I’ve lived with my head in the sand these last few months. Hoping for a miracle, hiding from the truth…
In 2008, Election Day was my birthday and I hosted a watch party at the university with the College Democrats and Student Government. It was a big day and I was optimistic but even still I wasn’t prepared for the moment they called it. I can still remember the sigh of relief and pride that I felt knowing that America did it. We elected a black man president. It wasn’t the end of racism in America – heck, I believe it actually revealed how bad race relations are in this country – but it was an accomplishment.
As a fellow mixed person in America I feel a kinship to Barack. It’s not easy to be black and white – there are conflicts internally and in the outside world. The stereotypes so infuriatingly accepted by both races about what it means to be black are simply wrong. The color of our skin does not define us and it definitely does not limit us.
Growing up I was not comfortable in my own skin. I was not proud of my color or frizzy hair. I lacked role models that I could connect to and feel inspired by who resembled my appearance. It took two decades for that to change.
What the Obama presidency means to me is that young kids in America and around the world don’t have to feel the way I did in the 90s (and so many have felt in the decades before then). The world they will have memory of is completely different than the one I have. Barack isn’t an anomaly to them. He’s not a long-shot candidate. He was the president and he is black and now we have a president and he is white and the next president could be anyone. For kids 12 and under, Barack Obama isn’t a great accomplishment – he is simply a president.
Like many I feel like we are headed for a Dark Age but I hold on to the thought that our youth were born into a different world than the rest of us. Perhaps this term is the last hurrah and the Millennials and those born after us will (finally) get it right.
“We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives… We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame – but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.” President Obama
I believe this message echos in the hearts and minds of people under 35. We want our lives to have meaning and purpose and we want to spend our time with the people we love.
Those are our priorities and our values and I hope it is what defines this generation.
For now, I hope and pray that we remember the respect and dignity that the Obamas brought to the White House and use that as the measuring stick for everyone who comes after – we must never lower the bar for there is too much at stake.