President Barack Obama Was Black and Imperfect

President Barack Obama Was Black and Imperfect

Teen Vogue

Ashley Reese

Saul Loeb

A nation built on black subjugation elected a black man to be the president of the United States of America.

In this op-ed, writer Ashley Reese explores the nuanced legacy of Barack Obama’s presidency and what it means to her as a black woman.

I briefly met Obama in October of 2010. MTV was hosting a live question and answer session targeting young voters in an attempt to garner interest in the upcoming midterm election. The studio was filled with no more than a couple hundred young college students from the Washington D.C. area — Georgetown students mingling with Howard students, people who shared the same city quadrant but still managed to be worlds apart — looking dapper and polished as we asked the president about everything from war in the Middle East to gay marriage. During the live segments we were poised, poker-faced statues who wanted to make sure the president knew just how engaged we were. The commercial breaks were a different story. We were all abuzz with anticipation, waiting for our chance to have Obama shake our hands, give us a nod, acknowledge our existence. We weren’t allowed to have phones on us, so selfies were out of the question. It wasn’t about the photo op — though, God, I wish I had one for a #TBT at the very least — it was about the experience.

I shook his hand. He smiled. I introduced myself. His hands were soft.

So soft, in fact, a young black woman a few rows behind me vocally echoed my thoughts. “What lotion do you use?” she asked.

Cetaphil!” he said…

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