Related Stories 'The filter. Is Powerful Obama on Race, media, and What It took to win. Better Is good: Obama on Reparations, civil Rights, and the Art of the possible 'its What we do more Than What we say obama on Race, identity, and the way forward. Surprised like everybody Else: Obama on the Election of Donald Trump. Much as the unbroken ranks of 43 white male presidents communicated that the highest office of government in the country—indeed, the most powerful political offices in the world—was off-limits to black individuals, the election of Barack Obama communicated that the prohibition had been lifted. It communicated much more. Before Obama triumphed in 2008, the most-famous depictions of black success tended to be entertainers or athletes. But Obama had shown that it was possible to be smart and cool at the same damn time, as Jesse williams put it at the bet party.
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He gonna wear a perm. Then you gonna see what its really like. Throughout their residency, the Obamas had refrained from showing America what its really like, and had instead followed wallpaper the first ladys motto, when they go low, we go high. This was language the ideal—black and graceful under fire—saluted that evening. The president was lionized as our crown jewel. The first lady was praised as the woman who put the. Barack Obamas victories in 20 were dismissed by some of his critics as merely symbolic for African Americans. But there is nothing mere about symbols. The power embedded in the word nigger is also symbolic. Burning crosses do not literally raise the black poverty rate, and the confederate flag does not directly expand the wealth gap.
It was not just that there might never be another African American president salon of the United States. It was the feeling that this particular black family, the Obamas, represented the best of black people, the ultimate credit to the race, incomparable in elegance and bearing. There are no more, the comedian Sinbad joked back in 2010. There are no black men raised in Kansas and Hawaii. Thats the last one. Yall better treat this one right. The next one gonna be from Cleveland.
At 55, Obama is younger than pioneering hip-hop artists like afrika bambaataa, dj kool Herc, and Kurtis Blow. If Obamas enormous symbolic power draws primarily from being the countrys first black president, it also draws from his assignment membership in hip-hops foundational generation. That night, the men were sharp in their gray or black suits and optional ties. Those who were not in suits had chosen to make a statement, like the dark-skinned young man who strolled in, sockless, with blue jeans cuffed so as business to accentuate his gorgeous black-suede loafers. Everything in his ensemble seemed to say, my fellow Americans, do not try this at home. There were women in fur jackets and high heels; others with sculpted naturals, the sides shaved close, the tops blooming into curls; others still in gold bamboo earrings and long blond dreads. When the actor Jesse williams took the stage, seemingly awed before such black excellence, before such black opulence, assembled just feet from where slaves had once toiled, he simply said, look where we are. Look where we are right now. This would not happen again, and everyone knew.
Bell biv devoe, contemporaries of de la, made history with their performance by surely becoming the first group to suggest to a presidential audience that one should never trust a big butt and a smile. President Obama onstage at bets love happiness event in October 2016, the last in a series of concerts the first couple hosted at the White house (Lawrence jackson / White house). The ties between the Obama White house and the hip-hop community are genuine. The Obamas are social with beyoncé and jay-z. They hosted Chance the rapper and Frank Ocean at a state dinner, and last year invited Swizz beatz, busta Rhymes, and Ludacris, among others, to discuss criminal-justice reform and other initiatives. Obama once stood in the rose garden passing large flash cards to the. Hamilton creator and rapper Lin-Manuel Miranda, who then freestyled using each word on the cards. Drop the beat, Obama said, inaugurating the session.
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After the rapper Common was invited to perform in python 2011, a teal small fracas ensued in the right-wing media. He performed anyway—and was invited back again this glorious fall evening and almost stole the show. The crowd sang along to the hook for his hit ballad The light. And when he brought on the gospel singer Yolanda Adams to fill in for John Legend on the Oscar-winning song Glory, glee turned to rapture. De la soul was there.
The hip-hop trio had come of age as boyish B-boys with Gumby-style high-top fades. Now they moved across the stage with a lovely mix of lethargy and grace, like your favorite uncle making his way down the. Soul Train line, wary of throwing out a hip. I felt a sense of victory watching them rock the crowd, all while keeping it in the pocket. The victory belonged to hip-hop—an art form birthed in the burning Bronx and now standing full grown, at the White house, unbroken and unedited. Usher led the crowd in a call-and-response: say it loud, Im black and Im proud. Jill Scott showed off her operatic chops.
The trolley dropped the guests on the south Lawn, in front of a giant tent. The south Lawns fountain was lit up with blue lights. The White house proper loomed like a ghost in the distance. I heard the band, inside, beginning to play al Greens Lets Stay together. Well, you can tell what type of night this is, Obama said from the stage, opening the event.
Not the usual ruffles and flourishes! This must be a bet event! The crowd roared louder still. A year-by-year catalogue of some of the magazine's most momentous work. Read more, obama placed the concert in the White houses musical tradition, noting that guests of the kennedys had once done the twist at the residence—the twerking of their time, he said, before adding, There will be no twerking tonight. At least not. The Obamas are fervent and eclectic music fans. In the past eight years, they have hosted performances at the White house by everyone from mavis Staples to bob Dylan to tony bennett to the Blind boys of Alabama.
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Now, as the sun set, the season remembered its name. Women shivered in their cocktail dresses. Gentlemen diary chivalrously handed over their suit coats. But when naomi campbell strolled past the security pen in a sleeveless number, she seemed as invulnerable as ever. Cellphones were confiscated to prevent surreptitious recordings from leaking out. (This effort was unsuccessful. The next day, a partygoer would tweet a video of the leader of the free world dancing to Drakes Hotline Bling.) After withstanding the barrage of security, guests were welcomed into the east Wing of the White house, and then ushered back out into the. The singer and actress Janelle monáe, her famous and fantastic pompadour preceding her, stepped on board and joked with a companion about the historical import of sitting in the back of the bus. She took a seat three rows from the front and hummed into the night.
Several guests were told to stand in a makeshift pen and wait resignation to have their backgrounds checked a second time. Dave chappelle was there. He coolly explained the peril and promise of comedy in what was then still only a remotely potential Donald Trump presidency: I mean, we never had a guy have his own pussygate scandal. A few weeks later, he would be roundly criticized for telling a crowd at the cutting room, in New York, that he had voted for Clinton but did not feel good about. Shes going to be on a coin someday, chappelle said. And her behavior has not been coinworthy. But on this crisp October night, everything felt inevitable and grand. There was a slight wind. It had been in the 80s for much of that week.
presented by bet (Black Entertainment Television was the last in a series of concerts the first couple had hosted at the White house. Guests were asked to arrive at 5:30. By 6, two long lines stretched behind the Treasury building, where the secret Service was checking names. The people in these lines were, in the main, black, and their humor reflected. The brisker queue was dubbed the good-hair line by one guest, and there was laughter at the prospect of the secret Service subjecting us all to a brown-paper-bag test. This did not come to pass, but security was tight.
The moment seemed to buoy obama. He had been light on his feet in these last few biography weeks, cracking jokes at the expense of Republican opponents and laughing off hecklers. At a rally in Orlando on October 28, he greeted a student who would be introducing him by dancing toward her and then noting that the song playing over the loudspeakers—the gap Bands Outstanding—was older than she was. Then he flashed the smile that had launched Americas first black presidency, and started dancing again. Three months still remained before Inauguration day, but staffers had already begun to count down the days. They did this with a mix of pride and longing—like college seniors in early may. They had no sense of the world they were graduating into. None of us did. Chapters, love will make you do wrong.
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Theyre a rotten crowd, i shouted across the plan lawn. Youre worth the whole damn bunch put together. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby,. Love will make you do wrong. In the waning days of President Barack Obamas administration, he and his wife, michelle, hosted a farewell party, the full import of which no one could then grasp. It was late October, Friday the 21st, and the president had spent many of the previous weeks, as he would spend the two subsequent weeks, campaigning for the democratic presidential nominee, hillary Clinton. Things were looking. Polls in the crucial states of Virginia and Pennsylvania showed Clinton with solid advantages. The formidable gop strongholds of georgia and Texas were said to be under threat.