“I have the best family and friends ever,” no truer words have ever been spoken.
Today, is the last day of Black History Month. Today marks the culmination of a push across America to squeeze in as much information into the minds of those who will listen about the contributions of black people in America. While today signifies the end of the collective focus, spanning various races, it does not signify the end of the cycle to educate, highlight and uncover facts that need not be ignored.
But that’s not why I’m here.
I could go on and on about the lack of teaching when it comes to black history.
I said I was not going to write about it because I have discussed this topic more times than I can count. And I arrived at the point long ago where I am convinced that people are going to either accept the truth or they are going to spend the majority of their time redirecting it to fit their “cozy” narrative.
When Nike debuted their new face of their 30th Anniversary, “Just Do It” campaign this week, the internet nearly exploded. Half rejoicing. And the other half in a full blown tizzy.
I had a different blog post planned for today but then The Queen gained her angel wings yesterday and everything changed.
I wish I could remember exactly when I knew she was embodying a spirit that we had never seen and would never see again. I can remember, as a child, my grandmother would play some of her hits on the record player. She always loved listening to artist with very distinct voices. Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Louise Franklin immediately come to mind when that category is brought up.
Yesterday, like a lot of you, I spent the day listening to The Queen’s enormously long list of hit songs. From gospel classics to movie tunes to commands of respect, I sang loudly while also marveling at her even longer list of accomplishments.
First woman inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame
Over 75 million records sold worldwide
112 charted Billboard singles – making her the most charted female artist of all time
Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Kennedy Center honoree
Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient
Street named after her in her hometown of Detroit
And one of my favorite accolades, Civil Rights Activist, which many are oblivious to. I am not going to lay that out for you. Google it cause you need to know. You need to know your history and if you do not share in this rich melanated skin tone that I have you can still Google it because you need to know Our history.
A few weeks ago, I had an urge to write about one of my favorite athletes – Venus Ebony Starr Williams.
I was on vacation but I woke up early that Saturday morning to watch Venus claim
what I just knew was going to be her sixth Wimbledon title. But it was not meant to be. However, my urge to write about Venus was still there.
But then I got back home and life happened, as it always does. A day turned into days and they turned into weeks and then I looked up and it was September.
The great thing about this though is the fact that Venus, as she always has been, is worthy of having this blog post written about her.
Back in November, I had an idea. I decided I was going to write a letter to President and First Lady Obama. I knew it would be a longshot that they would actually get a chance to read it as I am sure they receive thousands of letters a day but I wanted to try anyway. Well I procrastinated and now we are two days away from the end of his presidency and the letter still resides inside my heart until now…
Dear Mr. President and First Lady Obama:
In 2008, I was a young 26 year old on a path to finding my purpose in this world. I was searching high and low for meaning and movements I could support. I had begun to take more interest in the political landscape of the country. I was not sure what I was looking for exactly but I knew there had to be something or someone out there that could offer up the inspiration I was looking for…I then discovered you two. I will admit, initially, I was not sure that you all could pull off this monumental challenge. Not because I did not believe in you but I was not sure the country would. But I wanted to know more about the platform you stood on so I went to a rally. It was in April. The rally was held at my beloved alma mater, North Carolina State University. The speaker was Michelle Obama.
At the rally, First Lady Obama, laid out plainly the morals, values and standards that you, Mr. President, govern yourself by daily. She detailed the desires of your heart to see this country support equality for all as we pushed for change in Washington. She shared personal stories of triumphs and tragedies that shaped the man that you are today. I have heard plenty of speeches before in my life but there was something about her speech that my spidey senses picked up on and it was the honesty in her voice. I could tell she was genuine. I could tell she was not making this up. I could tell she was not being a politician.
I knew that evening that there was something different about you.
In total, you all would visit the triangle of North Carolina four more times before the election and each time I was in attendance. I even took off work to attend an event. Not to worry, my then boss understood and gave me her blessings. As I listened to you speak six days before being elected in 2008, I had hope.
We are now two days away from your transition and I have always hoped I would get the chance to say some of these things in person before you left The White House. I am still hopeful, I will one day get the chance to say these things to the both of you but for now I hope this will suffice as I want to say thank you…
Thank you President Obama for stepping out on faith and running for the office of the President of the United States.
Thank you President Obama for providing hope to billions across the world.
Thank you President Obama for always exuding class at all times when most of us would have understood if you did not.
Thank you President Obama for having the courage to face your opposition head on.
Thank you President Obama for marrying First Lady Obama.
Thank you President Obama for choosing Vice President Joe Biden to walk side by side with you.
Thank you First Lady Obama for the beauty and grace you brought to The White House.
Thank you First Lady Obama for caring about us enough to encourage us to move more and make better food choices.
Thank you First Lady Obama for being a role model that all girls and women can be proud of.
Thank you First Lady Obama for taking on this position and making it your own.
Thank you First Lady Obama for being all of our BFF’s in our head.
Thank you First Lady Obama for saying yes to President Obama.
Thank you President Obama for being a role model for young boys, especially black boys.
Thank you President Obama for being comfortable enough to express your feelings through tears.
Thank you President Obama for leading the country from the brink of the second Great Depression.
Thank you President Obama for leading this country to record job growth.
Thank you President Obama for Obamacare.
Thank you President Obama for shining a light on the problems with our judicial and prison system.
Thank you President Obama for visiting with the populations who are often forgotten about.
Thank you First Lady Obama for welcoming so many people in your home.
Thank you First Lady Obama for being a leading voice for girl’s education.
Thank you First Lady Obama for not shying away from the tough questions.
Thank you First Lady Obama for always letting the real you shine through.
Thank you First Lady Obama for affirming women who are strong, intelligent and ambitious.
Thank you First Lady Obama for your support of military families.
Thank you President and First Lady Obama for being an example of what love looks like.
Thank you President and First Lady Obama for sharing all of your parenting knowledge as you have raised two beautiful daughters, Malia and Sasha.
Thank you President and First Lady Obama for being so fly.
Thank you President and First Lady Obama for recognizing the talents and gifts of so many people, from so many different walks of life.
Thank you President and First Lady Obama for being so down to earth.
Thank you President and First Lady Obama for speaking up and defending so many of us.
Thank you President and First Lady Obama for believing and seeing the good in the world.
Thank you President and First Lady Obama for inspiring me to become more involved in my community especially on a grassroots level.
Thank you President and First Lady Obama for loving on our youth.
Thank you President and First Lady Obama for being so cool.
Thank you President and First Lady Obama for “Slow Jamming the News” and dancing with Jimmy Fallon, for showcasing your admiration of each other, for keeping us optimistic, for fist bumping, for smiling, for dancing, for jokes about dad jeans, for being authentically, unequivocally you.
You are appreciated. And you will be missed. Tremendously.
I could go in on all the naysayers. I could go in on all the social media trolls who made it a point Saturday to claim Serena had an unfair advantage due to her size. I could go in on all those who refuse to recognize her greatness.
But then I would be stooping to their level and I am already short enough. So I’m going to just leave this here.
Whether you want to recognize it or not, greatness is here to stay.