Politics aside, just for a moment. I bleed as red as my party line, and I wear my red elephant skirt with pride, but we need to talk about Obama, and not about the #EndOfAnError. We need to talk about Obama as a figurehead, and what he represents to me, as a black republican.
Growing up, I remember the presidency of George W. Bush. As an elementary schooler, I didn’t have any opinion on it, but my Mama voted for him, so he just had to be a good man, and that was all I thought on the topic. But as I stared at the posters in my classroom, I wondered…why don’t any of these Presidents look like me? Why, exactly, had the leader of the free world, never been a black man? Why have I never seen myself represented?
When Obama was first inaugurated, I was 10 years old. I was incredibly inspired to see a man who looked like me in power, doing important things with important people. I, as a young black girl, felt like I was capable, like I could do anything. After years of being the only black girl in my school, suffering racial taunts throughout my entire school career, I felt liberated, vindicated, I felt American. Orlando Pinder has created a video detailing the struggles of black children in majority white schools. It took me 10 years to color myself in pictures with a brown crayon, and suddenly I wanted to, being my color, being who I was, was no longer strange, shameful, or foreign. I was proud to be me.
Although complex, the legacy of Obama as a social figure is important to me, and many other children of color. Obama has been a role model and an aspiration for black children everywhere, proving that we, that I, could do anything I set my mind to. As exemplified through an article from black lifestyle website, The Root, titled My Son’s Only President, the author says “Barack Hussein Obama is the only president my 5-year-old son has ever known. Roby was born witnessing his own possibilities.” From Trick-Or-Treating at the White House to Community Gardens, children of color interacted with a man they could relate to, in a way no child could before with any other president.
In a world of so much hate and racial tension currently, we have to take a step back. We need to put politics down and step back, we need to discuss things like white privilege and create a deeper understanding between polarized groups. Silence breeds violence. Step off your soapbox, and think, even if you hate President Obama’s views and decisions, (and I don’t agree with the vast majority of them), Obama broke a glass ceiling for me, and many others. He truly gave me hope and is the reason I became involved in politics.
Finally, a quote from Julian Kimble’s article, “ A black man with his feet propped up on the Oval Office’s desk echoed and enforced what my parents had always taught me: There were no ceilings for me. Race wasn’t an impediment to my success.” Maybe it’s not all about politics, and even though I disagree with most of Obama’s, I have to thank him for proving to me, that in America, no matter who bullies me or tells me I can’t, I always will be able to.