Dear Obama FamilyWritings
Dear Obama Family,
I begin this letter already knowing that whatever words I write will not adequately express my gratitude. I can’t believe today is already your last as our First Family. Time has flown by. Your first day was just a heartbeat ago.
I was 14 when you first moved into the White House; 18 when you were voted in again to stay. I have so far been alive for three presidencies, soon a fourth. This presidency, the Obama presidency, was a defining one in my life (and yours, too, obviously).
Thank you, all four of you. Your presence alone in the White House did a lot for people of color –specifically young people of color, especially young black people all around the world. My first vote was for this administration. I grew up seeing people who looked like me in the highest, most respected seat in our land and the free world. You four are the embodiment of sophistication and class. You displayed an openly-loving and scandal-free marriage and family. Regardless of policy, no one cannot deny that you are a family made of good, kind people. I could not be prouder to claim you as my First Family.
To Malia and Sasha Obama ––
We don’t know much about you. That was intentional; your parents were smart in that way (as always). However, I am proud of you, as are so many others. We’ve watched you two grow from cute little girls to beautiful young women, and it was a delight to do so. You grew up so gracefully, so impressively.
I very much look forward to seeing how your lives unfold. I expect you to do great things, but even if you don’t, it’s okay. Don’t feel burdened by whatever exceptional standards are set on former First Children. Define your exceptional. The pressure has alleviated. The world is yours and so are your lives. Revel in them. I am rooting for you and pray that you will always have continual joy.
To First Lady Michelle Obama ––
You are, indubitably, one of the greatest First Ladies of all time. You are THE best, Number One in my book, but I’m biased. I grew up with you as my First Lady. Your name will be said in the same breath with Eleanor and Jackie; and yet, you are different, more rare.
Thank you for breathing life into the First Ladyship, for revolutionizing it in so many ways. You are a fashion icon. You opened the White House to all kinds of people. You danced. You rapped. You shopped at CVS. You made a difference in childhood obesity and are instrumental in the advocacy for girls’ education.
Thank you for shifting the narrative, for being a catalyst in changing how others see diversity. I grew up seeing many strong, powerful black women in my family. That was normal, to me. As Kenya Hunt wrote, “Of course we are more than soul singers, single mothers, or side-eye slinging sidekicks saying Bye Felicia. But by the looks of what I saw in the media, the rest of the world didn’t seem to know this.” And then came you.
You, prior to being First Lady, received Bachelor’s and Juris Doctorate degrees from Princeton and Harvard, respectively. You practiced law, you were a vice president of a hospital, you were and are amazing. You took on the role of First Lady and inflated the position, making it more significant than it was eight years ago. Thank you for allowing the mainstream see women of color, specifically black women, for more of who we are. Thank you for validating women like me.
Oprah said it best: “For me, as an African-American woman, watching you on this world stage, just fact that you were here and remained so completely yourself and that self presented itself with such grace, was enough for me and us all.” It was enough for me, too; and yet, you exceeded what we needed. Thank you. There will never be another like you.
To President Barack Obama ––
History will reflect that you were one of this country’s greatest presidents – and I hope you know that. I’m sure you know that. The world will come to appreciate all that you have meant and done in the coming days, months, years. You faced the worst kind of obstruction, racism, and unprecedented disrespect from Day One of your presidency, yet you remained diligent, hopeful, and capable of getting things done. Pay no mind to whoever says you haven’t done enough. You have done so much. From saving us from a financial collapse that would’ve been worse than The Great Depression, to passing universal healthcare, to a myriad of other considerable things – I won’t say everything here; the list is too long – not once did you attribute your success to you alone. It was always “we did it.” Thank you for your selflessness. A great deal of major things happened under your administration, things of which you are and rightfully should be proud.
Thank you for your temperament. Thank you for being an adult, for being balanced and level-headed in the face of adversity. The world has seen some dark days, and to have a calm leader in you at the helm made all the difference. I will miss your repose. Thank you for your empathy. You understand the plight of black Americans facing racial injustice in this country. You grieve for and with gun violence victims and their families. You sympathize with innocent Muslim Americans who are accosted by Islamophobia. We saw your heart, and it is good.
Thank you for being there. Because of you, my generation and the generation after has a completely new view of politics. By seeing you, people of color could grow up without questioning the viability of a political career. Growing up with you as our president allowed minorities to see themselves in positions of power and influence. Your leadership begot the desire of millions of minorities to effect change. Your success inspired our success. Your presidency has awakened a generation. Your administration was also the most diverse in American history, made up of men and women of different races, religions, orientations. Thank you for letting the American people see an administration that reflected the country it governed.
So much of the world loves you, adores you, respects you. Thank you for being someone worth love, adoration, and respect. You left the United States better than you inherited it; and in your farewell speech, you left us with a message of continued hope, the same hope you campaigned on and we believed in eight years ago – hope that we’ll need in the days ahead. Throughout your presidency, you have been a beacon of hope for so many American and world citizens. For that, I thank you.
I cannot write nearly enough to fully express my gratefulness, so I will simply say: Obamas, thank you. Thank you a million times over. You all will be deeply missed. I wish you the absolute best – you deserve the best and more.