After the hope is gone…

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode? – “Harlem” by Langston Hughes
In “Harlem,” Langston Hughes compares deferred dreams to dried-up raisins, festered sores, and rotten meat. Realizing a dream can liberate a dreamer, but a deferred dream is emotionally and materially exhausting. Investing in a dream is risky.
During his 2008 candidacy, then-Presidential Candidate Barack Obama convinced many to invest in social dreaming and social hope. Candidate Obama offered visions of change and persons throughout the nation affirmed with Candidate Obama, “Yes, we can!” In 2008, for many, hope for the U.S. American condition was, at best, in critical condition. Yet, Candidate Obama inspired, 
…what began as a whisper has now swelled to a chorus that cannot be ignored; that will not be deterred; that will ring out across this land as a hymn that will heal this nation, repair this world, and make this time different than all the rest – Yes. We. Can.
Candidate Obama spoke healing for the nation and restoration for the world. Many heard and responded by voice and vote, “Yes, we can!”
Upon the election of President Obama, the victory chant for many was “Yes, we did,” suggesting that, for many of the chanters, the hope that the Obama campaign envisioned had been realized. But after the election and inauguration, many returned to jobless, homeless, and food-less conditions. For many, the hope that was realized was largely symbolic.
Nearly eight years have passed since President Barack Obama assumed office. The Obama administration has had significant material successes. U.S. America is far better off because of his presidency. Yet, despite President Obama’s brilliance and valiant efforts, many of the pre-inauguration conditions persist, or are even worse, for some African American communities. President Obama’s soon-expected departure suggests that some African American communities are now post-hope, or at least beyond the hope that was cast in the 2008 Obama campaign. If President Obama did not make America great for African American communities, who will? Will Secretary Clinton? Will Mr. Trump. What is left after hope?
…Hope. As we approach 2017, we may have to re-visit 2008 to re-situate social hope. Candidate Obama did not expect to change conditions or structures alone as he invoked June Jordan’s “Poem for South African Women.” Candidate Obama recited, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” As the Obama Presidency draws to a close, the “we” remains. Each hope-filled person has a personal responsibility towards social hope and social change. Can the president affect structural change alone? Can any one person? Not likely. Can we? Yes, we can. We must still hope and engage in the messy struggle towards social betterment. Still – Yes, we