Barack Obama is no longer the president of the United States. That sentence carries a disquieting and heavy truth for many Americans.
While putting my 9-year-old to bed last night, I thought it fitting to read one of our children’s books about Obama. It’s “Barack Obama Son of Promise, Child of Hope” by Nikki Grimes. It tells Obama’s life story, touching on his experiences that are familiar to us: His roots in Kansas, his biracial background, and his time in Chicago.
Hope is a central theme in the book and when Obama ran, he ran on the promise of hope. Of course, many feel he fell very short of that promise but that’s not what this piece is about.
This is about a moment that was barely even five minutes long. When snuggling with Logan last night, he pointed out that Obama is the only president he’s ever known. And that sat with me.
A “skinny kid with a funny name” is the only president my biracial son has known. When I was nine, my personal experiences made me doubt that America would ever have a black president. Times, as they say, have changed.
As America moves into this new era, I hope that we don’t lose hope in each other. I know it’s hard, I too am deeply disheartened by the sharpened divide between Americans. I can only hope that it gets better and do my part to be kinder, more patient and listen, as well as guide my family to do the same.
While reading that book, I kept hearing lines from Maya Angelou’s poem, Still I Rise.
“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.”
The echos of that poem led me to talk again about how when black people were slaves in America, we were viewed as cows. (The term adults use is “chattel,” but I always try to put things in words and concepts that are easier for kids to digest.) And we talked how slaves had hopes and dreams just like everyone else and now today, people like Obama, me and Logan are indeed dreams that came true.
“Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”