ONTD Political

Photographer pens open letter to POTUS; takes striking pics of her son.

11:23 pm - 11/13/2012
An Open Letter To President Obama



Dear President Obama,

I have sat down to write this letter dozens of times and always end up a bit tongue-tied. Please bear with me as I attempt to explain myself. Nine years ago I watched the image on a sonogram and heard the words from my doctor: "It's a boy." In that moment, my first emotion was fear. How was I going to raise a man? It seemed daunting, but perhaps nervousness is not uncommon for mothers of sons to experience. I also felt extremely aware that as a Caucasian woman having a son with a man of African American descent, my son would undoubtedly face issues in his life I would never fully understand...deep breaths...



Truth be told, I was unprepared for the powerful love I felt when I held him for the first time. He was perfection, the way all newborns are. He was mine and any hesitation or fear about mothering this little tiny man was replaced with adoration and love. I am blessed to have a loving husband by my side who is also a wonderful father. Our son (and two other daughters) have been lucky to grow up loving two parents of different ethnic backgrounds. And yet there has always been the element of the unknown. Neither my husband nor myself would ever be able to entirely comprehend what it felt like to grow up bi-racial child in a world that is not always embracing of things and people that are different. I was faced with trying to figure out how to prepare my son for issues that he may face in his life due to his ethnicity that I had no firsthand experience with.



The election in 2008 had a profound effect on our family. As you pursued your dreams and became the nominee for president, there was a shift in the air. I was overwhelmed with the implications your success had for my children's lives, particularly for my son. We watched the debates leading up to the election as a family. I lined up three small chairs and made the kids popcorn (admittedly, a bit of a bribe for them to sit and watch something they did not really understand). I explained that although they may not understand what they were watching, it would have an important impact on their lives, regardless of the outcome of the election.



We were watching history unfold, a story that had a direct impact on our children. I felt this was especially true for my son because he could see himself in your face.

He was 5-years-old at the time you were elected president. And although I realize you were in the midst of pursing your dreams, you inadvertently simultaneously changed my son's life. Quite frankly, I believe you changed the lives of sons across the world. This, Mr. President, is no small thing. My son could see himself in you, the leader of our country, something no child of color had been able to do in America prior to your presidency. He was at an age when he had just become aware that my skin did not look like his. You gave my son in this moment something I could not.



My son is vibrant and funny, an incredible athlete, a well-balanced mix of tenderness and independence. I've loved him and raised him to the best of my ability. You gave him something that I could not, the possibility that he could actually be anything he wanted. This is a concept that far surpasses any political orientation; it is not a Republican or Democratic concern, it is purely an acknowledgement of what all mothers want for their sons -- an opportunity to pursue their dreams, to be anything they want to be. Mothers of mixed-race children are often confronted with the limitations that subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle prejudices can bring.



As a photographer, I felt compelled to share visually in some way, the impact you and your political success had on my son's life. I think perhaps this image says it, far better than my words could ever convey. I do not know where his dreams will take him, but I do know that the path you carved in your life will benefit him as he grows as a man, in ways he will probably never fully understand. I realize the possibility of my son and/or myself meeting you personally is quite unlikely. So I wanted to take this opportunity to share my gratitude.



Thank you on behalf of all mothers of mixed-race children for making the words "You can do anything you want in life" feel like the truth. You have changed the lives of children across the globe and that, Mr. President, is a wonderful gift. And more personally thank you on behalf of my son...thank you.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth Messina

source: one | two | three

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You might have seen one photo of the kid floating around on Tumblr with the caption "Representation matters." accompanying it. Nice to finally discover so MANY more pics, but also the back-story.
poetic_pixie_13 14th-Nov-2012 06:55 am (UTC)
the white feminist camp went apeshit over black women "siding" with Obama over so-called "sisterhood".

Ah. I remember that. I was like, 16 and my poor inner angry brown woman was still a baby. I think it was the first time I really saw how deeply racist so many white feminists were.
homasse 14th-Nov-2012 07:01 am (UTC)
Seriously. Between that and Amanda Marcotte's book's racist pictures that no one went, "Oh, hey, about that..." until after it went to print that happened around the same time, I completely washed my hands with Feminism. It was mainly the primaries that put a stake through the heart of it, though, because of all the ugly that came out.
poetic_pixie_13 14th-Nov-2012 07:19 am (UTC)
Oh god, those pictures. I will forever be salty about what happened with BFP. Before that I used to read Pandagon all the time cause it was one of the first feminist blogs I'd come across. And then it was my first (though not at all last) taste of Feminist Disillusionment™.

The Laci Green stuff that happened a few months ago was my stake, though. I now vaguely call myself a feminist if I'm too lazy to go for anything else. I don't have time to educate people's ignorant asses.
homasse 14th-Nov-2012 07:33 am (UTC)
Uh-oh, the "Laci Green stuff"? I think I missed something in my recent spate of Grade-A apathy towards basically everything; what happened?
lady_borg 14th-Nov-2012 08:09 am (UTC)
A video of hers from a while back was unearthed and she used a trans* slur.

Not only that not all of her "advice" is really that great.
poetic_pixie_13 14th-Nov-2012 08:09 am (UTC)
Lord. That bullshit.

Someone posted a (very biased, bullshit Jezabel) article on it at _p and I responded with a long-ass comment about why the reaction to what was happening was fucked up. (Incidentally, the post itself was a nice microcosm of offended white feminist reaction.) I also talked about it a bit on my tumblr

Edited at 2012-11-14 08:26 am (UTC)
agentsculder 14th-Nov-2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
I really saw how deeply racist so many white feminists were.

I got to experience that first hand in my own FAMILY (which is very liberal for the most part) when one of my aunts flat out REFUSED to vote for Obama in 2008 because she believed that Hillary Clinton had been robbed of the nomination, and that she couldn't believe that all women didn't support her during the primaries. Then I told her I didn't vote for Hillary in the primaries even though I'm a feminist. I preferred Obama so I voted for him.

I figured she's be over it in time for the election, but NOPE. She wrote in Hillary Clinton's name on her ballot. And when we all asked her why she didn't vote for Obama (since his policies were pretty much the same as hers) she refused to answer. It was just so obvious she couldn't bring herself to vote for a black man for president, and it made me painfully aware that there are an awful lot of racist liberals running around.
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