Monday, November 10, 2008

Our New Racial Ambassadors: Sasha and Malia Obama

By Wendy Smooth, an assistant professor in the Department of Women’s Studies with a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute

With the historic election of Barack Obama I find myself overly excited by the thought of two little black girls calling the White House home for the next few years. This is better than any episode of The Cosby Show ever written or imagined. I am convinced that little Sasha and Malia will be our best racial ambassadors. Americans having a bird’s eye view into the life of a real black family will do more for racial understanding and advancement than all the progressive social justice based public policies that we expect from the Obama presidency.

Now I am not placing a burden on little Sasha and Malia to act, behave, or play as “representatives of the race.” I am not expecting them to play Chi-Town style double- dutch on the east lawn—though I would relish hearing the press’ coverage of the long honored tradition of black girlhood. Nor am I angling to see if they are captured carrying Groovy Girl Dolls instead of Barbie. My dream is that they will simply be themselves. In doing so, they will raise the value Americans place on the well-being of little black children everywhere. They will show that little black kids have the same dreams, desires, fears, and needs that all children have. They desire to be safe, secure, and loved. Even more so, my hope is that in Sasha and Malia’s comings and goings, they will help people understand that black children are worth the investment. Americans will see that when you provide children—all children a first rate world class education, they grow and flourish beyond our imagination. Americans will see that all children thrive when they have the best health care, safe playgrounds, and a great place to call home.

The morning after the election I greeted my wide- eyed, gummy grinning little baby boy and between our morning stanzas of “Good Morning to You” I looked into his big beautiful brown eyes and told him that because of what happened last night, he will know a world different from that of his parents. His world would be better. It would certainly be more open, more inclusive, more accepting of difference. I know that my son will have two little black girls to thank for opening the eyes of Americans to the beauty of the black child.

Our little racial ambassadors through their everyday actions of being little girls will prompt Americans to raise the value placed on the lives of all black children. By the end of their eight years of residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I am hopeful that people will develop a new understanding for why black children like all children across this country are worthy of good schools, quality health care, safe neighborhoods, and reliable housing. Sasha and Malia Obama will ignite our political will to act on behalf of all children ensuring the future of this nation.

1 comment:

  1. well said. i think there will be many discussions dealing with the daily lives of african americans that whites have no idea about. i am a little worried about how things will get translated for mainstream audiences, but the discussion is a long time coming.