Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Leader of the Free World

Woke up this morning
and the leader of the free world
was a black man.

Woke up this morning,
got myself dressed,
and marveled at what's happened in this land.

Brushed my teeth in the mirror,
smiled at a face made silly with tooth paste.

No more black face comedy,
there's a black man in the White House,
and so much of the world is subject to his tastes.

What will it mean,
to now be a black man in the free world?

Will anything change,
will everything change,
a million ideas in my mind all in a swirl.

I don't even write poetry.
But I woke up this morning
and a black man was the leader of the free world.

Prose won't do it for me,
describe this ended longing.
Can you believe an African-American leads the free world,
with a beautiful brown wife and two little girls?

My country tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty,
land where my fathers died,
land where black mothers cried,
land where we were so long denied,
on every mountainside,
freedom rings.

Barack Hussein Obama,
son of a black man and a white mama,
now leads the free world.

Heaven knows the plot twists of this drama.
God help us, please help us.
Protect every unborn boy and girl.

Can't wink at some things,
even as the joy is irrepressible.
The confluence of emotions are inexpressible.

Gil Scott Heron had it wrong:
The revolution has been televised, has been televised, has been televised.
And a black man is the leader of the free world!

I never believed my mama,
when she said I could be anything, even president.
But now the White House has a new resident,
Barack Hussein Obama.

Goes to show what I know.
On a cold January day, my mama was proved a prophet.
In God's economy, nothing could stop it.
And this morning, a black man is the leader of the free world.


Katie said...

Thanks, this did a lot to shape my perspective and see the depth of meaning in today. And now we will see what the hand of God does through him for our good or our judgment.

carissa said...

i love the poem.

JRD said...

I appreciate your "feelings" but is his skin color all it means to you? I would think Mr. Obama's promised policies should take precedence over his race.... I'm not convinced he has the best interest of our nation in mind.

Rainsong said...

Thank you so much! I felt that way about both Senator Clinton and Governor Palin running for office. Two very different women, but still women, and possibilities swing open for our daughters. I'm not sure white men, who have the confidence to just look at the issues, as important as they are, and yes, we will look at them in our tomorrows, can understand what this means to us as people. My dad used to say, you can be whatever you want, but I was a woman and it was assumed that I would only want what men allowed.

Yes, much prayer is needed. But today, a black man is president and dignity is restored to so many more then just this one man. Tomorrow is a fresh day for the sword of the Spirit.

God Bless America.
God save President Obama.

ajcarter said...

Look our Longfellow, Frost, and Angelou;
His name is Anyabwile, and he writes poetry too.

Good words, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That was great. To me one of the most moving parts of the inauguration was when Aretha Franklin sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee," in light of Dr. King's comments. That was powerful!

Hayden said...


Thanks for this perspective. I too was struggling with the perspective of JRD until I listened to CLarence Thomas' memoirs 'My Grandfather's Sons' on audio book as we moved to Florida over the Christmas break.

I recommend that this be required reading, or listening, for everyone! Wow!

This helped me to rejoice in the enormity of the historical moment that occurred yesterday.

Thanks for the poem.

Looking forward to hearing you at Ligonair Conference in March

shane said...

Thanks for this expression of thanks (which some have seemingly forgot is also commanded along with prayers and petitions 1 Tim 2!)--also I apprecaite how you have continued to try to explain how important this election has been for black people. It's silly to say that "skin color doesn't matter"... fine, in God's sight it doesn't! Amen! But it sure has mattered in society, and I for one am thankful to the Lord for this further step toward the recognition of our basic humanity, equality, and dignity... now for the unborn! I hope we have the strength for the long struggle!

Anonymous said...

I like your poem

yoshi3329 said...

I agree with JRD.

As an black American I was hoping that he'd lose I don't understand how a Christian could ever wish him well or luck with his plans. I pray for his salvation because he's obviously not a Christian but I hope he fails in what he tries to accomplish. Redistribution of wealth? Unconstitutionally intervening in the private sector? Usually countries that do this always in up poor.

I judge that man by his character and guess what he has not character at all.

I'm very disappointed in this post.

obsessiveskier said...



kerux said...

I'm not sure how much my opinion matters, TA, but I have always thought the best poetry comes from the heart.
Your poem does, and I like it a lot! Thanks for sharing it... especially the toothpaste part!

CB said...

JRD i would venture to say Mr. Thabiti wrote the poem because whether you or I like it or not Obama's skin color is signifigant and for the most part when we look at people that is the first thing most recognize. Historically this is HUGE to have a "minority" as president because for many minorities we never thought this day would come and now that it is here people are rejoicing , although we may not agree with all of his policies the historical aspect of this is something to forever treasure...history has been etched in our day and time. God bless.

Laura said...

Thanks for this, brother. Good stuff.

Cory Anderson said...

say it again while i listen! :-)

Steve said...

Thabiti, Thank you for this poem. It means a lot.
JRD the poem does show that he is not just concerned with Obama's skin color (stanzas 11 and 12). The meaning of Obama's inauguration transcends him.
We are reaping the ills from the sin of abortion but we have also reaped ills from the sin of slavery, segregation and racism. This shows the grace of God upon our country that despite our racist past anyone can still succeed to the highest level. It helps tear down walls; physical, spiritual and psychological.
What I will pray is the grace God has shown us with this inauguration He will also show us with the removal of abortion in this country.
We do not deserve this but we do not deserve His forgiveness of our own sin either.

samuel said...

I enjoyed the poem and what this represents, and I appreciate the conflicting moral complexities being considered.

May we recognize the biblical truth that there is only one race and set an example of Christian love and give in neither to ethnic hatred or to absurd political correctness based on fear.

I appreciate you, brother.

Kathleen Popa said...

Amen, Steve. You put it well. Thabiti, I loved your poem. Blessings.

Anonymous said...

How do identify with the color of skin above the cause of Christ. I am black woman, I have experienced some racism in my time, and yes because of the sin in me I also have acted in a racist manner. I am also a murderer, when I become so angry with the bad driver in front of me. But I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in my... Is Christ a respector of persons. Do I rejoice in a man's evil intentions , just because he has my skin complexion. I am truly perplexed at the body of Christ. I am not theology student, pastor or teacher, and I just cannot see how we can rejoice in this. Did we rejoice when an accomplished athelete committed murder, he was my skin complexion also.

Cany said...

I loved your poem and thank you for posting it.

Many of us, regardless of ethnicity or color have been praying hard for this day to come. It was a long, hard road.

As a Christian (Episcopalian), I feel there has probably never been a time when we were not in extreme conflict that we have ever needed more prayer from everyone regardless of belief.

Those that regale our new president and wish him ill, wish us all ill. It is one thing to disagree with his policies, and quite a different thing to wish the mantle of failure upon us all.

Please do not pray for the failure of us all, rather, stand your ground on the issues of import to you, personally.

I am quite sure that my opinions on secular matters vary significantly from some of yours. But where we converge is where we see one another in Christ.

Please, let us not put our light under a basket. Let us not sort sheep by difference, but by commonality.

We have a hard road ahead.

African said...

yoshi3329, to understand how Thabiti, and many other christians, could both rejoice and yet not agree with everything that Obama stands for, please , please continue reading his blog, order his books, and yes, download his sermon from 2008 TG4.
JDR; very sorry you were dissappointed that Obam didn't lose. Get confort from scripture...: all authority is from above..." In such times as these, one appreciates and gets to love more the doctrines of grace!!

Boaly said...

Class post Thabiti,

Even the Irish are celebrating -

Matthew Hodges said...

Good poem TA! I was encouraged by yoshi3329 when he said he would pray for Baracks salvation. Please add in your pray 1 Tim 2:1&2 to pray for this man so that you and I may live peaceful and quiet lives so that the gospel may advance. May the scriptures comfort us that no matter Baracks plans that "to man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue Prov 16:1" Gods in control of this world and he chose the President that's in the office, all for his glory. Question for us is how do we glorify God in his appointment? Is our hope in the fulfilment of scripture or Barack Obama?

yoshi3329 said...

@ African,

How can a CHRISTIAN rejoice and wish this man luck on anything?!? wealth redistribution (theft), abortion (murder), support of illegal immigrants, LGBT issues, and 0-5 education (indoctrination), there is nothing to rejoice at. Unless you want to see the black community die some more. Then yes, rejoice. But if you like me who see's the black community die a little each days you wouldn't be rejoicing. I pray that he fails at his cultural/ economic Marxist agenda and I hope that any Christian would do the same.

karin said...

Loved your poem - it sure comes straight from the heart! Here in Canada we, too, are praying for the black man in the White House to do God's will in leading his nation. It is God who puts leadership in place and HE will achieve HIS purposes also through this president.

Rachael Starke said...

I have to admit that at first glance this poem was painful to read. President Obama's consistent commitment to a culture of abortion, and especially his 20-year involvement at such a terrible church, meant that my heart had been heavy over his election and the adulation the entire country is offering, and that he is accepting. I didn't expect to read this from one who I had heard was so outspoken about Christ transcending race.

But then God helped me to consider several things:

1. Yesterday, I and some others commented publicly that I was thankful for Rick Warren's prayer at the inauguration ceremony. I didn't explain why - that we still live in a country where the "offense" of the gospel in the Lord's Prayer is still permitted, and that Rick Warren, with his approach to writing and speaking that seems so man-centered, did not cave to pressure and invoked the name of Jesus. I just said I was thankful. And good friends in ministry were upset and angered. And it hurt.

And it occurred to me that it's very possible that you're doing the same thing - that you are finding a way to give very sincere thanks to God publicly for something good that He has done, even when it has come at such great cost. It was a very helpful lesson.

2. If that is the case, then it must truly be tha you and many others (like John Piper, for example) must have felt the pain of racism far deeper than I could ever imagine, if you are still compelled to give thanks for this event so passionately in spite of it coming in this way.

That is incredibly hard for me to understand. I'm thankful that from a young age I was pretty unaware of racial prejudice. I grew up in a variety of poor neighborhoods - many of my friends were different races. And I grew up overseas, far away from the mythologizing of whether a president might be one day be black. I actually struggled whether or not to tell my young children the significance of Mr. Obama's color, because, even though I was intentionally silent to see if they would notice, they never did. Not once. They differentiated the candidates by the color of their hair, and chose John McCain because he was older, and therefore must be wiser.

I'm going to take my friend Hayden's advice and read Clarence Thomas' book. Because it must have been an incredible burden for men such as you and John Piper to go to such lengths to call it out so specifically.

Because of those two things, I'm thankful that you wrote this. I hope in the coming months you'll be able to talk more publicly about why you did (I'll be on the look out for the Racial Harmony week MP3s, if they're available?), and that we will all listen with hearts that are full of grace and humility.

African said...

Yoshi 3391: I think you miss the point. All the problems that you have listed - sins of man- are America's and NOT Obama's. In other words, with or without him, America's problems are bigger than Obama. The added dilemmna is that these would still be there with McCAIN as president. The correct biblical response for all this is 1 Tim.2; 1-2, amongst others. A mere recitation of sins distilled from what you believe are Obama's policy positions will not do. I join you in praying for Obama and his family. Meanwhile and nonetheless, I continue to rejoice because ..." This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes." Psalms 118: 23. Good old Arthur Pink asks in 'The Sovereignty of God": "Who is in charge of this world, God or satan? Take comfort bro/sista, our God is still on the throne (Isaiah 6:1), with or without Obama, and " for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” Dan 4; 34(b) - 35.

Christopher Lake said...

I am a Christian man who is pro-life. I also happen, in God's providence, to be white. Growing up in small-town Alabama in the 1980s, I suffered for being one of the very few white people whom I knew who was openly anti-racist. Along with Thabiti, I celebrate the fact that the United States has reached the point in which a black man can be elected President. I also mourn the fact that the man who has been elected is so militantly in favor of "abortion rights." These thoughts are only to say that while I did not vote for Barack Obama (largely because of my pro-life convictions), I do appreciate what an historic moment this is, especially for fellow image-bearers of God whose ancestors were once enslaved in this country.

On another note-- Thabiti, I loved the Gil Scott-Heron reference! I don't always agree with his politics, but I love his songwriting, his distinctive voice, and the undeniable soul in his music!

Ray Ortlund said...


But alas, if only it had been you, Thabiti!

Marshall Stoy said...

Loved the poem, brother. Esp. this part:

My country tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty,
land where my fathers died,
land where black mothers cried,
land where we were so long denied...

Thanks for the post.

On another note, thanks for introducing me to Ahmad Jamaal down in Miami!