Farewell Mr. President: A Love Note to Barack Obama

Dear President Obama,

I am not quite sure where to begin, so I will begin with a fact.

I will miss you terribly.

We may have not always agreed, but some of my strongest ties have been wrought with disagreements. You were my first, did you know that? You were the first to teach me that I too belong. Like me, you have a white mother and a black father. Yet, you identify as a black man, never straying from your father’s legacy. It wasn’t until this past fall that I learned you lost your father when you were far too young. In fact, it was three years into your presidency that I lost my own. Like me, you experienced the waves of grief and confusion, anger and resentment. But, you never gave up hope. You always knew that you belonged, within your family, within your community, and within your country.

See, Barack (I hope you don’t mind that I call you Barack), you weren’t born into politics. You were born with a dream and it led you here. I know that and you know that, but everyone reading this may not know that. It may sound silly to anyone other than you, for I am certain you understand what I am saying, but your existence reminds me that anything is possible. In your memoir, Dreams From My Father, you write almost exclusively from the perspective of your twenties. How fascinating it was to realize that you, someone I’ve put on a pedestal (and knocked down from a pedestal) many times, felt the same feelings of disillusionment that I feel today. You saw the hurt in the world and worried that perhaps it was too large for you to touch. That worry didn’t stop you, though. Your fear never canceled out your drive, and that is perhaps the largest lesson you’ve taught me.

Today, I have many fears. I fear that brothers will continue to be publicly executed by the police. I fear that sisters will no longer have access to affordable birth control. I fear that our country’s hate may swallow us whole and I fear that grief is a never-ending river that will always run through my soul.

But, how can I hold onto these fears when I look at you? As you reminded us in your farewell speech, we must save ourselves. We can. We will. Eight years ago, you gave us hope. And eight years later, I still hold onto that hope.

Thank you for your service. Thank you for bringing BET to the White House. Thank you for introducing the world to the brilliant light known as Michelle Obama. Thank you for your grace and wisdom.

This isn’t goodbye. This is, “I’ll see you later.”

With love,

Julia-Elise Childs

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WASHINGTON - JANUARY 20: In this handout from the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama together in a freight elevator at an Inaugural Ball, January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images)

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Oct. 26, 2012 "The President to be caught in Spider-Man's web as he greets the Nicholas Tamarin, 3, just outside the Oval Office. Spider-Man had been trick-or-treating for an early Halloween with his father, White House aide Nate Tamarin in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. I can never commit to calling any picture my favorite, but the President told me that this was HIS favorite picture of the year when he saw it hanging in the West Wing a couple of weeks later." (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

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