Discover more from I Do See Color
Obama keeps saying ‘s**t’ … and 9 other things I learned from ‘Renegades Podcast’
Learning to understand that my favorite couple in the White House was never perfect
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” on March 20, 2021.
When I first heard former President Barack H. Obama was doing a podcast with Bruce Springsteen, I was hoping it would only be one episode and then Barack Obama would skip to other people the way the former first lady did. But now that I’ve realized just how easily these two talk and what they have in common (and don’t), it’s like eavesdropping in a multi-racial barbershop. Here are a few highlights for me.
9. Barack Obama has a bit of a potty mouth: Barack Obama said on a couple of occasions that he has a habit of cursing when he’s around his social circle, and I just couldn’t imagine it. When he said, “I’m an old ass man” on his episode of “Desus & Mero,” I covered my virgin ears. So hearing him say “shit” at least three times on this “The Renegade Podcast” took some getting used to. It’s like hearing my father (who is a deacon) curse. (I heard my father say “bitches” while telling a joke, and my jaw dropped. Super weird.)
8. He is not above talking smack: I knew Barack Obama was funny after seeing him on “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” But it wasn’t until I saw him on “Desus & Mero” that I realized he talks a lot of shit. He is that guy in the barbershop that’ll keep you sharp because he will clown you if he catches you slipping. And he didn’t shortstop on reminding rock legend Bruce Springsteen that he was 10 years older than him. No one gets a free pass on the jokes with this guy! This made it that much harder for me to understand why he let Joe “You lie!” Wilson get away with the 2009 presidential address stunt.
7. Even as a pre-teen, he was checking racist adults: Whoever the coach was who told pre-teen Barack Obama, “Better be careful. You might rub off on the chart and make it dirty” probably seethed to find out that that tennis-playing kid who slid his finger down the seating chart became the Commander in Chief for eight years. Be mad. Stay mad!
6. Barack Obama can throw these hands: While I’m not advocating for violence, I absolutely positively understand why the former president broke the nose of the “friend” who called him a “coon.” Friendship, that is not. I don’t care how mad you are on a basketball court or locker room, there are some words that you never let slide.
5. Barack Obama saw “Get Out” and understood pseudo liberalism: I’m not sure why I was so surprised that Barack Obama saw Jordan Peele’s film or was amused by the line about voting for Obama a third time. But this was the exact kind of point I see all the time for people who claim to be liberal with the Bernie Sanders signs and Barack Obama signs but are still deeply racist in the process. I don’t care how many “Black Lives Matter” signs or liberal views you have. I pay more attention to what you do when the attention is not on you, not what hashtags are used.
4. Sam Cooke makes Barack Obama cry: I 100 percent agree with Barack Obama about “A Change Is Gonna Come” having the ability to make me cry. Up until “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” I didn’t fully understand the weight of her song “Strange Fruit.” Now I do. Aretha Franklin would be very pleased to find out that the 44th president identifies “Respect” as a protest song. Although I was unfamiliar with how much trouble Springsteen got into for creating “American Skin (41 Shots),” their discussion about Amadou Diallo made me remember why I love Wyclef Jean’s “Diallo” song so much.
3. The interesting look at anti-marriage/instability on the open road: I came up during a time when “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World” and “Family Matters” and “Roc” and “Moesha” and “227” were on the air. I saw black families together who looked like mine. It wasn’t until I listened to Springsteen and Barack Obama that I realized how much the open road and lonely cowboys were romanticized. While women were taught about the comfort of relationships, the “drifter” character was all the rage for men of the Baby Boomer generation. (And quite frankly, minus Jay Z with Beyonce, “drifters” as rappers are still the norm.)
2. Springsteen’s draft-dodging story: I certainly did not know much about Bruce Springsteen before this podcast. I knew he was huge in the same way I know Prince is huge; I just wasn’t a fan or a nonfan. But I was fascinated by his story regarding how non-college students were drafted into the army and what they had to do to get out of it. Who knew his motorcycle accident by the age of 19, and a bunch of other antics, could help him avoid the war? I did not expect him to get rejected.
“Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”: Although I came up during a time when hip-hop was a small child, I quickly became aware of a “new money” attitude — even in a middle-income family. So it was interesting to hear from Barack Obama and Springsteen that the ’70s and ’80s were the era in which chasing a rich lifestyle became a thing. I thought it was much earlier than that.
There were many other moments throughout these five episodes (so far) where I was educated about a variety of topics, be it historical, generational or musical. I look forward to being schooled some more.
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