Today was Barack Obama’s final day in office. Tomorrow, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Take a moment if you need it…
This week I had a conversation with a friend about how many people love Obama, but have no idea what he has done for our country. It amazes me how many people, especially how many Black people, do not realize how much Obama has accomplished in his tenure as president. Too often, I see people on the internet say, “Obama has done nothing for Black people,” our president-elect is included in that bunch. To my surprise, some of these people were Black. Now before you come at me crazy, ask yourself, can you name five of President Obama’s accomplishments in office?
If you cannot, I am here to help you out.
First, President Obama has done more for Black people than his predecessors did. There are only two presidents in American history who’ve made a significant difference in the lives of Black people, President Lincoln and President Johnson. Both presidents had their own hidden agendas and really didn’t give a damn about Black people. President Lincoln “abolished slavery” in 1863, but only did it to punish the South for seceding from the United States. President Johnson signed the Civil Rights act, but to put this simply, he was a racist fuck. So for those of you who could not name five things President Obama has done for us, here are 10 ways President Obama has made the United States a better place for all (especially Black people):
- Fair Sentencing
In 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act. The law reversed the actions of Ronald Reagan which imprisoned more than 1 million Black people since 1986. Oh, and let’s not forget when he released 214 federal inmates from prison in a single day who were serving hard time for nonviolent offenses.
- The Fight For JUSTICE After Consistent Cases of Police Brutality
In July 2016, after five Dallas police officers were murdered, Obama did not bend a political knee. He stood by our sides and defended the Black Lives Matter movement. This is just one of many examples where Obama has reprimanded local police departments for the mistreatment of minorities. Under Obama’s administration, the Department of Justice investigated several police departments including Baltimore, New York, Cleveland, and Philadelphia.
- Income Equality
Obama has done more to reduce inequality than any of his predecessors. From the Affordable Care Act to the 2009 Recovery Act to telling Congress, “you try living on the minimum wage,” Obama has shown us time and time again, he wants to make sure we get our paper. In his final State of the Union address, President Obama spoke about closing the gap of income equality and restoring the American Dream for all.
- He Ended the Recession
Black families were hit hard by the housing crisis that occurred during Bush’s presidency. Obama has taken action to help homeowners and strengthen the housing market, allowing homeowners to save an average of $3,000 a year. I personally know people who have benefited from this and I am sure you may too.
This will go down in history as one of Obama’s greatest accomplishments. The Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare made healthcare more accessible to the 8 million Black people who lacked coverage. It also increased the age limit for children to be covered under their parent’s health insurance. Before Obamacare, children aged 19 or older for full-time students was the cutoff and insurance companies forced children off of their parents’ plans. Now, children can stay on their parents plans until they are 26 (and no longer children). In the old days a 25 year-old who still lives at home may have been quite odd, but today it is normal. Obama has modernized health-care and America’s youth is grateful for it, myself included.
- He Improved Our Educational System
According to the Department of Education, high school dropout rates are at an all-time low, with extraordinary improvements seen among Blacks and Hispanics.
- He Found Osama Bin Laden
This was just a win for everyone. No matter what color you are, you were happy when we caught Bin Laden.
- LGBTQ Marriage Equality
Thanks to Obama, in all 50 states, a member of the LGBTQ community can marry whoever the heck they want. Another win for everyone, and not just Black people.
- He Started My Brother’s Keeper Initiative
My Brother’s Keeper was introduced to us by President Obama in 2014. The program was specifically put in place to help young men of color. The goal of My Brother’s Keeper is to address the importunate opportunity gaps faced by “young men of color” and ensure that they are given the chance to reach their full potential. Last month, Obama vowed to make sure the program lives on after his presidency is complete.
- He Has Empowered Us
From his walk in Selma to courageously telling the press, “I’d look like Trayvon.” Obama has filled the black community with hope and pride. He is the most influential Black leader our history has ever seen since Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. “America just spent 8 years with a black president. For many African Americans, it meant one big thing: freedom to ‘dream.'”
Could he have done more? Yes, and I will be the first to say it, but remember his situation. President Obama is a democrat who served with a Republican congress. The speaker of the house, Paul Ryan made it his mission to oppose Obama (and he did so every chance he got). Remember checks and balances from grammar school? Yes, that was a real thing. Our president (executive branch) really can’t do much without a judicial (supreme court) and legislative (congress) branch that supports him. So, for those of you who say he has done nothing for Black people…please stop. Our president IS Black, he never turned his back on us. Put some RESPEK on his name.
President Obama, you will be missed.