! Anyway, I'm glad I was able to experience the moment, regardless of the mishaps.
BO ended his 40 min. speech with some jewels. He reminded us that there are more Millennials than anyone else and the future is in our hands! We're creative, unselfish, innovative folk and despite what the next administration brings, the possibilities are endless for us.
Mr. President, thank you for your leadership, your coolness in the midst of madness and your unwavering love for your queen. As a Black woman, I appreciate the policies you implemented that impact women the most -- affordable healthcare, expanding equal pay, paid paternal leave and strides towards ending violence against women. The example you have set forth as out nation's leader is unmatched and you will be missed in ways you can't imagine. As you embark upon your next chapter, your supporters are STILL standing with you and truly appreciate your audacity of hope.
P.S. -- We saw segway cop on Tuesday night. She acted like she didn't remember us. Hater.