Monday, January 21, 2013

Young Women in the White House

I've used the words "young women" instead of girls because after teaching African-Americans in college for 30 years, there's still a worry in my mind that "girls" flashes back to a time before the civil rights movement in which there was a stigma to the word that is perfectly acceptable when used for a white American.
The sight of Malia, now almost as tall as her father, and her younger sister, Sasha, filled me with great joy. The fact that the two of them have grown up in the White House somehow means something as important as the fact that their father is President of the United States.
Growing up in the presidents house is a unique and special experience that up until now was only possible for  very lucky white children. We got to know Chelsea Clinton (or as much as her mother allowed us into her life, believing she was raising a daughter, not a national icon). We've seen these two attractive people with great manners have a unique experience, granted to very few.
No longer is the term "all-American girl" reserved for the blond cheerleader in Moberly, Missouri. Malia looked elegant as her father took the oath of office for four more years.
Sometimes I'm disappointed in Pres. Obama but other times I'm proud to have voted for him. But, what never changes for me is how a child in Compton can look to her nation's capital and identify with Malia and Sasha. She can be anything, she thinks. She is now an American in every sense of the word.

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