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.

Elizabeth Messina

source: one | two | three

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.
homasse 14th-Nov-2012 04:57 am (UTC)
Speaking as a black woman...no.

Especially given some of Hilary's - and her supporters' - frankly deplorable actions during the 2008 primaries (which, btw, pushed me into no longer considering myself a capital-f "Feminist" because all the white privilege that came screaming to the fore), no. They were not people that any mother of black girls should have pointed to as role models. I'm sorry, but no.

And black boys and men get saddled and hit with a lot of baggage that black women and girls, especially light-skinned women and girls, don't get. Black boys are more likely to be labeled as "troublemakers" and placed in lower-level classes than any other group. Obama, and what he meant to black folks and especially black kids of BOTH genders, is something I don't think you're seeing.
natyanayaki 14th-Nov-2012 05:32 am (UTC)
What did Rodham-Clinton do that was deplorable? I'm not being sarcastic at all, I didn't pay much attention to either Obama or Rodham-Clinton's primary movements, because I didn't support either's policies so I actually don't know the history there. I've seen it mentioned a few times, and I think it's important that I know.
(no subject) - Anonymous
(no subject) - Anonymous
homasse 14th-Nov-2012 06:50 am (UTC)
It kind of makes me sad how quickly people forgot that. :/
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
strandedinaber 14th-Nov-2012 06:23 pm (UTC)
Damn :( I did not know that (I was vaguely aware of what was going on but not paying much attention to international politics at that time). Now I'm losing my Hilary 2016 enthusiasm...
homasse 14th-Nov-2012 06:50 am (UTC)
She ran a pretty racist campaign, actually. Started courting the "hardworking Americans" (read, "white people") aggressively, and the white feminist camp went apeshit over black women "siding" with Obama over so-called "sisterhood". It was appalling and I still side-eye Hilary Clinton to this day because of it.
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.
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.
natyanayaki 14th-Nov-2012 07:24 am (UTC)
Thanks for sharing. I'm not fond of either Clintons, I always find it interesting hypocritical that so many die-hard Clinton fans criticize Obama for being too quick to compromise. Not that Obama doesn't deserve to be called out, the hypocrisy/ignorance gets to me.
fishphile 14th-Nov-2012 05:10 pm (UTC)
It was appalling and I still side-eye Hilary Clinton to this day because of it.

Me too! And while I think it's great so many people have fond memories of a woman making a serious run for president of the U.S., I'm so annoyed when people go on and on about how great the campaign was.
bushy_brow 14th-Nov-2012 05:18 pm (UTC)
jazzypom Man, how people forget15th-Nov-2012 11:52 am (UTC)
Hinting that voting for Obama would be like voting for Mugabe. Hinting that it wasn't MLK Jnr that got the Civil Rights conversation started, but it took a President to sign the bill (Johnson). How white women defended Sarah Palin blow up doll of the GOP- en masse, but when it came to Michelle Obama being called a hood rat and a ghetto chick, white feminists were silent.

2008, man. White feminists, I saw you, and decided to say, "Fuck you, and yo' movement."
This page was loaded Apr 22nd 2018, 12:42 pm GMT.