Why I'll miss the Obama Family

An open letter to the First Family on their last day in the White House.

Dear Obama Family,

Yes we did. We really did. 8 years ago, the idea of a president of color, none the less a First Family of color, ( in THEE White House) was one that sparked a multiplicity of conversations involving race, class, gender, religion, nationalism, and so much more. How could America, after its long long history of prejudice elect a Black Man to the highest office in the country? Would he live to tell the story? For many of us we mourned as we campaigned for you. We walked on egg shells while also screaming loudly "YES WE CAN!" We were proud, but we were afraid. Losing an influential figure in the African American community wasn't a rare occurrence, but in fact an expected one. When we had almost lost hope of  seeing another rise amongst the crowd, your presence gave us hope. Your presidency gave us purpose. You see Mr. President, it was less about your position and more about you. America sat in awe of your family, your charisma, confidence, your boldness. I worried at times if you were too much for us to handle at once. Was America ready to be led by the "other"; the always  hyphenated American once subpar, now in seated in the Oval?  But we were ready and it was time. 

Sharing you was probably the hardest part. You see in America we coveted leaders who mirrored our loved experiences and wanted to call them -you our own. But you were theirs, and ours. Many of us didn't understand it then. I understand it now. There were times we didn't agree with everything you did. You allowed us to openly share.  And even in our disagreements you still represented us ALL. Thank you. I've the past 8 years we had hard conversations, i'm sure some of which you felt you could have said more about. And even in those moments you held your position with pride and kept your feet to the pavement. Always believing "yes we can."

It's easy to take this momentous time in our lives, now a lasting memory, for granted as we trail ahead into a new presidency- what even seems like a new regime. But I find solace in the fact that a child born in America 8 years old and younger only knows YOU, as not the First Black  President, but the only president they know. Thank you for writing beautiful notes to my sons who will know they too were apart of this HIStory. And as you wrote, I will always teach them to dream big dreams. For children 8 years old and younger their view of the world doesn't begin with a scarcity of male role models of color but a view of abundant opportunities that can land them in your now once held coveted seat.

Thank you for your courage. Leading the "free world" is not nor did it prove to be an easy task, but you encouraged our voices. Thank you for speaking up on subjects regarding race and class even when it didn't garner popular points. Thank you for showing America what love is and for us, what Black Love is.  In a time where the Cosby's are mythical tv characters, you taught us honor. Leading a scandal free presidency taught us class, grace, humility and fidelity. Thank you for celebrating your wife, our First Lady openly and adoringly. For many women of color labeled as angry, hard, single and broken, Mrs. Obama you showed us strength, poise, skill and intelligence all the while leading your own campaigns and raising two children. Thank you for being every woman. Thank you for sharing your love with us and allowing us into your lives. 

Many of us are left here wondering what is next? How do we move forward. And in these moments when our faith is tried and our pride is pushed to the side we will remember our beautiful First Lady Michelle Obama's voice urging us to Go High, When Others Go Low. So we will. Holding the hands of our elders that have led us to and through this very moment, we will go high. Teaching our babies tomorrow is in their hands and no matter the circumstance, they too shall go high. In the deepest of despair and heights of happiness as we continue to shape and morph this world into one we all can live, achieve and freely dream in we will go high. And High is where we will stay. 

While you're just a state away, but no longer in our readily available view, we will think of you all and pray for you. Wishing you a zealous life filled with wonderful memories and excitement for your new chapters. May with each passing day you know more and more how much you are loved, respected and how much you will truly be missed. Thank you for teaching us that even through trying circumstances a dedicated few can truly impact the world. We will march to your example and always let our voices be heard as we did November 2008. We held each other as we watched your victory speech. As a tear falls tonight, the same way it does now, I proudly say Yes we did and in whatever tomorrow holds, Yes We Can!

PhyNomenally Yours,

Phylicia Dove

Letters for my two boys received from  President  and First Lady Obama.

Letters for my two boys received from  President  and First Lady Obama.

Phylicia DoveComment