This month marks the end of an incredibly unique school year, especially those who are finishing their degrees and receiving diplomas. For the class of 2020, especially those graduating from high school, things are not as they should be. But the world has not forgotten about them.
In an effort to praise and encourage 2020 graduates throughout the nation, many celebrities came together on Saturday for a virtual commencement of sorts, to share inspiring speeches and reassure students that their futures would still be bright.
But while it was meant to be a heartening event of “hope and change,” it didn’t take long for things to turn political, especially when former President Barack Obama was given time to speak.
In fact, nearly his entire speech focused not on the immense achievements of the grads he was speaking to but of the lack of respect he had for our nation’s current leader and laying the blame for the stress our society is going through solely at his feet. Of course, he wouldn’t have dared to actually say his name.
But we all knew exactly who he meant.
Obama started by saying that “a lot of so-called grownups with fancy titles and important jobs still” think as children do, “doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy.” And that is precisely why “things are so screwed up” in our society. He went on to say that only when “we think not just about ourselves, but about each other,” can our democracy and society “work.”
Doesn’t really sound all that inspiring, does it?
I didn’t think so either. And neither was Obama’s speech to HBCU graduates earlier in the day.
In fact, the speeches were nearly identical, both indicating these were difficult times and both insinuating that the difficulties could have been avoided if leaders were even “pretending” to do their jobs.
Obama told the 27,000 some odd students participating in the “Show Me Your Walk BHCU Edition that “these aren’t normal times. You’re being asked to find your way in a world in the middle of a devastating pandemic and a terrible recession. The timing is not ideal.” But then the former POTUS turned much more cynical.
He said that the issues we are facing now do nothing but “spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country. We see it in the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on our communities, just as we see it when a black man goes for a job, and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioning.”
Barack added that while these “injustices” aren’t new, young people are finally beginning to wake up and realize that change needs to happen, “that the old ways of doing things don’t work; and that it doesn’t matter how much money you make if everyone around you is hungry and sick; that our society and democracy only works when we think not just about ourselves, but about each other. More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”
Now, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say this is a direct attack at President Donald Trump. After all, Obama has long criticized his leadership abilities.
However, Obama seems to forget that he already had his chance in office, and even though he spent a full eight years there in the Oval Office, he did hardly anything to change much. He notes to these students that things need to be “fixed,” that the old ways no longer work. But he had a chance to make those changes, to do the fixing.
And yet he didn’t.
He complains that there is still a great injustice in our society when it comes to race, insinuating that blacks still have it far worse than anyone else. And yet during his eight years in office, what did he do for their communities? The communities of his youth and heritage?
He could have changed things a lot, could have turned things around for black communities, allowing them to make more money and make better lives for themselves.
Do you know who did? Trump!
Why else do you think BLEXIT (Blacks Exiting the Democratic Party) was organized? It certainly wasn’t because Barack Obama was doing anything for them.