"You could feel our ancestors ..." Hill Harper said while accepting an award today at the Essence magazine brunch ... a statement with which I wholeheartedly agree.
African, Irish, German, Cherokee, Polish, Russian, Jew ... for this celebration, the inauguration isn't singular to African Americans, it is a victory for hope, a triumph to staying the course, to family, to caring about and for your brother ... it is the voice that defines us. It is the true story of America.
It's the story that is played everyday in cities and small towns across this country where communities and families pitch together for the collective good. It is knowing that Obama is not the savior, but rather a symbol defining the best part of this nation, that spirit and fortitude that has always prevailed no matter the challenge.
When my daughter was around eight months old, overwhelmed and underemployed, I called my parents, convinced that I was a failure. My mom, her voice full of love and concern, said "come home" ... and so I did, but departed days later, sans my daughter. For much of my daughter's early life, Ackie and pandad (as she affectionately calls my mom and dad), kept the waters at bay for me, kept my emotional dam from breaking, while I navigated being a single parent and solidified my financial situation.
Few people, even those very close to me, know that my father is not my biological dad. My mom was a twenty-five-year-old woman with a five-year-old child, he a twenty-four-year-old man, with fiery red hair and piercing blue eyes. Soon after meeting, my mom shared her desire to save enough money to bring me to live with her. My dad, notoriously money-conscious, emptied his savings and without hesitation gave the money to my mom, simply saying, "Go get your daughter".
That was 1974. For six years, it was just the three of us, and for my entire life, he has been my dad, chasing the bad dreams away in the night, drawing loraxes on my lunch bags, teaching me to skate and hoisting me high to traverse the monkey bars, driving me to and from gymnastics, track practices, and being the constant in all of the major events in my life, even when I was not accepting. So it should come as no surprise that my daughter is the light of his life.
Barack Hussein Obama was given his wings to soar not only by his mother, but also by his grandparents who for seven plus years strengthened our future president with constant love that was not dulled or diminished by the varying hues in their skin.
Walking the streets of Washington last night with my daughter clasping my hand tightly, seeing the excitement flooding out of her milky brown eyes, I prayed a silent thank you to the village of love that held our future 44th strong.
Now we are five instead of three ... Benjamin and Samantha, my closest friends (aka my sister and brother) joined us six and ten years later respectively. My dad's hair is more gray than red, but my daughter Kennedy says it best ...
"My pandad is amazing! He taught me my first words and to this day teaches me math. We are always laughing for no reason and we love to play outside. I always beg for Anne's Dairy Drive ice cream because it's best ice cream ever. And he always says yes, because I am the only granddaughter. And Obama is cool, mom, but not he's not granddaddy. He's just the president."
Presidents are not born, they are created. With the very ingredients that brought our 44th President into office:
Responsibility. Spirit. Tenacity ...
|Barack Obama||Obama Family's Matching Style|