While perusing Facebook a few days ago, I came across this tweet for President Barack Hussein Obama’s last State of The Union (SOTU) address on Tuesday, January 12. Typically, I couldn’t care less about those speeches; it’s an annual event where every sitting President lays out his "guys, I'd really like to do some things" priorities to the Congress and nation and is met with either silence or applause depending on who he’s giving the red-ass to in the moment. I often gain nothing from it aside from drunkenness since there are a plethora of drinking games you can create based on a SOTU address.
I might watch this year though. In fact, I’m more inclined to do so because this is probably the last time in my lifetime that a person of color, let alone a Black man, will be delivering a SOTU speech. I never thought the man would be elected in the first place (and privately I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt the same way), but for him to ascend to such a vaunted position within American society and get re-elected means something. Hell, I still remember exactly where I was STANDING the moment he was declared the victor in 2008. I was managing a bar in Washington, DC, and as soon as they announced him as the President-Elect, I almost broke down and a white guy, of all people, patted me on the back and told me to enjoy the moment because it really happened. It was such an overwhelming feeling. Seeing the streets of DC come alive that night is a memory I’ll never forget.
Even if you weren’t (or aren't) a fan of him, the history of the moment was hard to ignore. And If I’m being honest here, I’m going to miss the man. His being in the Oval Office has brought a different feeling to America these past 7 years. Knowing that people who look like me and understand my cultural references are sitting in the most famous house in the world , a house that was never meant for them in the first place, is a mindfuck. And knowing that they’ll be leaving in about a year might bring a tear to my eyes.
It’s just been…different. I can’t even adequately describe what I mean, but the Obama years of my life are going to stand out and it will suck to say, “former President Obama”. While I’m sad that his time as Commander-in-Chief is coming to an end, it also brings some relief. There are some crazy motherfuckers in this nation, and Obama has been on watch for them for long enough. Obama is in his victory lap phase, and I’m here for it. He’s begun to run out of fucks and it’s starting to show.
And that’s what this ad says to me. That smile is one of victory. It’s that smile you give when you’re playing the dozens and your jokes connect in a way that shuts the other person down completely. It’s the smile you have in spades when you realize you’re about to set your opponent who thinks they’re about get their books. It’s the smile that Eminem had in 8 Mile when he realized how he was going to beat Poppa Doc. It’s the smile every single person gets when they know they’re about to win while the other person thinks they’re going to win.
My nigga, it’s the Kool-Aid smile.
Obama has perfected the Kool-Aid smile. And for good reason. How did you get here? You’re not supposed to be here, Barry O. But since we’re here and we’ve reached the conclusion of a Presidency that will be talked about for centuries, we might as well enjoy this last year in office and do what the fuck we want. I imagine that Obama was listening to Frank Sinatra…or Jay Z when he took this picture.
And that’s what I’ll miss most. Obama DOES listen to Jay-Z. We have a president who listens to the same things that the rest of America is listening to, and is okay with sharing that. The fact that Obama said that his favorite song of 2015 was a Kendrick Lamar song (whether he was fed this by his daughters or not) says a lot about who he is and what he truly represents on a macro level. He is a Black man, but also one with the kind of temperament who is both cool enough to say that publicly and smart enough to realize that he can say that publicly, because he's good with who he is.
(As you can tell, this isn't about his politics which I understand are polarizing for many, even in the Black community. I get it. Cool.)
The smile in that ad says it all to me. He’s unapologetically Black and he understands what that means. He also realizes what he’s accomplished is something that we, truthfully, may never see again. Most people reading this right now won’t see it again in our lifetimes. He understands the moment and what it means.
And he know he won a game he wasn’t supposed to be playing.
That’s the Kool-Aid smile, and that’s what Obama represents to me. And it's why I am going to miss this man’s presence in my life in that capacity way more than I should for a person I don’t personally know.
All I can say is…thanks, Obama.