As the Obama Administration comes to a close, I have reflected on these eight years. When the Obama years began in 2008, I was beginning a descent into a personal hell, much like the country Obama was elected to save. Political machinations in the educational system headed by Michelle Rhee in DC, relegated my revolutionary teaching style no longer worthy of employment. I had wonderful evaluations but I agitated people. The agitation produced smiles among my colleagues, what I didn’t realize was when I walked away they had knives in their pockets. I felt abandoned, like the middle-class in America.
As America spiraled into a recession, I spiraled into drunkenness, estrangement from my parents, and homelessness. I needed saving, like General Motors. I was angry, like the Occupy Movement. I faced tremendous resistance in the job market, Congress-like resistance. Why me? I went to college. I did everything I was supposed to do to be successful. I followed the rules of engagement. These were my thoughts as I navigated what abandoned house I was going to sleep in for the night.
Ironically, I was saved by the very people I advocated for, the youth. They allowed the old teacher the opportunity to rebuild his life. I went to the library to use technology for the poor. I filled out countless applications, interviewed endlessly, and was rejected regularly. I collected unemployment, used food stamps, and cried at night. I received strange looks from employers of odd jobs, wondering, “What the hell are you applying for?”
For me, similar to Obama, things started to loosen up a little. There was the afterschool teaching job with a charter school, the opportunity to work one-on-one with an autistic student at Walker-Mill Middle School in Prince Georges County Public Schools. I then got contacted by the very school system that unjustly turned my life upside down. I ended up at a high school in Southeast Washington DC. There is much work to be done at this location. I want to be an integral part of its renaissance. I feel at home.
I hit my stride like Obama’s second term. Even phony associates acknowledged my
triumphant return to civilization, although they hoped for the opposite. Today, I have very little money or material possessions. During this journey, I have discovered that I want to be a published writer, but I have no idea how to make that a reality.
The Obama years were difficult. It was a time for deep introspection. Like many who lived through the Obama years, I am not where I should be, but I am better off than I used to be. I just pray that the American Dream does not betray me, or us again.