Dear Barack Obama,
I’m sorry I never gave you a chance. I scoffed at your family photos. I listened to the rumors being spread about your birth certificate. I reposted photos of you with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth and shamed you for not being a better example. I made fun of your wife and her platform of healthy eating along with the masses who cried, “keep our government out of our children’s vending machines!”
It definitely wasn’t because I don’t care about politics. I went to my first organized political event when I was about 5 years old. It was the inauguration of Dirk Kempthorne, Governor of Idaho. I mean, have you ever heard a more republican sounding name? Just wait, because the second political event I ever went to was only three years later for “Butch Otter, Lieutenant Governor”.
I waved signs for Larry Craig and Mike Crapo. I nodded along and chimed in with indignant, “yeahs” while my family called the Clinton’s snakes and cows. I regularly told people that Ronald Reagan was my favorite president. I was 5 months too young to be able to vote for McCain in 2008 and I actually CRIED when he lost. A trip to the grocery store that evening and a box of L’Oreal hair dye later, I had black hair because I was in mourning for our country.
Forget about the fact that I knew nothing about you or McCain before you ran for President. I felt like I knew which one of you was best for the country, and for me, based on what I heard other people say about you. I knew McCain had militiary experience and was quite a bit older than yourself, so that was a duh. How could anyone lead a country if they hadn’t served in the military? SHEESH.
Fear of being on the wrong team kept me from reading anything positive about you or your family. I scoffed at anything your wife said about health thinking she needed to stay out of my business, but not really noticing that I felt insecure about my own health and someone from the “enemy” might have something about health figured out that I could really stand to listen to.
I’m so sorry and so sad that I spent almost a decade with my mind and my heart closed off to learning of the kindness and compassion that you and your beautiful family possess.
I’m sorry I never welcomed the change you hoped for, even though I had no idea what it was you were even changing. I made a decision to hate you out of ignorance. I was 17 years old. Now, 8 years later, I am a different person religiously and politically.
Let’s say that I never changed my political beliefs. Let’s pretend that I still wished McCain had won all those years ago, I still really missed out on embracing and cerebrating the history that you’ve made. I chose to believe the fact that we elected the first ever black president was unimportant because I wanted to hate a ridicule you along with the rest of the conservative right I was a part of.
The truth is, you and your wife are amazing people. You are positive and inspiring, and your words are empowering. You’re imperfect, but never claim to be the opposite. You are fun loving and respectful, and you believe in the goodness of other people. Those are traits I wish I practiced more often in my own life.
All this to say, I’m sorry for hating you as a person for so long and spreading that negativity to others. It makes me wonder how many other people I have done this to, and how much unkindness I have participated in without realizing. This letter is about judgment and fear and how the words of those we trust can impede our ability to allow others to make a difference in our life.
I know we don’t know each other, and we probably never will, but I think it’s important now that I apologize for refusing to see the humanity of someone and to fight to make them seem ugly, bad, worthless, dangerous, unkind, or evil without having reason to.
So I hope that if I were ever to meet you or your wife or children, we could shake hands and be friends.