*Congressman John Lewis and President Barack Obama, crossroadsnews.com*
Dear President Barack Obama,
I am deeply apologetic because I have only just recently became proud and accepting of my blackness. I am apologetic because this awareness has come during your last months as president. When you were sworn in, I was eleven years old.
When it was announced that you had become the first black president of the United States of America, I was fast asleep. I had probably never seen what the world looked like past eleven P.M. Through my slumber, I heard a siren-like scream. I woke up to see my mom’s figure in the dark. She had her hands over her head, and she practically collapsed on top of me in the bed. She continued to yell, “He won! He won!”, and would not let me go back to sleep until I said it too. She ran back out of the room, still screaming, and who knows what other forms of partying ensued after that, because I promptly went back to sleep– I had school the next day. Waking up was like a whole new world. My mom drove my sister and I to a gas station we have never used just to run in and get any newspaper that marked this day. I arrived in school and thought it was going to be a zoo from the racism I encountered through this election. I’ve never experienced racism before this election, so clearly I didn’t know of the subtle, back-handed racist remarks– I just thought racism was blatant and sometimes violent. This can explain why I was so surprised when people weren’t standing on tables in the lunch room. I was very confused and completely unaware of the importance of the era surrounding me.
In 2012, I was fourteen, and wouldn’t you know it, you won again. My mom woke me up for school and tried to play a joke saying you had lost. I didn’t get the joke. I didn’t see the impact that the joke was supposed to have. I found out that you actually had won, through multiple tweets from your biggest fan, Niall Horan. Then, I went about my day. I had to straighten my hair!
It’s 2016, I am nineteen years old. You have been the positive through the injustice my people, and people I don’t identify with, have gone through. The Supreme Court ruling of same sex marriages? That was actually magical. You are all I had to turn to when I go on social media and saw another black, unarmed individual killed. I went through my worst years (the terrible teens) and never realized that you and the first lady worked everyday to make sure I strived. Even with the replacement of junk food with granola bars in the vending machine… That one still stings. This entire time I despised associating myself with an ethnicity and a culture that you are also linked to.
It’s been a long race to beginning to love myself, my skin, my nose, my HAIR. I seem to be in last place, and I’m out of breath, but I’m about to make it. I’m looking toward the finish, and you’re at the red line, waving goodbye with gray hair. I never knew you aged so much, no offense. The last time I saw you, really looked at you, I was sitting in my social studies class and eating my lunch. You were being sworn in, and I was bored.
Hold on, wait, let me catch up! I’m learning and loving so much about my ethnicity and myself and I’m finally shedding the skin of this white dominating culture. I want to take enough time to revel in the pride I have for you! The first black president of the United States of America! You’ve done so much for this country, and I’ve tripped on a hurdle or two, so I just now began to appreciate you!
We, as a nation and a world, have so far to go in terms of equality and peace. But now, I’m an adult. I have courage now. Now, I’m willing to stand on your shoulders and speak and act about things I am passionate about to promote change.
In the sixth grade, I didn’t know the difference between a Republican and a Democrat. In my sophomore year of college, I voted two days ago.
But could you just, stay one more year? I don’t know how much soul searching I can do if Trump is the leader of the free world, and I’m so darn close to that finish line.
Maybe I’ll catch you on the red line,
P.S. I’m gonna miss you a lot. Thank you for everything you have done.
P.P.S. Who knew that your presidency and loving myself were crazily intertwined? I really tried to make that work in this letter.