There is, I believe, a conversation that could be had about an unease we (black people) might have with the Obamas’ post-White House relationship with money. And not just with money as a tangible object, but in surrounding themselves with it and being ensconced in markers and signifiers of it. The word “Obama” has crossed the threshold from surname to luxury brand—with more cultural cache than Off-White or Balenciaga—where a mere association with the name is enough to crack open rich white people’s piggy banks. And with this new reality—and considering the context of who they are and who we are and who we wanted/needed them to be—I don’t think it’s wrong to possess an ambivalence about how they’re cashing in.
Buuuuuuuut, whenever that feeling hits me, that perhaps the mid-eight-figure book deals and the $500,000 a plate speeches at brunch on Mars are a little gauche, I’m reminded of the night Barack Obama was elected president. And I remember how anxious I felt during his acceptance speech, fearing that both him and Michelle would be assassinated during it, and I remember how that feeling persisted throughout his presidency. And then I remember America’s reaction to the fucking Beer Summit. And then I remember Joe Wilson screaming “You lie!” at him. And then I remember all of the venom hurled at them, and how the disrespect of them was so ubiquitous that it became sentient, weaponizing into political movements and successful presidential campaigns. And then I think about how they must have felt through all of this. And how they must feel right now when knowing that the America they love so much hates them enough to elect Donald Trump president of it. And when these memories occur, the ambivalence begins to temper, as I’m possessed with the want for them to bleed this entire fucking country dry. If they don’t deserve the opportunity to turn that white-hot bullseye into a book advance, then who the fuck does?
And with that, I would like to tell Maureen Callahan of the New York Post and any other white person making money by counting the Obamas’ money to back the fuck up, get the fuck out of their pockets, and sit the fuck down. Save your self-righteousness for your Thanksgiving tables and your Patagonia clearance racks. They don’t owe you shit. And don’t pretend to care about what they might owe “the poorest of today’s Chicago” when the only shits you give about poor people or black people are when using them and us as shame-delivery devices.
I have nothing else to say about this right now. Goodbye!