Thursday, October 8, 2009

Barack Obama: I claim him too

I just finished reading Barack Obama's, Dreams from My Father.
I could not put it down. Not only because it gives great insight into a man I admire but also because he tackles the topic of personal identity and race. There were so many opportunities to both learn and identify from his story.

One of the reasons I have always liked Mr. Obama is that I sense in him a person who knew who he was. He had claims to a unique perspective of race. We all live in a society of black and white. And most of us only have one perspective. We have to deduce from a slanted view point the other sides. But Mr. Obama struggled personally from both sides. He could see the prejudices, short sightedness, ignorance and naivete from both perspectives that perpetuate racism, fear and distrust. And with this knowledge he had to figure out who he was. He is honest in his struggle to understand a father he hardly knew. He grew up in a white household, mother and grandparents who did their best at loving and teaching him well. But he grappled with his identity as a young black man. Claiming either extreme, black or white, would deny his family or his ancestry. And in the end he forms himself into a man to be admired and awed. His struggle for identity mirrors the struggle of every individual who grows from childhood to adulthood and must make sense of the hurts, ambiguities and scars of days gone by.

I am thrilled that he trusted his own voice in telling the story. Since I hear him often in news reels I know his voice. So it was easy for me to hear him telling the story in my head as he read. He let me right into his mind... to the grappling and tossing and turning of thoughts, beliefs and values. I am proud to live in a country where the story of a whole nation can be expressed in the reflections of this one man. He claims us as his own. Barack Obama, I claim you too.

1 comment:

Elysa said...

You would probably really enjoy WHEN I WAS WHITE set in South Africa. It was riveting reading for me.