Yes, kid. He is real. And just like you.
President Barack Hussein Obama. It sounds like the most unlikely name for a United States President I could think of. I was voting age in 2000, wide eyed and convinced that my voice would make a difference in the election. That one didn’t go as I would have liked. In 2004, I gave it another go, thinking that there was no way the lowest rated President in history could possibly win another term. But I was wrong. Around that time I picked up a book called Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama. When he became a Senator of Illinois, I remember him talking to a reporter, with no crowd. And I thought great for him. But it was when he gave the Keynote Address at the Democratic National Convention that the world began to take notice, and I’ve felt like a proud mama ever since.
The election of President Barack Obama changed the face of politics in all ways that we know it. His appeal goes far beyond his skin tone, but the fresh optimism and hope for change that he represents. Those who have felt misrepresented now realize that their voices do matter. The world was swept away by the fairytale marriage, and middle aged women started taking care of themselves like the First Lady. The Inauguration was one of the highest watched events in history, and it’s the first time I’ve ever watched the Presidential Inaugural Ball.
I know that I am proud to see him in the White House, but it must be another kind of pride for black males. For the first time I can remember, rappers are using a public figure as the ultimate symbol of power, not the dope dealers. Obama has become synonymous with being a boss, respectful and dignified. He’s intelligent and humble despite his extraordinary success. It seems like they have restored confidence in the country, and faith in love and family. Jay-Z’s “History” and Young Jeezy’s “My President Is Black” are like victory laps for themselves and the people they represent. Despite the cars and the money, Obama’s election means they do matter.
Children can now aspire to be the “Second Black President,” because there is someone like them in the White House. Here’s someone educated and the leader of the free world, who looks like them too.
The decade is ending in war and we’re recovering from a deep economic recession. It’s natural that the excitement is starting to wane as we confront real issues. But Obama has revived sense of the American spirit.
Hope. A simple word with powerful meaning.