Originally published on The Root October 27, 2016.
The Obamas haven’t been the typical presidential family. From moving Michelle’s mama into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to hosting rappers and poetry sessions, this couple has done away with tradition and brought some much-needed life (and color) to the White House.
Now, with only a few months until they leave the Oval Office, there are 10 more things that we, the black people, need the Obamas to do before they peace out. If they do all of these items, the residence will no doubt be renamed the Black House.
Dear President Obama and first lady Michelle,
First of all, thank you. Politics is a thankless job, but we thank you for your service, your sacrifice and the many ways you turned the White House into “the people’s house.” Thank you for inviting Kendrick Lamar (who unashamedly rocked cornrows) to the White House, and thank you for hosting a poetry jam with Lin-Manuel Miranda.
But can I get real for a moment? We need you to go even further. We need you to douse the White House in black culture to the point where, if it were to catch on fire, it would smell of burned fried-chicken grease. Here are 10 things that we’re pleading for you to do before you go.
1. Summon the ancestors.
Michelle, please invite the Alvin Ailey Dancers to help you lead a procession of African dancers onto the White House lawn. Let this be a grand tribute to the ancestors, with the African drumming circle surrounding y’all. And please, move your beautiful black derriere in celebration for all the world to see. Too often, our women are told that it’s too much; show the world that it’s never too much.
If you’re worried about sweating out your hair, don’t worry. I’m sure Kendrick’s hairstylist would be more than happy to put some cornrows in for you. Michelle, this November, you must rock the rows.
2. Throw a praise party.
Despite the unprecedented number of death threats and hate mail, you both made it eight years without harm or incident. “Hallelujer!” (In my Madea voice.) Sadly, some of us didn’t think you’d survive the inauguration. Images of John F. Kennedy’s assassination filled our minds. The fact that you’re still here—that alone is cause to celebrate. So let the praise begin!
Bring out the teen girls wearing the all-white polyester praise dresses, the grand tambourinist ready to make a joyful noise and the organist—yes, roll the organ directly onto the White House lawn—and have Fred Hammond and Tasha Cobbs raise the imaginary roof. Make the music so loud that your neighbors report you to the police and threaten to have you evicted. Maybe they’ll even do you the courtesy of writing you a letter first. It won’t matter, though—you have your own private security (aka the Secret Service)—and besides, you’ve already got your bags packed ’cause you can’t wait to be out.
3. Remember the homies.
Give the White House chefs the night off and invite Marcus Samuelsson and Ms. Patti LaBelle to throw down instead. Break out the barbecue grills, the spades and the chess boards. Then, when everybody’s full after that second helping of Patti’s peach cobbler, grab some 40s and pour some out for the fallen homies: Martin, Malcolm, and Harry and Harriette Moore, and the enslaved people who built your residence. Then pour out some more for the slain black men and women unjustly killed at the hands of police and by the chains of the ghetto.
4. Get that paper.
I know that you plan to, but please, please take steps to help build the endowment for the National Museum of African American History and Culture before you leave. Please do whatever it takes. Invite all of Hollywood to a themed Halloween Party at the White House and charge $1,000 per ticket, or auction off Bo on eBay, or sell one of your non-vital organs. (OK, maybe I went too far.) Perhaps one of you could just auction yourself off for a date with the highest bidder? Our history (and our future) depends on it.
5. Offer “WWB” White House tours.
These “Walking While Black” tours will give black Americans special priority to tour the White House, ’cause after you leave, it’s not likely that so many of us will see the inside of it. (Sorry, I’m just sayin’ … ) So it’s your personal responsibility to Get. Us. In. Thanks in advance!
Continue Reading at The Root.