I was 15 years old when the then Senator Barack Obama ran to become the 44th President of the United States and the 1st African-American man to hold office.
There was a general euphoria that encompassed geographical borders. From America, to Europe, to Africa, we were all rooting for him. He was the embodiment of hope and change.
It was 6am when my auntie woke me up to tell me that he had won. I didn't want to wake up but I was happy that he won.
I was never interested in politics as a teenager but that was a historic moment. I still have goosebumps when I listen to his first speech as president-elect, or when I listen to Will.I.Am's “It's a new day”, or when I see Jesse Jackson crying. It was indeed a new day. After everything Black people went through, finally a Black president.
It was a victory for Black people all over the world. Even when an Italian town elected its first Black mayor, he was called “the Italian Obama”.
Unfortunately that joy and hope were short lived. America showed its true colours and racism reared its ugly head.
One may wonder why so many Black people died at the hands of law enforcement under the Obama administration. The answer can be found analysing the psyche of White America. A Black president theoretically symbolised the end of White supremacy, White privilege and White power. The fear of becoming powerless is what pushed police officers to kill so many Blacks and, as we now see, the victory of Donald Trump.
But back to Obama, what has he really done for Black people?
The greatest thing he did was to boost their self-esteem. We now have a generation of Black girls, boys, women and men that know they can achieve anything they put their minds to.
And that's about it. Although, he passed many laws and reforms (same-sex marriage, Obama care), none of these measures were directly targeted to and for Black people.
Many feel that Obama has failed the Black community. When Sandy Booker, a former student at Howard University, was interviewed in 2008 she thought that America was now more united. 8 years later, she completely changed her mind.
“When it comes to whether it's the justice system, equal access to healthcare, job opportunities, the suffering that we've had at the hands of the police, he quite honestly failed us and disappointed a lot of Black people”.
To be fair, it would have been naïve to think that in 8 years a man could've single-handedly change 400 years of American history. We need to recognise that he overcame many obstacles during his presidency. Most importantly, let Obama be a lesson to all of us. Just because someone who looks like you is president, it doesn't mean that they're working for you.