BY Kacy George
On January 20, 2009 Barack, Michelle, and the rest of the Obama family attended the swearing-in ceremony for the 44th Presidency of the United States. The Obamas campaigned an entire year before his election. Yet the fanfare surrounding the primary process simmered to background noise.
In the seventh-grade I only cared about esteem and identity. It took the election of the “Yes We Can” candidacy to reassess the way I saw my environment. Something punctuated the air on the day of his inauguration. One of those mornings where the sun beamed on the horizon with the promise of a new era. Televisions filled my middle school classrooms with a sight as uncommon as President Elect Obama becoming President Obama.
It infected me with a sense of optimism, hope, and potential. In him, I saw myself. I am a leader. I must strive for the things I do not have — things that once and still do remain forbidden from me. I, too, can break glass ceilings. I, too, am America.
To keep a people oppressed and impoverished, you take away their esteem, their resources, and their role models. In retrospect, growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn, this statement carries validity. The inner cities are intended to kill the soul and aspirations of the individual, poison our minds and then kill our bodies. Obama made our dreams, our minds, and our bodies worthy of something greater.
Despite fighting birtherism and claims of ineptitude of duty due to his cultural background, President Obama used his presidency as a hallmark for change for the colored individual. His legacy includes fighting to end and remedy the effects of mass incarceration and other federal systems that systematically marginalize people of color.
The election, inauguration, and tenure of the Obama family in the White House provided a role model for the world to see and more importantly, a role model for impoverished communities. As a symbol of grace, class, and humility, the President taught those watching and the youth who resoundingly supported his candidacies, the importance of fighting for others and yourself.
I learned, I am more than who they think and say I am. I am more than I think and say I am. We are more than who we think and say we are.