Our New “First Family”
Wow, what a BEAUTIFUL picture!!! Malia and Sasha are GORGEOUS! Yes, even the (usually) pessimistic Emma felt good about the results of the election. Indiana (my mom and lil bro’s state; he voted at IU) went Democratic- a small miracle many think. My home state of Arizona (where lil sis and bro-in-law live) is still a BIT more Republican than not. Virginia (my Dad’s state for past year) went blue, as MANY were hoping. I was a little upset because I didn’t register to vote in NY on time. My mom said that I was registered in Indiana, though. Too bad!
The kids were going wild in NYC- the future US president looks like them!!! Forget boys, gossip, and shoes- it was all about Obama this past week! The teachers/principals/etc. are VERY happy too; as educators in a big city they deal with issues of poverty, inequality, racism, etc. all the time. In a small middle school in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn the principal told her (diverse- racially and economically) kids that she was “more hopeful now that Obama was elected.” She was a child when JFK was elected president and lived though the Vietman War. “There is not one of us that can’t contribute to this world,” she said. The kids cheered (VERY loudly) after she played Obama’s acceptance speech from last Tuesday.
Because NONE of us makes it alone, I’d like to discuss the main people in Obama’s life.
Obama’s Mother: A Trailblazer… In Her Own Way
Here is baby Barack with his lovely mom, Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro. This pic can be found in Obama’s first book, Dreams from My Father. Barry (Obama’s nickname w/ family and old friends) grew up without a father, and Ann was absent for periods of his life; she instilled in him her curiosity about the world. Obama described her as non-religious, but interested in many belief systems, cultures, etc. She eventually got a PhD in Anthropology, and worked as a cultural anthropologist in Indonesia. Ann died (much too young- age 52) of ovarian cancer.
She had an unswerving instinct for kindness, charity, and love, and spent much of her life acting on that instinct, sometimes to her detriment. Without the help of religious texts or outside authorities, she worked mightily to instill in me the values that many Americans learn in Sunday school: honesty, empathy, discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work. She raged at poverty and injustice.
Most of all, she possessed an abiding sense of wonder, a reverence for life and its precious, transitory nature that could properly be described as devotional. Sometimes, as I was growing up, she would wake me up in the middle of the night to have me gaze at a particularly spectacular moon, or she would have me close my eyes as we walked together at twilight to listen to the rustle of leaves.
-Obama describes Ann in The Audacity of Hope
When reporters asked Obama what he thought about Sarah Palin’s 17 y.o. daughter (Bristol) being pregnant, he calmly stated: “My mother was 18 when she had me.” What a classy guy!
Here is a cute pic from Obama’s private school in Hawaii. Without scholarships and his grandmother’s income, young Barry wouldn’t have been able to attend Punahou. As you can see, it was a diverse school but there were FEW black students. Obama had a close friendship with an African-American boy at this school. You can read about it in his first book.
Here is a pic from Obama’s Harvard days.
Obama’s Grandparents: The Quiet Heroes
I can no more disown him [Jeremiah Wright] than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial and ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
–Obama in his speech re: race relations
Eighty-seven years old. She can’t travel. She has terrible osteoporosis so she can’t fly, but, you know, she has been the rock of our family and she is sharp as a tack. I mean, she’s just – she follows everything, but she has a very subdued, sort of Midwestern attitude about these things. So when I got nominated, she called and said, “That’s nice, Barry, that’s nice.”
-Obama describes his grandmother on The Late Show with David Letterman
We have lost the understanding that in a democracy, we have a mutual obligation to one another — that we cannot measure the greatness of our society by the strongest and richest of us, but we have to measure our greatness by the least of these.
– Michelle Obama
Michelle Robinson was assigned to mentor Barack Obama at their law firm when he was an intern. She thought his name was “kinda funny” at first. He kept asking her out, and finally she accepted. While listening to him speak at a community center, she fell in love with him.
I didn’t even know then what a community organizer was!
I need to be prepared to do what the country needs me to do at the time. Whether that’s baking cookies or serving as a wonderful hostess, that’s my job. I have to be prepared to do what’s necessary. And we won’t know what that’s going to be until we get there. I will be staunchly invested. It is a joint project.
Though she attended Princeton, then Harvard, and worked in corporate law, etc., Michelle is happy to be a wife and mother these days. She describes her own childhood as very happy and stable; she had two hard-working, loving parents and a protective big brother (Craig, a basketball coach at Oregon State). Who can forget the touching story she told of her father’s great work ethic? Michelle has already been compared to two of America’s most-loved first ladies- Jackie Kennedy (note her style of clothing) and Eleanor Roosevelt (she’s intelligent, passionate, and not afraid of a little controversy).
Thank God (even if you’re an atheist or agnostic) that W will be out soon!!!