Stephanie Tate Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie Tate | Editor-in-Chief


On January 20, 2009, a chilly Tuesday in Washington D.C. and a snow day in High Point, NC, I sat cross-legged on my living room floor in awe. The inauguration of President Barack Obama was a required viewing in my household. All other electronics had been turned off in order to give this momentous occasion the attention it needed and for one of the first times in my life, I watched my father cry. At 51 years old, the son of two immigrants never thought that he’d see a president that looked like him.

For me, a young and scrappy eleven year old political junkie, the joy would come when I could go back to school and debate with my classmates as to why Barack Obama was going to be the best thing to ever happen to our country. Which is why his presidency causes me to have so much cognitive dissonance. There were so many fine moments in his presidency and so many I wish I could erase. And now as an adult, I am having to learn one of the hardest lessons of life: people are complex. Our heros are never black or white but rather fifty shades of gray and just like all of us, they are human.

While it is irresponsible to diminish the impact of President Obama’s legacy to his race, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the unapologetic nature of his blackness. Watching our commander-in-chief sing Love & Happiness transported me to holiday traditions of collard greens soaking in the sink and belting out the classic song alongside my mother. Watching him sing Let’s Stay Together to his black wife was like the ice cream on top of warm peach cobbler. When will we ever see another president codeswitch his handshake the way President Obama did with Kevin Durant? Most importantly, I’m not sure if we will ever hear another president say “folks want to pop off.” While his blackness was not the only positive aspect of his legacy, it was an integral one. He and Michelle would go on to serve as representation and role model for little black boys and black girls all over our country, all by being themselves.

President Obama’s commitment to the Affordable Care Act was another commendable piece of his presidency. In the face of opposition from the other side of the aisle, the Affordable Care Act provided quality health care coverage for most Americans, plummeting the percentage of uninsured Americans to well under ten percent. Students, like myself, definitely reap some of the best benefits of this bill, including access to little or no cost birth control, and the ability to stay on our parent’s insurance until the age of twenty six.

Smiling, President Barack Obama takes the stage. Obama encouraged everyone to continue to work hard and about how he was offering his support. Obama spoke in the J.W. Isenhour Tennis Complex Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014.Photo by Joseph Phillips

Smiling, President Barack Obama takes the stage. Obama encouraged everyone to continue to work hard and about how he was offering his support. Obama spoke in the J.W. Isenhour Tennis Complex Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014.Photo by Joseph Phillips


Probably the most popular part of his legacy will be President Obama’s ability to save America’s failing economy. Supporting the federal reserve, bailing out the auto industry and implementing a number of stimulus packages helped save our country from what many argue could have been the next Great Depression.

For many of the elderly in the black community, Barack Obama falls right below Jesus on the ladder of sanctity which is understandable to some extent. For those who have struggled so long to receive equal treatment and representation, having a black president is refreshing. The transition from fear to freedom that those individuals must feel is phenomenal.

While I would love to say that the first black president has enabled me to transition from fear to freedom as well; I cannot. For myself and many of my peers, President Obama’s legacy is as complex as those before him and all those who will come after. There were many positive aspects of his presidency, but other aspects of his presidency were devastating for some communities.

For many who were undocumented, President Obama’s legacy will be one tainted by fear. President Obama has deported well over 2.5 million undocumented individuals, more than any other president. While some may consider this an accomplishment, for others it is horrific. That number symbolizes millions of families that were broken up and millions of people who were denied the opportunity to have a sliver of the American dream. While the focus of his deportations were supposedly on those who have criminal histories, another focus was on unaccompanied children. The aggressive nature of his immigration policies have real impacts on those who contribute to our country and inevitably contributes to the “us vs. them” attitude of many Americans.

The least appealing part of President Obama’s legacy can be heard in the tears and cries of those who have fallen victim to the United State’s accelerated use of drone strikes. While the Obama administration refused to acknowledge our use of drones until well into 2013, drones have been utilized in most of the War on Terror. Some sources like the Bureau of Investigative Journalism have found that drone strikes are responsible for the death of thousands of civilians. Even the White House released that over two thousand civilians had been murdered by a United States drone. While opinions on the War on Terror vary amongst Americans, I am almost positive that even his most ardent fans would argue that the amount of deaths that resulted from drone strikes is the most shameful part of President Obama’s legacy.

To say that President Obama is without flaws would be to lie. To refuse to critique problematic policies he implemented simply because of his skin color would be reckless.  It is not enough to exclaim “my president is black,” if one cannot analyze and assess the impact of his policies on communities, especially communities of color. However, acknowledge and be inspired by what his presidency did for black America. Be critical but also reverent. History will look upon Barack Obama favorably, as is our prerogative.