Dear President Obama,
Today is your last day as the 44th President of the United States.
Tomorrow, you will be replaced by an egomaniac who has an Ivy League degree less than you and never held elective office. While you ran with sensitivity, hope and resilience, your successor ran with fear, bigotry and unbridled white privilege. In a perfect world, your most trusted confidant Joe Biden would have been my ideal pick — but your loyalty to your party brought us Hillary. It takes a lot of maturity to back someone who wanted your position eight years ago, but you’ve always been wise beyond your years.
As a young black man, my relationship with you is complex. I admire your intelligence, strategy, and overall swag, but I also wished you would have been a little more aggressive. You should have been at Ferguson the same way you could make it at Sandy Hook. Not confronting race head-on in order to appeal to a larger sector of white America was at times backbiting. But you also were the first black man to inherit the Oval Office and go through the hurdles of what that entails. I have forgiven you for that, I can’t even imagine how tumultuous it was.
This country was ungrateful for the example you set in diplomacy, and deserve every bit of what’s to come in the next four years. You raised two bright young girls with a First Lady who is the epitome of brilliance. You got us affordable health care, saved us from a financial meltdown, and ensured more rights for marginalized people. You weren’t perfect, but you were closer to presidential perfection than anyone who held that office during my lifetime.
January 20th will be a different day, but it shouldn’t be anything the nation can’t handle. We’ve survived two Bushes and a Reagan — we can definitely overcome a Trump.
Thank you for being a messenger of hope in a time when many would rather tell us that all is lost. I said “yes we can” in 2008, I must tell myself the same thing the next four years.
In solidarity and gratitude,
Ernest Owens is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Philadelphia. You can tweet him on Twitter @MrErnestOwens.