For a while there, I was concerned that President Barack Obama wouldn't do enough to earn a think piece describing all the ways he's kept it "completely 100"—similar to the way we commended former Attorney General Eric Holder for keeping it "eight more than 92" last year.
Let me tell you, I fretted over this, had sleepless nights and bit my nails. I knew that the guy had it in him and shared many of the frustrations that black Americans have been hashtagging and protesting these past several months. But there's the idea that Obama's status as POTUS prevents him lashing out at the ridiculous ideas proposed by the GOP or speaking up about blatant injustices. Stuff like unarmed black kids getting shot in the street.
I even argued that Holder would fare better in discussions about which guy—him or Obama—was more demonstrative when it came to speaking up for black Americans.
And then, bit by bit, almost out of nowhere, this new Obama started to appear. He's not mincing his words or holding back, and when he does speak about controversial "race" topics, he's forceful and speaks in a matter-of-fact way.
Is it because he's on his way out of office and doesn't have as much to lose? Probably. But so what? We're here for it, and the bottom line is this: Obama's getting a boatload of stuff done, so it's not as if he's just blowing hot air. Just take a look at some of the ways he's waved his middle finger furiously at all his haters these past several months:
Two fist pumps in the air for that blunt NAACP speech he gave on Tuesday slamming the U.S. prison-industrial complex.
He did two things very well in his recent speech at the NAACP conference: He reminded folks about the "structural inequalities" that make it harder for black and Hispanic Americans to get ahead (and I mean, he spelled them out, describing how qualified black Americans don't get called back for job interviews or approved for housing in good neighborhoods, and how we get suspended from school at higher rates when committing transgressions similar to whites'). Plus, no one likes to talk about it, but he spoke about how slavery and Jim Crow rigged the system and put black and brown Americans at a disadvantage.
Second, he drove a needle through the prison-industrial complex by calling foul on how a lot of people are serving hefty prison sentences for soft crimes. Obama said, "We've also locked up more and more nonviolent drug offenders than ever before, for longer than ever before.
"And that is the real reason our prison population is so high. In far too many cases, the punishment simply does not fit the crime," he argued.
This item appeared on Holder's "trill" list, so it supports the argument that Holder was a mouthpiece for a lot of the things that Obama himself believed but presumably couldn't yet say.
He basically said, "To hell with ignoring Cuba, when's the next shuttle boat to Havana?"
What was great about this moment is that Obama used the ol' "What's the definition of insanity?" argument to justify why he felt it was high time we restored diplomatic ties with Cuba. Our policy of treating Cuba as if it didn't exist wasn't working, so instead of relying on our failed "embargo" strategy, he brought Cuban officials to the table to hatch a plan for the future.
Naysayers argued that Cuban officials hadn't done enough to garner the U.S.' friendship, since they hadn't moved the ball on improving human rights on the island. (As if women are allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia—but I digress.) Meanwhile, as more and more of Cuba's history comes to the forefront, we'll see that it was the United States that in the early part of the 20th century introduced Cubans to the racist and segregationist thinking that made life hell for black Cubans. Black Cubans were left to contend with colorism and inequality, and it was those inequaliities that made the environment ripe for Castro's administration to come into power to attempt to undo those injustices.
He defined "rape" in layman's terms for those who forgot its definition just because Bill Cosby is the alleged perpetrator.
It seemed that a few people were trying to downplay or sugarcoat what Cosby is accused of doing: giving sedatives to women he planned to sleep with. They were questioning whether his accusers consented to being drugged, and couldn't believe that Cosby could commit such crimes.
But when court documents revealed that Cosby did have a penchant for including Quaaludes in his sexual repertoire, that made the allegations that much more substantive. Obama laid it out plain and simple for those who still weren't convinced that this kind of behavior constitutes "rape."
"If you give a woman, or a man, for that matter, without his or her knowledge, a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that's rape. And I think this country, any civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape," Obama said.
He practically did the Shmoney dance in the Oval Office after hearing that his health care plan would remain intact.
Gloating is not bad all the time. Especially when you're a guy who's known for being level-headed and not bragging about your wins or kicking your opponents when they're down. Then you're allowed to gloat and boast about your accomplishments every now and then.
That's what makes these photos of Obama reacting to how the Supreme Court voted not to gut the Affordable Care Act—known colloquially as Obamacare—that much more riveting.
I mean, look at him giving dap to his chief of staff, Denis McDonough.
And tell me this doesn't look like he and Vice President Joe Biden are about to start Shmoney dancing.
Here's to many more moments of Obama speaking his mind and hopefully becoming more and more raw during his last 19 months in office.
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.