my first president
Growing up in Zimbabwe, I'd only ever known Robert Mugabe as president and I didn't care much for him. I was a child. George W. Bush was elected President of the United States, 5 months after I moved to this country. Most of what was happening (hello, landmark Supreme Court case) just did not matter to me. It was flying over my 12 year old head.
Barack Obama changed my life. He captured my heart and political imagination. His campaign energized me and gave me all of these wild ideas about Democracy and patriotism and active citizenship I had always felt so detached from politics. Partly due to my young age, partly due to being an immigrant and everything being so foreign to me. Then the phenomenon that is Barack Hussein Obama happened and I was changed forever. I was a 20 year old Political Science major, going through my own kind of awakening. I was so used to not liking and not respecting most elected officials so it was a new feeling to be so taken by him. I cried on election night, screaming Young Jeezy lyrics, wearing a "My President is Black T-Shirt" that I bought for $5 at Howard Homecoming. Real tears of joy for him and everything that he symbolized. Even though I know that the American Presidency is an institution and a machine that works a certain way regardless of who is in that seat - I still believed him when he billed himself as "change we can believe in." I grew more critical of him as his presidency went on. There were many times that I wished he had said and done more. Despite my criticisms of his politics, I loved me some Barack Obama. Each time he did something "for the culture" I beamed with pride and admiration. I delighted in the fact that this black man was the President of our country and he was just so smooth with it. I lived for each viral video, sound byte, clip or picture of him or his family doing something I never even knew I needed to see.
I don't know if I'll ever be that interested and invested in the White House but at least I'll always know that it's possible to feel the way #44 and his family made me feel, as they occupied that space.