Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Great lessons of life from Obama's grandparents

As you've probably heard, Barack Obama is canceling nearly all of his campaign events Thursday and Friday to visit his gravely ill grandmother in Hawaii. Madelyn Dunham is the "white grandmother" Obama referred to in his speech on race and the woman he lovingly recognized when he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in Denver.
She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me.
There's no doubt that Madelyn and Stanley Dunham loved Barack and sacrificed for him, but they also deserve to be recognized for their courage. Ta-Nehisi Coates touched on that quality in a moving meditation at The Atlantic. Here's an excerpt:
Likewise, I was looking at this picture of Obama's grandparents and thinking how much he looks like his grandfather. And suddenly, for whatever reason, I was struck by the fact that they had made the decision to love their daughter, no matter what, and love their grandson, no matter what. I'd bet money that they never even thought of themselves as courageous, that they didn't give much thought to the broader struggles in the the world at the time. They were just doing what right, honorable people do. But the fact is that, in the 60s, you could be disowned for falling in love with a black woman or black man. There is a reason why we have a long history of publicly biracial black people, but not so much of publicly biracial white people.

We often give a pass to racists by noting that they were "of their times." Fair enough, and I know Hawaii was a different beast, but still, today, let us speak of people who were ahead of their times, who were outside of their times. Let us remember that Barack Obama learned the great lessons of life from courageous white people. Let us speak of those who do what normal, right people should always do when faced with a child--commit an act love. Here's to doing the right thing.
We can all learn something from Madelyn and Stanley Dunham's example.

(Check out the picture of Obama's grandparents. His resemblance to his grandfather is remarkable.)

(Cross-posted at Blogging for MI.)


K. said...

The latest right wing lunacy is that Obama is really going to Hawaii to personally destroy evidence proving that he's a citizen of Kenya and the United States.

abi said...

It will be a terrible injustice if Toot doesn't get to see Obama win on November 4th.

Kathy said...

K, I sometimes feel like sane people are a minority in this country. That includes you and I and all readers of this blog of course!

Abi, I thought the same thing. The will to live can be a powerful motivator so she may just make it. I hope so.