Ditching the mask of his Transformers costume, Roby approached Obama with waves and a wide gapped-tooth smile that exposed his glee inside.
While handing presidential candy to Roby, President Obama asked, “Where’s your teeth?” Roby continued to smile with excitement before moving on to First Lady Michelle.
While most are focused on the next presidency, I’m reflective of the one that’s coming to a close. To protect myself from the psychological stress of this tumultuous election, I’ll stay centered on those memories.
There are moments that confirm our existence in the world. The seconds Obama rubbed Roby’s head in the same manner that I do confirmed more for me than my son.
Barack Hussein Obama is the only president my 5 year-old son (about to be 6) has ever known. Roby was born witnessing his own possibilities. Certainly, touching the president concretized that he too could become POTUS. He doesn’t (yet) have the baggage of living with the 43 white male presidents before Obama.
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For a few moments I regressed and asked myself, when will this happen again? But then I realized, my son and the other children who were born into my ancestors’ realized dreams will have very different expectations. Robeson will demand representation with a very different energy than I ever could.
Just as Roby was born in his ancestors’ dreams, he also shares their nightmares. Roby absorbs Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Alton Sterling.
We live in New Orleans where you live and die in disparities. He’s fully cognizant of the racialized spaces of schools, events and social circles. Roby even caught Confederate flag Mardi Gras beads during Mardi Gras last year. My son copes with institutional racism that existed under a black president.
I have “the conversation” over and over again. But Roby doesn’t imagine or hope for a seat at the table; he truly has one already claimed.