Today is not a good day. Today is one of those days that is so not good that it will be remembered by history. Today, the United States of America's first black President, Barack Obama, will be passing the presidency to reality TV host, consistently bankrupt businessman, and possible golden shower enthusiast, Donald Trump.
For many, particularly millennials, the pain of this transition is new and terrifying, as the only other President we've really lived under was George W. Bush. The collective ethos harkens back to the days of John F. Kennedy, who was loved and mourned not like just like a President, but like a hero and a friend. Many of us today feel not only like our government is changing, but that we're losing one of the few good things about this country.
The Obama Administration, which is, of course, bigger than Obama himself, was far from perfect, and, in fact, upheld some of the country's deeply rooted white supremacy. Mass deportations still happened, drone strikes killed Middle Eastern civilians, and black people were still killed by police across the nation.
I don't say this to attack Obama, because he's only one piece of a much larger puzzle. Rather, I say it to validate the people who can see everything that Obama has done, while still loving him for everything that he is. He could never have changed everything and saved all of those lives because this country would never have let him, and certainly the violence and bloodshed was lesser under him than it would have been under someone else.
Heaviness aside, we all deserve to take a moment to appreciate Obama not only for his political legacy, but for his book-inspired one as well, because something tells me books, reading, and writing won't be big parts of a Trump Presidency. Here are five reasons we're really going to miss our Reader-in-Chief, President Obama.
1He Read 10 Letters A Day
As part of his daily briefing, President Obama would read ten hand-picked letters from his constituents. A practice, coming from a place of humbleness, reality, and staying grounded, we can only hope that more politicians will follow his lead and do the same. Obama's attention to these letters is a powerful reminder that the written word can express realities we haven't experienced, connect us to people we've never met, and change our world.
2He Read Junot Diaz To Survive The White House
It's no easy thing being the President of the United States. I mean, just look at how rapidly it ages a person. As he prepares to leave office, Obama shared with the New York Times that among many authors, he read the Dominican, Pulitzer prize-winning, Junot Díaz. Not only is it great to hear that our President copes and grows by reading, just like we do, but it's even better to hear that among his list of books, are books written by non-white voices.
Obama told the NY Times:
“Whether they’ve made me a better president I can’t say,” he explained. “But what I can say is that they have allowed me to sort of maintain my balance during the course of eight years, because this is a place that comes at you hard and fast and doesn’t let up.”
3He Was A (Successful) Published Author BEFORE He Was President
Obama isn't one of those politicians who needs to be famous in order to publish a book. In fact, before his Presidency, Obama published two commercially successful and culture-impacting books, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope. Through his writing, people were able to get to know who Obama was, and what he stood for, and what he came from, long before he ever touched the doors of the White House.
4According to Michelle, He's A Big 'Harry Potter' Fan
First Lady Michelle Obama revealed a special piece of information about her husband back in 2011 — he's a Harry Potter fan! Honestly, what's cooler than knowing that your President is in the same fandom as you? He's read some of the books to his daughters and has met with J.K. Rowling a few times throughout his Presidency. My only question is, who is his favorite character?
5Whatever This Is
Just look at him and Michelle reading Where The Wild Things Are. Doesn't this fill your heart with joy and then viciously rip it apart when the reality of impending idiocy and shameless Neo-Nazism and class privilege sinks in?
We'll miss you Barack, Michelle, Malia, Sasha, and you too Bo. Thank you for everything and for inspiring people to expect more from our government officials.