20-year-old Ferguson activist Rasheen Aldridge Jr. was invited to the White House by President Obama, along with a few other young activists from Ferguson Commission–a group tasked by Missouri governor Jay Nixon with looking into the community’s social and economic problems–to talk about the protests and while this would be the biggest moment in any 20-year-old’s life, Aldridge was disappointed.
Back in 2008, when Aldridge discovered the young Black politician, he was enamored with him. He was my idol, he was a person I thought about every single day,” Aldridge explained. President Obama inspired the young activist to speak out and use his voice to help effect change. “This man starts speaking about hope and change and you felt it. I remember staying home when he got inaugurated and staying on the phone with my grandmother watching every state primary exit polls,” Aldridge remembered. He even took his grandmother with him when he started fighting for minimum-wage workers.
Aldridge says that what he experienced in 2008 was not what he experienced when he received the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet with him face to face. He said, “Those same feelings from 2008 was not there when I met him yesterday. I felt disappointed.” Aldridge continued, “We were at the White House voicing our concerns, opinions and problems with the commander in chief about the accountability of police. We wanted him to come and just acknowledge our pain, our heart and we’ve been peaceful.”
Many of us–#TeamBeautiful included have voiced our frustrations with President Obama’s lack of urgency and passion around what’s going on with the systematic racism in our country, especially when we’re faced with tragic cases like the death of unarmed teen Michael Brown or the unarmed man who stopped a fight and was chocked to death, Eric Garner–two Black men who lost their lives at the hands of White police officers. We realize the president can only say but so much when it comes to racial issues, but we just want more compassion and that’s all that Aldridge wanted…to be seen, to be heard and to know that the leader of the free world, who also happens to be Black, thinks our lives matter just as much as the protestors.
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