My son will very likely never qualify to be President. He was not born a U.S. citizen.
I grew up in an era when white parents routinely told their sons that if they worked and studied hard, they could be anything they wanted to be—even President of the United States. Early in my childhood, girls only dreamed of being Miss America.
After this election, both boys and girls of any color can dream big—for the White House, not the Barbie Dream House. As we set off to the polls Tuesday morning, filled with hope, we realized that no matter the outcome, history was being made. A black man and a white woman each were running for the highest offices in the land.
My handsome, Asian son had made buttons, bought t-shirts, and installed a yard sign. He had asked a Senate candidate how the candidate hoped to end the war. He had discussed the issues at the dinner table and made up his mind who to vote for. And then cast that vote in a school mock election. He wore my “I voted” sticker to school.
We stressed that the outcome of the election might not be known by bedtime, and maybe even for several days. We tucked him in before the West Coast polls closed. But not before he watched some of the early returns and we talked about the Electoral College, watching those numbers closely.
When the networks broke in to say they expected to make a very important announcement, I went to Big T’s bedroom and carried him back to the television set to watch this piece of history. Even though he did not remember the next morning, he was awakened and watched as the first African-American President in U.S. history was announced.
And in the morning, when the newspaper headline was only one word—“Obama”—my son asked why my voice wavered and my eyes teared up.
Because, my darling boy, you are coming of age in a generation that doesn’t know how big this is. I hope you never experience the worst of what it took to bring this country to an era where this particular President-Elect is seen as a unifier, rather than a divider.
As I look at our multi-cultural family, I see hope for better race relations as something particularly sweet. I see that hope reflected in the photos of a man who did not share his color with his mother or grandmother, just like you. What he did share is love. Also like you.
So maybe you will never qualify to become President. But you are an American. By act of Congress concerning adoptees, you are a citizen. You will find your own success. And we can work together to fan this little flare of hope into the flame of your future.