Just to be truthful, I am grieving over the fact that our 44th President and his family are getting ready to leave the White House.
President Barack Obama may have been a politician to ‘mainstream’ America, but to the multitude of marginalized citizens in the United States and the World, he is a symbol of the limitless possibilities for those determined to self-edify in efforts to make their individual lives, family, and the world, better.
I remember meeting President Obama a decade ago when he was a senator. A ‘black’ senator who was running for the most powerful seat in the world – President of the United States of America. He shook my hand and said, “How ya doin’?” Spoken to me as if he were my, own, uncle. “I’m alright,” I sincerely replied.
The reality was, I wasn’t alright. I had no healthcare, no financial stability, and only a high school diploma – but an education which allowed me to navigate between ‘worlds’ racially and opportune-wise because I had graduated from a wealthy suburban secondary school in Fairfax, VA. However, it didn’t negate the fact, in that particular stage of my life, I hadn’t had a clue as to where my journey was heading. I was, only, merely cognizant, that I too was a ‘black’ man like the Senator, but the majority of Black people who previously, up until that moment, had internalized a ‘racial’ inferiority complex I inherently believed was my fate.
My life changed, radically, after my encounter with Barack. I wanted to be successful, even when success yielded the impression of impossible; I had hope, and it was hope that challenged me, daily, always to find those alternate paths to victory.
An entire decade has come-to-past since my last and only encounter with President Barack Obama, and in the midst of his inspiring journey, as our nation’s first, I have become whole. From a statistic affected by the ‘racial’ achievement gap in high school to the President of Phi Theta Kappa in college and a graduate of Political Science and now a teacher and a coach. I have come a long way.
My plans include graduate school, law school, and a doctorate. “Ambitious enough?” you may ask. Naw, ’cause I love and live for a life long journey of self-edification; and I owe it to myself, my mother, my grandmother, my family, my students and my community. And I owe it to the trailblazers of Black American History who have travailed through the darkest times from enslavement to the White House illuminating the way for us ALL to follow.
President Barack Obama, thank you for being an excellent example for me and thanks for teaching me that hope can manifest into a tangible thing – A New American Dream.